What is it about?

This is the opening article for my guest-edited Special Issue for Central Asian Survey (2019). In it, I first provide an overview of the programme of 'de-extremification' and mass internment in Xinjiang since early 2017. I then situate this development against the ‘ideological turn’ in Chinese Communist Party policy under President Xi Jinping, highlighting the new emphasis on stability maintenance and ideational governance. Next, I explore experiences of (in)security in Uyghur communities in- and outside of Xinjiang in the era of internment to consider how far PRC counter-terrorism initiatives have now evolved into state terror. In doing so, I apply Ruth Blakeley's (2012) definition of state terror as a deliberate act of violence against civilians, or threat of violence where a climate of fear is already established by earlier acts of violence; as perpetrated by actors on behalf of or in conjunction with the state; as intended to induce extreme fear in target observers who identify with the victim; and as forcing the target audience to consider changing its behaviour. Finally, I discuss the six contributions to the special issue.

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Why is it important?

This article is the first to apply theories of state terrorism from within Critical Terrorism Studies to the Chinese contemporary context, specifically, PRC "counter-terror" operations in Xinjiang. It is one of two I wrote for the Special Issue ‘Securitization, Insecurity and Conflict in Contemporary Xinjiang’ (2019), which I guest-edited for leading refereed journal Central Asian Studies. It had achieved an Altmetric score of 168 by Oct 2019, placing it in the top 5% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric, and as of December 2019 it has achieved an Altmetric score of 188. When sent to readers, one leading U.S. scholar noted that my description of China’s mass internment camps for Turkic Muslims is “incredibly important”, while a second declared that my reading of the “political re-education” campaign in Xinjiang as state terror is “well-articulated and convincing”. A third leading scholar from the UK called my “careful delineation” of Chinese state terrorism an “important intervention”. Both articles in the Special Issue attracted much attention on Academia.edu, where I ranked in the top 3% of scholars on 13 Oct 2019.

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This page is a summary of: Securitization, insecurity and conflict in contemporary Xinjiang: has PRC counter-terrorism evolved into state terror?, Central Asian Survey, January 2019, Taylor & Francis, DOI: 10.1080/02634937.2019.1586348.
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