Chinese vlogger films Uyghur concentration camps in Xinjiang

Acting as a tourist, Guanguan travelled to various locations to check on detention camps’ existence. He found 18 different locations in operation and one abandoned. Ethnic Han Chinese have confirmed the existence of forced labour. The EU renews its sanctions against China’s repression of its Turkic speaking population.

Beijing (AsiaNews) – A 30-year-old Chinese vlogger has filmed a number of detention centres in Xinjiang, ostensibly holding hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs and other Turkic-speaking Muslims.

Pretending to be a tourist, Guanguan reportedly travelled to the province in 2020 to verify the existence of the concentration camps as claimed by western media.

According to the United Nations, various humanitarian groups, and independent researchers, China placed more than a million Uyghurs, Kazakhs and Kyrgyz in camps, described by local authorities as “vocational training” facilities, starting in 2017.

In his video, which has been on YouTube since 1 October, Guanguan says he wants to fill in the gaps caused by the lack of information about Xinjiang. Owing to Chinese restrictions, foreign journalists cannot easily report or conduct interviews in the autonomous region

The vlogger went to the locations named by researchers, identified as re-education camps, detention centres or prisons.

In addition, he used the GPS coordinates of 260 detention sites identified by Buzzfeed, and used satellite images and information found on the web as part of his research.

In the provincial capital of Urumqi and other places in Xinjiang, the "citizen journalist" filmed some highly protected sites, with walls extending for hundreds of metres, plus watchtowers and barbed wire.

Guanguan also looked at the issue of forced labour, which he had also heard about from ethnic Han, China’s majority ethnic group, living in Xinjiang.

Since he risked prison time for divulging state secrets, Guanguan fled to the United States.

According to Nathan Ruser, a researcher with the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), the Chinese vlogger filmed 18 different concentration camps in operation and one abandoned facility.

The United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and the European Union have imposed sanctions on China over its repression against the Uyghurs.

On Wednesday, the permanent ambassadors to the EU gave the green light to renew punitive measures against four senior officials and a government body in Xinjiang.

The decision will be formally adopted next month, but for now it excludes the ratification of an investment treaty signed in December 2020 by the European Union and China.

The Chinese government responded to EU sanctions with its own countermeasures against European officials and entities.