(Pacific Standard) China has, in recent years, embarked on a far-reaching, oft-chimerical quest to pacify its restive far-Western region of Xinjiang, home to the predominantly Muslim ethnic Uyghurs. And now Beijing is busily building a “security state” in the region, according to one scholar on Uyghur affairs.
This month, amid reports of heightened violence in Xinjiang, China’s push has seen tightened controls on movement and prompted a large, showy state-sponsored police demonstration against terror in Xinjiang’s regional capital. These moves come during what has been reported in international media as an uptick in violence between Uyghurs and majority Han — one that is shrouded in mystery, simply because the international press faces overwhelming restrictions reporting there. […]
“Recent events are suggesting that the Chinese state is creating a security state within Xinjiang like never seen before,” says Sean Roberts, a scholar on Uyghur and Asian affairs and director of George Washington University’s International Development Studies Program. Roberts is the author of a forthcoming book on the Uyghurs, Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: How the Global War on Terror and China Created Uyghur Terrorism.
“In [creating a security state, Chinese authorities] are taking full advantage of the new technologies that allow states to control their populations — they are making residents install tracking devices in vehicles, they are randomly searching cell phones of Uyghurs without probable cause, they are using public surveillance cameras and biometrics,” Roberts says. “In general, it is a frightening experiment that could spread to elsewhere where authoritarian states seek to fully control the lives of their citizens.” […]
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