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Charting the Course of Uyghur Unrest

  • Justin V. Hastings (a1)

What explains the course of Uyghur-related violence in Xinjiang and Central Asia since 1990? Using data derived from a variety of sources, I argue that the locations and types of violent incidents were influenced by a combination of Chinese government policies and the political geography of Xinjiang. Specifically, 1990 to 1996 were dominated by logistically complex incidents in a low-level violent campaign in Xinjiang. The Strike Hard campaign in 1996 brought about an increase in logistically simple incidents in Xinjiang and some violence in Central Asia as Uyghur separatists had trouble moving people, information and weapons across the well-guarded, difficult terrain of Xinjiang's borders. China's rapprochement with Central Asian countries in the late 1990s led after 2001 to a dramatic decrease in Uyghur-related violence in general, but also signalled the appearance of logistically creative attacks that required little planning or materials. My findings suggest that Uyghur rebels will have a difficult time mounting a large-scale violent campaign as long as China retains even minimal control of Xinjiang.

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Gardner Bovingdon , “The not-so-silent majority: Uyghur resistance to Han rule in Xinjiang,” Modern China, No. 28 (2002), pp. 3978

Ildikó Bellér-Hann , “The peasant condition in Xinjiang,” Journal of Peasant Studies, Vol. 25, No. 1 (1997), p. 102

Michael Dillon , Xinjiang – China's Muslim Far Northwest (London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2004)

James A. Piazza , “Incubators of terror: do failed and failing states promote transnational terrorism?International Studies Quarterly, Vol. 52, No. 3 (2008), pp. 469–88

Andrew H. Kydd and Barbara F. Walter , “Strategies of terrorism,” International Security, Vol. 31, No. 1 (2006), pp. 6972

M. Taylor Fravel , “Regime insecurity and international co-operation: explaining China's compromises in territorial disputes,” International Security, Vol. 30, No. 2 (2005), pp. 4683

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The China Quarterly
  • ISSN: 0305-7410
  • EISSN: 1468-2648
  • URL: /core/journals/china-quarterly
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