Xinjiang’s Production and Construction Corps, and the Sinification of Eastern Turkestan

James D. Seymour, “Xinjiang’s Production and Construction Corps, and the Sinification of Eastern Turkestan,” Inner Asia 2, no. 2 (2000): 171-193

Summary

Seymour argues that bingtuan has implemented the state’s long-standing colonial agenda in Xinjiang by facilitating Han migration, dealing with tensions between groups such as Han migrants and indigenous populations or soldiers and civilians, and consolidating power.

Abstract

A major institution for the ethnic Han (Chinese) colonisation of Xinjiang is the Production and Construction Corps. Although quasi-military in origin, its military role is now eclipsed by its economic role. Traditionally it was primarily a collection of state farms, but in recent years its industrial enterprises have expanded. It has also played a role in imprisoning convicts from eastern China. Largely destroyed during the Cultural Revolution, it was actually abolished for a few years beginning in 1975. But the perceived need to project Chinese influence into the area, and to protect against ethnic unrest and Soviet pressures, persuaded the authorities that the Corps should be revived. Today the Corps has 2.8 million members, or 14 percent of Xinjiang’s population, and plays a significant role in the region’s economy.

Keywords: Bingtuan, Colonialism, Han Migration, Prisoners