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Policies implemented by the CCP in Xinjiang since c. 2016 have become a central issue in PRC international relations, leading to international determinations that those policies constitute genocide; scrutiny of global supply chains for Xinjiang cotton, textiles and polysilicon; US sanctions on companies and individuals and Congressional inquiries directed at Airbnb and other multinationals operating in Xinjiang; and diplomatic boycotts of the Olympics. The assimilationist policies, if most extreme in Xinjiang, are related to the broader Zhonghua-izing campaign against religion and non-Mandarin language and perhaps even to intensified control over Hong Kong and efforts to intimidate Taiwan—an aggressive intolerance of cultural and political diversity that is emerging as a central feature of Xi Jinping’s tenure. This talk will review the Xinjiang crisis to date and suggest how we should understand these events and trends.
James Millward is Professor of Inter-societal History at the Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University, teaching Chinese, Central Asian and world history. He joins the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center (APARC) as visiting scholar with the China Program for the 2022 winter quarter. He is also an affiliated professor in the Máster Oficial en Estudios de Asia Oriental at the University of Granada, Spain. His specialties include Qing empire; the silk road; Eurasian lutes and music in history; and historical and contemporary Xinjiang. He follows and comments on current issues regarding the Uyghurs and PRC ethnicity policy. Millward has served on the boards of the Association for Asian Studies (China and Inner Asia Council) and the Central Eurasian Studies Society, and was president of the Central Eurasian Studies Society in 2010. He edits the ''Silk Roads'' series for University of Chicago Press. His publications include The Silk Road: A Very Short Introduction (2013), Eurasian Crossroads: A History of Xinjiang (2007), New Qing Imperial History: The Making of Inner Asian Empire at Qing Chengde (2004), and Beyond the Pass: Economy, Ethnicity and Empire in Qing Central Asia (1998). His articles and op-eds on contemporary China appear in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The New York Review of Books and other media.