A tweet posted Dec. 8, 2019, containing a two-minute video of a Chinese man in a camouflage jacket talking to a Uyghur family in Xinjiang, has been liked almost 4,000 times, shared over 4,000 times, and has more than 800 comments.
The tweet claims the man is telling the family to give their daughter to him as part of what the Twitter user calls a “relatives program” forcing Uyghurs to live with Chinese men, which implies forced marriage.
Similar claims have been circulating on social media. This Facebook user repeats the claim and says the man in the video is a People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldier demanding the teenage girl.
Hong Kong actor Chapman To Man-chak posted an image taken from the video, which gained more than 10,000 engagements with 1,000 comments and close to 2,000 shares.
The claim is unfounded. The Chinese man in the video is a vlogger from Hunan province working in Xinjiang who has been documenting his life there on the Xigua (Watermelon) video platform (西瓜视频).
The conversation between him and the Uyghur family in the original video, which is almost twice as long, discusses seemingly trivial matters such as the mother’s job and the Uyghur language.
It does not indicate in any way that he is a PLA soldier. In the later part of the original, which was not included in the widely shared clip, the man expresses appreciation for people in Xinjiang, calling them “warm and friendly.”
The video, titled in Chinese “A man works in Xinjiang. He meets a Uyghur beauty today who says she wants to become his girlfriend,” is no longer available on the platform, although a Google search still shows the video title and now-defunct weblink.
Annie Lab has watched many other video clips uploaded by the vlogger. His account name is “Xiaowei and Guli” (小伟和古丽). “Xiaowei” is how he refers to himself and “Guli” is the name of his friend, a Uyghur woman who appears in some of his videos (but not in the video investigated for this article).
His videos consist mostly of snippets of his life. For example, one video shows Guli treating him to a meal after he broke up with his girlfriend. Some other videos show him meeting and talking in a friendly manner with other Uyghurs in Xinjiang.
In the comments section of one of his recent videos, viewers left messages to notify him that the video he took with the Uyghur family had been used as proof of the Chinese government’s oppression of ethnic minorities in the region, which could be the reason he took down the original clip.
The Chinese Communist Party’s heavy-handed crackdown on Muslims in Xinjiang gained international attention after the New York Times reported on the “Xinjiang Papers” in November 2019.
Annie Lab cannot independently verify whether there is an initiative known as a “relative program” implemented by the government, but Xiaowei and Guli’s video does not provide evidence of the existence of one.