Think Tank: China Exporting ‘Totalitarian Technology’ Tested on Uighur Muslims to Venezuela

Uyghurs people demonstrate against China outside of the United Nations (UN) offices during the Universal Periodic Review of China by the UN Human Rights Council, on November 6, 2018 in Geneva. - China's mass detainment of ethnic Uighurs and its crackdown on civil liberties likely figures high on the agenda …
FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images

WASHINGTON, DC — Communist China is selling its “totalitarian technology” tested on the country’s Muslim Uighur minority to Venezuela and other regimes eager to persecute their citizens, according to a panel discussion hosted by the libertarian Cato Institute on Wednesday.

Cato noted in a statement announcing the event:

In [Muslim Uighur-majority] Xinjiang [province], Chinese authorities are testing their new products for social control, such as drones disguised as birds to surveil citizens and state-issued tracking devices on human bodies. This cutting-edge totalitarianism can easily be exported to other regimes around the world that are eager to spy on their citizens and persecute their dissidents.

Panelist Sigal Samuel — the religion editor at the Atlantic who discussed her findings in August that China is deploying new technologies, “including drones disguised as birds,” to surveil Uighurs (or Uyghurs) — revealed that Beijing has already exported some of its “cutting-edge totalitarianism” tactics to Venezuela.

“There are the many countries to which China’s totalitarian technology is spreading — it’s being exported. Because the same technologies that China is testing out on Uighurs in Xinjiang are now being exported to other places,” she noted.

The editor identified the murderous socialist regime of Venezuela, which engages in repression of its internal critics through detentions and torture, as one of the recipients of China’s “totalitarian technology.”

Without mentioning Bejing’s ongoing crackdown on the Uighurs, Reuters reported on November 14, “Chinese telecoms giant ZTE is helping Venezuela build a system that monitors citizen behavior through a new identification card. The ‘fatherland card,’ already used by the government to track voting, worries many in Venezuela and beyond.”

Samuel revealed that China tested the technology it is exporting to Venezuela on the Uighurs.

“So some of the new tech that the Chinese authorities are trying out on Uighur Muslims is later applied more broadly in China and then exported abroad,” she explained.

Xinjiang provides a testing ground for social control technology, such as state-issued tracking devices, that China can then export to other oppressive countries.

“Chinese firms have already sold their surveillance tech to countries like Venezuela,” Samuel said.

The U.S. and United Nations has acknowledged that China has forced an estimated one million Uighurs into re-education centers where they face systemic torture, disappearances, executions, and arbitrary detentions as part of Beijing’s campaign to ensure its Muslim minority is loyal to the communist party.

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