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China and Inner Asia
In Session: Cultural Genocide, Global Discourses of Terrorism and China’s Bid to Remake the World Order
2: De-radicalisation, State Islamology and China’s War on Terror
Monday, March 22, 2021
10:00am – 11:30am EDT
University of Sydney, Australia
In terms of both realpolitik and rhetoric, the Global War on Terror has presented China with favorable conditions to carry out repression of the Muslim population of Xinjiang. In recent years, China has followed worldwide trends in refashioning its counter-terrorism doctrine as part of a wider discourse of de-radicalisation. This presentation offers an analysis of this orthodoxy as it has emerged in the PRC, taking into account both its imbrication with global trends, and the specifics imparted to it by China’s stated objective to “sinicise” Islam. it also considers the nature of the Western debate that has arisen in response to China’s adoption of this familiar discourse. The dominant response in the West seeks to discredit Beijing’s claims to be fighting terrorists in Xinjiang and views any such framing as an undue concession to CCP propaganda. Some security studies scholars, meanwhile, have criticised the human rights focus as ineffective, and ask us to take China’s counter-terror objectives more seriously as a point of engagement. The two sides of the debate, I argue, can be reconciled by shifting towards a global critique of the War on Terror as the starting point for Xinjiang advocacy.