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Michael Clarke

In chapter 18, Michael Clarke argues that the PRC’s ethnic minorities have been a major factor in the PRC’s foreign relations. He first defines the nature and scale of the challenge posed by an ethnic minority as a function of the interplay of five major factors: the historical relationship between the ethnic group and the Chinese state; the geographic concentration of an ethnic minority; and the degree of acculturation to the dominant Han society; external great power support; and mobilized diasporas. Next, Clarkes surveys the relationship between ethnicity and foreign policy in the Chinese context. Clarke then maps, via a case study, the impact of the Xinjiang and Uyghur issues on China’s foreign policy. The challenge to the PRC has shifted from the ‘bounded’ problem of ‘separatism’ toward a spatially and temporally ‘de-bounded’ one in which the CCP simultaneously confronts multiple manifestations of Uyghur nationalist/separatist aspirations locally (i.e., within Xinjiang and the PRC more broadly), regionally (i.e. in Central and South Asia) and globally (i.e. through activism of the Uyghur diaspora). This shift shows how the Xinjiang and Uyghur issues have been internationalized and have complicated China’s foreign relations.