Fazhan 发展


Development (fazhan发展 ) is a core goal of the Chinese government and the Communist Party. It means economic development but also cultural, scientific, and military development. In addition to the goal of a prosperous and cultured life—“The Chinese Dream”—the party also promises “the rejuvenation of the Chinese minzu” which includes China’s return to great power status in the world.

While China has always conceived itself as a great power, its material backwardness during the Century of Humiliation forced it to reckon with its identity. Since the economic liberalization during the Deng Xiaoping years, China has experienced nothing short of a miracle in economic development and industrialization. The notion of a “moderately prosperous society” (小康社会) epitomizes this notion of economic development and modernization. As rising powers do vis-à-vis the hegemon, China seeks to renegotiate its sphere of influence and the Belt and Road Initiative is the redoubling of this effort. In total, China has already invested over $200 billion in the BRI and the scope of the project extends beyond 2027 and spreads over 125 countries.

Xinjiang is physically located in the epicenter of the BRI and is culturally distinct from the Han-dominated imagination of a new China. The current academic discourse in China is already framing Xinjiang’s location as “strategic,” “essential” and “core.” This discourse is developed in conjunction with state policies such as “Xinjiang Aid” (援疆) and a plethora of other economic development projects that aim to integrate Xinjiang fully into a rising China. This is a source of ongoing friction and conflict as locals resent central government impositions and Beijing sees local resistance as irrational and dangerous opposition to development. As such, just how this “new Silk Road” will be paved over Xinjiang is something that should interest every keen observer.

Keywords: 扶贫 Poverty alleviation, 一带一路 Belt and Road Initiative, 就业 employment, 援疆 Xinjiang Aid


Yi Jianping 易建平, 2018

A Study on Man-land Relations and Development Strategies of Ethnic Minorities in Xinjiang

Yi’s article focuses on using economic development to better integrate Xinjiang as part of China. It has several policy recommendations in the areas of education, economics, and language to further this goal.

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Feng Jianyong 冯建勇, 2016

New Vision for China’s Borderland Study of “One Belt and One Road”

Feng focuses on the re-conceptualization of the center in the Middle Kingdom in light of the Belt and Road Initiative where Xinjiang’s peripheral status is re-situated as the center under the new development paradigm.

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Qiu Yuanyuan 邱媛媛, 2016

Persist in Shared Development and Promote the Construction of the People’s Livelihood in Southern Xinjiang

Qiu’s article draws explicit links between development in Xinjiang and the state’s national agenda for the Belt and Road Initiative. Qiu argues that bolstering development in the region necessitates raising the quality of life in Xinjiang’s most impoverished regions, addressing people’s needs, implementing institutional changes such as vocational and language training, and encouraging people to work harder.

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Xu Jianying 许建英, 2015

Xinjiang’s Position and Core-Zone Construction in Perspective of “Silk-Road Economic Belt”
“丝绸之路经济带” 视野下新疆定位与核心区建设

Xu explores the ideological core of the Silk-Road Economic Belt and the guiding principles of “community of interest” and “community of destiny” in particular. Further, Xinjiang’s position and the necessary condition of stability and continued development are discussed.

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Ilham Tohti 伊力哈木·土赫提, 2014

Present-Day Ethnic Problems in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region: Overview and Recommendations

In response to a request from high-ranking CCP officials in 2011, Ilham Tohti, Professor of Economics at Minzu University of China, wrote this assessment of the most pressing issues underlying ethnic tensions in Xinjiang. In the piece, which addresses topics as diverse as unemployment, bilingual education, religion, local governance, and Han chauvinism, Tohti calls for modest reforms that alleviate problems faced by Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities while helping the central government ensure stability and development in the region. In July 2014, before he could publish the article, Tohti was arrested and sentenced to life in prison on charges of separatism. Daxiang Gonghui published Tohti’s draft in 2014. Chinachange.org published the translation in 2015.

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Xing Guangcheng 邢广程, 2014

On China’s New Silk Road Strategy: A New Linking Model of Deep Interactions between China and the World

Xing’s article focuses on the revival of the ancient Silk Road in China’s development strategy and how it overlaps with geopolitcal issues in Xinjiang, the South China Sea, and other sensitive areas.

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Wu Lili 武丽丽, 2013

An Analysis of the Current Situation of the Legal Consciousness of Xinjiang’s Transient Ethnic Minority Population

Wu examines the influx of ethnic migrant labourers leaving the countryside to work in Xinjiang’s cities as a consequence of the region’s economic development. Despite encouraging this migration, the state has run into issues managing this population because of their lack of legal knowledge.

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Baihatiyar Tursun 拜合提亚尔·吐尔逊, 2003

The Existing Problems and their Countermeasures during the Course of Social and Economic Development in Southern Xinjiang

Baihatiyar Tursun draws on field work in southern Xinjiang to assess the region’s economic problems and propose solutions for its development. His solution includes five steps: state investment in development and construction, the revitalization of the region’s natural environment to better exploit its resources, the improvement of transportation and communication infrastructure, the promotion of education and scientific knowledge as an antidote to the “religious consciousness” (宗教意识) of ethnic minorities, and the advancement of the overall quality of local cadres.

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