Freeman Chair in China Studies, CSIS
The systematic campaign of religious and cultural repression—as well as mass incarceration of minority populations—in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region is one of the most disturbing and shocking human rights atrocities of the twenty-first century, combining as it does the basic and brutal elements of violence and fear with the latest manifestations of modern technology.
As governments and human rights organizations struggle to conceive of effective ways to pressure China to dismantle the network of detention facilities and concentration camps throughout the region, key questions remain about why the Xi administration has adopted such extreme measures to punish entire ethnic and religious populations.
As part of the Interpret: China project to translate articles, speeches, and other documents that shed light on China’s evolving political system and security considerations, the below translation offers some additional perspective from inside the Xinjiang party apparatus as to what is driving the repressive measures. Written in late 2017 by a researcher at a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) training facility in Xinjiang, the article was republished on various official websites, including the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and the Hunan National Religious Affairs Committee. While a good deal of the article contains the expected levels of platitudes that are part and parcel of Party-speak (the active reading of which Simon Leys once likened to “munching rhinoceros sausage, or to swallowing sawdust by the bucketful”), a cold and hard vision nonetheless imbues the piece. Xinjiang as described here is not a land of proud people with a rich and diverse culture and heritage, but is instead depicted as a stark security challenge, one that can only be pacified through “striking hard” and promoting state planned-economic development. That such a hostile narrative permeates Party discourse speaks volumes about how deep-seated the Party’s dystopian vision for Xinjiang is.To top