Strauss Center News

Updates from the Strauss Center and our affiliated distinguished scholars and fellows


Greitens Discusses the Crisis in Xinjiang

Nov 9, 2020 |

In a recent Lawfare podcastSheena Greitens, Associate Professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs and Strauss Center Distinguished Scholar, joined fellow panelist Jordan Schneider to discuss the ongoing human rights crisis in the Chinese region of Xinjiang. Greitens began by providing a brief history on the current crisis, noting that it began in 2017 when Xinjiang’s party secretary Chen Quanguo returned from a meeting of the Central National Security Commission in Beijing, and began an intensive forced re-education program targeted at the region’s religious and ethnic minorities. Current estimates suggest that between a million and 1.5 million inhabitants of Xinjiang have been detained for involuntary re-education, and are also subject to surveillance and other measures aimed at diluting traditional culture and religious practice.  Greitens then noted that three commonly-offered rationales are necessary but not sufficient in isolation to explain the phenomenon: the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) paranoia resulting from the 2008-09 unrest among Uyghurs, the party’s broader shift towards a more assimilationist minority policy under Xi Jinping, and the installation of the aforementioned party secretary of Xinjiang. Greitens also described the logic of the CCP in undertaking this collective repression, likening it to an “inoculation” approach to mitigating perceived spread of Jihadist ideology in Xinjiang. She also noted that while the level of objective threat appears vastly disproportionate to the CCP’s response, the party’s insecurity coupled with the “information poverty” that is common in dictatorships may mean that they in fact perceive a severe threat. She further noted the importance of the U.S. exercising international leadership in this humanitarian crisis. Listen to the full conversation here.