Xinjiang and Tibet as “Internal Colonies” of China: Evidence from Official Data

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  • Chien-Peng Chung Lingnan University, Hong Kong



China, Xinjiang, Tibet, Uyghur, Tibetan, internal colonialism


This study attempts to relate the discontent and occasional violence expressed by Tibetans in Tibet and Uyghurs in Xinjiang to the imposition of Internal Colonialism in Xinjiang and Tibet by the Chinese state, by drawing particularly on primary sources for analysis. Tibet and Xinjiang are the only provincial-level units in China where the majority Han Chinese constitute a demographic minority, and Tibetans and Uyghurs respectively comprise the majority and plurality.


The discourse of Internal Colonialism focuses on three aspects: political domination, economic inequality and resource exploitation, and socio-cultural marginalization, by the core nation, of the periphery ethnic or cultural minorities and their territories, within a country. To test the applicability of Internal Colonialism in Xinjiang and Tibet, the paper posits several propositions containing these aspects, and employ evidences to affirm or refute, entirely or to some extent, their existence. Findings reveal that the paradigm is more convincingly sustained in the case of Xinjiang than Tibet.


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How to Cite

Chung, C.-P. (2018). Xinjiang and Tibet as “Internal Colonies” of China: Evidence from Official Data. Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Studies, 5(2), 118–139.



Original Manuscript
Received 2018-08-22
Accepted 2018-11-06
Published 2018-12-09