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Criminal Arrests in Xinjiang Account for 21% of China’s Total in 2017

According to Chinese government data, criminal arrests in Xinjiang accounted for an alarming 21% of all arrests in China in 2017, though the population in the XUAR is only about 1.5% of China’s total, based on the 2010 Census. Ethnic minorities account for nearly 60% of Xinjiang’s population, the largest group being ethnic Uyghurs, who account for 46% of the population.




For both arrests and indictments, the sudden increases in 2017 from 2016 are staggering. While the government has not provided explicit explanations for the steep climb, it is likely the result of hard-line tactics adopted by the Communist Party secretary for Xinjiang, Chen Quanguo, who was appointed in August 2016, after implementing harsh measures to “maintain stability” as Party head in the Tibet Autonomous Region. Chen is reportedly responsible for a 92% increase in “security spending” in Xinjiang from 2016 to 2017, as well as a large expansion in police recruitment. Furthermore, many of the hundreds of thousands of ethnic Uyghurs detained in extrajudicial re-education camps—to which almost all are believed to have been sent without being criminally detained or formally arrested—have since ended up in the criminal justice system.


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