The “Uyghur Terrorism” Phenomenon: Historical Background and Genesis
Xinjiang (XUAR – Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region since 1955) has become an integral part of the PRC since the moment of its establishment on October 1, 1949. The riots and different forms of protests there by followers of separatist ideas have also become an integral part of life in the region. With the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) – a radical Uyghur organisation originating in China that has spread its influence all over the Middle East – Uyghur terrorism has become an international problem. In March, 2017 a new video was released by the Uyghur ethnic minority members of the Islamic State who vowed “to return home and shed blood like rivers”. An Australian National University expert on Xinjiang, Dr. Michael Clarke, marked this as the first direct threat against China by ISIL Uyghurs (Clarke 2017). Chinese scholars agree that the influence of terrorism on the territory of the PRC is constantly growing (Gu 2014).
What are the motives and methods of Uyghur terrorists? What dynamics of their violent acts may we consider in the PRC and abroad? What legal and terrorist organisations have Chinese Uyghurs as members? And what distinguishes legal and so called non-system Uyghur opposition? In this article, we aim to answer these questions, describing the current issues of the problem and their historical background, presenting views from both inside and outside China.