Authenticating a video showing hundreds of kneeling people in shackles and blindfolds on a Chinese railroad platform

Originally published at:


Seems like great video detective work. (I say this with no forensic knowledge, but I am impressed).

Who added the crappy video game music?


The discussion of what’s going on here – prisoners being transferred from one type of detention facility to a harsher one – and the nature of those different levels of prison camps is also fascinating. The efficiency and scale of this Chinese forced-labour/indoctrination system is chilling. I just hope that ICE isn’t taking notes (although a more ad hoc system of concentration camps has its own horrors).

I wonder if the Chinese government is looking at this and starting to put together convincing-looking but deliberately flawed fakes to flood the Internet with disinformation to distract from authentic evidence of their crimes like this video.


Spread this far and wide, or China will become the model for human civilization’s foreseeable future. I’m sure many countries’ governments, even as they speak out against such things, are secretly taking notes.


The Twitter thread mentions prisoners as forced labor to produce for Western markets, which mirrors the US carcereal neo-plantation system. I don’t see this is a Chinese problem; I see this is an authoritarianism problem.


There’s a lot of cross-pollination, and of course there are the historical examples (esp. the Nazi camp and Soviet gulag system). The Chinese have several characteristics that the U.S. doesn’t: the latitude accorded to a state that doesn’t even pretend to abide by liberal democratic norms; a willingness to put a lot of resources into training their guards, re-education officers, camp administrators, health officers, etc. to run the facilities as efficiently as possible; and the ability and political will to create huge, interconnected new infrastructure projects.


Is there any evidence for this? One of the features of such systems historically, the gulags and concentration camps and the ICE system, is precisely the opposite, they are staffed by the uneducated and stupid, and operations inevitably deteriorate. Part of that whole “fearsome, word-and-thought-defying banality of evil” thing.

Have the Chinese invented something new under the sun, the competent and efficient prison administration?


Oh yeah, it’s global problem, and increasingly so.


I see it in that video, for example, where the guards are operating in a very disciplined way. I’ve heard about it in the reports of the facilities, where people aren’t dying of contagious diseases or are walking skeletons. That’s not to say that these places are beneficial to the health and nutrition of the prisoners or models of enlightened penology or that prisoners aren’t abused by the staff, just that the Chinese see the value for PR and the prison staff and their slave-labour factories of not letting things get out of control (e.g. to the point of small children dying in custody).

To be clear, none of these things are good in the context of concentration camps, just a different kind of suckitude than the more ad hoc arrangements you see in the U.S. where the guards and staff are poorly trained and often undisciplined.

Staffing is usually a mix. The rank-and-file guards usually aren’t that bright or educated, but they can be trained and disciplined in a rote manner to do their jobs (especially if one of the consequences of failure is ending up as prisoners themselves). Administrators, on the other hand, can be smart and educated – Eichmann being the textbook example from history and the subject of your quote, although they can also be ignorant thugs like Rudolf Höss who let things deteriorate (often with the connivance of Eichmann types who start to see disease as a useful ally in their shared mission).

More often, the deterioration is a result of underfunding and de-prioritisation of incarceration as the “solution” (with some form of extermination taking precedence). So far the Chinese state has not reached that stage, and in fact is extending its campaign of persecution.

[Edited for grammar]


Thank you for enlightening me, but it is unnecessary, not only do I already know the subject of the quote, I also know the source, and the context. Which was hardly complimentary to Eichman’s intelligence, by the way.

It sounds like you have taken quite the interest in sound practises in the administration of concentration camps.

She was not discussing his lack of intellectual intelligence but his lack of emotional intelligence/empathy – a lack of EQ instead of IQ, in modern terms. For example, she observes that:

What he said was always the same, expressed in the same words. The longer one listened to him, the more obvious it became that his inability to speak was closely connected with an inability to think, namely, to think from the standpoint of somebody else. No communication was possible with him, not because he lied but because he was surrounded by the most reliable of all safeguards against the words and the presence of others, and hence against reality as such.

Eichmann was the operational designer and architect of the Final Solution – Arendt acknowledges that a stupid person (e.g. someone like Höss) couldn’t have put that together for their ideological masters, and that this is a key component of the “banality of evil”. Despite his poor performance at school and lack of formal education, he was also regarded as intellectually curious (e.g. he went to the trouble of learning some Hebrew and studied both Judaism and Zionism). So, no, Arendt was not saying he was stupid or ignorant.

I’ve taken an interest in the administration of concentration camps, period end-stop – some of my academic work touched on the subject. If you’re trying to imply I think there’s such thing as a concentration camp that’s humane, try with someone else.


Millions in camps. Complete destruction of the Uighur culture and religion. A panopticon for everyone who isn’t in an actual concentration camp. Mass sterilization of Uighur women. They took the cultural genocide of Tibet and have brought their A-game. We will never know the extent of the atrocities.

As my (half Chinese) wife says “You [Americans] practice racism. My people perfected it.”


When the State controls the media, monstrous practices endure.


Without doubt. Those fuckers are more sophisticated in their fuckery than most give them credit for. Nobody ever made a mistake by overestimating the lengths the Chinese state will go to. Xi is a modern-day cross between Stalin and Hitler, but with all the tools of the 21st century and the economy and resources to be almost unstoppable.


And he has pretty much every Muslim government from Pakistan to the Palestinian Authority lining up to suck his dick and tell the world he’s doing nothing wrong.


Which is slightly odd given what he is doing to their Muslim brethren, pretty much only because they are Muslim and must therefore be assimilated into the Chinese way of thinking.


I believe you misspelled “Nauseating”


My understatement was massive, agreed.
It is nauseating that pretty much everyone refuses to call him out (other than polite diplomatic comments - but no proper threats of sanctions or anything that would force China to pay attention), not least Islamic nations. It is mystifying why they in particular remain silent. Well, not that mystifying - everyone has their price and China knows the price of everythingone.


Absolutely horrifying. Every human on the planet should be aware of this and recognize that this could happen to them.


It’s almost as if racism is part of the human genome.