‘Window of opportunity’
The Xinjiang emergency in China’s ‘new type of international relations’
in The Xinjiang emergency
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This chapter examines the interconnections between China’s world order politics – encapsulated under the official narrative of China’s ‘Great Revival’ – and its policies towards ethnic minorities. It notes that following the 19th Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Congress in November 2017, President Xi Jinping declared that while China would preserve sovereignty as the underlying principle of international relations it remained ‘dissatisfied’ with a system built by European colonialism and would seek to forge new norms of ‘mutual respect, fairness, and justice’. The chapter argues here that while Chinese foreign policy narratives explicitly highlight Western ‘hegemon anxiety’ as an opportunity to remake world order, Xi’s emphasis on global ‘justice’ reflects intertwined cultural anxieties about Western colonial desires to convert China and non-Han peoples’ desires for identity recognition. Thus while China’s bold pronouncements speak from new global confidence, they also have emerged alongside heightened domestic anxieties, which imagine alternative identities on China’s frontiers as threats to the unification and ‘Great Revival’ (weida fuxing) of the Chinese race (Zhonghua minzu). Such racialized anxieties, the chapter suggests, have contributed to shifts in ethnic policy to promote racial ‘fusion’ (jiaorong) with mass education and intensifying extra-legal security measures in Xinjiang; mass internment camps and ‘orphanages’ to eliminate and transform Uyghur identities. The chapter concludes that the CCP’s ‘window of opportunity’ to transform colonial world order and its ‘mission’ to unify the ‘Chinese race’ are mutually constitutive goals in China’s ‘Great Revival’ narrative of inevitable trajectory towards global power and domestic racial unification.

The Xinjiang emergency

Exploring the causes and consequences of China’s mass detention of Uyghurs

Editor: Michael Clarke

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