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The Chinese state, the Uighur people and the world’s biggest prison

Beijing at first denied their existence, then justified the internment camps as counter-terrorism measures. But there are many unanswered questions

By Isabel Hilton   March 2019

A man displays a photo of Uighur prisoners in protest against the Chinese government. Photo: Rex/Shutterstock

In mid-January, delegates gathered in Ürümqi, the capital of China’s Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, for the annual meeting of the regional People’s Congress. They listened attentively to the chairman, Shohrat Zakir, as he gave a report on behalf of an administration accused by the UN of incarcerating up to one million Uighurs in extra-judicial internment camps.

There was one upbeat piece of news: tourism in Xinjiang is booming, up 40 per cent on…

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