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The Wang Lixiong prophecy: 'Palestinization' in Xinjiang and the consequences of Chinese state securitization of religion

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Jo Smith Finley



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Routledge, 2019.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


In Your Western Regions, My East Turkestan (2007), Chinese dissident Wang Lixiong warned of the ‘Palestinization’ of the Xinjiang question, defined as reaching ‘a critical point in time’ where Uyghurs and Han Chinese enter an interminable ‘ethnic war’. Following the knife attack on Han civilians in Kunming (2014), seen by many as an act of Uyghur terror, Wang reminded us that he had foreseen this trajectory seven years earlier.This article outlines Wang’s six interpretations of ‘Palestinization’ in the Xinjiang context, then shows how tightened regulations on religion and intrusive religious policing was the main catalyst for local retaliatory violence in 2012-2015. I contend that state securitization of religion was counter-productive, heightening societal insecurity, and promoting inter-ethnic conflict between Uyghur and Han communities. In Chen Quanguo’s era of ‘de-extremification’, the state’s purported attempt to ‘purify’ Islamic practice continues to be experienced on the ground as violation of pure, halal space.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Smith Finley J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Central Asian Survey

Year: 2019

Volume: 38

Issue: 1

Pages: 81-101

Online publication date: 13/11/2018

Acceptance date: 08/10/2018

Date deposited: 09/10/2018

ISSN (print): 0263-4937

ISSN (electronic): 1465-3354

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/02634937.2018.1534802


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