Conceptualising Uyghur Separatism in Chinese Nationalism

Dr. Abanti Bhattacharya is Associate Professor at the Department of East Asian Studies, University of Delhi. Prior to this she was Associate Fellow at Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses.
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  • July 2003

    The origins of Chinese nationalism are traceable to the post-Cold War era which saw the gradual erosion of Communist ideology and the Chinese government’s use of nationalism to shore up party legitimacy. Yet, the Chinese nationalism which has emerged is representative of Han nationalism and ignores ethnic minority nationalism in the larger cause of China’s unity and integrity. Therefore, the strains in Chinese nationalism are visible today, in the separatist movements in Tibet and Xinjiang. This paper is about Uyghur separatism as it developed in the context of the Chinese idea of nationalism.The paper discusses how the Uyghur identity emerged and became crystallised around the concept of ethnicity. It concludes that in the context of Han nationalism, minority identities are hard to sustain and are increasingly submerged.

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