Last year, the Chinese propaganda apparatus claimed that the northwestern province of Xinjiang had to be saved from becoming “China’s Syria or China’s Libya
.” After a succession of violent attacks
— in Urumqi in 2009, in Beijing in 2013, and in Kunming and Urumqi in 2014 — the Chinese party-state turned to extreme measures to stabilize and control Xinjiang. The “Strike Hard Campaign against Violent Terrorism,” launched in 2014
, began the securitization of the region. The stabilizing effort went one step further by the end of 2016 with the appointment of Chen Quanguo, previously the Chinese Communist Party secretary of Tibet, as the party head of Xinjiang. Building on measures implemented in Tibet, Chen transformed the Uyghurs’ homeland into a police state. In early 2017, the recruitment of police forces increased exponentially
, in line with efforts to establish close to 7,500 “convenience police stations” across the region to stabilize Xinjiang with a “grid-like” security apparatus
. These securitization efforts also draw on technological development
: a surveillance network using facial recognition, the collection of citizens’ biometric data, GPS tracking of private vehicles, and spyware in Uyghurs’ smartphones.