Lawmakers demand responses from World Bank on Xinjiang loan
U.S. lawmakers are demanding responses from the World Bank on its continued operation of a $ 50 million loan program in Xinjiang, following Axios’ lending report.
Why is this important: The Chinese government is currently waging a campaign of cultural and demographic genocide against ethnic minorities in Xinjiang, northwest China. Lawmakers argue that loan recipients may be complicit in this crackdown.
In one letter dated August 12 and addressed to World Bank Group President David Malpass, Representative Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) and Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Co-Chairs of the Congressional Executive Committee on China , highlighted specific concerns about the activities of the schools that received funding.
What they say: “We continue to be seriously concerned about the continued disbursement by the World Bank of a loan to the [Xinjiang] Department of Education after learning of the massive internment of Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other Muslims in the region, ”McGovern and Rubio wrote.
Background: Axios reported in December 2019, the World Bank’s partner schools in Xinjiang requested tens of thousands of dollars to fund advanced surveillance equipment – including facial recognition systems – connected directly to local public security offices.
- Xinjiang is the site of a massive Chinese government campaign to forcibly assimilate Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities through mass surveillance and detention.
- The bank did not provide financing for the equipment but continued to disburse the loan even after the unusual demand.
- After close media scrutiny, the bank cut back but did not halt Xinjiang’s loan program.
Lawmakers referenced the Axios report on the funding request, stating: “We would like to better understand why the World Bank saw fit to work with these five vocational schools as they sought to purchase this type of equipment.”