Xi Jinping, on his first visit to Xinjiang as president in 2014, labelled the region the “front line against terrorism.” During and after his trip, in a series of conversations with party officials, Xi laid the groundwork for an all-out “struggle against terrorism, infiltration and separatism.” He urged his comrades to show “absolutely no mercy.”
No mercy has been shown. In subsequent years life in Xinjiang has been radically transformed for Muslims. Surveillance has been stepped up and internment camps, euphemistically called “vocational education and training centers” by the regime, introduced. Yet the party line remains the same. All of these “efforts” are made, as one spokesman for the Xinjiang regional government put it last month, in the name of anti-terrorism and anti-extremism.