Politics and International Relations
Long-established security governance practices of the Chinese authorities with national governments in Eurasia have specifically targeted the ethnic minorities that inhabit the province of Xinjiang and have cross-border kinship ties. Trade routes and transnational migration flows have now come under the banner of OBOR, and the province of Xinjiang plays a key role in China’s regional Silk Road Economic Belt connections. The city of Kashgar is not only a key node in the contested China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) but also a traditional trading hub in Eurasian networks. Tensions in the region of Xinjiang have however been intensifying since the 2009 uprising in the capital of Ürumqi. Under Xi China’s ethnic minority policy has increasingly been aimed at assimilation, big data surveillance efforts stepped up, and the region of Xinjiang labelled ‘the frontline in the fight against terrorism.’ The economic importance that is attached to Xinjiang in the context of OBOR has played a key role in the recent excessive securitization of ethnic minority groups like the Uyghur living in Xinjiang – the ‘re-education camps’ only being the latest instrument in the efforts of the Chinese government to erase any risk of instability around OBOR routes – at any cost. Transnational security arrangements through the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), in particular the ‘SCO Counter-Terrorism Convention’ (2009) and the ‘Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure (RATS; 2013)’ have similarly affected large groups of ethnic minorities on both sides of the border – not only in China, but also Uyghur diaspora and kinship groups in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. This paper seeks to explore in which ways ethnic groups in China and Eurasia have been affected by the intensified efforts of stabilizing the region in the context of OBOR and looks into the evolution and implementation of security arrangements with Eurasian governments.