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October 19, 2019
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Australian varsities announce reviews over links to surveillance tech used by China

CANBERRA, Australia: Two Australian universities have announced to review funding and research approval procedures due to concerns over links to technology that is being used to carry out mass human rights abuses by the Chinese Government in Xinjiang province.

Last night, Four Corners revealed that the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) is conducting an internal review into its $10 million partnership with CETC, a Chinese state-owned military tech company that developed an app that Chinese security forces use to track and detain Muslim Uyghur citizens in Xinjiang.

The UTS signed the deal in 2017 with CETC to establish a new research centre, which included projects in artificial intelligence and surveillance.

That same year, the Communist Party began a new incarceration campaign, rounding up, detaining and forcibly indoctrinating Uyghurs and other Muslim minority ethnic groups in Xinjiang.

Islam has effectively been outlawed in the province, with people routinely labelled as extremists and imprisoned for practising their religion.

Human Rights Watch, which revealed the existence of the app and CETC’s involvement in its development, welcomed the internal review by UTS.

The Uyghur concentrations camps are said to be the largest imprisonment of people on the basis of religion since the Holocaust. More than a million people have been rounded up, detained and forcibly indoctrinated by the Chinese Government.

“I think no Australian university wants to be collaborating with a Chinese company that is basically building these tools of repression in China,” said Elaine Pearson, director of Human Rights Watch Australia.

“This is an app that has been designed to gather basic information about Uyghurs and other Muslims. We know that people have been sent to political re-education camps on the basis of information collected through this application.”

UTS says it is confident there is no link between the research conducted at its centre and the CETC app being used in Xinjiang.

The university told Four Corners it began its internal review in April after being “deeply concerned” by allegations of human rights violations in Xinjiang.

“UTS at this stage has no plans for new work with CETC and will assess the current contractual agreements in light of the review,” the university said in a statement.