Ethnic Tensions in Tibet and Xinjiang

Ethnic Conflict and Protest in Tibet and Xinjiang. Unrest in China’s West is a new collection edited by Ben Hillman and Gray Tuttle and published by Columbia University Press. It is reviewed for JCA by Colin Mackerras (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2017.1366542).

Professor Mackerras agrees this “is a timely book on an important topic.” Both Tibet and Xinjiang have seen considerable state attention and ethnic and religious unrest. He argues that:

The Chinese state has tended to blame outside sources for the ethnic unrest that has occurred. This book accords with much Western commentary in putting a great deal of the blame on China’s policies and behaviour in the Tibetan areas and Xinjiang. Though state suppression of violent disturbances and dissent may be able to curb some hostile incidents, it does not help in soothing the resentments many Tibetans and Uyghurs feel.

The reviewer observes that: “All the contributors to this book, and both editors, are deeply familiar with the situation in China’s west, and have carried out field research there.” This makes for a good book and Mackerras states:

[T]his is an excellent and well researched book. It is well edited and, despite a range of topics, well focused within the overall theme of ethnic conflict and protest in China’s western provinces in the early twenty-first century. It is also balanced and fair, pointing not only to problems and challenges, but to some successes.

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