A young Chinese woman has revealed a secret Chinese-run site in Dubai, which may be the first evidence that China operates a so-called “black site” outside its borders; a military term referring to a facility where illegal projects are being carried out.
She said she was held for 8 days with at least two Uighur Muslims in China. Wuhan, 26, was a fugitive to avoid being extradited to China because her fiancé is considered a Chinese dissident.
Wuhan told The Associated Press that she was kidnapped from a hotel in Dubai and held by Chinese officials in a villa converted into a prison, where she saw or heard two other prisoners, both from the Uighur minority.
She added that she was interrogated and threatened in Chinese and forced to sign legal documents accusing her fiancé of harassing her, and she was finally released on 8 June.
Wuhan’s account is the only evidence known to experts that Beijing set up a site in another country. A place like this shows how China is increasingly using its international influence to detain citizens it wants from abroad, whether they are dissidents, suspected of corruption or belonging to ethnic minorities such as the Uighurs.
China’s Foreign Ministry denied Wuhan’s story, and ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said, “In this position, what I can say is what this person talked about is incorrect.”
The Chinese Consulate in Dubai did not respond to several requests for comment. The Dubai authorities also did not respond to numerous phone calls and requests for comment addressed to Dubai Police, the Dubai Media Office and the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, according to the AP.
Radha Sterling, a legal lawyer and director of the British organisation “Detained in Dubai”, said she had worked with about 10 people who reported being held in villas in the UAE, including nationals from Canada, India, Jordan and China. She added that there is no doubt that UAE has detained people on behalf of allied foreign governments,” she added, “I don’t think they will ever turn down this request from this powerful ally.”
China and the UAE have strong economic and political ties and work together in counterintelligence. China ratified an extradition treaty with the UAE in 2002 and a cooperation agreement in 2008. The UAE was an experimental site for Chinese corona vaccines and cooperated with China in conducting tests
Dubai-based journalists who preferred to remain anonymous said they saw and heard corroborating evidence, including her passport stamps, a phone record of a Chinese official asking her questions and text messages she sent from prison to a pastor who was helping the couple.
Dubai has an ancient history as a place for interrogation and deportation of Uyghurs to China. Dozens of Uyghurs reported that they were detained while passing through UAE airports, and in many cases were interrogated on behalf of the Chinese authorities.