Our Mission

The Xinjiang Documentation Project (XDP) serves as a permanent repository for a broad range of materials directly connected to the context and development of China’s ethnic policies and practices in Xinjiang. Our immediate aim is to inform and educate the public using the most reliable primary and secondary sources about the policies of the government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), human rights violations, cultural erasures, labor abuses, and settler colonization in Northwest China. In the long term, we document the pronouncements and actions of the Chinese state and the experiences and memories of those in Xinjiang for future truth and reconciliation work and aim to build connections and Indigenous solidarity globally. The ethos of decolonial truth and reconciliation work within the context of Xinjiang drives the project. It is our goal to sustain the longevity of this project and to continue to provide informed, compassionate public education regarding this ongoing crisis.

Ultimately, our goal is to uplift the voices of survivors and community members working to shed light on this crisis and to create a reliable resource to combat state-sponsored erasure of evidence and partisan presentation of events in Xinjiang.

Our Team

The Xinjiang Documentation Project is housed at the Institute of Asian Research (IAR) in the School for Public Policy and Global Affairs at the University of British Columbia and the Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies and the School for International Studies at Simon Fraser University. These two universities and three units have supported the genesis and initial development of XDP since 2018. 
The Institute for Asian Research at the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs at The University of British Columbia provides an established international research institute as the web host of this project and boasts an internationally recognized cohort of Asia policy research specialists. The Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at SFU strengthens the project’s commitment to offering an intersectional perspective and dialogue about the ongoing crisis and its range of impacts on vulnerable community members. The School of International Studies and the David Lam Centre likewise bring established research and policy expertise on China and Canada’s international relations.

Director and Editor

Steering Committee

Administration

Director: Dr. Guldana Salimjan Dr. Elise Anderson Senior Advisor: Ali Bajwa
Senior Editor: Dr. Darren Byler  Dr. Timothy Grose Project Manager: Remy Hellstern
Dr. David Tobin

Director and Editor

Senior Editor: Dr. Darren Byler 

Administration

Senior Advisor: Ali Bajwa
Project Manager: Remy Hellstern

Current Researchers

Former Researchers

Narayanan (Hari) Gopalan Lakshmi

Jakub Mscichowski

Yao Qu

Jonathan Daniels

Devynn Butterworth

Michael Law

Daniel Park

Sean Wu

Our Methodology

The project is designed to deliver reliable, scholarly, curated sources with guides for the general public, by providing short annotations to orient the novice and alert advanced readers on issues of provenance and bias via our online web platform. By collecting and preserving the key documents in Chinese policy papers and academic articles, the project identifies state rationales for coercion and uncovers the impact on the lives of minority populations of a powerful discourse that includes ideas such as stability, security, poverty alleviation, and development. The website curates timelines of key events, an extensive set of relevant Chinese sources (Chinese academic discourse, Chinese government sources, official media, and online sources), materials on lived experiences  (including primary accounts, and media segments), critical scholarship (including academic publications, human rights papers, and original XDP research), a glossary of key terms (including recorded pronunciations of key terms), translations of international research into Chinese for Chinese-reading audiences, teaching tools (Infographics, syllabi and teaching plans, media resources, and visual materials), and other resources  (including datasets, blog posts, and research projects).

Every item and entry is collected, preserved, and assessed by our team and is presented with a short annotation to aid non-specialists.

Collection: Despite the efforts of the Chinese government to control and remove information about its policies and practices in Xinjiang, the XDP continues to scour the internet and mine professional and personal contacts to locate and collect relevant information, particularly material that has appeared on the Chinese internet–not just comments from civil society that soon disappear but actual government administrative documents and internal communications that are often quickly removed. Personal testimonies that are posted on Youtube or other social media sites are likewise vivid records from people in or recently out of Xinjiang and are also often soon deleted from the Internet. Finally, there is a wide range of NGOs, think tanks, and advocacy research spread across the web, including materials produced by the Chinese government and government-related organs (GONGOs, Chinese state media). We work across universities and groups to ensure that materials are properly collected, fact-checked as much as possible, and archived before sharing this information with the wider public. XDP views collection as a vital first step in guaranteeing the long-term preservation of Xinjiang material.
Preservation: One of the core goals of this project is to provide a safe repository for evidence that could assist future truth and reconciliation efforts that can only be undertaken by the communities involved. As such, our work is only a support to truth and reconciliation work that can only be undertaken by those involved, but we hope this documentation project will be useful and reliable. At the same time, XDP works to create a secure storage solution with researchers and scholars studying Xinjiang. The team is currently working with the library and archival departments at UBC to determine the technical specifications needed to support and maintain this archive. This includes comparing existing centralized and decentralized archival protocols, analyzing system architectures, and understanding the security needs to defend against attacks on the archive (like DDOS and 51% attacks). The Xinjiang Documentation Project is leveraging our connection to the School of Information at UBC to ensure the integrity and long-term preservation of this archive. It is core to our mission to preserve as much information, documentation, and evidence regarding the ongoing events in Xinjiang for future research work.
Assessment: Our primary scholarly task with the materials we collect and have preserved is to assess their reliability. We use the source criticism methods of historians to assess the origin, perspective, and authorial intent of each source. This requires us to contextualize key documents and articles as part of China’s broader policies, including those pertaining to nationality, counterterrorism, security, and stability. It is not our chosen role to provide a moral or policy judgment–we leave that to our readers today and to a truth and reconciliation process in the future. We note the similarities between China’s treatment of its minorities and the settler-colonial practices of other countries such as Canada, Australia, and the U.S., thus bringing the Xinjiang issue into a broader scholarly and policy debate. We have a two-tier assessment system in which younger scholars are able to assess materials collected by the project, then their analysis is given to a senior scholar for review and fact-checking. This allows junior scholars to develop their research skills while ensuring all material put forward is accurate and reliable to the best of our knowledge.

We welcome feedback and suggestions from readers to our email: xinjiang.documentation@ubc.ca