This Company Monitors Prisoners In Xinjiang. It Won An “Innovation” Award At An Event Sponsored By Amazon.



With an Amazon brand behind him and luminaries from Shanghai’s booming enterprise capital scene in entrance of him, the manager onstage delivered his pitch. His firm, Renwei Electronics, helps authorities in China observe prisoners and detainees — alerting guards to their actions and even becoming them with coronary heart charge displays.

Renwei deploys its “good jail” system in China’s Xinjiang area, the place greater than 1 million Muslim minorities have been locked up.

But this didn’t intrude with the nice and cozy welcome for Renwei at an occasion cohosted by an Amazon-backed “joint innovation middle” in November. Occasion organizers gave Renwei’s government a platform to ship an “investor street present”–fashion speech to a few of China’s most prestigious traders. And Renwei obtained a “product innovation award” recognizing it as certainly one of six “excellent entrepreneurial firms.”

Despatched an in depth checklist of questions, Amazon declined to touch upon the file. Renwei didn’t reply to a request for remark.

A rising checklist of multinational firms are below strain to maneuver their provide chains away from Xinjiang, amid mounting proof of mass detention and pressured labor there, as a part of what the US and different international locations have not too long ago referred to as a genocide. Congress is contemplating a invoice banning imports from Xinjiang tainted by pressured labor, and US customs have already banned merchandise constituted of tomatoes and cotton within the area, amongst different items.

Amazon shut down its e-commerce enterprise in China in 2019, however different components of its sprawling empire nonetheless work with Chinese language clients, together with its extremely worthwhile cloud computing subsidiary, Amazon Net Providers.

AWS runs the joint innovation middle with native Shanghai authorities and enterprise organizations. The middle boosts startups by offering them with AWS cloud sources and tech help, and by serving to them purchase expertise and adjust to authorities laws, in accordance with an advert for the occasion. It’s unclear what advantages, if any, that Renwei and different firms that gained awards obtained. The middle’s web site emphasizes that the businesses it helps additionally profit from Amazon’s sources and popularity.

Horizon Advisory, a Washington, DC–primarily based geopolitical advisory agency, first made word of Renwei’s award and the Amazon occasion in analysis it shared with BuzzFeed Information.

Renwei’s know-how has been used in prisons throughout China, together with at Zhongjiazhuang Jail, positioned close to town of Shihezi. The jail is run by the highly effective Xinjiang Manufacturing and Development Corps, a paramilitary and governmental group that the US positioned sanctions on final yr, citing its ties to human rights abuses within the area.

Google Earth

A satellite tv for pc picture of the jail in Shawan County

BuzzFeed Information positioned the jail in Xinjiang’s Shawan County utilizing satellite tv for pc imagery. An official picture of the jail posted in 2016 exhibits a rounded entrance gate in elaborate ironwork and a lion statue to the left of the doorway. Behind the gate, a street leads as much as a two- to three-story constructing. A white wall and a row of bushes run alongside the street. A Google Earth picture exhibits the gate’s shadow forged on the bottom, a light-colored object about 2.5 meters excessive that seems to match the lion statue, and the identical east-west wall and line of bushes. The roof of the constructing within the background additionally matches the {photograph}.

The Chinese language authorities has pressured upwards of one million Muslim minorities, together with Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Hui Muslims, and others into mass internment camps previously 4 years. A BuzzFeed Information investigation final yr discovered

the federal government had dramatically escalated its marketing campaign since 2017, constructing lots of of recent compounds bearing the hallmarks of internment camps and prisons. Dozens of individuals previously detained there described abuse, deprivation, and routine humiliation inside, starting from overcrowding and meals deprivation to beatings and even torture. The federal government says the internment camp system is for “transformation via schooling,” and deradicalizing extremists.

Authorities knowledge analyzed by the New York Instances exhibits that Xinjiang’s jail inhabitants has additionally ballooned throughout this time — the area accounted for 21% of the nation’s complete arrests for simply 2% of the inhabitants in 2017. Muslim minorities make up about half of Xinjiang’s inhabitants. China’s Communist Celebration–managed courts convict greater than 99% of defendants, in accordance with authorities knowledge.

Prisons in lots of components of the world, together with the US, use data-driven methods to watch and management prisoners. However in Xinjiang, the federal government’s marketing campaign particularly targets ethnic minorities by detaining them over spiritual practices, connections to household overseas, or different conduct seen as suspect or threatening to the state.

Renwei describes its system as “an necessary platform for digital prisons to enhance their administration capabilities via data know-how.” It makes use of picture processing, knowledge encryption, cloud computing, and “large knowledge” to arrange a “personnel positioning system” that may be monitored remotely, the corporate says. The information is funneled right into a centralized platform that authorities can use for “administration decision-making.”

Renwei says that this improves effectivity, and helps jail workers “obtain new concepts of preemptive prevention, mid-incident management and post-incident verification.” An early warning system indicators when police are attacked, Renwei says, and when detainees enter areas forbidden to them. Prisoners will be fitted with digital gadgets that monitor their coronary heart charges and different very important indicators to “cut back the danger to regulation enforcement.” The system helps stop folks from escaping or killing themselves, Renwei says.

Excessive-tech surveillance is a trademark of life in Xinjiang’s camps and prisons. Greater than two dozen folks previously detained there have informed BuzzFeed Information that they have been monitored in actual time by cameras that have been positioned within the corners of their cells and even within the loos. Guards may punish them for tiny infractions, like talking their native language as an alternative of Mandarin Chinese language.

Renwei has additionally obtained recognition from China’s home safety service, the Ministry of Public Safety. The corporate featured at a ministry promotional convention attended by the division’s vice minister and different authorities officers.

Amazon Joint Innovation Heart / Through

The Renwei government onstage on the Amazon occasion on Nov. 16, 2020

Along with Shanghai enterprise capitalists, the viewers on the Nov. 16, 2020 Amazon occasion included executives from multinational giants reminiscent of Siemens and Kone Elevators, in accordance with a press launch in regards to the occasion.

Onstage, the Renwei government spent about 11 minutes flipping via a PowerPoint presentation that walked via every side of the enterprise, noting that the system could possibly be used not solely in prisons, but additionally in detention facilities. On the finish, he appeared towards the traders and requested for his or her questions. ●

Correction: An earlier model of this submit incorrectly said that the Renwei government onstage thanked the Shanghai-Amazon Joint Innovation Heart for its help.


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