Erik Prince, founder of the security contractor formerly known as Blackwater, has made China a priority. He set up a company with one of China’s biggest conglomerates that would help Chinese companies abroad.
The New York Times reported that on Friday, Prince attempted to distance himself from the news that Frontier Services Group, his company, made a deal to build a training camp in the Xinjiang, a region in China "where hundreds of thousands of Muslims have been detained in indoctrination camps that have drawn condemnation in Washington and abroad"
In January, Frontier Services Group announced that they would be building a training facility in Tumxuk, a city in Xinjiang. FSG is reportedly investing about $600,000 into the camp. They will be training about 8,000 people a year.
A spokesperson for Prince said Friday that Prince had “no knowledge or involvement whatsoever” of the “preliminary memorandum.”
Mr. Prince added that, “Any potential investment of this nature would require the knowledge and input of each FSG board member and a formal board resolution.”
The statement announcing the deal has since been removed from the FSG website.
Frontier Service Group has expressed interest in this area of China before. Two years ago, the group said that it would set up an office in Xinjiang. In the region, Chinese authorities have taken an uncompromising policy against the local population because of concerns about terrorism. "Xinjiang is home to a largely Muslim ethnic minority group called Uighurs," The Times noted.
Officials in Xinjiang have rounded up Uighurs and other Muslim minority groups and placed them in re-education camps. In the camps they are subjected to severe indoctrination programs to displace their devotion to Islam and replace it with a devotion to the Chinese Communist Party.
“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.”
U.S. officials have urged President Donald Trump to punish Chinese officials and take further action.