China : Xinjiang :: India : Kashmir

Nitasha Kaul, “China : Xinjiang :: India : KashmirMade in China Journal, 5 October 2020.


This 2020 article by Nitasha Kaul on the Made in China Journal explores contemporary developments and historical contexts of China and India’s suppression of Muslim-majority populations within their respective borders, Xinjiang for the former and Kashmir for the latter. Drawing parallels to Beijing’s erection of discriminatory policies, detention, and security apparatuses in Xinjiang, Kaul sees India emulating such strategies to, in the rhetoric of Indian officials, modernize the region and “deradicalize” Muslims from their engaging in violent separatism and terrorism. To make this case, Kaul explores several topics, including India’s violent colonial past, ramping of the construction of detention camps; and the spread of anti-immigrant and Islamophobic rhetoric from Prime Minister Modi-led BJP party.


Kashmir and Xinjiang share a border. Or, more precisely, the erstwhile princely state of Kashmir that is now divided between India, Pakistan, and China (and officially known as Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh; Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan; Aksai Chin, respectively) shares a border with eastern Turkestan and Tibet—currently officially called Xinjiang and Xizang. In addition to this geographic proximity, Kashmir and Xinjiang are marked by a complex patchwork of ethnic and religious identities, and have borne the weight of contested sovereignty claims throughout most of the modern era.

The specific regions with Muslim-majority populations in Kashmir and Xinjiang—the Kashmiri Muslims are concentrated predominantly in the Kashmir Valley, and the Uyghur Muslims in East Turkestan—have witnessed a particular form of political power as exercised by the two rising behemoths India and China. This has included systematic human rights violations in the name of curbing separatism and terrorism. The political relationships of these regions with the Indian and Chinese states reveal important similarities and differences. The similarities are occasioned by the fact that these ethno-nationally different Muslim-majority areas have become the focus of assimilation into the evolving Hindu majoritarian nationalism in India and Han majoritarian nationalism in China. Both India and China claim these territories as integral parts of their nation-states.

Keywords: Terrorism, Global Colonialism, Religious Persecution