Ethnic Conflict in Xinjiang an Application of Internal Security Dilemma Term Paper

Pages: 10 (3057 words)  ·  Style: Chicago  ·  Bibliography Sources: 30  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Race

Ethnic Conflict in Xinjiang: An Application of Internal Security Dilemma

There has been much discussion on this issue and from different points-of-view. An important study conducted on the Xinjiang and the internal security dilemma has been conducted by Jiaxing Xu, "The Ethnic Security Dilemma and Ethnic Violence: An Alternative Empirical Model and its Explanatory Power" (2012) in which the role of ethnic violence and is discussed as a possibility of explaining the ethnic security dilemma. Another important resource for this case study is Michael Edward Brown's "The International Dimensions of Internal Conflict" in which he theorizes the aspects of internal conflicts and connection with ethnic groups and security dilemmas. Also, given that the subject is complex in its nature, it is important to also consider different aspects of the discussion, which also includes an environmental aspect, valid in Marissa a. Dorais' "The Go West Campaign in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, People's Republic of China: Water Scarcity and Economic Growth" and a language component, presented by Arienne M. Dwyer in "The Xinjiang Conflict: Uyghur Identity, Language Policy, and Political Discourse."

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In terms of the theoretical analysis of the security dilemma, it is important to cosndier some of the most significant international theorist such as Henry Kissinger's "Diplomacy," Joseph E. Nye "Understanding international conflicts. An introduction to theory and history" or Pater Calvocoressi's "World politics since 1945." Also, Barry Buzan's study on security and the types of security that includes societal security is also important.

Part one: Definition of security dilemma, internal security dilemma, and applicability to the ethnic conflict in Xinjiang

TOPIC: Term Paper on Ethnic Conflict in Xinjiang an Application of Internal Security Dilemma Assignment

China is one of the most significant poles of power at the moment, from various points-of-view, whether it is considered as the most populous country in the world, or as one of the most important and impressive economies of the world, or the actual political system that is the most important communist political system in the world. At the same time however, given its place in international relations, it is important for China to maintain an internal cohesion in terms of ethnic conflicts and aspects that would undermine its internal equilibrium. One such case is related to the ethnic conflict in Xinjiang that is affecting the Western part of China. This study considers the ethnic conflict from the point-of-view of the internal security dilemma.

The security dilemma is a term used by the theorists of international relations especially during the Cold War. More precisely, "the essence of the theory is that a state which arms itself to increase its security will decrease the security of the other states, even if its intentions are defensive. This could trigger an arms race or a preemptive attack, thereby defeating the purpose of the first states arms' buildup"

In the case of China, as mentioned previously, its status as a main player on the international relations scene is crucial. In order to reach the status of great power and to maintain it, the military component is rather significant. The most recent example in this sense is the Armaments' Race between the U.S. And the U.S.S.R. during the Cold War

. At the time, it was both a means to express their particular supremacy and a way to preserve their own security. This eventually led to the so-called security dilemma

. It only proved their true nature as great military powers because, taking into account their military parity and their comparable military capabilities, they had reached that point in which one's block security demanded the other one's insecurity or destruction. At the same time it underlined the importance of great powers to develop the means to support their claims for supremacy. Nonetheless, there is the issue of the stability of the system created in this way. The bipolar system was seen as stable due to the fact that the two sides both benefited from a type of threat that deterred the other. Although the Cold War also represented the practical application of the security dilemma and the arms race, it also represented one of the most stable systems of the international political relations

No side was willing to use their nuclear weapons, although both of them were aware of the fact that its adversary was in its possession. This equilibrium in terms of nuclear weapons also gave a sense of balance in establishing other relations as well. However, the situation changed as the Cold War ended because there was no force the U.S. could compare itself to. Moreover, the U.S.S.R. had left behind a series of regions that would later on determine already lingering crises

. In this sense, the 1980s war in Afghanistan triggered the emergence of nationalistic and revolutionary forces that rebelled against the soviet interference in the country. At that time, in order to keep the balance of power in the region, the U.S. supported both military and financially, the Taliban side, which would come to power. Following the end of the Cold War, due to the lack of a strong authority in the region, the situation and the rebellious spirits worsened and they eventually created a state of chaos that would foster terrorist threats.

The internal security dilemma that can be applied to the Chinese case of Xinjiang refers in particular to the way in which the societal security rather than state security is affected as part of an internal process of maintenance of national identity. The threats to the integrity of the state and to its security no longer take into account only the military aspects as during the Cold War period but also reflect particularities such as the societal security. More precisely, "societal security concerns itself with the security of collectivities or "societies." According to Waever et al., there is a distinction between state security and societal security: state security is generally conceived of as concerned with protecting the sovereignty of the state from external threats, while societal security is concerned with threats to identity"

. The issue of societal security reflects the internal frictions that exist especially between minority groups at the level of the country. Currently, "There are fifty-six officially recognized ethnic groups or minzu in China, including the majority Han"

. Among these ethnic groups, the Uyghurs are a significant part of the population of the Xinjiang region. However, since the end of the Second World War and the takeover of the province by the Communist rule in 1948, they have been constantly threatened in terms of their own religious, ethnic identity

. This in turn led to a certain retaliatory policy in the administrative province from the ethnic group. Therefore the security dilemma that is usually applied to external actors such as state to state, in the "internal" security dilemma, the attempt of the central forces to maintain the national identity of the country determined a chain of actions that led to a retaliatory attitude from the minority group. Therefore, China as a state and the Uyghurs as an ethnic group are facing a security dilemma in their attempt to maintain identity and societal security.

Part two: How policies, migration, cultural influences strengthen the Party-state position in Xinjiang generate greater societal insecurity to Uyghur

There have been many attempts from the Chinese state after the occupation of the region to try to impose a control over the ethnic group. They included migration of Han Chinese, the majority group in China, cultural pressures, and religious limitations. "In 1949, the Chinese Communist Party took over the territory and declared it a Chinese province. In October 1955, Xinjiang became classified as an "autonomous region" of the People's Republic of China. The Chinese government in its white paper on Xinjiang says Xinjiang had been an "inseparable part of the unitary multi-ethnic Chinese nation" since the Western Han Dynasty, which ruled from 206 BCE to 24 AD."

The White Paper on Xinjiang states that since the "peaceful liberation on September 25, 1949" the Xinjiang region has known an important economic, human, and social development with the due help provided by the Chinese state

. Furthermore, the Paper also argues on the equal rights of ethnic groups around the country. At the same time though, as per the Chinese government, in order to improve the unity of the population, there are regular meetings aimed to "promote the concepts of equality, unity and progress as the primary principles in the relationships between ethnic groups, and make mutual trust, mutual respect, mutual learning, mutual support and mutual understanding social norms to be routinely followed by people of all ethnic groups

." This is an important aspect to be taken into account particularly because it provides the necessary platform, since 1983, to reduce the disparities between ethnic groups but at the same time it can be interpreted as being a means through which a loss of ethnic identity can take place.

Since 1949 there has been a wide policy of control from the Chinese government over the autonomous region particularly due to the important strategic position it has for the region. More precisely, given… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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APA Style

Ethnic Conflict in Xinjiang an Application of Internal Security Dilemma.  (2012, December 16).  Retrieved November 26, 2021, from

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"Ethnic Conflict in Xinjiang an Application of Internal Security Dilemma."  16 December 2012.  Web.  26 November 2021. <>.

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"Ethnic Conflict in Xinjiang an Application of Internal Security Dilemma."  December 16, 2012.  Accessed November 26, 2021.