A starkly different reality emerges in Luopu, also known as Lop county, where Guardian interviews with current and former residents and analysis of public documents reveal new details about the government’s continuing campaign in one of the worst-affected areas of Xinjiang.
Local authorities are expanding detention camps, increasing surveillance and policing, and co-opting residents through intimidation, force and financial incentives.
In the past year, at least 10 buildings have been added to the No 1 Vocational Skills Training Centre, according to satellite imagery. Construction work on the camp, identified through company records found by the University of British Columbia student Shawn Zhang, was still being carried out when the Guardian visited in mid-December.
Luopu, a sparsely populated rural county of about 280,000 that is almost entirely Uighur, is home to eight internment camps officially labelled “vocational training centres”, according to public budget documents seen by the Guardian.