Category Archives: General

US Wages Wide-Ranging Campaign to Block Huawei

Over the past several weeks, the U.S. government has launched a seemingly unprecedented campaign to block the Chinese telecom giant Huawei Technologies from competing in the global rollout of next-generation 5G mobile networking technology, claiming that the company is effectively an arm of the Chinese intelligence services.

In an effort that has included top-level officials from the departments of State, Justice, Defense, Homeland Security, and Commerce, as well as the president himself, the Trump administration has taken steps to curtail Huawei’s ability to operate within the U.S. It has also mounted an extraordinary effort to convince U.S. allies to bar the firm from operating on their soil. Huawei has long been viewed with suspicion and distrust in many corners of the global economy. The company has a documented history of industrial espionage, and its competitiveness on the global stage has been boosted by massive subsidies from the government in Beijing. Still, the scope of the U.S. government’s current offensive against the company is remarkable. Huawei has been accused of many things for a very long time. This is nothing new. What is unique is the extent of the pressure campaign, said Michael Murphree, assistant professor of International Business at the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business. In the grand scheme of international technology competition, this is certainly a very strong effort against a specific firm. The push to keep Huawei from playing a major role in the rollout of 5G comes at a time when the U.S. and China are in talks to end a costly trade war that the U.S. launched last year with the imposition of tariffs against hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of Chinese exports. In another unprecedented move, President Donald Trump has even tied at least one of the government’s actions against Huawei � a federal indictment in which the company’s chief financial officer has been named � as a potential bargaining chip in trade discussions.

A corporate spokesman for Huawei declined to comment on the Trump Administration’s aggressive tactics.

The case against Huawei

U.S. officials cite a number of reasons to treat Huawei with extreme suspicion, some of them well-documented, others less so.

Top of the list is a National Intelligence law passed in China in 2017 that gives government intelligence services broad and open-ended powers to demand the cooperation of businesses operating in China in intelligence gathering efforts. U.S. policymakers argue that this presents an unambiguous threat to national security. In America we can’t even get Apple to crack open an iPhone for the FBI, Florida Senator Marco Rubio said in a March 13 appearance on Fox Business Network. In China, Huawei has to give the Chinese anything they ask for. He added, They should not be in business in America.

And while Huawei has strongly denied that it operates as an arm of the Chinese intelligence services, at least two recent international espionage cases have come uncomfortably close to the firm.

In January, the Polish government arrested a Huawei executive on charges of spying for China. The company itself has not been charged in the case, and Huawei announced that the employee, a sales manager, had been fired.

Early last year, the French newspaper Le Monde Afriquereported that over the course of several years, the computer systems in the Chinese-financed headquarters of the African Union in Addis Ababa were secretly transmitting data toservers in Shanghai every night, and that listening devices had been discovered implanted in the building. It was later revealed that the primary supplier of information and communications technology to the project had been Huawei.

No proof has ever been put forward that Huawei was involved in the data theft, and African Union officials have declined to go on the record confirming that the information transfers ever occurred.

One of the most frequent concerns expressed by U.S. officials about Huawei is the least substantiated: the idea that the company could install secret backdoor access to communications equipment that would give the Chinese government ready access to sensitive communications, or even enable Beijing to shut down communications in another country at will.

It’s a claim that Ren Zhengfei, Huawei’s 74-year-old founder and president, has personally ridiculed. The government would never make that request, and Huawei would never comply, he told the BBC recently. Our sales revenues are now hundreds of billions of dollars. We are not going to risk the disgust of our country and our customers all over the world because of something like that. We will lose all our business. I’m not going to take that risk.

The public battle over Huawei’s image

The sheer number of fronts on which the U.S. federal government is currently engaging with Huawei, sometimes very aggressively, is notable.

The most high-profile of these is a federal indictment of the company naming its Chief Financial Officer, Meng Wanzhou, in an alleged scheme to deceive U.S. officials in order to bypass U.S. sanctions on Iran. Meng was arrested in Canada at the request of U.S. prosecutors, and the Justice Department is seeking her extradition in order to have her face trial in New York. At the same time, a second federal indictment accusing the company of stealing trade secrets, was unsealed in the state of Washington.

It is the Meng case that President Trump has suggested he might use as leverage in ongoing trade talks. Speaking to reporters at the White House last month, he said, We’re going to be discussing all of that during the course of the next couple of weeks. We’ll be talking to the U.S. attorneys. We’ll be talking to the attorney general. We’ll be making that decision. Right now, it’s not something we’ve discussed.”

There have also been active efforts to dissuade other countries from doing business with Huawei.

Last month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned U.S. allies that if they use Huawei telecommunications equipment in their critical infrastructure, they will lose access to some intelligence collected by the United States If a country adopts this and puts it in some of their critical information systems, we won’t be able to share information with them, we won’t be able to work alongside them, Pompeo said in an interview with Fox Business Network.

On March 8, the U.S. Ambassador to Germany sent a letter to the German minister for economic affairs, reiterating the U.S. government’s concern about the potential for backdoors in Huawei systems and the threat of tampering during complex software updates. He said that U.S. intelligence sharing would be significantly scaled back if Germany uses Huawei products in its new telecommunications systems.

In February, the U.S. government sent a large delegation to MWC Barcelona, the telecommunications industry’s biggest trade show, where they publicly excoriated the company as duplicitous and deceitful. The U.S. delegation included officials from the departments of State, Commerce, and Defense, as well as Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai. Also there were officials from the U.S. Agency for International Development, who made it clear that foreign aid dollars from the U.S. will not be available to help fund purchases from Chinese telecom firms.

In addition, a law signed by President Trump last year bars the federal government from buying equipment from Huawei and smaller Chinese telecom company ZTE. Trump has additionally floated the possibility of an executive order that would block Huawei from any participation at all in U.S 5G networks.

Huawei is fighting back, filing a lawsuit this month that claims it was unfairly banned from U.S. government computer networks. Deng Cheng, a senior research fellow at The Heritage Foundation in Washington, said the lawsuit may be aimed at determining what information the U.S. government is using to make its case.

“There is information that the intelligence community may have that isn’t necessarily going to be made public, he said. What is admissible in court is not always the same as the information that is actually available. So I’m not really sure how this court case will even be adjudicated.

Huawei’s lawsuit is likely also partly aimed at improving the firm’s reputation at a time when it is under siege by American officials.

The risk of pushback from China

At a time when the United States relations with even its closest traditional allies is under strain, Washington’s seemingly unilateral demand that a major global supplier be effectively shut out of an enormous marketplace is an audacious request.

For one thing, it is complicated by the fact that for countries and companies anxious to take advantage of 5G wireless technology, there may not be a ready substitute for the Chinese firm.

This seems to be reflected in recent reports that U.S. allies, in Europe, India, the United Arab Emirates and elsewhere, are showing real resistance to U.S, demands. A report in the New York Times late Sunday said that in Europe, the general sense is that any risk posed by Huawei is manageable through monitoring and selective use of the company’s products. The story noted that German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s response to the U.S. was a terse message that Germans would be “defining our standards for ourselves.”

And of course, there is always the possibility � even the likelihood � of Chinese retaliation against countries that accede to the United States’ requests. And in China, where the media is largely controlled by the Communist Party, and access to international news services is sharply limited, that retaliation would likely have widespread public support.

The very strong perception is that Huawei is a great Chinese company that has done extraordinary things to move to the global frontier, in some respects to the head of the pack, and it is being unfairly treated and held back by the United States for specious reasons, said Lester Ross, the partner-in-charge of the Beijing office of U.S. law firm Wilmer Hale.

Source: Voice of America

US Wages Wide-Ranging Campaign to Block Huawei

Over the past several weeks, the U.S. government has launched a seemingly unprecedented campaign to block the Chinese telecom giant Huawei Technologies from competing in the global rollout of next-generation 5G mobile networking technology, claiming that the company is effectively an arm of the Chinese intelligence services.

In an effort that has included top-level officials from the departments of State, Justice, Defense, Homeland Security, and Commerce, as well as the president himself, the Trump administration has taken steps to curtail Huawei’s ability to operate within the U.S. It has also mounted an extraordinary effort to convince U.S. allies to bar the firm from operating on their soil. Huawei has long been viewed with suspicion and distrust in many corners of the global economy. The company has a documented history of industrial espionage, and its competitiveness on the global stage has been boosted by massive subsidies from the government in Beijing. Still, the scope of the U.S. government’s current offensive against the company is remarkable. Huawei has been accused of many things for a very long time. This is nothing new. What is unique is the extent of the pressure campaign, said Michael Murphree, assistant professor of International Business at the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business. In the grand scheme of international technology competition, this is certainly a very strong effort against a specific firm. The push to keep Huawei from playing a major role in the rollout of 5G comes at a time when the U.S. and China are in talks to end a costly trade war that the U.S. launched last year with the imposition of tariffs against hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of Chinese exports. In another unprecedented move, President Donald Trump has even tied at least one of the government’s actions against Huawei � a federal indictment in which the company’s chief financial officer has been named � as a potential bargaining chip in trade discussions.

A corporate spokesman for Huawei declined to comment on the Trump Administration’s aggressive tactics.

The case against Huawei

U.S. officials cite a number of reasons to treat Huawei with extreme suspicion, some of them well-documented, others less so.

Top of the list is a National Intelligence law passed in China in 2017 that gives government intelligence services broad and open-ended powers to demand the cooperation of businesses operating in China in intelligence gathering efforts. U.S. policymakers argue that this presents an unambiguous threat to national security. In America we can’t even get Apple to crack open an iPhone for the FBI, Florida Senator Marco Rubio said in a March 13 appearance on Fox Business Network. In China, Huawei has to give the Chinese anything they ask for. He added, They should not be in business in America.

And while Huawei has strongly denied that it operates as an arm of the Chinese intelligence services, at least two recent international espionage cases have come uncomfortably close to the firm.

In January, the Polish government arrested a Huawei executive on charges of spying for China. The company itself has not been charged in the case, and Huawei announced that the employee, a sales manager, had been fired.

Early last year, the French newspaper Le Monde Afriquereported that over the course of several years, the computer systems in the Chinese-financed headquarters of the African Union in Addis Ababa were secretly transmitting data toservers in Shanghai every night, and that listening devices had been discovered implanted in the building. It was later revealed that the primary supplier of information and communications technology to the project had been Huawei.

No proof has ever been put forward that Huawei was involved in the data theft, and African Union officials have declined to go on the record confirming that the information transfers ever occurred.

One of the most frequent concerns expressed by U.S. officials about Huawei is the least substantiated: the idea that the company could install secret backdoor access to communications equipment that would give the Chinese government ready access to sensitive communications, or even enable Beijing to shut down communications in another country at will.

It’s a claim that Ren Zhengfei, Huawei’s 74-year-old founder and president, has personally ridiculed. The government would never make that request, and Huawei would never comply, he told the BBC recently. Our sales revenues are now hundreds of billions of dollars. We are not going to risk the disgust of our country and our customers all over the world because of something like that. We will lose all our business. I’m not going to take that risk.

The public battle over Huawei’s image

The sheer number of fronts on which the U.S. federal government is currently engaging with Huawei, sometimes very aggressively, is notable.

The most high-profile of these is a federal indictment of the company naming its Chief Financial Officer, Meng Wanzhou, in an alleged scheme to deceive U.S. officials in order to bypass U.S. sanctions on Iran. Meng was arrested in Canada at the request of U.S. prosecutors, and the Justice Department is seeking her extradition in order to have her face trial in New York. At the same time, a second federal indictment accusing the company of stealing trade secrets, was unsealed in the state of Washington.

It is the Meng case that President Trump has suggested he might use as leverage in ongoing trade talks. Speaking to reporters at the White House last month, he said, We’re going to be discussing all of that during the course of the next couple of weeks. We’ll be talking to the U.S. attorneys. We’ll be talking to the attorney general. We’ll be making that decision. Right now, it’s not something we’ve discussed.”

There have also been active efforts to dissuade other countries from doing business with Huawei.

Last month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned U.S. allies that if they use Huawei telecommunications equipment in their critical infrastructure, they will lose access to some intelligence collected by the United States If a country adopts this and puts it in some of their critical information systems, we won’t be able to share information with them, we won’t be able to work alongside them, Pompeo said in an interview with Fox Business Network.

On March 8, the U.S. Ambassador to Germany sent a letter to the German minister for economic affairs, reiterating the U.S. government’s concern about the potential for backdoors in Huawei systems and the threat of tampering during complex software updates. He said that U.S. intelligence sharing would be significantly scaled back if Germany uses Huawei products in its new telecommunications systems.

In February, the U.S. government sent a large delegation to MWC Barcelona, the telecommunications industry’s biggest trade show, where they publicly excoriated the company as duplicitous and deceitful. The U.S. delegation included officials from the departments of State, Commerce, and Defense, as well as Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai. Also there were officials from the U.S. Agency for International Development, who made it clear that foreign aid dollars from the U.S. will not be available to help fund purchases from Chinese telecom firms.

In addition, a law signed by President Trump last year bars the federal government from buying equipment from Huawei and smaller Chinese telecom company ZTE. Trump has additionally floated the possibility of an executive order that would block Huawei from any participation at all in U.S 5G networks.

Huawei is fighting back, filing a lawsuit this month that claims it was unfairly banned from U.S. government computer networks. Deng Cheng, a senior research fellow at The Heritage Foundation in Washington, said the lawsuit may be aimed at determining what information the U.S. government is using to make its case.

“There is information that the intelligence community may have that isn’t necessarily going to be made public, he said. What is admissible in court is not always the same as the information that is actually available. So I’m not really sure how this court case will even be adjudicated.

Huawei’s lawsuit is likely also partly aimed at improving the firm’s reputation at a time when it is under siege by American officials.

The risk of pushback from China

At a time when the United States relations with even its closest traditional allies is under strain, Washington’s seemingly unilateral demand that a major global supplier be effectively shut out of an enormous marketplace is an audacious request.

For one thing, it is complicated by the fact that for countries and companies anxious to take advantage of 5G wireless technology, there may not be a ready substitute for the Chinese firm.

This seems to be reflected in recent reports that U.S. allies, in Europe, India, the United Arab Emirates and elsewhere, are showing real resistance to U.S, demands. A report in the New York Times late Sunday said that in Europe, the general sense is that any risk posed by Huawei is manageable through monitoring and selective use of the company’s products. The story noted that German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s response to the U.S. was a terse message that Germans would be “defining our standards for ourselves.”

And of course, there is always the possibility � even the likelihood � of Chinese retaliation against countries that accede to the United States’ requests. And in China, where the media is largely controlled by the Communist Party, and access to international news services is sharply limited, that retaliation would likely have widespread public support.

The very strong perception is that Huawei is a great Chinese company that has done extraordinary things to move to the global frontier, in some respects to the head of the pack, and it is being unfairly treated and held back by the United States for specious reasons, said Lester Ross, the partner-in-charge of the Beijing office of U.S. law firm Wilmer Hale.

Source: Voice of America

Venezuela, Iran, Uighur Detentions in China among Issues Raised in US Rights Report

The U.S. State Department is painting a grim picture of violations and abuses in countries that already have dismal records in its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2018.

Venezuela

On Venezuela, the report cited extrajudicial killings, the stifling of free expression, and restrictions on political participation. It said the May 20, 2018 presidential vote that re-elected Nicolas Maduro was deeply flawed, adding that the vote was boycotted by the opposition and condemned by the international community. The State Department report also pointed to issues including pervasive corruption and impunity among all security forces and in the Maduro government; trafficking in persons; and the worst forms of child labor, which the government made minimal efforts to eliminate.

The situation on the ground is deteriorating. It’s so tragic. The humanitarian conditions there are just awful. You have people starving, can’t get medicine to the sick, said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in an interview in Houston.

Iran

On Iran, the report said the government’s human rights record remained extremely poor and worsened in several key areas. The high-profile case of Iranian attorney Nasrin Sotoudeh was featured in the report. Sotoudeh, who represents political prisoners and women that protested against the country’s compulsory hijab law, was arrested on June 13, 2018, on national security charges. She was sentenced to 38 years in prison and 148 lashes.

We are outraged, said State Department deputy spokesperson Robert Palladino in Tuesday’s briefing, This sentence is beyond barbaric.

The human rights report also pointed to issues including executions for crimes without fair trials; arbitrary killings and forced disappearance; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; systematic use of arbitrary detention and imprisonment; unlawful interference with privacy; severe restrictions on free expression, the press, and the internet.

China

On China, the State Department’s human rights report said the government significantly intensified its campaign of mass detention of members of Muslim minority groups in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (Xinjiang). Authorities were reported to have arbitrarily detained 800,000 to possibly more than two million Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs, and other Muslims in internment camps designed to erase religious and ethnic identities, said the report.

Secretary Pompeo said China is “in a league of its own” in human rights violations.

Other issues include arbitrary detention by the Chinese government; physical attacks on and the criminal prosecution of journalists, lawyers, petitioners, and their family members; severe restrictions on religious freedom; the forcible return of asylum seekers to North Korea, where they have a well-founded fear of persecution; and official repression of the freedom of speech, religion, movement, association, and assembly in Tibet, according to the report.

China says it is running a deradicalization program and that the camps are vocational training centers to teach people about the law and the Mandarin language. Chinese authorities said Tuesday that the camps in Xinjiang will “gradually disappear” if a time arises when “society does not need them.”

Samuel Brownback, the U.S. ambassador for religious freedom, said Friday during a speech in Hong Kong that China’s detentions are not proportionate to any real threat it faces from extremism.

“China is not solving a terrorist problem by forcibly moving women, children, the elderly, and the highly educated intelligentsia into mass detention centers and internment camps. Instead, they are creating one,” he said.

U.S. lawmakers are pressuring the Trump administration to take stronger actions against China. The House Foreign Affairs Committee told Pompeo last week it “appears the administration has taken no meaningful action” on the matter.

Pompeo said the administration is considering sanctions against Chinese officials responsible for rights abuses against the Uighurs in Xinjiang.

Source: Voice of America

Venezuela, Iran, Uighur Detentions in China among Issues Raised in US Rights Report

The U.S. State Department is painting a grim picture of violations and abuses in countries that already have dismal records in its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2018.

Venezuela

On Venezuela, the report cited extrajudicial killings, the stifling of free expression, and restrictions on political participation. It said the May 20, 2018 presidential vote that re-elected Nicolas Maduro was deeply flawed, adding that the vote was boycotted by the opposition and condemned by the international community. The State Department report also pointed to issues including pervasive corruption and impunity among all security forces and in the Maduro government; trafficking in persons; and the worst forms of child labor, which the government made minimal efforts to eliminate.

The situation on the ground is deteriorating. It’s so tragic. The humanitarian conditions there are just awful. You have people starving, can’t get medicine to the sick, said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in an interview in Houston.

Iran

On Iran, the report said the government’s human rights record remained extremely poor and worsened in several key areas. The high-profile case of Iranian attorney Nasrin Sotoudeh was featured in the report. Sotoudeh, who represents political prisoners and women that protested against the country’s compulsory hijab law, was arrested on June 13, 2018, on national security charges. She was sentenced to 38 years in prison and 148 lashes.

We are outraged, said State Department deputy spokesperson Robert Palladino in Tuesday’s briefing, This sentence is beyond barbaric.

The human rights report also pointed to issues including executions for crimes without fair trials; arbitrary killings and forced disappearance; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; systematic use of arbitrary detention and imprisonment; unlawful interference with privacy; severe restrictions on free expression, the press, and the internet.

China

On China, the State Department’s human rights report said the government significantly intensified its campaign of mass detention of members of Muslim minority groups in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (Xinjiang). Authorities were reported to have arbitrarily detained 800,000 to possibly more than two million Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs, and other Muslims in internment camps designed to erase religious and ethnic identities, said the report.

Secretary Pompeo said China is “in a league of its own” in human rights violations.

Other issues include arbitrary detention by the Chinese government; physical attacks on and the criminal prosecution of journalists, lawyers, petitioners, and their family members; severe restrictions on religious freedom; the forcible return of asylum seekers to North Korea, where they have a well-founded fear of persecution; and official repression of the freedom of speech, religion, movement, association, and assembly in Tibet, according to the report.

China says it is running a deradicalization program and that the camps are vocational training centers to teach people about the law and the Mandarin language. Chinese authorities said Tuesday that the camps in Xinjiang will “gradually disappear” if a time arises when “society does not need them.”

Samuel Brownback, the U.S. ambassador for religious freedom, said Friday during a speech in Hong Kong that China’s detentions are not proportionate to any real threat it faces from extremism.

“China is not solving a terrorist problem by forcibly moving women, children, the elderly, and the highly educated intelligentsia into mass detention centers and internment camps. Instead, they are creating one,” he said.

U.S. lawmakers are pressuring the Trump administration to take stronger actions against China. The House Foreign Affairs Committee told Pompeo last week it “appears the administration has taken no meaningful action” on the matter.

Pompeo said the administration is considering sanctions against Chinese officials responsible for rights abuses against the Uighurs in Xinjiang.

Source: Voice of America

Activist Under House Arrest in Kazakhstan, Prompting Fears of Pressure From China

Authorities in Kazakhstan have placed activist Serikzhan Bilash under house arrest for two months on charges of inciting ethnic hatred after he campaigned for the release of fellow ethnic Kazakhs from detention in China, prompting concerns the move was made in response to pressure from Beijing.

A Kazakh citizen born in neighboring China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), Bilash and his group Atajurt work to release ethnic Kazakhs from political reeducation camps, where authorities in the XUAR are believed to have detained more than one million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities accused of harboring strong religious views and politically incorrect ideas since April 2017.

Reuters news agency cited Atajurt in a report, saying security forces had broken into Bilash’s hotel room in Almaty early on Sunday, detained him and quickly flown him to the Kazakh capital Astana.

On Monday, Agence FrancePresse cited Bilash’s lawyer Aiman Umarova as saying a court had ruled that her client be released to house arrest for two months until he is tried for inciting ethnic hatred. Under the terms of the arrangement, he will not be permitted to engage in activism.

RFA’s Uyghur Service confirmed the reports through one of Bilash’s associates on Monday.

According to AFP, police have sealed Atajurt’s office, confiscating computers and other equipment activists said contained data about reeducation camp detainees in the XUAR, and have refused to return the key to the building.

Reuters quoted Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang in Beijing as saying he was aware of Bilash’s case, and suggesting the activist had illegally entered Kazakhstan last year.

According to what is understood he may have some debt problems in China, Lu told Reuters.

This kind of person has ulterior motives to make things up. I think the aims behind this need no explanation, he added, without elaborating.

Bilash’s arrest has drawn significant attention in Kazakhstan, which is a major trading partner of China, but whose citizens are wary of Beijing’s policies toward their ethnic brethren and other Muslim minorities in the XUAR.

While Astana has refrained from criticizing Beijing, the Kazakh government has negotiated the release of around two dozen people of dual Kazakh and Chinese citizenship detained in China.

Speaking to RFA on Monday, Dolkun Isa, president of the Munichbased World Uyghur Congress exile group, called Bilash’s arrest a political decision, not a legal one.

I believe Kazakhstan arrested him due to enormous pressure from the Chinese government, Isa said.

Serikzhan Bilash hasn’t violated any Kazakh or international laws in pursuing the human rights of Kazakhs detained in China’s reeducation camps, he added, calling on authorities in Kazakhstan to release the activist and allow him to return to his work.

Ilshat Hassan, president of the Washingtonbased Uyghur American Association, told RFA that instead of arresting Bilash, the Kazakh government should be providing assistance to him and his organization.

As an independent and sovereign state, Kazakhstan should protect its own people and not take orders from China, he said, calling for the activist’s immediate release.

Brownback blowback

Bilash’s arrest came as U.S. Ambassador for Religious Freedom Sam Brownback on Monday defended his claim that reeducation camps in the XUAR were created to wipe out the cultural and religious identity of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities as part of Beijing’s wider war with faith, following a tersely worded statement from China’s foreign ministry condemning his remarks.

Last week, while presenting a speech on religious freedom at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Hong Kong, Brownback accused authorities in the XUAR of persecuting Uyghurs, Tibetan Buddhists, Christians and practitioners of Falun Gong, but warned China that its attack on faith is one they will not win.

On Monday, Lu Kang dismissed Brownback’s statement, saying China protects its citizens’ freedom of religious belief in accordance with law, and accusing Washington of cooking up or using the socalled religious issues to interfere in other countries’ internal affairs.

Lu specifically addressed the situation in the XUAR, saying the authorities had set up vocational and educational training centers as a preventive measure against terrorism and extremism, and that government policies in the region enjoy extensive support from all ethnic groups.

Responding to Lu’s statement during a forum on religious freedom on the democratic island of Taiwan on Monday, Brownback said his office had tracked down information on hundreds of Uyghurs in the XUAR that are missing and believed detained for their faith.

“Where are they? What is happening to them? Why can’t their family members hear from them?” Brownback asked, according to media reports, which said the ambassador called on China’s government to provide the whereabouts of the individuals.

Camp network

Though Beijing initially denied the existence of reeducation camps, Shohrat Zakir, chairman of the XUAR, told China’s official Xinhua news agency in October 2018 that the facilities are an effective tool to protect the country from terrorism and provide vocational training for Uyghurs.

Reporting by RFA’s Uyghur Service and other media organizations, however, has shown that those in the camps are detained against their will and subjected to political indoctrination, routinely face rough treatment at the hands of their overseers, and endure poor diets and unhygienic conditions in the often overcrowded facilities.

Adrian Zenz, a lecturer in social research methods at the Germanybased European School of Culture and Theology, has said that some 1.1 million people are or have been detained in the camps�equating to 10 to 11 percent of the adult Muslim population of the XUAR.

In November 2018, Scott Busby, the deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor at the U.S. Department of State, said there are “at least 800,000 and possibly up to a couple of million” Uyghurs and others detained at reeducation camps in the XUAR without charges, citing U.S. intelligence assessments.

Citing credible reports, U.S. lawmakers Rubio and Chris Smith of the bipartisan CongressionalExecutive Commission on China recently called the situation in the XUAR “the largest mass incarceration of a minority population in the world today.”

Since 1999, the U.S. has designated China a Country of Particular Concern under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, for having engaged in or tolerated particularly severe violations of religious freedom.

Copyright (copyright) 19982016, RFA. Used with the permission of Radio Free Asia, 2025 M St. NW, Suite 300, Washington DC 20036