A Reddit post on Oct. 7 claimed that an Uyghur girl was abducted by the Chinese police and taken to a concentration camp in Xinjiang with a video clip showing a girl being grabbed by one of the marching military officers.
The post also alleged that it was an exclusive story by CNN. The logo of the U.S. television network is visible in the upper left corner of the video.
At the time of writing, the post has 236 upvotes and 36 comments.
However, the claim is false and the video is taken out of context.
Contrary to the claim, the video’s superimposed text in Chinese says the incident took place in Chengdu but Annie Lab can confirm that the video was not taken either in Chengdu or Xinjiang.
We cannot say if the girl in the footage is of the Uighur ethnicity indeed, but we can attest it does not show kidnapping.
Through keyword search, Annie Lab found another version of the video posted by the official account of the Sichuan Armed Police on Douyin, the Chinese version of the video-sharing app TikTok, on Oct. 5.
The promotional video clearly depicts the armed police trying to protect the girl from a bicycle coming at her.
We were also able to geolocate the place where the video was shot.
At the start of this video, a sign painted on the side of a car reads “船山公”, which is likely to be “船山公安” (Chuanshan police) in full.
Our investigation revealed that it refers to the police station located in Suining, another city in Sichuan province that is about 170 kilometers east of Chengdu.
Following this clue, Annie Lab found a street near the police station called Zhengfu West Street (政府西街) on Google Map. The Street View images of the street looked similar to the one in the video.
Based on a keyword search with “政府西街” and “柒分糖” (a dessert shop’s name shown in the video), we found the shop on a Chinese food review app called Meituan (美团).
We could not locate the shop on the online map but Annie Lab contacted the shop owner using Meituan who confirmed it is indeed the same shop that appeared in the video.
Another keyword search on Chinese dining app called Dianping (大众点评) yielded a dessert shop at the same location. Even though the name of the eatery is different on this platform, the contact information of the shop is the same as the one on Meituan (presumably the shop’s name was changed to the current one after it was registered on Dianping).
Photos uploaded by two customers on Dianping provided more evidence.
The picture in this comment shows the same poster on the same street booth painted in green as the one in the video. It was taken in December 2020.
Another picture in this comment dated February shows the same building, eaves and two blue street number plates.
The misleading version on Reddit was cropped into a square format, which concealed some officers’ action to stop the incoming bicycle toward the end of the clip.
The disproportionately large CNN logo and the wrong city name (Chengdu) are also not seen in the Douyin clip.
In fact, the version on Reddit has text in Chinese that seems to indicate the patrolling armed police officers are protecting the area, a very different message from the accompanying claim made in English. The text does not mention Xinjiang or concentration camps, either.
It appears the Reddit user has made up the claim about kidnapping despite the fact that the video used in the same post mentions a city, not in Xinjiang, and has a text in Chinese that gives a rather positive light on the police.