This section includes a brief overview of key terms and definitions that figure prominently in the research of pro-CCP academics and Chinese government policy documents. If you have any suggestions for new relevant key terms, please contact us at

Becoming Family campaign: 访惠聚 (Fǎng huì jù)

The campaign is officially known as the “explore the people’s conditions; benefit the people’s livelihood, and fuse with the people’s sentiments.” Fanghuiju is the short term for the three phrases 访民情, 惠民生, and 聚民心 (literally “Visit the People, Benefit the People, and Get Together the Hearts of the People“).

The implementation of this campaign involves rotating 200,000 mid-level party cadres into rural villages over the three years starting in 2014. While this campaign ostensibly mirrors the mass line of the Mao era, these visits are primarily for surveillance and to monitor potential religious or “extremist” behaviors in the domestic realm.

Bianminka: 便民卡 (Biànmín kǎ)

The Bianmin Card, literally “the convenient for the people” card, is an “internal passport” that residents of Xinjiang must carry if they are living away or travelling to other parts of the province. This card contains contact information of an official in the card holder’s hometown and ensures a rigid accountability of the physical presence of the card holder. Whether they are going through security checkpoints, boarding long-distance trains or entering government buildings, the card holder must show this convenient card. It is worthwhile to note that the Bianmin Card is generally only required for Uyghurs and is not necessary for their Han counterparts in Xinjiang. This bianminka system was abolished two years after it was introduced because the state now has a much more thorough and systemic control in Xinjiang.

Comrade: 同志 (Tóng zhì)

A term Han cadres used to refer to one another in the Mao era meaning comrade (literally “same will/aspiration”). While this term has fallen out of favor in contemporary discourse and has been largely claimed by the LGBTQ community to refer to each other, it is still ubiquitous in official CCP usage. In the Becoming Family Campaign, the comrades (those with the same aspiration) are on a shared mission to “become families” with the subjects under surveillance.

Confidence Doctrine/The Four Confidences: 四个自信 (Sì gè zìxìn)

The Confidence Doctrine (literally the Four Confidences) is an expansion of the previous Three Confidences under Hu Jintao. Confidence in the chosen path of Chinese Socialism, political system, and guiding theories were already in place before the addition of a new confidence in China’s culture. This new confidence in China’s culture is significant because it is added to the country’s constitution. Just what is included in China’s culture are not explicitly defined.

Convenience Police Station: 便民警务站 (Biànmín jǐngwùzhàn)

Convenience police stations are concrete, bulletproof installations that house medical equipment, charging stations for mobile phones, umbrellas and other “convenient” community services. Chen Quanguo first introduced these stations in the Tibetan Autonomous Region and then in Xinjiang after his transfer to the province in 2011. These stations are ubiquitous and are supposed to only be minutes away from the next station so that the police force could be mobilized and dispatched rapidly.

Detention center or jail: 看守所 (Kānshǒusuǒ)

Kanshousuo functions as an interrogation center where detainees are held until they are sent either to prison or camps. They are not considered prisons. In American counterterrorism, similar spaces are often referred to as “black sites” since they are where most of the torture takes place. In Xinjiang, they are some of the most crowded and inhumane spaces in the reeducation system.

De-extremification campaign: 去极端化 (Qù jíduān huà)

The ideological campaign of re-education is referred to as “de-extremification”, a term first used by the former XUAR Party Secretary Zhang Chunxian at a 2011 Communist Party meeting in Hotan. This campaign permeates every aspect of life in Xinjiang from schools to the workplace in order to curb any signs of “extremist” activities. It has since evolved to extend to all mediascapes and aspects of communal life such as public slogans, TV performances, and sketch comedies.

Ethnic Unity: 民族团结 (Mínzú tuánjié)

Ethnic unity in the official discourse in Xinjiang is the so-called “common unity” and “ethnic solidarity” where the emphasis is placed on “Xinjiang (as) an inalienable part of the motherland.” In the official wording of the Ordinance on Education for Ethnic Unity in Xinjiang: “The carrying out of ethnic unity education is a common responsibility of society as a whole. Acceptance of ethnic unity education is a right to be enjoyed and an obligation to be fulfilled by citizens according to law.”

Four Consciousnesses: 四个意识 (Sì gè yìshí)

The Four Consciousness is a term introduced by Xi Jinping during the 2016 Politburo spelling out the political consciousness (政治意識), big-picture awareness(大局意識), leadership-core values (核心意識) and alignment in ideology (看齊意識) for party members. It marks a further shift towards authoritarianism and power centralization compared to the Hu Jintao’s “Three Supremes” and Jiang Zemin’s “Three Represents.” In the context of Xinjiang, the guidance of the Four Consciousnesses means that any signs of dissent will not be tolerated and a heavy-handed practice is justified. For example, the mass construction of re-education camps under the current Xinjiang Party Secretary Chen Quanguo reflects the further shift towards authoritarianism guided by these principles.

Grid-style Social Management: 网格化管理 (Wǎng gé huà guǎnlǐ)

Grid street layout has a long history for social control and military purpose since Imperial China. Grid-style social management, or grid management system was first raised at the 18th Party’s Congress as a social management mechanism that focuses on systematic digitization of the management subject, process, and evaluation. This system divides urban communities into geometric zones to facilitate police activity, technologically automated surveillance and Artificial Intelligence analysis. Since 2017, Party Secretary Chen Quanguo applied the Grid Management System Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

Integrated Joint Operation Platform: 一体化联合作战平台 (Yītǐ huà liánhé zuòzhàn píngtái)

IJOP gathers information from multiple sources or “sensors.” for example, CCTV cameras, wifi sniffers, security checkpoints and from “visitors’ management systems” in access-controlled communities. The IJOP also draws on existing information, such as one’s vehicle ownership, health, family planning, banking, and legal records, according to official reports. Police and local officials are also required to submit to IJOP information on any activity they deem “unusual” and anything “related to stability” they have spotted during home visits and policing.

Neighbourhood policing personnel: 社区 (Shèqū)

While the term shequ originally means community, it is the local apparatus of the party bureaucracy in this context where services and monitoring coexist. Through red-tape and bureaucratization, the state is able to render subjugation banal and ordinary. These public spaces are important in people’s daily life and also for the state’s effective surveillance and monitoring of any unwanted behaviors and speech.

Poverty Alleviation: 扶贫 (Fúpín)

Communist Party of China claims “Poverty Alleviation” as its socialist mission to rid of poverty, improve quality of people’s livelihood, and achieve xiaokang (Ch. well-off) society by 2020. In 2016, State Council’s 13th Five-Year Plan issued guidelines for poverty alleviation through industrial development, labor training and transfer, relocation, and other means to target specific rural low-income households in western regions of China. In Xinjiang’s context, this agenda has led to coerced labor of Uyghur detainees to work in the auxiliary factories of the internment camps, and mass relocation to factories in Inner China provinces.

Religious Extremism: 宗教极端主义 (Zōngjiào jíduān zhǔyì)

A Chinese Government White Paper on Freedom of Religious Belief in Xinjiang (June 2016) discusses religious extremism in the following terms “Affected by international religious extremism, religious extremism has grown and spread in Xinjiang in recent years. Religious extremism betrays and distorts religious doctrines, deludes and deceives the public, particularly young people, with their fallacies, and changes some people into extremists and terrorists completely under its control.” 

The working definition of religious extremism is thus vague, murky, and open to the state’s interpretation. In effect, any religious activities that are not sanctioned by the government could be seen as being extremist and any mention of Xinjiang independence is decidedly viewed as extremist by the government.

Social Harmony: 社会和谐 (Shèhuì héxié)

The use of social harmony in politics in China largely begins with Hu Jintao’s official policy to promote a “harmonious socialist society” that is characterized by socioeconomic development, ethnic harmony, and peaceful international relations. This social harmony in practice meant that undesirable public discourse is censored and social disturbances are suppressed. Prioritizing harmony means that dissent could be viewed as subversion of state power and could be subjected to harsh penalties.

Stability Maintenance: 维稳 (Wéiwěn)

Overall, weiwen gives expression to a range of policing methods aimed at preventing, controlling or punishing social dissent and social disorder, particularly petitioning (信访and 上访) and ‘mass incidents’ 群体性事件.  it entails strong-arm coercive tactics aimed at the minority who are protest ringleaders and, secondly, it emphasises ‘persuasion and education’ for the vast majority of citizens.

“Strike Hard” campaign: 严打 (Yándǎ)

The national campaign against crime “Strike hard” was launched in April 1996. This campaign began shortly after a special meeting in March of 1996 on maintaining stability in Xinjiang, it was targeted at separatism and illegal religious activities. The Permanent Committee of the Politburo of the CCP then issued an exhaustive list of strict directives aimed at tightening control over Xinjiang and eradicating potentially subversive activities. As part of the same campaign, a succession of strong-arm police operations were mounted.

Targeted Population: 重点人口 (Zhòngdiǎn rénkǒ)

This term originally referred to various “undesirables” such as class enemies, counter-revolutionaries, and criminals in the Mao era and the 1980s. It has now expanded and evolved into denoting petty criminals, drug addicts, mental health patients, and in the context of Xinjiang, those who are suspected of being piously Muslim and/or not loyal to China. This labeling and clumping Muslims together with criminals entail state intervention and ubiquitous surveillance. Particularly, once labeled as a “Zhongdian Renko,” people are monitored and restricted in every aspect of their lives from finding employment to being subjected to arbitrary home visits.



Three Forces: 三股势力 (Sāngǔ shìlì)

While the term has been part of Chinese security policy in Xinjiang for a long time—the party-state refers to terrorism, separatism and extremism as the “three evil forces,” with extremism becoming increasingly predominant in the official discourse.  Further. the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, an “anti-terror” body consisting of China, Russia, and a few other Central Asian countries, has explicitly stated to target the Three Forces in the region.

Three types of people: 三类人员 (Sān lèi rényuán)

The “three types of people” are prisoners, inmates in detention centers, and inmates in re-education facilities. It is a catch-all term for all kinds of detainees such as those convicted of a crime (usually terror-related), held in detention but not yet convicted, and those who merely demonstrate the potential to commit a crime. While the approach to each type of detainees is slightly different, it reflects a systematic, centralized mode of institutionalization ever since the “Strike Hard Campaign” has gone into overdrive.

A secondary definition of the three types of people in official discourse is “extremists, separatists, and terrorists.” While the term is applied inconsistently by different government agencies, it is used to denote the “undesirables” worthy of detention and high-handed state intervention.


Transformation through Education: 教育转化 (Jiàoyù zhuǎnhuà)

Jiaoyu zhuanghua is the Party’s title for its “de-radicalization” work geared towards maintaining social stability or weiwen (维稳).  Following a 2017 knife-attack near Hotan led by three Uyghur perpetrators, the XUAR Department of Justice issued a directive ordering the establishment of concentrated transformation centres throughout southern Xinjiang focused on removing the ‘malignant tumour’ of religious extremism.

Two Safeguards: 两个维护 (Liǎng gè wéihù)

Like the Confidence Doctrine and the Four Consciousnesses, the Two Safeguards are part and parcel of Xi Jinping’s centralization of power. “Defending the status of General Secretary Xi Jinping as the core of the CPC Central Committee and the whole Party and the authority and centralized and unified leadership of the CPC Central Committee” is the definition lifted from the “Regulation of the Communist Party of China on Development of Intra-Party Regulations (2019).” Since the regulation has been updated there has been a plethora of Chinese academic and official discourse published to justify and support this slogan. In conjunction with the Doctrine and the Consciousnesses, the Safeguards mark the new paradigm under Xi’s regime.

Two-faced people: 两面人 (Liǎngmiàn rén)

Originally a term used by Chinese Communist Party to rectify Party members who show disloyalty and are critical of the Party’s policies. Since 2017 in Xinjiang, the Party has waged a campaign to fight against “two-faced people” within the Party. The arrested and disappeared “two-faced people” are mostly Uyghur intellectuals, Party officials, and members, who allegedly “exhibited nationalist sentiment” and thus suspected of being an obstacle in the Party’s fight against terrorism, separatism, and religious extremism.

Volunteering: 志愿 (Zhìyuàn)

Western Volunteer project (西部计划 xibu jihua) was initiated nationwide as early as 2003. In 2011, a special sub-project for Xinjiang was established. The project calls for Inner China college graduates to serve in rural Xinjiang in the fields of basic education, agricultural science, medicine, administrative management, and youth work. By 2016, 15,000 Inner China graduates have volunteered in Xinjiang and over one third have settled in Xinjiang permanently. This program has continued since the ‘People’s War on Terror’ campaign was launched in 2017, the Xinjiang government and the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corp have recruited thousands of graduates to come serve in Xinjiang every year, where they are expected to stay longer.

Vow of Loyalty (to the party): 发声亮剑 (Fāshēng liàngjiàn)

Fasheng liangjian means literally “to vocalize and to brandish swords,” which is a political confession ritual involving forced ‘vows of loyalty‘ to the party and authority. An example can be seen at the Changji People’s Procuratorate’s 2018 “Special Ethics Lecture,” where presenters vocalize party views on morality, the rule of law, religion, and other topics pertinent to a unified, stable China. This vow of loyalty is particularly applied in the context of Xinjiang to emphasize a performative avowal to adhere to the official discourse.

Xinjiang Aid: 对口援疆 (Duìkǒu yuán jiāng)

Duikou yuan jiang, or simply yuan jiang literally means “(Partner) Xinjiang Assistance/Aid,” is an official economic development policy in Xinjiang. The policy ostensibly brings economic development to Xinjiang through industrialization in manufacturing sectors, investment in agriculture, and vocational training. However, the Chinese state has made it clear that it is also to foster connections between Xinjiang and the rest of China and serve “counter-terror”and “national stability” goals. Since 2018, it has been documented that the many of the workers in these factories are involuntarily held there and have been transferred all across China to work in various sectors.


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Castets, Rémi, “The Uyghurs in Xinjiang – The Malaise Grows,” China Perspectives 49 (2003).

Chan, Kin-man, “Harmonious Society” in Helmut Anheier and Stefan Toepler, eds., International Encyclopedia of Civil Society (New York: Springer, 2010).

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