The Xinjiang Surveillance Company won the Amazon Event Award

With an Amazon logo behind him and lights of Shanghai’s venture capital stake in front of him, the executive on stage lifted his pitch. His company, Renwei Electronics, helps authorities in China track prisoners and detainees – alerting guards to their movements and also equipping them with heart rate monitors.

Renwei implements its “smart prison” system in China’s Xinjiang region, home to more than 1 million Muslim minorities they have been closed.

However, this did not interfere with the warm welcome for Renwei at an event hosted by an Amazon supporter. ”common innovation center»Of November. Event organizers have given Renwei’s executive a platform to broadcast an “investor street show” – style talk to some of China’s most prestigious investors. And Renwei received a “award for product innovation“It is recognized as one of the six ‘outstanding business ventures.’

After sending out a detailed list of requests, Amazon declined to comment on the record. Renwei did not respond to a request for comment.

A growing list of multinational corporations are under pressure to move their supply chains away from Xinjiang, amid growing evidence of mass detention and forced labor there, in the framework of what the United States and other countries have recently called a genocide. Congress has considered a bill banning imports from Xinjiang contaminated by forced labor, and U.S. customs have already banned products made from tomatoes and cotton in the region, among other goods.

Amazon shut down its e-commerce venture in China in 2019, but other parts of its expanding empire will still work with Chinese customers, including its highly profitable cloud computing subsidiary, Amazon Web Services.

AWS manages the joint innovation center with Shanghai local government and business organizations. The center increases startups by providing AWS resources in cloud and technical support, and helping them acquire talent and comply with government regulations, according to an announcement for the event. It is unclear what benefits, if any, Renwei and other companies that have won awards will receive. The center’s website emphasizes that the companies it supports also benefit from Amazon’s resources and reputation.

Horizon Advisory, a Washington, DC-based geopolitical consulting firm, first noted the Renwei Award and the Amazon event in the research it shared with BuzzFeed News.

Renwei technology has been used in prison throughout China, including Zhongjiazhuang Prison, located near the city of Shihezi. The prison is administered by u Powerful Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, a paramilitary and governmental organization that the United States imposed sanctions on last year, citing links to human rights violations in the region.

Google Earth

A satellite photo of the prison in Shawan County

BuzzFeed News located the prison in Shawan County of Xinjiang with satellite images. An official photo of the prison posted in 2016 shows a rounded front gate in elaborate scrap metal and a lion statue to the left of the entrance. Behind the door, a road leads to a two- to three-story building. A white wall and a row of trees run along the road. A Google Earth image shows the shadow of the lighted door on the ground, a light-colored object about 2.5 meters high that appears to correspond to the lion statue, and the same east-west wall and tree line. . The roof of the palace in the background also corresponds to the photograph.

The Chinese government has forced more than a million Muslim minorities, including Uighurs, Kazakhs, Hui Muslims, and others into mass internment camps in the past four years. A BuzzFeed News survey last year found the government has dramatically scaled up its campaign since 2017, building hundreds of new compounds that bear the brunt of internment camps and prisons. Dozens of elderly people are detained here described abuse, deprivation, and routine humiliation in the interior, ranging from overcrowding and food deprivation to beatings and even torture. The government says the internment camp system is for “transformation through education,” and deradicalizing extremists.

Government data analyzed by the New York Times shows that Xinjiang’s prison population is also on the rise during this time – the region accounted for 21% of the country’s total arrests for just 2% of the population in 2017. Muslim minorities make up about half of the population of Xinjiang. According to government data, the courts controlled by the Communist Party of China convicted more than 99% of the accused.

Prisons in many parts of the world, including the United States, use data-based systems to monitor and control prisoners. But in Xinjiang, the government campaign specifically objectives ethnic minorities detaining them for religious practices, connections to family abroad, or other behaviors considered suspicious or threatening to the state.

Renwei describe its system as “an important platform for digital prisons to improve their management capabilities through information technologies.” It uses image processing, data encryption, cloud computing, and “big data” to install a “personnel positioning system” that can be monitored remotely, says the company. The data is conducted on a centralized platform that authorities can use for “management decision making”.

Renwei says this improves efficiency, and helps prison staff “gain new insights into preventive prevention, incident control and post-incident verification.” An initial alert system signals when police are attacked, Renwei says, and when detainees enter areas prohibited for them. Prisoners can be equipped with electronic devices that monitor their heart rates and other vital signs to “reduce the risk for law enforcement.” The system helps prevent people from fleeing or being killed, Renwei says.

High-tech surveillance is a distinctive sign of life in Xinjiang’s camps and prisons. More than two dozen elderly detainees live there he told BuzzFeed News that they were monitored in real time by cameras that were placed in the corners of their cells and even in the bathrooms. Guards could punish them for minor infractions, such as speaking their native language instead of Mandarin Chinese.

Renwei also received recognition from China’s national security service, the Ministry of Public Security. The company attended a promotional conference of the minister which was attended by the deputy minister of the department and other government officials.

Amazon Joint Innovation Center / Via

Renwei executives on stage at Amazon event on November 16, 2020

In addition to Shanghai’s venture capitalists, the public will be on November 16, 2020 Amazon event including executives of multinational giants such as Siemens and Kone Elevators, according to a press release about the event.

On stage, Renwei’s executive spent about 11 minutes flipping through a PowerPoint presentation that went through every aspect of the business, noting that the system could be used not only in prisons, but also in detention centers. In the end, he looked at investors and asked their questions. ●

April 20, 2021, at 7:55 PM

Correction: An earlier version of this post erroneously stated that Renwei’s executive on stage thanked the Shanghai-Amazon Community Innovation Center for its support.

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