Uighur workers 'advertised in package deals' on Chinese Internet amid forced labour concerns

Uighur workers 'advertised in package deals' on Chinese Internet amid forced labour concerns
Uighur Muslims are being advertised for labour under military-style management in 'package deals' on Chinese websites, in the latest evidence of forced labour
3 min read
16 April, 2021
A Chinese factory thought to be using Uighur forced labour [The Washington Post/Getty]
Uighur workers are being offered in package deals to factories and companies on Chinese websites, in the latest evidence that the Muslim ethnic minority are subject to forced labour in China.

Sites such as Baidu - essentially China's equivalent of Google and one of the largest Internet companies in the world - are hosting dozens of advertisements for batches of 50 to 100 Uighur labourersSky News reported on Friday.

The advertisements by private agents facilitate transfers of Uighur labourers from their homeland in the northwestern province of Xinjiang to other parts of China.

At least a million Uighurs and members of other Muslim ethnic minorities are held in a vast network of detention camps in Xinjiang, where ex-detainees have spoken of abuses including torture, rape and forced sterilisation.

The advertisements found online suggest that the Uighur workers offered are subject to strict social and political controls, bolstering earlier reports of the use of forced labour by Chinese authorities.

One post seen by Sky News boasts that "security of workers will be guaranteed by the government".

A private agent behind one such post told reporters all workers would be "examined politically" before being transferred outside of Xinjiang.

The local government of the receiving Chinese province would also undertake a "political examination", the agent said.

Such an examination likely examines the efficacy of what Beijing refers to as its reeducation centres in Xinjiang.

Chinese authorities claim the detention facilities are aimed at steering Uighurs away from "ethnic seperatism" and "Islamist extremism".

Rights groups and ex-detainees say that there is political indoctrination and punishment for Muslim practices in the camps.

Human rights organisations and the US government have also said that China is carrying out a genocide against the Uighurs by detaining and abusing them en masse. 

The agent added that Uighur labourers would be "under half-military management" by "supervisors".

A second agent confirmed workers would be accompanied by "supervisors" paid by the Xinjiang regional government.

Chinese state media often celebrates the massive work scheme that has transferred thousands of Uighurs and other ethnic minorities outside of Xinjiang.

Beijing denies the programme has links to forced labour and says it is instead a successful effort at alleviating poverty and unemployment in the province.

Reporters from Sky News visited a factory involved in the scheme in the eastern province of Shandong.

Its owner denied the scheme amounted to forced labour and claimed instead that workers were paid $413 a month.

However dormitories hosting the workers were monitored by CCTV cameras from an office that contained riot control gear, Sky News reported.

Police officers and Communist Party officials arrived at the factory and questioned the reporters for two hours, later instructing them to leave town.

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