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


Beautifying Spaces: 美丽家庭 (Měilì jiātíng)


The “Beautifying Spaces” campaign, which commenced in 2018, is intended to transform the “backward production and lifestyles” (落后的生产生活方式) of almost 400,000 families living in 22 counties throughout Xinjiang. The project emphasizes redesigning domestic arrangements, implementing the “toilet revolution,” and beautifying neighborhood courtyards. In Timothy A. Grose’s assessment, the programme is less concerned with this “construction work” than with the psychological and cultural effects they may have on the population. Government authorities hope that the campaign will, among other objectives, “refine mental outlooks” and “eliminate ‘outdated habits and vulgar customs.’” Much of what is characterized as regressive and outdated consists of objects and architectural features integral to Uyghur traditions, such as the supa—a raised platform on the floor—and the mehrab, which points toward the direction of Mecca.

Beauty Project: 靓丽工程 (Liànglì gōngchéng)


The “Beauty Project” was a campaign launched by the Xinjiang Women’s Federation on February 27, 2011. Many of its efforts were couched in ideas of empowerment and breaking from tradition, and its stated goals were twofold. First, it called on women from all of Xinjiang’s ethnic groups to support the region’s jewelry, clothing, and cosmetics industries and to start their own businesses. And second, it sought to bring these women in line with “modern culture” through education, propaganda, mobilization, and public activities that emphasized physical and “spiritual” beauty. According to Zhou Zunyou, these objectives were secondary to the campaign’s real ambition: to discourage the practice of wearing veils and other garments “associated with conservative Islam.” The Beauty Project concluded on June 25, 2016.

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 traveling to other parts of the region. 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.

Bilingual Education: 双语教育 (shuāngyǔ jiàoyù)


“Bilingual” education in China is a policy that requires ethnic schools to promote the use of Mandarin as the main language of instruction for non-Han students and to teach them their native languages as a subject. One of the official aims of bilingual education is for non-Han students to become fluent in Chinese and strengthen their national identity towards the Chinese Nation (中华民族). In Xinjiang, since 2004, Mandarin has gradually been replacing native languages as the medium of instruction in compulsory education and later on in kindergarten. Starting from 2017, some schools stopped teach non-Han languages altogether and have banned their use from the school campus. Increasingly, what has formerly been called “bilingual” education is now being referred to as “national common language” education greatly contributing to the marginalization of Xinjiang’s non-Han languages and language loss.

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 region 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 Activities: 四项活动 (Sì xiàng huódòng)


This term is the CCP’s categorization of a set of religious and cultural practices that, according to Timothy Grose, “provide opportunities for devout and casually religious families alike to strengthen connections.” These activities include baby-namings, circumcisions, funerals, and weddings. In order to “standardize” religious affairs and bolster the “fighting strength, team spirit, and cohesion” of the Party branch, authorities have launched a set of policies known as the four applications, four delegations, and four receipts. In practice, this means that any family wishing to hold a baby-naming event, circumcision, funeral, or wedding will need to fill out an application, host a CPP representative, and produce a receipt documenting the event.

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 (政治意识), big-picture awareness(大局意识), leadership-core values (核心意识) and alignment in ideology (看齊意识) 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.

Four Togethers and Four Gifts: 四同四送 (Sì tóng sì song)


The “Four Togethers” and “Four Gifts” are a set of guidelines that inform the mass work performed by cadres throughout Xinjiang. They are generally carried out in tandem with other campaigns, such as fanghuiju (访惠聚). The “Four Togethers” include eating together, living together, working together, and learning together, and the “Four Gifts” are policy, law, warmth, and civilization. Government briefs typically characterize these policies as a mutually beneficial process in which cadres learn about rural life and gain skills while villagers learn about state policy. They also appear frequently in government reports promoting the state’s efforts to alleviate poverty and promote national unity.

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.

Pan-halalization: 泛清真化 (Fàn qīngzhēn huà)


“Pan-halalization” is the term used by the CCP to describe the labeling of non-food items such as toothpaste, soap, paper, and other products as halal. In a piece published by the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Food and Drug Administration titled “The Essence of ‘Pan-halalization’ is Religious Extremist Thinking,” Tsinghua PhD student Tursun Ebey contends that deradicalization and depan-halalization go hand in hand in the CCP’s efforts to promote long-term peace and security in the region. In addition to monetary interests, the piece suggests, extremist influences have encouraged pan-halalization to bypass state deradicalization efforts and promote a version of Islam not sanctioned by the state. Authorities also worry that pan-halalization sows division and encourages Uyghurs to avoid Han-run stores. State efforts to combat pan-halalization have led to the confiscation of everyday items associated with Islam. According to a June 2017 report on an exhibit dedicated to the  “Three Illegals and One Product” (三非一品), these objects include water jugs, culinary implements, religious texts, prayer rugs, “restricted knives” (管制刀具), and explosive materials.

Pomegranate Seeds: 石榴籽 (shíliúzǐ)


Pomegranate Seeds are the most recent metaphor for minzu unity in China. At a Xinjiang Work Forum held by the central governments in May 2014, Xi Jinping encouraged all minzu groups in China to nestle tightly together as if they were pomegranate seeds (read more here). Since then, the metaphor has spread to every corner of Xinjiang. This metaphor can be seen in newspapers, TV commercials, public posters, and statues on the streets, as part of the symbolic construction of all minzu in one family of the Chinese Nation (中华民族). Using metaphors, like this one, to propagate minzu unity has a long history in China. The initial metaphor was the Big Family (大家庭), which was created by the CCP in 1949. In 1989, Fei Xiaotong, a famous Chinese ethnologist, came up with the concept of the Big Garden (大花园) to describe cultural diversity and unity in China. Compared with the Big Garden metaphors, the Pomegranate Seeds heavily emphasizes minzu cohesion among different groups rather than diversity.

Poverty Alleviation: 扶贫 (Fúpín)


The CCP defines “Poverty Alleviation” as a socialist mission to eliminate poverty, improve the quality of the people’s livelihood, and become a “well off” (小康) society by 2020. In 2016, the 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.

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.

Self-defence Self-governance: 群防群治 (Qúnfáng qúnzhì)


The Self-defence, Self-governance is an application of the Mass Line (群众路线) by the party in public security, which requires the governments to mobilize people to maintain social security and solve the conflicts at the grassroots level. It mainly includes two activities: resolving conflicts and doing security checks and patrols to prevent any illegal activities. Xi Jinping borrowed the idea from Mao’s “Fengqiao Experience” (枫桥经验), which refers to Public Security Committee (治安保卫委员会) established in the 1950s to oppress anti-revolutionaries, and required Xinjiang governments to practice it, during a meeting in March 2017. In Xinjiang, the best manifestation of the Self-defence, Self-governance is Ten Family Joint Defence (十户(铺)联防), also known as Double Family Defence Stability Maintenance (维稳双联户), which is the most pervasive security system in Xinjiang.

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 rénkǒu)


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 Renkou,” people are monitored and restricted in every aspect of their lives from finding employment to being subjected to arbitrary home visits.

Ten Family Joint Defence: 十户(铺)联防 (Shíhù(pū) liánfáng)


The Ten Family Joint Defence (TFJD), also known as Double Family Defence Stability Maintenance (维稳双联户), is a security mechanism that puts every ten families/shops together as a security unit responsible for surveilling each other, doing security patrols, and checking within their territory. Guided by the Self-defence, Self-governance (群防群治), the TFJD aims to mobilize all residents to form an all-pervasive mechanism that maintains social stability. In Xinjiang, based on the principle of proximity, every ten families/shops have been organized to participate in security measures under a leader, named the Leader of Double Family or Ten Family (双联户长或十户长), who is responsible for reporting suspicious situations to the grid leader, Shequ, or public security bureau.

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.

The Three News Campaign: 三新活动 (Sān xīn huódòng)


The Three News Campaign was inspired by Xi Jinping’s announcement of the “Beautiful China” initiative during the 19th Communist Party of China National Congress on October 18, 2017. According to Timothy A. Grose, authorities in Xinjiang drew on the initiative in their formulation of plans to “beautify” Uyghur communities throughout the region. Because the “Three News” include “advocating a new lifestyle,” “establishing a new atmosphere,” and “constructing a new order,” the campaign does more than remodel homes and neighborhoods. Goals include eliminating certain religious practices, regulating clothing, and promoting community activities like sports and patriotic singing competitions. One government announcement describes the campaign as raising ideological awareness (思想觉悟), moral standards (道德水准), and civilized self-cultivation (文明素养).

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. According to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (document in English and Chinese) the first category refers to people who have participated activity considered to be extremist but not a crime. The second category refers to people who have participated in an activity considered extremist and criminal, but is willing to acknowledge wrongdoing and be reintegrated back to society. The third category refers to people who have already been convicted or sentenced for behaviour considered extremist and criminal, but still remain a threat to society.  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 centers (教育转化培训中心 or 教培中心) throughout Xinjiang focused on removing the ‘malignant tumour’ of religious extremism.

Two Pan-isms: 双泛主义 (Shuāng fàn zhǔyì)


This term refers to a pair of ideologies, “pan-Islamism” and “pan-Turkism,” which the CCP perceives as root causes of unrest in Xinjiang. Because these ideologies are premised on identification with religious and cultural groups beyond China’s borders, the state considers them a threat to nationalism, and by extension, a threat to long-term stability. In 2017, Zhang Kejan, the Executive Deputy Minister of Xinjiang’s Propaganda Department Party Committee, called for a concerted effort against the spread of the two pan-isms. For Zhang, combatting these ideologies means addressing the issue from multiple perspectives: from a historical perspective, by maintaining that the region has long been a part of China; from an ethnic perspective, by maintaining that Uyghurs have long been part of the “big Chinese ethnic family”; and from a cultural perspective, by maintaining that the region’s many cultures have long been a part of China’s culture.

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 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. Another example can be found in Hetian People’s Government site.

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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