China: Modernization, Development, and Ethnic Unrest in Xinjiang

  • Kate HannanEmail author
Reference work entry


China’s ethnic Uyghur population are restive and repressed. The Chinese government has presided over almost three decades of considerably improved living standards for the majority of its people. This is commendable, but rapid modernization and development have also presented problems. While China’s leaders have attended the national interest, they have not given adequate consideration to particular concerns, and when “episodes and pockets” of grassroots discontent erupt, the government responds with repression and force. Discontented workers, students, villagers (particularly those subject to heavy-handed land acquisition and the effects of environmental pollution), and ethnic minority groups have not had adequate response to their petitions, demonstrations, and in some cases violent opposition to government policy and behavior. China’s Uyghur ethnic group are paying a particularly high price for the pressure their unrest, discontent, and violence have put on the government. Beijing insists on continuing its policy of promoting “economic and social development” as “the fundamental solution to China’s ethnic problems,” while on the ground in Xinjiang, the government’s use of force and intimidation is increasing. The use of violence to restore social order is viewed by many (both inside and outside China) as ill-advised and a sign of policy failure.


China Xinjiang Government policy Ethnic identity Protest 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of History and PoliticsUniversity of WollongongWollongongAustralia

Section editors and affiliations

  • Steven Ratuva
    • 1
    • 2
  • Airini
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Anthropology and SociologyUniversity of CanterburyChristchurchNew Zealand
  2. 2.Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific StudiesUniversity of CanterburyChristchurchNew Zealand
  3. 3.Faculty of Education and Social WorkThompson Rivers UniversityKamloopsCanada

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