Smith Finley, J. (2019). The Wang Lixiong prophecy:‘Palestinization’in Xinjiang and the consequences of Chinese state securitization of religion. Central Asian Survey, 38(1), 81-101. Link
In Your Western Regions, My East Turkestan (2007), Chinese dissident Wang Lixiong warned of the ‘Palestinization’ of the Xinjiang question, defined as reaching ‘a critical point in time’ where Uyghurs and Han Chinese enter an interminable ‘ethnic war’. Following the knife attack on Han civilians in Kunming (2014), seen by many as an act of Uyghur terror, Wang reminded us that he had foreseen this trajectory seven years earlier. This article outlines Wang’s six interpretations of ‘Palestinization’ in the Xinjiang context, then shows how tightened regulations on religion and intrusive religious policing was the main catalyst for local retaliatory violence in 2012-2015. I contend that state securitization of religion was counter-productive, heightening societal insecurity, and promoting inter-ethnic conflict between Uyghur and Han communities. In Chen Quanguo’s era of ‘de-extremification’, the state’s purported attempt to ‘purify’ Islamic practice continues to be experienced on the ground as violation of pure, halal space.