"Rooting Out Resistance in Uyghur Society": The Making of China's Counterterrorism Policy in Xinjiang (1996-2017) [article]

Sciorati Giulia
2020
The diffusion of episodes of terrorism and political violence around the world has heightened the need for states to design effective counterterrorist measures. Orthodox studies on terrorism hold that the frequency and intensity of terrorist attacks determine the levels of assertiveness maintained by counterterrorist measures. This research builds on this assumption by developing the link between terrorism and counterterrorism policy through two unit-level variables. Besides the frequency and
more » ... the frequency and intensity of terrorist attacks, this study examines the political orientation of states' elites, and states' integration in multilateral security frameworks. The research tests for these factors by studying counterterrorist authoritarian regimes, and questions the notion that their political orientation makes state terrorism a measure of choice. In empirical terms, this study investigates the making of China's counterterrorism policy in Xinjiang from 1996 to 2017. The period is analysed by comparing three within-cases, bookended by pre-identified critical junctures. China's counterterrorist measures in Xinjiang have experienced a revival since President Xi came into power in 2013, and the country has been quick to adopt a counterterrorism policy that has come to resemble state terrorism. Yet, no substantial variation in the opposition to the country's elite nor exceptionally violent terrorist attacks have been recorded in the region. This study relies upon qualitative data, such as political discourse and documents, news media and scholarly writings, and aggregated data is examined to complement the qualitative sources. Methodologically, this thesis supplements process tracing with qualitative content analysis. The evidence provides support for a theory of 'multi-causal counterterrorism', according to which counterterrorism policy depends on the combination of systemic and domestic factors. Other than the incidence of terrorist attacks, states choose their counterterrorism policy in the context of everchanging power relationships at the international and domestic levels. It is concluded that these power relationships impose constraints on states' decision-making abilities. iv ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
doi:10.15168/11572_273479 fatcat:tomckl72hre3zbbxmovepfjzhe