EXPLAINER—Five Things to Know About the Bingtuan
Published 08/27/2020 Uyghur Human Rights Project
The Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps is also known as the Bingtuan, or “military unit” in Chinese.
1. Exercises State & Police Powers
The Bingtuan, meaning “military unit” in Chinese, is a paramilitary force made up of 14 Divisions. It commands a population of 2.7 million over an area of 80,000 square km of East Turkistan, around 12% of the region’s total population.
It is sometimes referred to as a “state within a state.”
Under the slogan “maintain stability & promote ethnic unity,” the Bingtuan enforces demolition orders destroying Uyghur homes, dismantles “unsanctioned” mosques, and deploys militia units and forces for “emergency unit special warfare.”
2. Serves as a Colonizing Force
The Bingtuan was founded to “increase the Han population” in the Uyghur homeland and has constructed 13 new cities to absorb Han migrants and dilute the Uyghur population.
Construction often destroys Uyghur homes and strains already-fragile natural resources, contributing to severe environmental degradation.
Chinese propaganda depicts the Bingtuan as a continuous part of Han colonization efforts in East Turkestan dating back thousands of years.
3. Commits Brutal Abuses
The Bingtuan carries out systematic human rights abuses against Uyghurs.
It oversees a brutal prison system, construction and supervision of extra-judicial internment camps, a vast surveillance network, and involuntary population transfers and forced labor
4. Profits from Uyghur Forced Labor
The Bingtuan is the single largest producer of cotton in the Uyghur Region and utilizes forced labor throughout the textile supply chain from irrigation all the way to finished products.
For global companies, it is practically impossible to be involved in any kind of agricultural or industrial activities in the Uyghur Region without engaging in some way with the Bingtuan, and therefore with forced labor.
5. Operates a Global Business Empire
The Bingtuan constitutes a multibillion-dollar state-owned business. Bingtuan-controlled interests make up around 20% of the regional economy.
Over 850,000 companies in 147 countries, including the United States, Germany, and the U.K. are part of the Bingtuan’s international business operations.
For more information, see the UHRP 2018 report, The Bingtuan: China’s Paramilitary Colonizing Force in East Turkestan.