China and Inner Asia
Session Abstract: This panel on the Xinjiang crisis considers how 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 to the “quarantining” of an entire people and the attempted eradication of 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, while highlighting 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 given their creation of a tolerant climate for human rights abuses in the name of counter-terrorism, and proposes a shift towards a global critique of the War on Terror as the starting point for Xinjiang advocacy. The third speaker shows 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 Western colonial desires to convert China and ethnic minority desires for recognition. Its anti-colonial narrative of a “window of opportunity” to transform world order and “mission” to unify the “Chinese race” are thus mutually constitutive goals.
Paper Presenter: Sean Roberts – George Washington University
Paper Presenter: David Brophy – University of Sydney
Paper Presenter: David Tobin – University of Manchester