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

Renwei deploys its “sensible 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 center” in November. Occasion organizers gave Renwei’s government a platform to ship an “investor street present”–model speech to a few of China’s most prestigious buyers. And Renwei acquired 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 report. Renwei didn’t reply to a request for remark.

A rising checklist of multinational firms are underneath strain to maneuver their provide chains away from Xinjiang, amid mounting proof of mass detention and forced 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 compelled labor, and US customs have already banned merchandise created from 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 prospects, together with its extremely worthwhile cloud computing subsidiary, Amazon Internet Companies.

AWS runs the joint innovation heart with native Shanghai authorities and enterprise organizations. The middle boosts startups by offering them with AWS cloud assets and tech assist, and by serving to them purchase expertise and adjust to authorities laws, in response to an ad for the event. It’s unclear what advantages, if any, that Renwei and different firms that received awards acquired. The middle’s web site emphasizes that the businesses it helps additionally profit from Amazon’s assets and repute.

Horizon Advisory, a Washington, DC–based mostly geopolitical advisory agency, first made observe 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, situated close to the town of Shihezi. The jail is administered by the highly effective Xinjiang Manufacturing and Building 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 photograph of the jail in Shawan County

BuzzFeed Information situated the jail in Xinjiang’s Shawan County utilizing satellite tv for pc imagery. An official photo 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 compelled upwards of 1,000,000 Muslim minorities, together with Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Hui Muslims, and others into mass internment camps up to now 4 years. A BuzzFeed Information investigation final yr found the federal government had dramatically escalated its marketing campaign since 2017, constructing lots of of latest 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 by training,” and deradicalizing extremists.

Authorities information analyzed by the New York Occasions shows 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 Get together–managed courts convict greater than 99% of defendants, in response to authorities information.

Prisons in lots of components of the world, together with america, use data-driven techniques to observe and management prisoners. However in Xinjiang, the federal government’s marketing campaign specifically 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 vital platform for digital prisons to enhance their administration capabilities by info know-how.” It makes use of picture processing, information encryption, cloud computing, and “large information” to arrange a “personnel positioning system” that may be monitored remotely, the company says. The info is funneled right into a centralized platform that authorities can use for “administration decision-making.”

Renwei says that this improves effectivity, and helps jail employees “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 “scale back the chance to regulation enforcement.” The system helps stop individuals 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 individuals previously detained there have told BuzzFeed News that they have been monitored in actual time by cameras that have been positioned within the corners of their cells and even within the bogs. Guards may punish them for tiny infractions, like talking their native language as a substitute of Mandarin Chinese language.

Renwei has additionally acquired 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 tunefulcloud.com

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 event included executives from multinational giants similar to Siemens and Kone Elevators, according to a press release concerning the occasion.

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

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

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