"Fighting the Enemy with Fists and Daggers": The Chinese Communist Party’s Counterterrorism Policy in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region under Xi Jinping, 2012-2019
Millward, James A
This dissertation examines Chinese Communist Party (CCP) General Secretary Xi Jinping’s ethno-religious policy in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). Successfully countering the so-called “three evil forces” of ethnic separatism, religious extremism, and violent terrorism is an intrinsic part of his overarching quest to rejuvenate the Chinese nation and build the PRC into a secure, strong power. Under Xi’s leadership, authorities are using a spectrum of soft, hard, and sharp power tactics to undertake a long-term campaign to gradually erase the unique linguistic, religious, and cultural differences that separate Turkic minorities from the Chinese majority, with the goal of assimilating them fully into the nation-state.Chapter 1 analyzes General Secretary Xi’s emphasis on ideological purification and unification, which has significantly influenced Beijing’s approach to combatting separatism, extremism, and terrorism. Chapter 2 examines how PRC authorities have created a legal framework to strengthen Party control over XUAR society while reducing the discursive space for public intellectual and civic dialogue. Chapter 3 analyzes how authorities employ the PRC education system to cultivate loyalty to the Party-state and foster assimilation. Chapter 4 argues that the effective regulation and management of religious affairs is a critical component of China’s counterterrorism strategy. Under Xi Jinping, CCP cadres and government officials have framed and regulated religious discourse and practice in Xinjiang to subordinate religion to the Party. Chapter 5 analyzes the Party-state’s pursuit of an incremental securitization strategy in the XUAR. A deepening, expanding, and nested system of surveillance, patrols, restrictions on movement, and Party-driven campaigns are meant to enhance stability and buttress officials’ ability to combat the three evil forces. Finally, Chapter 6 examines the emergence and widespread implementation of an extrajudicial system of political re-education and forced labor. The Chinese Communist Party argues that it is treating those “infected with ideological illnesses,” in order to cure the “disease” of extremism in Xinjiang society. Yet, it is apparent that these camps represent an effort to accelerate the assimilation of Turkic Muslims into mainstream Chinese society, and ultimately amount to state-sponsored program of cultural genocide.
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