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How does the Chinese Communist Party legitimise its approach to terrorism?

Zhang, Chi (2018) How does the Chinese Communist Party legitimise its approach to terrorism? PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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This thesis explores how China’s narratives of legitimacy and history condition the ways in which the state frames and approaches “real” and perceived terrorism challenges. Rooted in the Chinese political context and historical continuities, China’s counter-terrorism agenda prioritises the concept of national unity, sovereignty, and territorial integrity. This agenda is justified through the narratives of the Century of Humiliation, and is underpinned by the friend/enemy division that was inherited from the Mao era. Anxious about the impact of democratisation on regime stability, Chinese political elites and scholars are highly sensitive to the sympathy of the international community towards dissident groups that have a separatist agenda. To ensure political conformity, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has established a regime of “truth” by controlling the framing and discourse of counter-terrorism. To maintain its legitimacy and mobilise the public, the CCP has complemented the highly centralised counter-terrorism system with a revival of the Mass Line strategy which was central to Mao’s governance but faded from view for much of the post-Mao era. The desire to maintain control has resulted in various problems in counter-terrorism policy and practice, which raise questions about – or even threaten to undermine – the government’s ability to demonstrate the legitimacy and efficacy of its counter-terrorism strategy. In exploring the peculiar characteristics of China’s counter-terrorism approach, this thesis makes original contributions in five respects: 1) it draws on a wide range of Chinese-language sources that have been under-explored in the study of China’s perception of its security threats. Introducing these sources, this thesis brings forwards domestic “insider” debates to a wider non-Chinese-speaking audience interested in the concept of security, unity, separatism, and terrorism in China. 2) It provides an in-depth analysis of China’s usage and manoeuvring of the frames, narratives, and labels in the construction of its counter-terrorism discourse, which offers an interesting insight into how the Chinese state and security apparatus works. 3) It analyses the evolution of the friend/enemy distinction in the Chinese political discourse and how it is embedded in the counter-terrorism discourse. 4) It contributes to terrorism research by examining the under-studied case of China, which is often neglected in mainstream “Western” terrorism research. 5) Finally, the thesis contributes to China studies by investigating how China responds to “real” and perceived terrorist threats.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Terrorism; de-radicalisation; ethnic relations; nationalism; China
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law (Leeds) > School of Politics & International Studies (POLIS) (Leeds) > Centre for International Studies (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.766452
Depositing User: Ms Chi Zhang
Date Deposited: 08 Feb 2019 12:24
Last Modified: 18 Feb 2020 12:49
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/22740

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