Securitizing Xinjiang: Police Recruitment, Informal Policing and Ethnic Minority Co-optation

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Following a series of high-profile attacks in Beijing, Kunming and Urumqi by Uyghur militants, the Chinese party-state declared a war on terror in 2014. Since then, China's Xinjiang region has witnessed an unprecedented build-up of what we describe as a multi-tiered police force, turning it into one of the most heavily policed regions in the world. This article investigates the securitization of Xinjiang through an analysis of official police recruitment documents. Informal police jobs, which represent the backbone of recent recruitment drives, have historically carried inferior pay levels. Yet, advertised assistant police positions in Xinjiang now offer high salaries despite low educational requirements, thereby attracting lesser-educated applicants, many of whom are ethnic minorities. Besides co-opting Uyghurs into policing their own people, the resulting employment is in itself a significant stability maintenance strategy. While the known numbers of violent attacks have subsided, China's heavy-handed securitization approach risks alienating both minority and Han populations.




Zenz, A., & Leibold, J. (2019). Securitizing Xinjiang: Police Recruitment, Informal Policing and Ethnic Minority Co-optation. China Quarterly, 242, 324–348.

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