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

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 July 2019

Adrian Zenz*
European School of Culture and Theology, Korntal, Germany.
James Leibold
La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia. Email:
Email: (corresponding author).


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.



在北京、昆明和乌鲁木齐发生一连串维吾尔人暴力袭击案件之后, 一党专政的中国于 2014 年展开所谓的 “反恐战争” 。从那时起, 中国新疆地区建起了规模空前的、我们称之为多层次的警察武力, 使当地成为全世界警戒最森严的区域之一。本文通过分析官方的警员招聘文件, 对新疆的 “安全化” (securitization) 进行调研。辅警职位是近期招聘的主干, 其工资水平在过去一向偏低。然而, 从招聘广告的内容看来, 新疆辅警现在不需要太高的教育程度就可享有优 厚待遇, 从而 吸引教育程度较低的人群, 包括许多少数民族。不仅有助收编维吾尔人监控自己的同胞, 由此创造的就业机会本身也是一种重要的维稳手段。尽管暴力 袭击的已知数 量有所下降, 中国这种铁腕的安全化策略恐怕只会同时疏离了少数民族人民与汉族人民。

Research Article
Copyright © SOAS University of London 2019

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