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27-12-12, 14:23
“War on Terror” as a Diversionary Strategy:
Personifying Minorities as Terrorists in the People’s
Republic of China

KILIC BUGRA KANAT

Abstract
This study investigates the relation between minorities and the state in the context of
China and its “war on terror”. The study shows that in some instances states like
China utilize diversionary strategies, such as “war on terror”, in order to deflect
public attention from recurring domestic troubles, to solve the problem of legitimacy
and to rally their citizens around the flag of their regime. These diversionary strategies
aim to scapegoat a particular group (in most cases an ethnic or religious minority)
for current problems of the country and by “othering” this group, the state tries
to achieve an in-group/out-group effect and to unify the people. In fact, by creating a
“suspect community”, the Chinese state has aimed to consolidate its own “imagined
community”. In this study the case of the Uyghur minority in China and the state’s
policies toward this ethnic group will be used to demonstrate that the Uyghur minority
was selected as the domestic other following September 11, 2001, in order to
demonize Uyghur dissent groups in diaspora as well as to unify the Chinese
people by using the perception of terrorist threat.

Introduction
The diversionary theory of war is one of the most speculated about and debated theories
in foreign policy literature. The theory argues that government leaders who are confronted
with public antagonism over domestic problems sometimes start wars to divert
their populaces’ attention from these problems and, therefore, to survive politically.
This theory of externalization has been widely discussed among foreign policy scholars,
including Levy; James and Hristoulos; Stohl; Ostrom and Job; James and O’Neal; Wang;
DeRouen; and Morgan and Bickers.1 Numerous foreign policy conflicts have been interpreted
as being diversionary in nature and it has become commonplace for analysts to
examine the domestic politics and problems of countries that engage in international conflict.
Specifically, the use of force by US presidents against external actors, such as President
George H.W. Bush’s operation against Grenada,2 and President Bill Clinton’s
operations against Iraq, Sudan, and Afghanistan3 and its supposed “rally round the
flag effect” have been investigated in order to understand the relationship between domestic
politics and foreign policy.

Despite the burgeoning literature and numerous case studies on diversionary theory
and the increasing circulation of the theory through journalistic accounts and popular
culture, there still remains a lack of consensus among scholars about the nature,
timing, and consequences of diversionary wars. But today the theory still receives considerable
attention from both academic and policy circles, mainly because it accords
with an intuitive sense of how politics works.

In recent years one of the most innovative attempts to broaden the horizon and explanatory
power of diversionary theory was offered by Tir and Jasinski in their study “Domestic-
Level Diversionary Theory of War: Targeting Ethnic Minorities”,4 in which the
authors offered an application of diversionary theory of war to cases of ethnic conflict.
They argue that states sometimes do not need to find an external foe in order to divert
the attention of the domestic public from domestic problems. Instead, an internal
“other” can play the same role as an external “other” in terms of providing unity and rallying
the people of that country around the flag of their leader and increasing the approval
rating and popularity of the leader. Particularly, the ethnic minorities of a country can
become the ideal target due to the ease of creating an identity based on the in-group/
out-group dichotomy5 among the country’s citizens.
Tir and Jasinski utilized the research on interethnic conflict, especially focusing on the
“scapegoating hypothesis” in which political leaders attempt to protect their positions and
shift the blame for domestic problems to an external group. According to them, this form
of scapegoating is not rare in multiethnic societies. For many states the presence of an
ethnic “other” makes it a real possibility for leaders to target these minority groups as
being responsible for a country’s domestic ills.6 They argue that “the ethnic minorities
outside the in-group constituency may play the role of enemy outsiders quite effectively”
and thus “attempting a diversion through attacking a domestic target therefore exploits
the society’s fragmentation in favor of the leader”.7 In fact, “the resulting manufactured
conflict with the targeted ethnic minority and ensuing rearrangement of the political
context can thus help threatened elites thwart challenges to their rule”.8 Furthermore,
by focusing attention on the group that might not be motivated to rally around
the flag in the event of an international conflict, the leader not only neutralizes
the danger this group may pose but simultaneously exploits it as a target.9

A Favorable Option

According to Tir and Jasinski, for the beleaguered leaders, to use force against ethnic
minorities and scapegoat them for the domestic problems of the country may be a
more favorable option. This strategy is considered both cost effective and less risky for
leaders compared to using force against an external other to deflect public attention.
Especially, considering the high level of uncertainty in international conflicts and the
possible international opposition in the case of an attack on another state, ethnic minority
groups provide more secure and less internationalized targets. Again, for these leaders,
compared to classical forms of diversionary strategies and the externalization of domestic
conflicts, targeting and scapegoating ethnic minorities are more containable, since the
targeted group and the conflict or attack would take place within domestic boundaries,
and since there is usually a high degree of reluctance among international organizations
and other states to become involved in the domestic conflicts of another state, mostly
because of the possible ramifications of their policies on their own domestic problems.10
Tir and Jasinski note that although diverting the domestic public’s attention and
gaining public support by attacking ethnic minorities can in some cases be extremely
costly and risky, due to the possible spread and prolongation of this conflict, it is still a
more viable option for many political leaders. Tir and Jasinski call this strategy “domestic-
level diversion” and argue that it is not only available to a larger number of
leaders, which challenges the US-centric assumption of classical diversionary scholarship,
but that it also often presents a less risky course of action than external diversion,
which can be considered another attempt to rescue diversionary theory from the use of
force and war.11

Tir and Jasinski found that in the period under study, which includes dates between
1996 and 2002, 15 countries used force against minorities at risk (MAR) in each year.
This group of countries contains both democratic and authoritarian countries, including
Uganda, Israel, Thailand, India, and China; whereas 43 other countries attacked their
minorities through most of those years. According to their study, “both economic underperformance
and government unpopularity are associated with statistically significant
increases in the likelihood of governmental use of force against MAR groups”.12 In
another model in the same study, Tir and Jasinski change the dependent variable to indicate
repressive activities against the minorities that fall short of the use of armed force,
including arrest and detention of group members, show trials, execution of leaders, resettlement,
etc. The result of this model also confirms “that lower intensity repression
against MARs is indeed connected with economic underperformance and government
unpopularity”.13

Tir and Jasinski’s study was an innovative attempt to include domestic “others” as
possible targets for the leaders troubled by domestic problems. It investigated possible
relationships between domestic economic, social, and political difficulties and the use
of force against the minorities of that country. The study also argued that sometimes
these “internal others” can be instrumental in uniting the majority of people in a
country. However, the study also had some limitations, most importantly on the temporal
span of the study, which was constrained by the availability of data. Tir and Jasinski mentioned
this limitation in their conclusion and indicated the necessity of further research
that would examine the findings of this study.

Framework of the Study

The present study intends to complement Tir and Jasinski’s study by: (1) providing an indepth
qualitative approach to the domestic diversionary model that they formulate by
focusing on an individual country; (2) covering the period after 2002; (3) analyzing the
relationship between external diversion and domestic diversion and trying to respond
to the question of when states prefer to use domestic-level diversion instead of an external
form of diversion; and (4) discussing the outcomes of the domestic use of diversionary
strategies by governments.

As mentioned above, since the launch of systemic studies on the diversionary theory of
war, there has been constant discord between the outcomes of large-n quantitative studies
and more case-study-oriented qualitative studies. The findings of these different research
programs have been contradictory and/or unrelated in most instances. While case studies
demonstrate, mostly through process tracing14 or structured focused comparison,15 that
leaders use diversionary strategies in order to quell domestic opposition or problems, the
findings of large-n quantitative studies have had contradictory findings in most instances.
This study intends to complement Tir and Jasinski’s quantitative research on domestic level
diversion by providing a qualitative application as well as a test of their results. The
case study at hand will focus on China, which was one of the countries that Tir and
Jasinski examined in their study and found it to be applying domestic-level diversionary
strategies, especially with regards to the Chinese state’s use of domestic diversionary
strategies against its Uyghur minority.

Immediately after the September 11, 2001 attacks against the USA and the initiation of
the US-led “war on terror”, China joined the bandwagon of the US’s global campaign
and launched its own “war on terror”. The Chinese war on terror has focused on its
Uyghur minority and, in a very short period of time, the propaganda departments of
the Chinese state, with the help of security agencies in China, produced different
materials, including reports, documentaries, and movies, which labeled Uyghur groups
as terrorist organizations.

The government’s selection of the Uyghur minority for this campaign was not accidental.
Uyghurs are Muslims, which has made it easier for the campaign to connect them
with al-Qaeda and international Islamic networks, and the geographical proximity of
the region to Afghanistan strengthens the Chinese argument. Although in the first
instance, China’s use of the war on terror was intended to halt international criticism
of its repressive policies toward Uyghur people, later it turned out to be a full-scale domestic
campaign against terrorism. This state-sponsored campaign focused on propagating
the idea of a terrorism threat domestically and rallying the people and unifying them
against this threat nationally.

In its later phase, the Chinese government broadened its definition of terrorism so as to
include every possible form of expression of dissent among the Uyghur people. As a result
of this policy and campaign, the Uyghur minority became associated with terrorism,
which has culminated in the criminalization of this ethnic group in China and has
increased ethnic tensions and conflicts. Just like the anti-Western and anti-Japanese
Chinese nationalism of the 1990s, an anti-Uyghur Chinese nationalism emerged in
recent years as a result of this state-sponsored campaign. Thus, the following study
also intends to explain the change in the threat perception of Chinese nationalism in
recent years and the impact of the government-induced war on terror campaign.

Objectives of the Study

This study will demonstrate that typically when a country’s leaders realize that scapegoating
a foreign country for domestic problems and the mobilization of people against an
“external other” could harm the country’s political and economic interests and
become difficult to contain, they turn to the domestic sphere and look for domestic
others that could be an easy prey for diversionary intentions. In this way, although they
cannot put an end to the anti-foreign nationalism of their country, the leaders can manufacture
a more domestic policy centered on anti-ethnic minority nationalism which can
reduce the impact of xenophobia. When society directs its anger and nationalistic fervor
toward an internal rather than external other, it is easier for the state to manage and does
not damage the domestic legitimacy and nationalistic credentials of its government.
The concluding part of this study will provide a preliminary analysis of the outcome of
domestic-level diversion. The outcome of the use of diversionary mechanisms is a frequently
asked question in diversionary scholarship. There is a consensus among scholars
about the temporary nature of diversionary effects; however, there is not much research
on the consequences of the use of diversionary strategies. When leaders use domestic level
diversion, these outcomes can be more important for the stability of the country
and especially for the future of interethnic and state-ethnic minority relationships.

Scapegoating and Chinese Nationalism

Although scholars of the diversionary theory of war have not frequently stated it, in most
instances of rallying around the flag and diversionary mobilization of the domestic
constituency, there is a form of nationalism purported and promoted by political elites.
Scholars like Snyder have pointed out the relationship between nationalism and the diversionary
use of force, and have indicated the tendency of political elites to use nationalism
in order to divert the attention of the domestic public from domestic issues.16 Accordingly,
leaders who cannot meet the economic, social, and political demands of their population
try to scapegoat a foreign country for their own failures and attempt to redirect
societal anger and frustration to this nation.17 If applied successfully, this strategy
creates a nationwide negative feeling toward that particular country. In most instances,
this external actor starts to be perceived as an enemy of the nation. The animosity
toward this out-group in turn creates an in-group solidarity and unity among the
people.18 The citizens of this country become critical of, and condescending toward,
the external actor instead of their own political leaders and blame the external actor
instead of their own leaders for domestic failures.

Furthermore, those who continue to be critical of domestic political leaders and refuse
to be distracted by this external conflict may be labeled as traitors. In fact, while providing
an increasing degree of legitimacy for political leaders, this strategy of externalization provides
national unity and discredits any form of opposition against the regime and political
leaders.19 As will be shown below, however, state-sponsored nationalism can also boomerang
in some instances and, instead of providing legitimacy for the regime, this excessive
form of nationalism can go so far as to shake the state’s legitimacy. Moreover, this can also
damage the nationalist credentials of the government, especially when the state fails to
follow the demands of nationalist movements. When faced with this problem, leaders
of countries like China usually prefer to curb anti-foreign nationalism, which may endanger
national interests and the state’s foreign relations. Instead, they create some other
imaginary threats, such as minorities within their borders, in order to legitimize their rule.

Nationalism the Best Option

Nationalism has been one of the most important topics for scholars who are dealing with
politics and society in China over the last 20 years.20 Although for some scholars, the
nationalism in China can be dated to 1949,21 the latest revival of nationalism was
launched in the early 1990s and Chinese nationalism has been constantly referred to in
relation to China’s foreign policy during these years, particularly in terms of its relations
with Japan and the USA.22 This recent revival in Chinese nationalism dates to the aftermath
of the Tiananmen incident of July 1989, which traumatized Chinese government
and society. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the global fall of communist ideology
together with mass protests against the Chinese government led Chinese leaders to look
for an alternative source of legitimacy to secure the loyalty and allegiance of the people. In
these years, nationalism proved to be the best option for the Chinese government, since it
provided both, unity for the Chinese people and loyalty of Chinese citizens, to authorities.
In addition, the scapegoating of external forces for domestic economic and social problems
can deflect the attention of the people away from these problems.
Moreover, there had been ample evidence of pre-existing notions of humiliation and
historical narrative to create the intended form of anti-foreign nationalism in China.
Even before the 1990s, students in Chinese schools grew up reading about the
decades-long humiliation of Chinese people, the invasion of Chinese lands by Japanese
forces, and traumatic incidents like the Rape of Nanking. In particular, nationalist discourse
on the humiliation of China in the 100 years between the Opium War of 1840
and the Communist Revolution of 1949 played a constitutive role in the formation and
promotion of nationalist feelings among the Chinese people. This discourse was also
very instrumental for scapegoating Western countries and Japan for the lack of development
and domestic troubles.23

The government started to promote nationalism and patriotism in the early 1990s, in
order to fill the ideological void in the country, to solve legitimacy problems that it
encountered as a result of the transformation of former communist countries, and to
train more patriotic and loyal citizens. The Patriotic Education Campaigns of the early
1990s were the backbone of this greater project to fuel nationalism.24 The campaign
was endorsed by all state agencies and state-controlled enterprises in China including
the government-controlled media. In this top-down nationalism, Western powers and
Japanese governments were blamed for Chinese domestic problems, and historical
agonies caused by Western imperialism and Japanese expansionism were reaffirmed
and reproduced. The message in the patriotic campaigns of the Chinese government in
these years fit nicely into the diversionary hypothesis: a government beleaguered by domestic
legitimacy problems and social instability aims to rally its people around its flag by
scapegoating external actors for these problems. In addition, an imaginary threat of territorial
dissolution was also promoted within China to create national unity. The territorial
disputes with Japan, and the Western sensitivity to the human rights conditions of
Tibetans and Uyghurs, were especially presented as evidence of evil Western intentions
toward the territory of mainland China. In fact, in a time when uncertainty and instability
threatened state−society relations in China, this xenophobic nationalism and the discourse
of victimization created a significant bond between the Chinese state and its
society. Moreover, in a period when economic inequalities abounded and became a
dividing line within Chinese society, this threat perception constructed a common
enemy and contributed to the feeling of a common fate for the Chinese people.

Nationalism as a Tool of Foreign Policy

The Chinese government’s patriotic education project was quite successful in terms of
mobilizing society and deflecting its attention. In the late 1990s, the initial outcomes
of this campaign became visible in Chinese foreign relations. The criticisms from the
international community of the bloody crackdown of peaceful protesters in Tiananmen
Square and Beijing’s failure to win the bid for hosting the 2000 Olympics were interpreted
as foreign conspiracies against the Chinese state and as insults to the national
dignity of the Chinese people. As the discourse of human rights and democratization prevailed
in world politics, China came under scrutiny more frequently due to its human
rights violations in the mid-1990s. This new form of patriotism in China had preemptive
elements to confront the aforementioned criticisms domestically. As Zhao
stated:
…even though corruption and social as well as economic problems have undermined
the CCP’s legitimacy to an extent, many people side with the government
when foreigners criticize it, believing that, no matter how corrupt the
government is, foreigners have no right to make unwarranted remarks about
China and its people.25

Moreover, the territorial disputes with Japan regarding Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, crossstrait
tensions with Taiwan, and economic and political disputes with the USA had
become major sources of nationalist outbursts. During these years, these foreign policy
crises were often used by the government to mobilize the masses and rally them
around the flag of the Chinese government. More importantly, these crises also provided
domestic legitimacy and nationalist credentials for the Chinese state. Furthermore, while
enjoying this high level of popularity and support from its people, the Chinese government
also used the nationalist reactions to play a two-level game and increase its
winset26 during its negotiations with foreign governments.

In the 1990s, the most obvious example of the emerging relationship between nationalism
and foreign policy in China took place during the crises with Japan over the
Senkaku/ Diaoyu Islands in 199627 and with the USA in the aftermath of the accidental
Belgrade Embassy bombing in 1999.28 Following these crises, university students in particular
took to the streets of major cities and organized mass demonstrations in front of
the USA and Japanese embassies. Many in China considered the attempt of some
right-wing groups in Japan to erect a lighthouse on the Island and the bombing of the Belgrade
Embassy by NATO forces as intentional and deliberate aggressions by the USA
and Japan to humiliate China. The Chinese-state-controlled media played a key role in
the mobilization of masses during these crises by providing biased and provocative coverage
of the events. For instance, an immediate apology from the Clinton administration
after the Belgrade bombing was not published for 3 days, allowing the galvanization of
anti-US sentiments among the populace. In fact, especially when combined with
China’s double-digit growth rate throughout the 1990s, the assertiveness of the
Chinese people in the realm of foreign policy and anti-foreign nationalism had grown dramatically.
29

A Change in Strategy

The government’s honeymoon with nationalism in the mid-1990s came to an end in the
later years of the decade. In the late 1990s, anti-foreign nationalist sentiments began to
be problematic for the Chinese government. Especially with the increasing integration
of China with the international political and economic system, anti-Western and
anti-Japanese nationalism that the Chinese government had promoted throughout the
1990s started to cause certain problems. In the 1990s, the Chinese government had
attempted to use top-down nationalism in order to control the society, scapegoat external
forces for its own failures, and distract people’s attention from domestic problems. These
patriotic campaigns also, however, created a more independent group of nationalist
elites. Especially, the new generation of nationalism writers became more outspoken
about the grievances of Chinese society and, in some instances, went beyond the indoctrination
of the Chinese state in their demands and policy prescriptions. In these years,
books such as China Can Say No became the expression of this new popular nationalism.
The adherents of this new bottom-up form of nationalism were not only critical of
external actors for leaving China behind, but they also began to express their dissatisfaction
of the government and its foreign policy when they believed that the government was
not properly defending the national interest of the country. This was a serious challenge
to the state monopoly in designing and implementing foreign policy.30 Especially during
the crises with the USA and Japan, such as the EP 3 plane crash on Hainan Island in 2001
and the dispute over the Japanese coverage of World War II in history textbooks in 2000,
these adherents found the Chinese government as being too soft on these countries and
incapable of defending national interests. The emergence of this new form of nationalism
demonstrated that, while trying to gain legitimacy by mobilizing people with nationalist
and patriotic ideals, the government also created a wave of extreme nationalism which
could be detrimental to its nationalist credentials and legitimacy. After the midair
crash of a Chinese jet with the EP 3 surveillance plane, demonstrators who organized
rallies to protest against the USA were not satisfied with the apology of the USA and the
Chinese government’s willingness to solve the dispute diplomatically. In fact, although at
the beginning the government tolerated and even encouraged these forms of demonstrations,
later these protests started to threaten US−China relations and, even more
importantly, began to provoke domestic criticism of the CCP’s handling of the crisis.
After crossing this threshold, the government started to restrain and ban students from
organizing anti-foreign demonstrations.31 This did not, however, bring about an end
to the protests. With the emergence of alternative spaces, such as the Internet, these
anti-government reactions started to spread quickly among the Chinese people.
The new popular nationalism resulted in an important dilemma for the Chinese government.
On one hand, it could result in profound problems for China’s international
standing. Throughout the 1990s, the Chinese government had internationally tried to
replace the “Chinese threat” discourse in the West by propagating the “peaceful rise of
China” discourse; however, these nationalist outbursts in the country could seriously
damage this image. Moreover, the extreme assertiveness of this popular nationalism
could also threaten economic relations and interests of the Chinese business community
with the USA and Japan. On the other hand, not satisfying the demands of these nationalist
groups could also be detrimental to the Chinese state, both by causing a legitimacy
problem and stirring social instability. As stated by Suisheng Zhao:

Although the Chinese government is hardly above exploiting nationalist sentiment
when doing so suits its purposes, Beijing had practiced a pragmatic
nationalism tempered by diplomatic prudence. State-led and largely reactive,
pragmatic nationalism is not fixed, objectified, and defined for all time; nor is
it driven by any ideology, religious beliefs, or other abstract ideas. Rather pragmatic
nationalism is an instrument that the Chinese Communist Party uses to
bolster the population’s faith in a troubled political system and to hold the
country together during its period of rapid and turbulent transformation into
a post-Communist society.32

Thus, for the Chinese state, anti-Western nationalism is only beneficial when it is instrumental
in providing loyalty, unity, and legitimacy. The moment that it begins to harm
China’s international relations and its integration into the international system, it
should be curbed or redirected. Chinese leaders realized that “if allowed to persist unrestrained,
nationalist sentiments could jeopardize the overarching objectives of political
stability and economic modernization on which the CCP’s legitimacy is ultimately based”.
33Because of this, in the late 1990s and in the early years of the new millennium, the
government became very sensitive to nationalist criticisms and searched for a way to
redirect the new popular nationalism in a way that would enable it to continue enjoying
nationalist support and credentials without endangering its international interests.

China’s “War on Terror”

The September 11, 2001 attacks against the USA took place when China was dealing
with nationalism’s double-edged sword. Immediately after these attacks the USA
launched a global war on terror; China was one of the first countries to join the USA
in this war. The reason for China’s willingness to be a part of this struggle against terrorism
was obvious to many observers. In the days after September 11, 2001, the Chinese
government began emphasizing the existence of a terrorist threat in China and the
presence of al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist groups within the country. Initially, the Public
Security Bureau did not provide any specifics about such organizations but constantly
reiterated the victimization of the Chinese state and its citizens at the hands of these “terrorist”
forces. Shortly afterward, the Chinese government launched its own “war on
terror” by identifying some organizations and individuals, and thereafter launched the
“strike hard campaign” in the Uyghur-populated northwest region.
Observers of Chinese politics and human rights advocacy groups were cognizant of the
Chinese government’s intentions in its participation in the global war on terror. The
Uyghur Autonomous Region (aka East Turkestan), which is located in northwest
China, had witnessed constant unrest since the formation of the People’s Republic of
China. The repressive policies of the government in this region, including those
dealing with Han migration to the region, cultural assimilation, ethnic discrimination,
and limitations to religious freedoms, had led to decades-old grievances in the region.
Especially after the fall of the Soviet Union and the independence of the Central Asian
republics along China’s border, the Chinese government was particularly concerned
about possible secessionism in this territory and increased its pressure on the Uyghurs.
Throughout the 1990s by means of “strike hard” campaigns, the Chinese government
attempted to eliminate all possible opposition and dissent voices in the region. Moreover,
freedoms and liberties were further constrained.34 In different instances, peaceful demonstrations
in the region were suppressed by using an excessive amount of force. For
example, in February 1997, the government cracked down on a peaceful rally of
Uyghur students in the city of Ili and, according to Amnesty International, summarily
executed and tortured numerous Uyghurs.35

Despite constant calls from the international community and human rights organizations,
the Chinese government pursued the same repressive policies against the
Uyghurs throughout most of the 1990s. In the early 2000s, although China was on the
verge of becoming a super power in global politics, the Chinese government was still concerned
about possible “Balkanization” due to the ethnic unrest in the region. With the
global war on terror, China acquired a golden opportunity to eliminate any form of opposition
in this minority region within the pretext of fighting against terrorism. The Chinese
government considered the international environment in its selection of which ethnic
opposition group to label as terrorists. Although there were some other minorities that
worried the Chinese government in that particular period, such as Tibetans; Uyghurs,
because of their Muslim identity, were relatively easy targets to link with terrorism and
al-Qaeda. In fact, as Clark stated:

Internationally, Beijing has reconfigured its discourse regarding Xinjiang and
the Uyghurs to reflect the contemporary international focus on Islamist-inspired
terrorism and extremism in order to gain international recognition for its legitimate
struggle against Uyghur terrorism…Domestically, the “war on terror”
has permitted China to not only deploy significant repressive force, in political,
legal and police/military terms, to confront the perceived threat to Xinjiang’s
security posed by Uyghur terrorism but also to establish the political and legal
framework through which to confront any future challenges to state power.36

Changing the Discourse

China first presented a list of so-called “terrorist” organizations in mid-November 2001.
In this statement, the Chinese government listed various organizations and claimed that
these organizations were founded and facilitated by al-Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan.
The report also mentioned Osama bin Laden and linked him to one particular organization
called the “Eastern Turkestan Islamic Movement” (ETIM) and asserted that
“Osama bin Laden and the Taliban have provided the ETIM with 300,000 US dollars
in various ways, and undertook to cover all the expenses of the ETIM activities for the
year of 2001”.37 This was the first time in recent history that China made such a claim
about the organizations in the region. Only 2 weeks before the September 11 attacks,
the Secretary of the Communist Party in the region, Wang Lequan, and the Chairman
of the regional government, gave a press conference at the opening ceremony of the
Urumqi Fair and stated that the region had never been affected by separatists and religious
extremists. They never described the region as a place of violence and terrorist
activity. However, immediately after the September 11 attacks, the discourse changed
dramatically and, with this statement, the Chinese government started to describe the
region as a breeding ground for terrorists who were connected with international terrorist
forces. Following this statement, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress
adopted amendments to the Criminal Law to “punish terrorist crimes, ensure
national security and the safety of people’s lives and property, and uphold social order”.38
A more comprehensive report was released 2 months after this statement. In January
2002, the Chinese Information Office of the State Council issued a report called
“Eastern Turkestan Terrorist Forces Cannot Get Away with Impunity” and stated that
the “terrorist” forces, including ETIM and the Eastern Turkestan Liberation Organizations
(ETLO), are threatening social stability in China and endangering the security
and stability in the region.39 According to this report, within the period of 1990–2001,
the “East Turkestan” terrorist forces inside and outside Chinese territory were
responsible for over 200 terrorist incidents in Xinjiang, resulting in the deaths of
162 people of all ethnic groups, including grass-roots officials and religious personnel,
and injuries to more than 440 people.40

After this report, especially in its foreign relations, China has put the “war on terror” at
the top of its agenda.41 In return for its support for the global war on terror, the Chinese
government convinced Washington to list ETIM as a terrorist group in the State Department’s
list. Furthermore, it also ensured the support of the USA in international organizations
on issues related to this organization. Moreover, China increased its pro-active
diplomacy in other regional organizations, including the Shanghai Cooperation Organization
and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum, and brought its struggle against
terrorism onto the agenda. In fact,
by exploiting the climate that followed the attacks on the United States and the
fact that some Uighurs were found fighting in Afghanistan, China has consistently
and largely successfully portrayed Uighurs as the source of a serious
Islamic terrorist threat in Xinjiang.42

After being encouraged by the support of some international organizations and the USA,
the Chinese government extended its scope and definition of terrorism and, in December
2003, it published another report called “First Batch of Eastern Turkestan Terrorist
Forces Identified”. In this report, China’s Ministry of Public Security revealed the
names of organizations and individuals who had allegedly engaged in “terrorist” activities
within China. This time, in addition to ETIM and ETLO, the report also included some
advocacy groups and human rights organizations with headquarters in Germany, Turkey,
and the USA, such as the World Uyghur Congress, and included individuals who were
known to be pursuing non-violent activities in different parts of the world. As stated by
Human Rights Watch (HRW):
Siding with the U.S. in the new “global war against terrorism”, the Chinese government
initiated an active diplomatic and propaganda campaign against “East
Turkestan terrorist forces”. This label was henceforth to be applied indiscriminately
to any Uighur suspected of separatist activities. There has been no sign of
any attempt by the Chinese authorities to distinguish between peaceful political
activists, peaceful separatists, and those advocating or using violence.43

Domestic-Level Diversion in Chinese Characteristics

In the post-September 11th era, China was able to pursue its war on terror in line with the
agendas of international organizations and portray itself as a victim of international terrorism.
However, with its attempt to broaden the definition of terrorism, it became apparent
that, just like other authoritarian countries, China was also trying to crack down on opposition
groups and minorities within its borders and by using a suitable international
environment, it tried to “solve” its ethnic problems by passing its own “Patriot Act”
and further limiting individual freedoms. In the mid-2000s, however, China discovered
another important possible role of the “war on terror”: that of being instrumental for the
government to unify its people and rally them around its flag.
Throughout the 1990s, the Chinese government had instilled anti-Western and anti-
Japanese sentiment in its people through patriotic education campaigns in order to
blame these external actors for domestic failures and deflect the people’s attention
from domestic problems. However, with the increasing economic and political relations
with Western countries and Japan, and the strengthening cooperation with the USA following
the September 11 attacks, the scapegoating of external “others” became a less suitable
option for the Chinese government. During the EP 3 plane crash incident, the
government had a hard time controlling anti-foreign nationalist demonstrations and
faced the danger of losing its nationalist credentials and legitimacy. Moreover, this
form of nationalist outbursts against Western countries and Japan could endanger the
Chinese government’s willingness to be recognized as a peace-loving and cooperative
partner in the international system. In fact, while still in need of legitimacy, the government
was not willing to follow the same form of externalization in the 2000s. At this critical
juncture, the “war on terror” turned out to be instrumental for the Chinese
government to continue to gain legitimacy and to secure the unity of its people and
their loyalty to the government.

The “Internal Other”

After cracking down on opposition in the country and Uyghur dissent by using the excuse
of fighting against terrorism and convincing its neighbors to cooperate against Uyghur
groups in their territories, the Chinese government aimed to shift the subject of its scapegoating.
Instead of external others, China launched a campaign against “internal others”
as the major source of instability and problems in the context of the “war on terror”. The
new threat constructed by the Chinese government for the Chinese people was “terrorism”
and “terrorist forces” working with international patrons to divide mainland
China. With the help of its state-controlled media, the “war on terror” had also acquired
an ethnic characteristic. Most of the documentaries and propaganda materials pointed to
Uyghurs as either terrorists or collaborators. As a result of this, in Hillyard’s terminology,
Uyghur society became a “suspect community”,44 which was perceived as a source of
trouble by the state and as a potential instigator of violence via state-controlled media.
Like other “suspect communities”, Uyghurs were also singled by the state out as being
uniquely problematic. Individual Uyghurs were targeted, not as a result of their crimes
or wrongdoings, but due to their ethnic identity.45 Furthermore, this image was later
institutionalized with terrorism-related legislation, which, besides suppressing all forms
of Uyghur dissent, was also intended to repress the cultural, linguistic, and religious
differences of Uyghurs. With these mechanisms and strategy, Uyghurs were depicted
as the main “internal others” in order to unify the people of China and rally them
against the designated scapegoat. In fact, the new “suspect community” played a key
role in defining and unifying the “imagined community” in China.

As stated by Tir and Jasinski, the selection of certain minorities for domestic-level
diversion was a deliberate process. According to them:
[T]he leader who wants to enhance the chances of his/her political survival
cannot select just any ethnic group to serve as the target of a domestic diversionary
attack. The selection instead has to be made carefully…The most opportune
targets would arguably be the politically and/or economically
marginalized groups…These groups have relatively little ability to fight back
either by intra or extra-constitutional means; moreover, their plight in the
face of diversion against them is unlikely to generate sympathy among the
other groups, let alone willingness to help them.46
Dru Gladney emphasized the instrumental role of minorities in China in his article
“Representing Nationality in China: Refiguring Majority/Minority Identities”, in which
he states the following:
The representation of the “minority” in China reflects the objectivizing of a
“majority” nationality discourse that parallels the valorization of gender and
political hierarchies. This process reverses subject/object distinctions and
suggests the following parallels: Minority is to the majority as female is to
male, as “Third” World is to “First”, and as subjectivized is to objectivized identity.
The widespread definition and representation of the “minority” as exotic,
colorful, and “primitive” homogenizes the undefined majority as united, monoethnic,
and modern. The politics of representation in China reveals much about
the state’s project in constructing, in often binary minority/majority terms, an
“imagined” national identity (Anderson 1983). While this dichotomization
may not be as meaningful in social life, it is through reading the representation
of minorities in China that we can learn much, perhaps more, about the construction
of majority identity, known in China as the “Han” nationality.47

Creating an in-group/out-group dichotomy, especially with the Uyghurs, has been a wellknown
strategy of Chinese states throughout history. The Uyghurs have been different in
terms of culture, language, and religion from the majority of the country. Moreover, their
Islamic identity could be instrumental in implicating them in the war against Islamic
extremism. Throughout history, different Chinese states used this ethnic group to
create an in-group/out-group dichotomy. Uyghurs have historically been one of the
most significant internal “others” for the Chinese state. Before the Communist Revolution
of 1949, Uyghurs living at the borderlands of China were labeled as primitive and
barbarian by the modern Chinese, whereas after the revolution the Chinese government
depicted Muslim Uyghurs as counter-revolutionaries and feudal elements because of
their national aspirations and religious beliefs. With the end of the Cold War, the emergence
of ethnic conflicts in different parts of the world and the global rise of political
Islam, Uyghur dissident groups in China were labeled as separatists and Islamic fundamentalists.
Finally, with the September 11 attacks and the war on terror, Uyghur dissenting
groups once again were on the agenda as “internal others” for being religious
fundamentalists and terrorists.

However, in this last wave of labeling the Uyghur minority as “others”, the government
not only utilized the constructed dichotomy between Uyghurs and Han Chinese to unify
the Han majority, but also merged this dichotomy with the “war on terror” to manufacture
a threat meant to mobilize the Chinese people; to legitimize the government’s repressive
rule; to manipulate public opinion; and to generate a scapegoat for social problems
and instability. This new scapegoat was also intended to shift the negative focus of nationalism
in China away from external “others” toward internal “others”.

Fighting the Three Evil Forces

The domestic-level diversion of the Chinese government started in the mid-2000s with
campaigns from the Propaganda Department against “terrorism” and “three evil
forces”, namely fundamentalism, separatism, and terrorism. With the help of the state controlled
media, the Chinese government started to circulate propaganda materials
visualizing the threat of terrorism to China. Students and public employees were
informed and trained about the Chinese government’s “war on three evils”. In the official
media, particularly, the religious dimension of Uyghur dissent was highly pronounced
and, according to scholars such as Yitzhak Shichor, in this period Beijing “consistently
and probably deliberately inflated and exaggerated the role of religious extremism in Xinjiang
and its involvement in terrorism”.48 The campaign against “terrorist forces”
included videos, which would spread the idea of a nation under the threat of these terrorist
forces. Two of the well-known examples of this campaign were a Chinese documentary
named “On the Spot Report: The Crimes of Eastern Turkestan Terrorist
Terrorism”49 and a movie series entitled “Tengritagh Jiddi Herikette” (Tengri Mountain
in Movement).

The documentary, “On the Spot Report: The Crimes of Eastern Turkestan Terrorism”,
was intended to be broadcast within China to inform the Chinese public about
the nature and level of the terrorism threat. According to the documentary, these terrorist
groups, which had been stationed in the Uyghur region and most of whose members were
Uyghurs, had been carrying out killings, assassinations, and bombings in the region
against innocent civilians and public employees. These groups were also in touch with
international terrorist networks including al-Qaeda. Within the documentary, some of
the arrested members of these groups revealed their intention of dividing up China.
There are even accounts of meetings of these groups with Osama bin Laden.
Although according to scholars, the documentary was full of inconsistencies, generalizations,
and exaggerations, the exact impact that this form of visual materials and media
reports created among public opinion is difficult to determine. For scholars such as
Shichor, through such measures Beijing was trying to manipulate public opinion at
home and abroad.50 The movie series, “Tengritagh Jiddi Herikette” was no different
than the documentary in terms of content. It was a long series of action movies with
various political messages, such as threat of terrorism, the terrorist intention to divide
China, and the heroic struggle of Chinese security forces against these terrorists. The
movie series portrays violent actions and attacks of “terrorist forces” on the peace-loving
people of the region, which includes both Uyghurs and Chinese.

Both in the movie series and in the report, the Chinese government portrayed terrorism
as a common threat to the Chinese people and underlined the role of government in its
struggle against this threat. In this sense, these media products were intended to rally the
Chinese people regardless of their economic, ethnic, or social differences, to unite around
the Chinese government in its fight against terrorism. Especially in the movie series “Tengritagh
Jiddi Herikette” the dichotomy between violent, extremist, and separatist Uyghur
groups versus peace-loving, patriotic, and loyal Chinese citizens was clearly demarcated.
As stated by Gladney, the Chinese government, through the use of this threat, was once
again defining the undefined majority in China.51 According to Chung, this media campaign
was mostly successful.

For all their collective malfeasance, it must be admitted that the “three evils”
offer rather good mass media propaganda for the PRC government to keep
ethnic demands on the defensive, dismiss foreign scrutiny, encouragement or
support for the causes of Chinese minorities, and perhaps most importantly,
sustain the unity of China’s dominant Han Chinese ethnicity. The last aspect
is shaping up to be of increasing salience to China’s leadership, in the face of
the end of the state’s socialist ideology and the homogenizing, materialistic
and individualistic effects of globalization, to prevent the emergence of centrifugal
southern provincial or coastal nationalists that would challenge, or at least
weaken, the present hegemonic state constructed around the ruling CCP,
patriotic state nationalism and a principal ethnic group.52

In fact, the direction of the “war on terror” toward a domestic other replaced the anti-
Western and anti-Japanese nationalism that the state promoted throughout the 1990s
and, for scholars like Chung, this new “other” was largely successful in uniting
Chinese people and legitimizing China’s policies. China continued this policy of domestic
diversion even after cracking down on all possible domestic dissident groups
within the Uyghur region. In the latter part of the decade, it pursued its policy of domestic-
level diversion by mass media-oriented anti-terror raids and operations, such as
the raid in the Pamir Mountains, which was highly publicized.

The Biggest Anti-terrorism Raid

In the first week of January 2007, Xinhua released breaking news about a raid by Chinese
security forces on an alleged “terrorist” camp in the Pamir Mountains. It was reported as
the biggest anti-terrorism raid in China’s history. According to Xinhua’s news coverage,
18 terrorists were killed and 17 others arrested; the police also seized 22 hand grenades
and more than 1500 more the terrorists had not finished making, as well as guns and
other home-made explosives. The report also stated that the police found the terrorists
operated several mines near the camp to raise funds. The terrorist camp was reportedly
run by ETIM.53 Later, some other reports by the Chinese state media stated that terrorists
killed one policeman and wounded another in the gun battle.54 Neither Xinhua nor
the Public Security Department provided any pictures or footage of the raid or the alleged
terrorist camps allegedly run by al-Qaeda operatives. There were also no names or photos
of the terrorists themselves.

In the press meetings following the raid, the spokesmen of the security bureaus repeatedly
emphasized the international connections of the terrorists and underlined the
terrorist threat as the biggest threat for China. According to these officials, international
Islamist extremists had infiltrated China’s northwest Muslim-populated region, possibly
from Afghanistan, perhaps with the help of Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda network.55 They
reported that with this operation the Chinese security forces prevented an organization
similar to al-Qaeda from establishing a base in China.56 They also claimed that ETIM
“dispatched its backbone elements into China, gathered a number of violent terrorists
to sneak into the mountains of China’s Pamir plateau, established terrorist training
camps, and conducted terrorist trainings”.57 These statements and reports intended to
create the impression among domestic and international public opinion that China
faced a dangerous and imminent threat from terrorism. The head of the Xinjiang
anti-terrorist force, Zhao Yongshen, stated that “the threat of terrorism in the region
was real and said terrorists had killed up to 160 people there over the past several dozen
years”. Furthermore, he argued that “in the current period and in the near future, East
Turkestan terrorism forces will remain the main terrorist threat facing China”.58
The coverage of the news of this anti-terror operation did not end immediately, but in
the following days, especially in the domestic media, the news and details of the operation
were covered continuously. In particular, the funeral of police officer Huang Liang, who
was killed during the operation, had become headline news in Chinese media. A huge
memorial service was organized for him. Attendees included leaders of the region’s
party committee and regional government. The meeting rooms for the press and the
memorial halls were full of Chinese flags and banners praising the heroism and unity
of the Chinese people. According to domestic media reports, thousands of people
showed up for the service, including the policeman’s comrades-in-arms who traveled
more than 2000 km to attend the event. The main news outlets published long articles
about the life and courage of Huang Liang. The coverage and presentation of the memorial
showed that the government was trying to incite nationalist and patriotic feelings
among its population.

Mourning the Martyrs

In terms of organization and promotion, the Huang Ling case was reminiscent of the
memorial services and posthumous commemorations of Wang Wei, the Chinese pilot
who was killed in the collision with the EP 3 plane, and David Chan, the pro-China activist
who drowned after jumping in the water when Japanese coast guards prevented his
boat from landing on the Senkaku/Diayou Islands. These two individuals were declared
martyrs of the revolution and national heroes in the 1990s, when China’s primary adversaries
were perceived to be the USA and Japan. Now, after the government induced a
change in the threat perception, Huang Liang, a police officer, became a hero because
of his struggle against the new domestic threat. Just like Wang Wei, this time the government
used Huang Liang to rally people around the national flag. The news agencies
reported that:

On his deathbed, Huang Liang … said “The enemies are ahead of us. Leave me
alone”. The reason for Huang Liang’s comrades in arms to have traveled more
than 2 thousand kilometers hastily day and night from Kashi to Urumchi to bid
farewell to Huang Liang was to ask Huang Liang to set his mind at rest because
they definitely would not let the remnant enemies go unpunished.59
Again just like Wang Wei, the Ministry of Public Security posthumously conferred on
Huang Liang the title of “Revolutionary Martyr” and the Public Security Department
admitted him into the Chinese Communist Party.60 Also the Regional Communist Youth
League Committee and Youth Federation awarded the “Xinjiang May 4th Youth Medal”
posthumously to Huang Liang. The highest party representative, Nur Baikeli, also
attended the funeral service and made a long speech in which at numerous instances
he expressed the unity of the Chinese people.

Baikeli…said that Kunlun will witness that we will not let the martyr shed his
blood in vain and will deal heavy blows at any attempt to separate China and to
undermine the unity and stability in Xinjiang. The people of all ethnic groups in
Xinjiang definitely will properly defend this piece of land to console the martyr
in heaven.61

Marginalizing the Uyghur

Through the January 2007 raid, the Chinese government not only domestically diverted
the attention of its public toward the terrorism threat but also designated a new enemy,
and a “confirmed” “other” to unify and mobilize its people against. Instead of the humiliation
inflicted by the West and Japan for more than 100 years, this time Chinese officials
underlined the victimization of the Chinese people by “terrorist forces” with allegedly
direct links to al-Qaeda and other international terrorist networks. It was claimed that
these forces aim to destabilize Chinese society and divide mainland China, just like
Western powers and Japan were accused of doing this in the 1990s.
The raid itself and the public relations campaign and propaganda in the raid’s aftermath
were intended to create an imaginary threat for all mainland Chinese residents
and unite them against this threat. More importantly, the Chinese government was
also able to personify the terrorism threat in the form of the Uyghur people living in
China. Although in its security discourse the war was against terrorism, by broadening
the definition of terrorism to include every possible form of opposition or dissent by
Uyghur people against Chinese rule, the Chinese government put all the Uyghur “troublemakers”
in one homogeneous basket. After these propaganda-laden campaigns, the
Han majority and other people in China started to identify Uyghurs as potential terrorists.
Some Uyghur writers, religious scholars, publishers, website owners, and moderators
were labeled in the very first step of this campaign. The Chinese government spread
the idea that Uyghur people who became critical of government policies were just
waiting for the right time to use violence against Chinese people. As stated by the
HRW/Human Rights in China report on religious freedom in the region:
Chinese authorities are trying to erase the distinctions among cultural and minority
rights activists, pro-independence activists, and those who use violence.
This suggests an historical shift: while before September 11, 2001, not all minority
rights or cultural rights activists or those on the “ideological front” (which
presumably covers all critics of CCP policy) were considered to be terrorists,
after September 11 they are, or should be, assumed to be terrorists. (p. 20)
In effect, China is claiming that terrorists have now become secret peaceful activists,
presumably waiting for the right moment to revert to their former
methods. This is a very dangerous set of assumptions that can be acted upon
by the Chinese or Xinjiang security services at any time to justify arrests,
heavy sentences, and the death penalty.62

With this new policy, a potential terrorist image was created. Coupled with ethnic differences,
the new association of the Uyghur people with violence and terrorism created a
strong and solid out-group for the majority peace-loving Han Chinese. The impact of
criminalizing Uyghurs became obvious with increasing anti-Uyghur sentiments among
the Han majority. During the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, most Uyghurs were
forced by the government to leave the city, but, more dangerously on a societal level,
Uyghurs were considered as possible terrorists by the Beijing residents and were
refused the privilege to enjoy basic public and private services. It was reported that
Uyghurs were not even given rooms in hotels and inns. Weeks before the Olympic
games Geoffrey York reported:

The Uyghurs are under greater pressure than any other ethnic minority because
the government sees them not only as potential protesters but also as potential
terrorists. The entire Uyghur population is often seen as a security threat…
Until recently, Beijing was home to dozens of Uyghur restaurants, specializing
in the popular grilled food of their Muslim homeland, Xinjiang, in the remote
northwest of China. But most have been forced to close over the past two
years as the security clampdown has tightened.

Nuer, who has worked in restaurants in Beijing for most of the past 15 years,
estimates that 4,000 to 5,000 Uyghurs have been detained or expelled from
Beijing as the city prepares for the Olympics. His estimate is impossible to
verify, but a recent survey confirmed that many Beijing hotels are refusing to
rent rooms to Uyghurs.

The attempt of the Chinese government to create a domestic out-group in order to
provide unity, and a threat in order to provide legitimacy, has dangerous consequences
in terms of ethnic harmony. The xenophobia against Uyghurs seen during the Beijing
Olympics spread to different regions of China in the following years. Especially when
combined with economic or social problems, interethnic tensions became deadly. The
lynching of Uyghur workers in Shaoguan in Guangdong province by Chinese workers
in June 2009 was another outcome of the Chinese government’s in-group/out-group
gambit. The Chinese government’s reluctance to investigate this incident further exacerbated
the spiral of violence, this time in Urumqi in July 2009. The government’s reaction
to the interethnic tension, in which it blamed Uyghur separatists and terrorists, bolstered
the Han Chinese majority, which constituted almost 90% of the population of Urumqi, to
take to the streets the following day and start another lynching campaign against Uyghurs.
Even after the second day of violence, the government continued to blame Uyghur
separatists abroad for instigating the conflict. Websites and forums in China were filled
with anti-Uyghur messages, which were reminiscent of the reaction of Chinese nationalists
to the crises with the USA and Japan in the 1990s.

Conclusion

In the movie, “Wag the Dog” director Barry Levinson and writer David Mamet created a
satirical spoof political scenario.63 Fictional White House advisers try to save the president
from the disaster of a sex scandal by creating an imaginary diversionary war with
Albania. The expectation was that the news about the war would rally support and
drive the scandal out of the public agenda. It demonstrated how, when they brought
together media and political power, leaders could create media illusions and impact
societal discourse and politics even in a democracy like the USA. When these two
forces are brought together by authoritarian governments, the results could be more dramatic,
and would remind us of the constant mobilization of citizens against imaginary
enemies, as in Orwell’s 1984.

Tir and Jasinski’s large n-study and the case study of Chinese domestic diversion discussed
above show that the constructed enemy does not need to be a foreign country or a
faraway enemy. Sometimes states, considering the high cost and high risk of launching a
crisis with an “external other”, in order to divert the populace’s attention and to unify
them, may focus on a domestic “other” that can serve a similar purpose. In the
post-September 11th era the Chinese government created a common enemy by exaggerating
the threat of terrorism and manipulated public opinion with nationalist and patriotic
spectacles. Following the politics of domestic diversion, by extending the definition of
terrorism to include every possible way that the Uyghurs would express their political
opinions or criticisms, the Chinese government personified terrorism as the Uyghur
minority. Some segments of society adopted this new discourse and developed an
anti-Uyghur nationalism, which paved the way for the lynching of Uyghurs in different
circumstances, the identification of Uyghurs with terrorism and an increasing amount
of interethnic conflict in the region. Nevertheless, as in other more classical forms of
diversionary strategies, China’s domestic diversion also helped the Chinese government
to gain legitimacy and unite its Han majority under its rule.

This study showed that there are many other possible diversionary strategies that
leaders may use in order to stay in power, deflect the attention of their population
from domestic economic, social, and political problems, and rally them around their
national flags. Scholars of diversionary studies usually ignore these other forms of diversionary
methods, such as domestic-level diversion which has been discussed at length
above. In order to have a more comprehensive account of the use of diversionary
force, future studies in the field need to analyze both of these diversions together to
more accurately examine the relationship between domestic politics and foreign as well
as domestic policy. Moreover, scholars of ethnic and minority studies also need to pay
attention to this new variable in order to understand conflicts between states and their
minorities.

NOTES
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5. L.A. Coser, The Functions of Social Conflict, New York: Free Press, 1956.
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7. Ibid., p. 644.
8. Ibid., p. 646.
9. Ibid., p. 644.
10. Ibid.
11. Ibid., p. 641.
12. Ibid., p. 651.
13. Ibid., p. 657.
14. J.S. Levy and L.I. Vakili, “Diversionary Action by Authoritarian Regimes: Argentina in the Falklands/
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18. Coser, Functions of Social Conflict, op. cit., pp. 93–95.
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24. For a more comprehensive overview of the patriotic education campaigns in the post-1989 era, see
Hughes, Chinese Nationalism, op. cit., pp. 42–69.
25. Suisheng Zhao, “China’s Pragmatic Nationalism: Is It Manageable?” The Washington Quarterly, Vol.
29, No. 1, 2005, pp. 131–144.
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27. Downs and Saunders, “Legitimacy”, op. cit., pp. 114–146.
28. Dingxin Zhao, “An Angle of Nationalism in China Today: Attitudes among Beijing Students after
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“War on Terror” as a Diversionary Strategy in the PRC 525
29. David Shambaugh, “Containment or Engagement of China?: Calculating Beijing’s Responses”,
International Security, Vol. 21, No. 2, Fall, 1996, pp. 204–209.
30. Zhao, “China’s Pragmatic Nationalism”, op. cit., pp. 131–144.
31. Ibid.
32. Ibid., p. 132.
33. Ibid.
34. For more information on Uyghurs, see Gardner Bovingdon, “The Not-So-Silent Majority: Uyghur
Resistance to Han Rule in Xinjiang”, Modern China, Vol. 28, No. 1, 2002, pp. 39–78; Dru
Gladney, “Constructing a Contemporary Uighur National Identity: Transnationalism, Islamicization,
and State Representation”, Cahiers d’etudes sur la Mediterranee Orientale et le Monder Turco-Iranien
(Journal of Studies on the Eastern Mediterranean and Turkish-Iranian World), No. 13, January–June,
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Columbia University Press, 1997; S.F. Starr, Xinjiang: China’s Muslim Borderland, New York: M.E.
Sharpe, 2004.
35. Amnesty International, China: Gross Violations of Human Rights in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous
Region, March 31, 1999, available at http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ASA17/018/1999.
36. Michael Clarke, “Widening the Net: China’s Anti-terror Laws and Human Rights in the Xinjiang
Uyghur Autonomous Region”, The International Journal of Human Rights, Vol. 14, No. 4, 2010,
pp. 542–558.
37. Full text of this document named “Terrorist Activities Perpetrated by ‘Eastern Turkistan’ Organizations
and Their Links with Osama bin Laden and the Taliban” is available at http://www.chinaun.
org/eng/zt/fk/t28937.htm.
38. Amnesty International, China: China’s Anti-terrorism Legislation and Repression in the Xinjiang Uyghur
Autonomous Region, March 22, 2002, available at http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ASA17/010/
2002/en.
39. People’s Daily, January 22, 2002. Full text of this report is available at http://english.peopledaily.com.
cn/200201/21/eng20020121_89078.shtml.
40. Scholars like James Millward criticized the report for its inconsistencies and its use of the term
“terrorism”. See J. Millward, Violent Separatism in Xinjiang: A Critical Assessment, Washington, DC:
East-West Center, 2004.
41. Chien-peng Chung, “China’s War on Terror: September 11 and Uighur Separatism”, Foreign Affairs,
Vol. 81, No. 4, 2002, pp. 8–12; Dru Gladney, “Freedom Fighters or Terrorists?: Exploring the Case of
the Uighur People”, Testimony to the United States Congress, Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee
on International Organizations, Human Rights and Oversight, 2009.
42. Human Rights Watch, Devastating Blows: Religious Repression of Uighurs in Xinjiang, Vol. 17, No. 2,
April 2005, p. 8.
43. Ibid., p. 17.
44. P. Hillyard, Suspect Community: People’s Experiences of the Prevention of Terrorism Acts in Britain,
London: Pluto Press, 1993.
45. Christina Pantasiz and Simon Pemberton, “From the Old to the New Suspect Community: Examining
the Impacts of Recent UK Counter-Terrorist Legislation”, British Journal of Criminology, Vol. 49,
No. 5, 2009, pp. 646–666.
46. Tir and Jasinski, “Domestic-Level Diversionary”, op. cit., p. 647.
47. Dru C. Gladney, “Representing Nationality in China: Refiguring Majority/Minority Identities”, The
Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 53, No. 1, 1994, pp. 92–123.
48. Yitzhak Shichor, “Fact and Fiction: A Chinese Documentary on Eastern Turkestan Terrorism”,
China and Eurasia Forum Quarterly, Vol. 4, No. 2, 2006, pp. 89–108.
49. Shichor provides a summary transcript and analysis of this documentary in “Fact and Fiction”.
50. Ibid., p. 107.
51. Gladney, “Representing Nationality in China”, op. cit., pp. 92–123.
52. Chung, “China’s War on Terror”, op. cit., pp. 8–12.
53. Xinhua, “Chinese Police Destroy Terrorist Camp in NWRegion”, World News Connection, January 8,
2007 (accessed December 7, 2011).
54. Xinhua, “More on Chinese Police Destroying Terrorist Camp in Xinjiang”, World News Connection,
January 8, 2007 (accessed December 7, 2011).
55. AFP, “PRC FM Spokesman: International Extremists Connected with Terrorists in Xinjiang”, World
News Connection, January 9, 2007 (accessed December 8, 2011).
56. AFP, “PRC FM Spokesman Says China Has Firm Attitude to Counter-Terrorism”, World News
Connection, January 11, 2007 (accessed December 8, 2011).
57. Xinhua Domestic Service, “PRC Police Destroy Terrorist Camp in Xinjiang, Kill 18 Terrorists”,
World News Connection, January 8, 2007 (accessed December 7, 2011).
58. AFP, “PRC FM Spokesman: International Extremists Connected with Terrorists in Xinjiang”, World
News Connection, January 9, 2007 (accessed December 8, 2011).
59. Zhongguo Xinwen She, “Funeral Held in Urumqi for Policeman Huang Liang Killed in Fight with
Terrorists”, World News Connection, January 10, 2007 (accessed December 8, 2011).
60. Ibid.
61. Ibid.
62. Human Rights Watch, Devastating Blows, op. cit., p. 20.
63. Barry Levinson, “Wag the Dog”, movie, 1997.