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The Securitization of the Uyghur Question and Its Challenges

The Crisis of the Uyghur problem has transformed into a key element of China’s overall national politics, identity politics, international image, national security perception, and relations with the Islamic world. No effort has been undertaken toward discussion of the issue or recognition of the existence of a problem. The region and its population continue to be perceived as a threat to the Chinese State. Because of this, Uyghur communities have become alienated from the state, and tension between Uyghurs and Han Chinese has escalated. The Uyghur issue has begun to grow into a geopolitical and strategic problem for the emerging economic power and regional ambitions of China. The first step for the solution is only possible if China changes its approach to the issue and relieves its security based approach to the problem.

The Securitization of the Uyghur Question and Its Challenges
Local Protesters from the Taiwan Friends of Uyghurs display banners to demand the Chinese government to stop killing Uyghurs from China's Xinjiang province. AFP PHOTO / SAM YEH
 

Although, the Uyghur question in China dates back to hundreds of years, one of the critical turning points of the issue took place after the establishment of the East Turkestan Republics in the 1930s and 40s. These republics later were taken over by China. Founded under the name of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), the new regime assured the cultural, social and political rights of Uyghurs and other minorities living in the area. However, the totalitarian system subsequently established by the communist state suppressed the entire Chinese nation and its minority regions. The Mao regime adopted policies for the homogenization of the society, where Muslim Uyghurs and their cultural and social differences were perceived as counter-revolutionary threats. As religious and cultural pressures peaked, Uyghurs, along with millions of other citizens became victims of hunger and outright famine as a result of the problematic economic policies of the central authority. 

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