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Governmentality and the politics of exclusion in Xinjiang

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CHINA is undertaking a program of mass incarceration of the Uyghur population in its far north-western province of Xinjiang (East Turkestan to Uyghurs) in a system of region-wide detention in re-education or vocational training centres. Central to the operation of what some observers have termed a ‘carceral state’ in Xinjiang has been the fusion of governmentality and a Schmittian politics of exclusion with 21st century technological innovation.

Analysis based on Chinese government procurement contracts for the construction of these centres and Google Earth satellite imaging reveals the existence of hundreds of large, prison-like facilities throughout Xinjiang. These are estimated to hold up to 1 million of the region’s Turkic Muslim population.

These facilities resemble prisons with hardened security, barbed wire, guard towers and CCTV cameras. Detainees experience a regimented daily existence, compelled to repeatedly sing ‘patriotic’ songs praising the benevolence of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and study Mandarin, Confucian texts and President Xi Jinping’s ‘thought’.

Students read from their textbooks in a classroom at a bilingual middle school for ethnic-Uighur Muslim and Han Chinese students in Hotan, 13 October 2006, in China’s far northwest Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region in Central Asia. Source: AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN

An examination of the operation of this system of mass repression reveals that the CCP’s treatment of the Uyghur population in Xinjiang is animated by governmentality, the politics of exclusion and new surveillance........

© Asian Correspondent