China using Uyghurs from Xinjiang camps as cover-up for new coronavirus cases Taiwan think tank cluster infections
A top military think tank in Taiwan has warned that China could be employing the use of forced labour from the detention camps in Xinjiang to spur its factories back into action, in its bid to deceive the global community that the spread of coronavirus has been brought under check.
“Beijing authorities demand that enterprises resume work and production. Xinjiang Uyghurs, who are strictly controlled and are not able to resist, have become the easiest to secure for labour use to support China's precarious economic security,” Tsun-yen Wang, the acting chief of Division of Non-traditional Security and Military Missions has been warning since March 13. His observations, originally in Mandarin, were translated into English by the Institute for National Defense and Security Research (INDSR), a Taipei-based think tank backed by the government.
Wang’s allegations build on the work of premier Australian think tank Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), which claimed in a damning report, Uyghurs for Sale, published on February 28, that there was “mounting evidence” about many Uyghurs being forced to work in factories across China after “graduating” from re-education camps.
Wang claims that the process has only picked up pace since the outbreak of coronavirus, as Beijing tries to portray “rosy propaganda” to the world of things being under control.
Significantly, China has claimed a near victory over coronavirus and claimed that no new cases have emerged either in Hubei province, the epicentre of the COVID-19 outbreak, or other regions of China. The Guardian reported on Wednesday that the authorities in Hubei were all set to remove all the travel restrictions on Hubei’s residents as early as April 8.
Beijing’s claims, however, have been aggressively questioned by Taiwanese researchers and government officials. In his observations, Wang has put a big question mark over the fate of Taiwanese expats working on the mainland, who he alleges could be at maximum risk due to the virus.
“These Taiwanese expats travel back and forth frequently for business and during holidays shared by both sides, such as the Lunar New Year and the upcoming Tomb Sweeping Day. Also known as Qingming, the holiday is a four-day weekend in Taiwan in early April that brings families together to pay respects to ancestors, and many go on extended holiday outings as a group,” Wang states in his research. The Tomb Sweeping Holiday falls on April 4.
The Taiwanese think tank has also claimed that cluster infections in major Chinese cities and country’s centres of economic growth, including Beijing and Shanghai, were still taking place at an alarming rate, another fact that Beijing has been trying to cover in its bid to a get a head start on its economic recovery, which has been severely affected by the factory closures and loss of business during the past two months.