China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
This panel on the Xinjiang crisis considers the ways in which global discourses have permitted the brutality of China’s “de-extremification” policies in Xinjiang since early 2017 even as China seeks to replace a world system built by European colonialism. The first speaker examines how biopolitical aspects of the Global War on Terror (GWoT) discourse have found an extreme form in China’s mass campaign to intern the Uyghurs. He shows how the identification of the sickness of terrorism with the Muslim religion has led in Xinjiang to the “quarantining” of an entire people and the attempt to eradicate their cultural identity. The second speaker shows how China has followed worldwide trends in refashioning its counter-terrorism doctrine as part of a wider discourse of de-radicalisation, and highlights the specifics imparted to this orthodoxy by China’s objective to “sinicise” Islam. He questions whether Western nations can successfully discredit China’s claims to be fighting a terrorist enemy in Xinjiang in the context of the West’s role in creating a climate of tolerance for human rights abuses in the name of counter-terrorism. Finally, the third speaker seeks to show how the CCP’s approaches to world order and ethnic relations are interlinked in an “anti-hegemonic” cultural politics. Xi’s emphasis on global “justice” reflects historical anxieties about both Western colonial desires to convert China and ethnic minority desires for recognition. As such, its anti-colonial narrative of a “window of opportunity” to transform world order and its “mission” to unify the “Chinese race” are mutually constitutive goals.