Big Brother and big data at work in Xinjiang


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Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian, who covers China for Axios, was the lead reporter on an explosive leak of documents detailing the ongoing repression of Uyghurs and other Muslims in China’s Xinjiang Autonomous Region. This week, she joins Kaiser and Jeremy to discuss her report, titled Exposed: China’s Operating Manuals for Mass Internment and Arrest by Algorithm. The leaks include what she describes as a “manual for operating the camps,” and reveal how Chinese police are using big data to identify individuals deemed at risk for Islamic extremism or separatism in Xinjiang.

9:43: What do the leaks mean?

14:53: A timeline of events in Xinjiang

18:57: The “Integrated Joint Operations Platform”

24:50: The world’s highest-stakes “testing,” in Xinjiang camps

33:58: What can, and should, the U.S. do?


Jeremy: One Long Night: A Global History of Concentration Camps, by Andrea Pitzer.

Bethany: The Origins of Totalitarianism, by Hannah Arendt, a look at totalitarian governments in the 20th century.

Kaiser: The December issue of The Atlantic, themed “How to Stop a Civil War.” With an emphasis on a few essays: The dark psychology of social networks, by Jonathan Haidt and Tobias Rose-Stockwell; Too much democracy is bad for democracy, by Jonathan Rauch and Ray La Raja; and The dishonesty of the abortion debate, by Caitlin Flanagan.

This podcast was edited and produced by Kaiser Kuo and Jason MacRonald.