A ‘state of exception’ in Xinjiang

We interviewed China scholar Jim Millward last November at our NEXT China Conference to discuss the Chinese government’s repression of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang. The video of that 15-minute interview, including a full transcript, can be found here. Millward had some great quotes:

  • “What’s remarkable is that they chose a vast, massive, collective punishment approach to deal with the threat of terrorism.”
  • “There’s a very broad, very large misdiagnosis of the problem going on [in Xinjiang], and hence [the Chinese government has] come up with the wrong prescription for how to resolve it. The stated goal is to inoculate people from extremist thinking, or to eliminate a ‘thought virus’ in their minds by locking them up for months and years and subjecting them to indoctrination followed by a kind of coercive labor regime.”
  • “They’ve put this whole class of people, collectively, in what the theorists of ethnic cleansing and of concentration camps call a ‘state of exception.’”

On the heels of the latest Congressional-Executive Commission on China annual report, which suggests “crimes against humanity” may have been committed in Xinjiang, we revisited that Millward interview, pulled out five quotes for closer inspection, and used the opportunity to provide an update on the situation in Xinjiang.  

See also our two previous Xinjiang explainers, from August 2018 and August 2019.

—Anthony Tao