This report, the second in a three-part series, employs a novel empirical approach to systematically assess the current operating status of known detention facilities in Xinjiang using nighttime lighting. This analysis provides new, empirical evidence to suggest that the overwhelming majority of detention facilities in Xinjiang remain active, operational, and in many cases, still under construction – despite Chinese claims to the contrary.
About This Series: A growing body of research has systematically documented China’s efforts to imprison, detain, and re-educate ethnic Uyghur and minority groups throughout its western Xinjiang province. In this three-part investigation, RAND researchers explore new data on nighttime lighting in Xinjiang to offer new, empirical insights into China’s efforts to reeducate, detain, and imprison its Uyghur and ethnic minority populations across Xinjiang.
GEOINT analysis of nighttime lighting and satellite imagery data is conducted to assess the likely operating status of 380 known detention facilities in Xinjiang. This analysis reveals little evidence to suggest that the systematic detention and reeducation of Uyghur and ethnic minority populations in Xinjiang has declined over time, despite official Chinese government claims to the contrary.