Political Violence in China: Terrorism, Official Media, and Political Priorities
42 Pages Posted: 15 Nov 2018 Last revised: 11 Apr 2019
Date Written: October 23, 2018
The ability to control information provides autocracies with a counterterrorism advantage. However, in the modern technological and media environments, information strategies must be more sophisticated than simple censorship. To better understand these strategic considerations and the political sensitivities that drive them, we explore why the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) promptly highlights some domestic terrorist incidents in the official media, but acknowledges others slowly or not at all. Drawing on original datasets of all Uighur terrorist violence in China and the official media coverage of that violence in the People's Daily, we demonstrate that the CCP consistently favors stability over the legitimacy. Highlighting terrorist violence in the official media can satisfy the public’s demand for transparency and bolster foreign relations, but our findings indicate that the CCP is only willing to reap these rewards when domestic and international conditions are favorable enough to ensure that the risks to stability are manageable.
Keywords: terrorism, media, china, uighur, xinjiang
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