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On state television, the vocational education center in China's far west looked like a modern school where happy students studied Mandarin, brushed up their job skills, and pursued hobbies such as sports and folk dance. But earlier this year, one of the local government departments in charge of such facilities in Xinjiang's Hotan prefecture made several purchases that had little to do with education: 2,768 police batons, 550 electric cattle prods, 1,367 pairs of handcuffs, and 2,792 cans of pepper spray.The shopping list was among over a thousand procurement requests made by local governments in the Xinjiang region since early 2017 related to the construction and management of a sprawling system of "vocational education and training centers". The center featured on state broadcaster CCTV last week is one of at least 181 such facilities in Xinjiang, according to data collected by AFP.New "vocational education and training service management bureaus" were set up, headed by officials experienced in running prisons and detention centers, according to local government websites.In a one-month period in early 2018, Hotan county's vocational education bureau, which oversees at least one center, ordered 194,000 Chinese language practice books.
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