Skip to main content

Blackwater Founder’s New Company Strikes a Deal in China. He Says He Had No Idea.

Erik Prince said he had “no knowledge or involvement whatsoever” of a deal by Frontier Services Group to build a training camp in northwestern China.CreditZach Gibson for The New York Times

Image

Erik Prince said he had “no knowledge or involvement whatsoever” of a deal by Frontier Services Group to build a training camp in northwestern China.CreditCreditZach Gibson for The New York Times

By Alexandra Stevenson and Chris Buckley

Feb. 1, 2019

HONG KONG — Erik Prince, a former member of the Navy SEALs best known as the founder of the security contractor formerly known as Blackwater, has made it clear that he considers China a priority. He teamed up with one of China’s biggest conglomerates and set up a company that would help Chinese companies overseas.

But Mr. Prince scrambled on Friday to distance himself from the latest announcement: that his company, Frontier Services Group, had struck a deal to build a training camp in the northwestern Chinese region of Xinjiang, where hundreds of thousands of Muslims have been detained in indoctrination camps that have drawn condemnation in Washington and abroad.

Frontier Services Group said in January that it had reached an agreement with officials and an industrial park in Tumxuk, a city in western Xinjiang, to build a training facility there. The announcement provided few details about what kind of training would take place there, though the company cast the project as a move to help upgrade the city through tourism and infrastructure projects.

Chinese media later reported that FSG would invest about $600,000 into the camp and train about 8,000 people a year.

ADVERTISEMENT

But on Friday, in a statement provided by a spokesman, Mr. Prince said he had “no knowledge or involvement whatsoever” of what he called a “preliminary memorandum.”

Mr. Prince added, “Any potential investment of this nature would require the knowledge and input of each FSG board member and a formal board resolution.”

You have 4 free articles remaining.

Subscribe to The Times

By Friday, the statement announcing the deal had been removed from the FSG website.

Mr. Prince, who is the brother of the United States education secretary, Betsy DeVos, has long courted controversy, most recently when he laid out a plan for President Trump to privatize the war in Afghanistan. Blackwater, a United States military contractor in two Asian conflicts, became a symbol of unchecked American power in the Iraq war after its employees killed 17 unarmed civilians in Baghdad in 2007.

Frontier Services Group has expressed interest in western China before. Two years ago, it said it would set up an office in Xinjiang, where the Chinese authorities have taken an increasingly hard line on the local population, citing concerns about terrorism. Xinjiang is home to a largely Muslim ethnic minority group called Uighurs.

ADVERTISEMENT

Since then, a fuller, more disturbing picture has emerged.

Officials in Xinjiang have rounded up ethnic Uighurs and other Muslim minority groups in huge numbers, putting them into re-education camps where they are subjected to a severe indoctrination program to remove any devotion to Islam and make them obedient to the Chinese Communist Party. Experts, human rights groups, and officials in the United States and elsewhere estimate hundreds of thousands of people have been caught up in the campaign, part of an expansive crackdown that Beijing has put in place in the name of fighting extremism and separatism.

“Xinjiang is a region where we have documented severe human rights abuses both by the police and ordinary officials,” said Maya Wang, a researcher for Human Rights Watch. “Anything that would involve training government officials involved in this repression would be contributing to human rights abuses.”

United States officials have taken notice. Lawmakers have introduced bipartisan bills that urge the Trump administration to punish Chinese officials and to prevent sales of some American equipment to some Chinese state agencies. Officials at the White House and in the State and Treasury Departments have been discussing whether to impose economic sanctions on Chinese officials who oversee the system of repression in Xinjiang.

Mr. Prince made a name for himself as the founder of Blackwater, a private military contractor that did business in Iraq. After Blackwater employees were held responsible for civilian deaths in Baghdad, Mr. Prince sold the company and set up FSG, turning his sights to the growing demand from Chinese companies moving into countries and regions with ethnic strife.

ADVERTISEMENT

FSG, which is listed in Hong Kong, has unabashedly courted Chinese officialdom. Citic Group, one of China’s biggest state-owned conglomerates, owns a quarter of FSG’s stock. A security and logistics company, FSG has tied itself to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, a major campaign by President Xi Jinping to develop geopolitical ties by building bridges, trains and ports through Asia. China considers Xinjiang, which borders Kazakhstan and several other Central Asian countries, a gateway to a strategically important region.

Tumxuk lies between Kashgar and Aksu, larger settlements that have been a focus of the Chinese government’s drive to stifle antigovernment sentiment. The city comes under the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, an organization run along military lines and founded in the 1950s to bring security, development and Han Chinese settlers — members of China’s largest ethnic group — to the region. Even now, the corps acts as a kind of parallel administration in Xinjiang, holding vast areas of land and operating its own schools, courts and other institutions.

But Tumxuk has also been drawn into the regionwide drive to transform Uighur society through indoctrination camps.

The government says the camps wean Uighurs and other Muslim minorities from religious extremism, while teaching them Chinese language and job skills. But former inmates have described harsh, even brutal treatment, and United Nations human rights committees and experts have condemned the camps for holding people in the camps without legal appeal.

ADVERTISEMENT

Tumxuk has more than 160,000 inhabitants, nearly two-thirds of them Uighur, according to official population estimates, and government reports and records show that the city has built at least one camp, as well as other specialized schools, to “deradicalize” minority residents.

Uighurs are nearly all Sunni Muslim. In the previous decade some of them embraced more conservative strains of Islam, and Xinjiang experienced bursts of violence directed at government targets and Han Chinese people. The Chinese government said the violence was inspired and orchestrated by terrorists seeking an independent Uighur homeland, but many experts outside the country said the attacks often appeared to be poorly organized local efforts.

In 2017, a unit of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps in Tumxuk issued a tender notice inviting bids for building work on a “legal education and training center” — a phrase sometimes used for the indoctrination camps. The work required included installing video surveillance equipment and renovating dormitories and a canteen for the inmates. In 2017, Tumxuk also hosted a meeting of Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps officials to discuss the growing indoctrination drive, according to a corps report at the time.

The FSG deal would have put the company in direct business with Tumxuk officials. A news release that has since been removed from the FSG website included a photograph of local officials signing the memorandum. One was Li Zhenguo, the Communist Party secretary for Tumxuk, who recently warned about the rise of terrorism in the region.

According to a statement on the local government website on Friday, Mr. Li recently implored local officials to “always be on alert in the war against separatism and terrorism.”

Alexandra Stevenson reported from Hong Kong, and Chris Buckley from Beijing. Austin Ramzy contributed reporting from Hong Kong.




https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/01/business/erik-prince-xinjiang-china-fsg-blackwater.html

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

SSG Commando Muddassir Iqbal of Pakistan Army

“ Commando Muddassir Iqbal was part of the team who conducted Army Public School operation on 16 December 2014. In this video he reveals that he along with other commandos was ordered to kill the innocent children inside school, when asked why should they kill children after killing all the terrorist he was told that it would be a chance to defame Taliban and get nation on the side. He and all other commandos killed children and later Taliban was blamed.
Muddassir Iqbal has deserted the military and now he is  with mujahedeen somewhere in AF PAK border area”
For authenticity of  this tape journalists can easy reach to his home town to interview his family members or   ISPR as he reveals his army service number”
Asalam o Alaikum: My name is Muddassir Iqbal. My father’s name is Naimat Ali. I belong to Sialkot divison (Punjab province), my village is Shamsher Poor and district, tehsil and post office  Narowal. Unfortunately I was working in Pakistan army. I feel embarrassed to tell you …

The Rise of China-Europe Railways

https://www.csis.org/analysis/rise-china-europe-railways

The Rise of China-Europe RailwaysMarch 6, 2018The Dawn of a New Commercial Era?For over two millennia, technology and politics have shaped trade across the Eurasian supercontinent. The compass and domesticated camels helped the “silk routes” emerge between 200 and 400 CE, and peaceful interactions between the Han and Hellenic empires allowed overland trade to flourish. A major shift occurred in the late fifteenth century, when the invention of large ocean-going vessels and new navigation methods made maritime trade more competitive. Mercantilism and competition among Europe’s colonial powers helped pull commerce to the coastlines. Since then, commerce between Asia and Europe has traveled primarily by sea.1Against this historical backdrop, new railway services between China and Europe have emerged rapidly. Just 10 years ago, regular direct freight services from China to Europe did not exist.2 Today, they connect roughly 35 Chinese…

CPEC Jobs in Pakistan, salary details

JOBS...نوکریاں چائنہ کمپنی میںPlease help the deserving persons...Salary:Salary package in China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in these 300,000 jobs shall be on daily wages. The details of the daily wages are as follows;Welder: Rs. 1,700 dailyHeavy Duty Driver: Rs. 1,700 dailyMason: Rs. 1,500 dailyHelper: Rs. 850 dailyElectrician: Rs. 1,700 dailySurveyor: Rs. 2,500 dailySecurity Guard: Rs. 1,600 dailyBulldozer operator: Rs. 2,200 dailyConcrete mixer machine operator: Rs. 2,000 dailyRoller operator: Rs. 2,000 dailySteel fixer: Rs. 2,200 dailyIron Shuttering fixer: Rs. 1,800 dailyAccount clerk: Rs. 2,200 dailyCarpenter: Rs. 1,700 dailyLight duty driver: Rs. 1,700 dailyLabour: Rs. 900 dailyPara Engine mechanic: Rs. 1,700 dailyPipe fitter: Rs. 1,700 dailyStorekeeper: Rs. 1,700 dailyOffice boy: Rs. 1,200 dailyExcavator operator: Rs. 2,200 dailyShovel operator: Rs. 2,200 dailyComputer operator: Rs. 2,200 dailySecurity Supervisor: Rs. 2,200 dailyCook for Chinese food: Rs. 2,000 dailyCook…