Renewed Trouble in China’s Peripheries

nicholas-bequeli-180x267Sydney Ideas and China Studies Centre, University of Sydney

Nicholas Bequelin, Senior Researcher in the Asia division of Human Rights Watch, Hong Kong

Co-presented with the China Studies Centre at the University of Sydney and Human Rights Watch Australia

4.00pm – 5.30pm, 26 November 2014
Law School LT 104, Sydney Law School
Eastern Avenue, The University of Sydney
For more information and registration, see here.

Tensions in China’s de jure or de facto autonomous territories appear to have markedly increased since 2008.

Tibet experienced an unprecedented wave of popular protests in 2008, followed by a wave of self-immolations and a string of isolated incidents in the following years. In 2009, The Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region witnessed the most deadly episode of inter-ethnic violence since the end of the Cultural Revolution, when several hundred people were killed. Violent incidents, including some terrorist attacks, have kept multiplying since.

In Hong Kong, discontent over governance issues and the erosion of the territory’s autonomy boiled over this year in a series of demonstrations and counter-demonstrations over the methods for electing the Chief Executive, the longest, most protracted protests since the handover to China in 1997. These student-led protests echoed the occupation of Taiwan’s legislature and executive office by students opposed to a trade agreement with China in March and April 2014.

What accounts for the apparent increase of tensions at China’s edges? Is there a common thread between these four very distinct situations? How does Beijing perceive these separate issues?

This lecture will discuss the current situation in Tibet, Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Taiwan, and suggest that, rather than separatist aspirations or opposition to Communist Party rule, each crisis reflects a tension between statutory autonomy and increased efforts by the center to domesticate and integrate these still diverse areas.

Dr Nicholas Bequelin is Senior Researcher in the Asia division of Human Rights Watch, based in Hong Kong. His work on China has focused on legal, human rights, and ethnic minorities issues.

His publications have appeared in The China Journal, The China Quarterly, The Journal Asian Studies as well as many newspaper and magazines such as The Far Eastern Economic Review, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and Foreign Policy. He is a regular interviewee of major international media on Xinjiang, Tibet, and human rights and political issues in China.

Dr Bequelin obtained his PhD in History from the School of Advanced Studies in Social Sciences (EHESS), Paris, in 2001, and is a graduate in Chinese from the School of Oriental Languages and Civilizations (INALCO), also in Paris. He is a recent Visiting Scholar at The China Law Center at Yale University.