Fact Check: Death Count For Muslims In Chinese Concentration Camps Has NOT Surpassed Number Of Jews Killed In The Holocaust

Fact Check

  • by: Arthur Brice
Fact Check: Death Count For Muslims In Chinese Concentration Camps Has NOT Surpassed Number Of Jews Killed In The Holocaust Doesn't Add Up

Have the Chinese executed more Muslims in concentration camps than the number of Jewish victims who died in the Holocaust? No, that's not true. The U.S. State Department estimates China has rounded up at least 1 million Muslims and some have been executed or died from harsh treatment or abuse, but far less than the 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust.

The claim appeared in a post (archived here) on Instagram on September 3, 2020. It opened:

China has officially PASSED THE DEATH COUNT of the JEW VICTIMS IN THE HOLOCAUST with MUSLIMS in the CONCENTRATION CAMPS yet everyone is silent.

This is what the post looked like:

View this post on Instagram

CLICK THE LINK IN BIO AND SHARE

A post shared by Lilshiekh (@lilshiekh) on

The post continued:

YOU HEARD ME, we are living with a HUGE GENOCIDE HAPPENING AMONGST US.

The post did not cite any "official" numbers or sources.

Scholars and historians largely agree that the Nazis killed 6 million Jews in the Holocaust, plus another 5 million civilians deemed undesirable. The math doesn't add up to make a claim that China's crackdown (intensified since 2016) has killed more than 6 million Muslim Uyghurs.

There are two reasons:

1) There are an estimated 10 million to 11 million Uyghurs living in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in northwest China. Even in China, where information is controlled by the central government, cell phones and chat apps are widely available, which means news of the extermination of up to 60% of that population would be difficult if not impossible to cover up.

2) More significantly, no outside government or global watchdog organization has reported that many Uyghurs executed.

Having said that, though, it must be noted that there are no official reports from any government or nongovernmental organization such as the United Nations on how many Uyghurs have been killed in the crackdown. So that figure remains unknown.

Here is what is known:

The U.S. State Department and other organizations say Chinese authorities have rounded up at least 1 million Uyghurs and other Muslim groups and have held them in 380 internment camps, which the Chinese government euphemistically calls "reeducation centers." From the State Department:

The U.S. government estimated the People's Republic of China (PRC) government detained more than one million Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs, Hui, and members of other Muslim groups, as well as some Uighur Christians, in specially built internment camps or converted detention facilities in Xinjiang and subjected them to forced disappearance, political indoctrination, torture, psychological and physical and psychological abuse, including forced sterilization and sexual abuse, forced labor, and prolonged detention without trial because of their religion and ethnicity. Many nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) estimated the number being interred was higher. The whereabouts of hundreds of prominent Uighur intellectuals, doctors, journalists, artists, academics, and other professionals, in addition to many other citizens, who were arrested or detained remained unknown. There were reports of individuals dying as a result of injuries sustained during interrogations.

A State Department official testified to the Senate in 2018 the number of detainees could be as high as 2 million.

US officials have noted an uptick in arrests, with the Congressional Research Service reporting on October 5, 2020, that "official data indicates that criminal arrests in Xinjiang increased from approximately 14,000 in 2013 to 228,000 in 2017."

The State Department also noted the "destruction and closure of mosques and other religious sites, prevention of youths from participating in religious activities, forced political indoctrination or 're-education.' "

In addition, the State Department pointed to "coercive population control through forced abortion, forced sterilization, and involuntary implantation of birth control."

According to reports, "hospitals have aborted late-stage pregnancies and killed newborns as part of China's mission to erase Uighur culture." Business Insider reported:

In 2017, China passed a law limiting Uighurs and other ethnic minorities to having three children if they live in rural areas or two if they live in urban areas.

Xinjiang is pivotal to China's future, which explains the central government's efforts to assert total control, as explained in a CNN report:

Rich in natural resources, especially oil and natural gas, the region has seen a large-scale influx of the country's majority Han population in recent decades, amid a concerted effort by the government to develop the region's economy.

Historically, Uyghurs had been the majority in the region. Now, they account for just under half of Xinjiang's total population, and many of them live in the southern, rural part of the region.
Xinjiang is also geographically strategic for Beijing. It is China's gateway to Central Asia, bordering Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan, as well as Mongolia and Russia in the north and Pakistan and India in the south.
China has received global condemnation for its treatment of the Uyghurs. In response, China and its allies defend the government's "counter-terrorism, deradicalization and vocational training policies."
The United States also has criticized the events in Xinjiang, imposing sanctions on China, most recently on July 20, 2020.

More background on the events in Xinjiang can be found here and here and here.

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  Arthur Brice

Arthur Brice is a fact checker at Lead Stories. He has been a journalist for more than 40 years, nearly 30 of them in newspapers. Brice was a national desk editor and reporter at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for nearly 20 years. Previously, he was political editor at The Tampa Tribune and also worked for three other Florida newspapers. He spent 11 Years as an executive editor and executive producer at CNN. 

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