Database Entry: China’s Hard Edge: The Leader of Beijing’s Muslim Crackdown Gains Influence

China’s Hard Edge: The Leader of Beijing’s Muslim Crackdown Gains Influence

April 07, 2019
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Mr. Chen took charge of Xinjiang in 2016. In his first major policy address, he ordered officials to ensure “social stability and long-lasting peace and stability” in Xinjiang—a phrase he used 40 times in the speech.

He doubled down on grid-style policing, installing more than 4,900 convenience police stations—the most advanced and multifunctional he had built to date—in his first four months to create what he called a robust “system of preventive social control.”

To test its efficacy, Mr. Chen stopped his motorcade on a city street one spring morning in 2017 and ordered aides to call the police. Heavily armed officers arrived 54 seconds later from a nearby station, according to state media accounts of the drill in Urumqi, Xinjiang’s capital. Mr. Chen praised the officers but demanded better. He told them that if security forces “arrive one second earlier, the safety of the general public increases by one bit.”

At least 7,700 convenience police stations were operating by last summer, with many more being built, according to a Journal review of government notices, procurement documents and state-media reports.

“You are the bridges and bonds the party and government use to communicate with the public,” Mr. Chen told officers at a police station in 2017, according to state media. Local musicians penned a song in tribute, with lines such as, “Little convenience police stations, speaking of them makes hearts feel warmth.”

Some within the party worried that Mr. Chen’s campaign had grown too quickly. In a June 2017 article, a party academic in Xinjiang wrote that re-education programs were plagued by a lack of qualified personnel and by inconsistent processes for selecting rehabilitation subjects, some of whom were wrongly targeted by officials bearing grudges or trying to meet quotas.