In the Chinese province of Xinjiang, Danish brewer Carlsberg controls 85% of the beer market. In the same province, authorities imprison Muslims on the basis of not drinking alcohol. Experts are criticizing Carlsberg for participating in the oppression.

China has long been accused of committing crimes against humanity and possibly genocide against the Uyghur population and other mostly Muslim ethnic groups in the north-western province of Xinjiang.

Beer giant Carlsberg owns the brand Wusu beer since 2015. In total, the Carlsberg owns five breweries in Xinjiang province, where the Chinese regime oppresses the indigenous Uyghur population through concentration camps, surveillance and hard-line assimilation campaigns, according to Sydsvenskan.

Testimonies from the province reveal that alcohol plays an important role in he oppression of the Uyghur population. If people consume alcohol, they go free. If people do not consume alcohol it is understood as “choosing Islam” and people can pay a high price for this.

Drink alcohol or end up in prison. This is the choice that many Uyghurs have faced since the 2010s. The pressure comes from the Chinese government, which for the past decade has thrown people from the Muslim minority into internment camps, subjected them to forced sterilization, and mass-surveilled them because of their culture and faith, as per Danwatch reporting.

Leaks and testimonies show that alcohol has played an important role.

From 2015 onwards, the Danish brewing giant Carlsberg, through their local beer brand Wusu Beer, has been doing business in the same province, making its products available for the Chinese government’s suppression of approximately 12 million Uyghurs living in Xinjiang.

The revelations are based on extensive research of open Chinese media, leaked documents and testimonies of escaped Uyghurs, which Danwatch has carried out in collaboration with TV2.

Experts criticize, among other issues, that Carlsberg is helping to sponsor a beer festival in a province where most people adhere to religions that promote a life free from alcohol and other drugs. So, in Xinjiang alcohol is used as a marker to assess whether people are “radical fundamentalists” or not.

– Carlsberg has made itself a tool for the Chinese government in their repression in Xinjiang, says Rune Steenberg, one of Europe’s leading Uyghur researchers who has lived, researched, and done anthropological fieldwork in Xinjiang, as per Danwatch.

Facts: Xinjiang province and the Uyghur minority

Xinjiang is officially known as the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. It is an autonomous region of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), located in the northwest of the country at the crossroads of Central Asia and East Asia. Xinjiang is the largest province-level division of China by area and the 8th-largest country subdivision in the world. It has about 25 million inhabitants and is home to a number of ethnic groups, including the Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, the Han Chinese, Tibetans, Hui, Chinese Tajiks (Pamiris), Mongols, Russians and Sibe, according to Wikipedia.

The major religion in Xinjiang is Islam, practiced largely by Uyghurs and the Hui Chinese minority. A demographic analysis in 2010 showed that Muslims formed 58% of the province’s population.