Xinjiang University

新疆大学

Xinjiang University (XJU) is designated medium risk for its role in language and facial recognition of ethnic minorities.

Xinjiang University is jointly overseen by the Ministry of Education and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.https://archive.fo/wip/KNl4A XJU was selected as one of 42 ‘world-class’ universities under the Ministry of Education’s Double First Class University Plan—a plan that seeks to improve the global standing of China’s elite universities.https://archive.fo/R0g9l ; https://archive.fo/srWcG ; https://archive.fo/kp2kY ; https://cset.georgetown.edu/wp-content/uploads/CSET-Universities-and-the-Chinese-Defense-Technology-Workforce.pdf ; https://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/world-view/985-world-class-20-chinas-strategic-move XJU is recognised for its programs in computer science and technology, chemistry and Marxist philosophy.https://archive.fo/KNl4A

XJU conducts extensive research on minority language speech recognition technology. This technology can be applied to biometric databases used by the government and police to track ethnic minorities in Xinjiang.https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/10/22/china-voice-biometric-collection-threatens-privacy ; https://www.hrw.org/report/2018/09/09/eradicating-ideological-viruses/chinas-campaign-repression-against-xinjiangs As early as 2008, XJU cooperated with Tsinghua University and Beijing Jietong Huasheng Technology—a company that develops text to speech technology—to conduct research on Uyghur language recognition and synthesis.https://archive.fo/9gJtS

In 2017, the Ministry of Education’s Department of Language Information Management (教育部语言文字信息管理司), the Department of Language Application and Administration (语言文字应用管理司) and XJU jointly established the State Language Commission ‘Multi-Language Information Technology Research Centre’ (国家语委 “多语种信息技术研究中心”). The Centre’s work includes research on minority languages in Xinjiang, natural language processing and speech recognition.https://archive.fo/EypFS XJU is also home to the Xinjiang Key Laboratory of Multi-Language Information Technology (新疆多语种信息技术重点实验室), which focuses on the research and development of multi-language information processing and system software.https://archive.ph/Xo72G

A professor in the College of Information Science and Engineering specialises in Uyghur voice recognition technology and led a government-funded project on minority language automatic speech recognition technology.https://archive.fo/h56ZP He previously worked for iFlytek—an artificial intelligence company on the US Entity List that produces 80 percent of all speech recognition technology in China.https://archive.fo/h56ZP ; https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/10/22/china-voice-biometric-collection-threatens-privacyhttps://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/10/09/2019-22210/addition-of-certain-entities-to-the-entity-list

In 2010, Xinjiang University and iFlytek established the Speech and Language Joint Laboratory (新疆大学讯飞语音及语言联合实验室).https://archive.ph/BYc9c Through the joint lab, iFlytek plans to leverage XJU’s Uyghur, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, and Arabic language expertise to make contributions in the ‘speech and language information industry.’https://archive.ph/BYc9c Research conducted under the joint lab could contribute towards developing iFlytek’s automatic speech recognition technology.

In 2019, XJU purchased a facial recognition system to monitor its student population.https://archive.fo/nuY3G ; https://archive.fo/9fE6u This procurement was an extension of a previous project and requires the university have a data collection platform to support the system.https://archive.fo/nuY3G ; https://archive.fo/9fE6u The system was supplied by Urumqi Shunda Baisheng Information Technology Co., Ltd. (乌鲁木齐顺达百盛信息科技有限公司),  which is a company involved in information transmission, software and information technology services.https://archive.fo/9fE6u

Economic espionage and misconduct

As of 2018, at least 56 Uyghur lecturers and researchers from Xinjiang University were held in re-education camps.https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-xinjiang-un/calls-grow-for-u-n-action-on-chinas-muslim-re-education-camps-idUSKCN1LZ1H3 In 2017, Tashpolat Tiyip—head of Xinjiang University and a leading geographer—disappeared. Academics and friends who knew him believe he was convicted of separatism and received the death penalty, though there is no official confirmation.https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-49956088 Since Tiyip’s disappearance, a Han Chinese was appointed as president of Xinjiang University in 2020, the first non-Uyghur president in the university’s history.https://www.rfa.org/english/news/uyghur/xju-10082020133820.html

Defence and security links

Xinjiang University cooperates with the PLA Xinjiang Military Command. In 2017, XJU established Xinjiang’s first military-civil fusion bases, including the University Students Patriotism and National Defence Education Base and the National Defence Student Ideological and Political Education Practice Base.https://archive.fo/kpKa2 Additionally, Xinjiang University’s Red Cultural Education Base was listed as part of the Red Army Division of Xinjiang Military Region in an effort to promote talent cultivation.https://archive.fo/eADq0 Previously in 2016, Xinjiang University sent students to serve as Uyghur language instructors for military organisations, where students would regularly conduct Uyghur language instruction for government officials.https://archive.fo/kY5iN

Noteworthy international collaborations

XJU has established three Confucius Institutes in Russia and Kyrgyzstan.https://archive.fo/KNl4A

Last updated 17 May 2021. Unclear about any wording? Visit the terminology page.