China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
Researchers estimate that since 2016 one million people have been detained without trial in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). In the political “re-education” centres, individuals are subjected to invasive psychological stress as they are forced to abandon their native language, religion and culture. Outside, more than 10 million Turkic Muslim minorities are subjected to a network of hi-tech surveillance systems. The first speaker considers which factors have contributed to the CCP’s turn to mass “re-education” and erection of a technologically-enabled “security state”. He suggests an intermestic explanation for the turn to societal rather than selective forms of repression, stimulated by the violence of 2009-2014 and the state’s perception of an increased threat from externally-based Uyghur militancy. The second speaker scrutinizes China’s claim of a Uyghur terrorist threat, using scholarly definitions of terrorism to analyse the features of 135 violent events reported in Xinjiang between 2008 and 2016. He finds that only a tiny fraction corresponds to what is generally agreed as violence of a 'terroristic' nature. Finally, the third speaker responds to Richard Jackson’s call to destabilise the dominant focus on non-state terrorism, which serves to ‘obscure and silence the voices and perspectives of those who live in conditions of daily terror from the random and arbitrary violence of their own governments’ (Jackson 2008, 387). She suggests that rather than countering a genuine terror threat, the PRC state aims to terrorize the Uyghur population in the short term to ensure the state’s continued political control in the long term.