At the turn of the century, the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region moved from a phase of accelerated integration by the centre, which typified the decade of the 1990s, to a phase of consolidation of the advances made during this period. The intertwined dimensions of state building and nation building embedded in the campaign to Open Up the West respond to the long-term strategic goal of placating the threat of ethno-nationalist unrest. This “staged development” of Xinjiang reflects in essence a classic process of peripheral territorial integration by the central state. Yet, the dynamics of penetration and resistance between the centre and what still remains an indigenous periphery can be expected to generate at the same time both increased sinicization and increased ethno-national unrest.
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