Innovating Repression: Policy Experimentation and the Evolution of Beijing’s Re-Education Campaign in Xinjiang

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Abstract

This article argues that Beijing’s campaign of mass internment in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region evolved through a creative local policy experimentation process. This resulted in an ‘innovative repression’ solution to widespread ethnic discontent in the region, which the party-state has framed as ‘religious extremism’ and portrayed as a major national security threat. Amid significant top-level steering by the central government and despite extreme political sensitivities surrounding Xinjiang, Beijing used a form of ‘policy experimentation under hierarchy’ to catalyze localized development of mass ‘de-extremification’ in dedicated re-education internment camps. While scholars disagree to what extent policy experimentation continues under Xi Jinping’s more centralized approach to governance, the state’s atrocities in Xinjiang indicate how policy experimentation continues to facilitate the development of next-generation repressive securitization strategies.

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APA

Zenz, A. (2024). Innovating Repression: Policy Experimentation and the Evolution of Beijing’s Re-Education Campaign in Xinjiang. Journal of Contemporary China. https://doi.org/10.1080/10670564.2024.2302484

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