Neo Oasis: The Xinjiang Bingtuan in the Twenty-first Century

Matthew James Thomas Cliff, “Neo Oasis: The Xinjiang Bingtuan in the Twenty-first Century,” Asian Studies Review 33, no. 1 (2009): 83-106


Cliff argues that bingtuan, which has occupied parts of Xinjiang since 1954, has undergone changes that make it different from the long-standing military-agricultural colonies on which it is modeled. Urbanization, opening up, and other processes have shifted bingtuan away from military and agricultural work and towards commerce and industry, and its consolidation of control over Xinjiang has provided the state with more direct methods of governance in the region.


Military-agricultural colonies have long been a feature of Chinese frontier policy, but in the late twentieth century the bingtuan underwent an unprecedented transformation of form, function and rhetorical justification that raises questions regarding the contemporary bingtuan‘s motives, mechanisms and role models. By examining these questions, this article sets out to determine the role that is being played by the twenty-first century bingtuan, and how it diverges from the military-agricultural colonies of the past.

Keywords: Bingtuan, Military-agricultural Colony, Governance