Are Uyghur children in pods being imprisoned and brutalized?


Videos actually show children being treated for cerebral palsy.

Are Uyghur children in pods being imprisoned and brutalized?

In Brief

A short clip of Uyghur children lying in cylindrical glass pods recently circulated on Twitter, with claims that they were being “imprisoned and brutalized” in Chinese concentration camps, stirring outrage.

After tracking down an extended version clip, Asia Fact Check Lab (AFCL) found that the glass pods were actually oxygen chambers, probably in a hospital. Subsequent interviews with medical specialists revealed that the child in the original tweet was actually receiving hyperbaric oxygen therapy for cerebral palsy, not being subjected to torture.

In Depth

The tweet in question was posted on April 15, 2023, by Jie Lijian, a U.S.-based pro-democracy activist with over 46,000 Twitter followers. It shows a short video in which two children are shown lying on their backs in cylindrical glass pods. A nurse can be seen opening and closing a door to one of the pods in the background.

The tweet soon attracted over 100,000 readers and was subsequently retweeted by more than 300 people. Some outraged netizens denounced the Chinese Communist Party  as “inhumane” while others questioned the authenticity of the video and suggested that  “truth, not lies, should be used to fight the CCP.” 

Lijian’s caption to the video reads, “Poor Uyghur children are being imprisoned and brutalized in CCP concentration camps. Many of their parents confined in the camps are undergoing genocidal persecution, unable even to see their own flesh and blood at the end of their lives. # CCP is the enemy of humanity.”

Many commenters urged Lijian to be careful in his remarks, suggesting that the video appeared to be some sort of medical procedure rather than torture.

What exactly are the glass pods in the video?

AFCL used Yandex’s image search engine to trace the source of the clip, eventually finding two earlier posts on Twitter which used the same video later posted by Lijian. Both posts were made by Japanese netizens, but differed in their interpretation of the video’s content.

The first of these two tweets was posted on Feb. 17 and questioned whether the pods in the video were some kind of chamber used to isolate COVID patients as part of China’s zero-COVID policy. 

The second of the two tweets was posted a day later and contained language similar to Lijian’s tweet, suggesting that Uyghur children were being subjected to “mysterious treatment” and that some had even died after being force-fed unknown drugs. 

The tweet made on Feb. 18 contains an additional two videos of the children taken from different angles. Upon close examination, AFCL found what appears to be a model number printed in Chinese on the side of the pod. It reads, “Infant Oxygen Chamber Model YLC0.5/1.5.”


A Baidu search using the above model number returned an exact match, revealing that the glass pod seen in the video is an infant hyperbaric oxygen chamber (below referred to simply as oxygen chamber) manufactured by Wuhan Haiborui Technology Ltd. in the Chinese province of Hubei.

What are oxygen chambers used for?

The description of the product on the Chinese Global Medical Devices website states that such chambers are used in oxygen therapy to treat several conditions, including choking in newborns, epilepsy or lack of blood flow to the brain. The Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society, the leading organization in the field, defines oxygen therapy as a suitable treatment for gas embolism, carbon monoxide poisoning, diving sickness, acute burns and sudden deafness.

Dr. Hsia Te-Chun, chairman of the Association of Hyperbaric and Undersea Medicine of the Republic of China, confirmed to AFCL that the equipment shown in Lijian’s tweet is a standard single occupant oxygen chamber for children. Hsia explained that both cerebral palsy and autism are more common symptoms of children who undergo oxygen therapy. After examining Lijian’s original video, Hsia noted that the children’s frequent arms and leg spasms appear to be signs of cerebral palsy.

Hsia added that while most of the world’s mainstream oxygen chambers are manufactured in Europe and America, China solely uses Chinese-made equipment. Therefore, the film almost certainly was recorded in China, most likely in the oxygen therapy center of a hospital. 

In response to suggestions that the video shows a type of treatment used under China’s zero-COVID policy, he said that oxygen therapy is currently not a formal treatment for COVID.


AFCL found claims spread by Japanese and Chinese communities on Twitter that Uyghur children were being detained and abused in glass chambers to be misinformed. 

Both examination of the equipment in the video and interviews with relevant specialists confirm that the glass pod in the circulated video is an oxygen chamber and that the children within the video are undergoing hyperbaric oxygen therapy. 

Asia Fact Check Lab (AFCL) is a new branch of RFA established to counter disinformation in today’s complex media environment. Our journalists publish both daily and special reports that aim to sharpen and deepen our readers’ understanding of public issues.

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