Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Politics and International Relations

Reader 1

Thomas Kim

Reader 2

Claire Li

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Rights Information

© 2015 Kehaulani R. Jai


Scholars have extensively detailed China’s conflation of the Uyghur issue in Xinjiang with the international war on terror following September 11, 2001. Less studied is how the U.S. responded to China’s framing of the Uyghur as terrorists, and of the Chinese government’s characterization of Xinjiang as a region fraught with violence and extremism. On the whole, scholars who have addressed this latter issue conclude that China successfully coopted the U.S., and consequently cracked down on Xinjiang without substantial international outrage. On the basis of a review of official U.S. documents before and after 9/11, I argue that the U.S. response to China’s framing of the Uyghur is not as clear-cut, and that multiple and conflicting U.S. responses emerged to the Uyghur-terrorist discourse. Specifically, the U.S. shifted from purely framing the Uyghur as victims of human rights abuses to projecting three new frames onto the Uyghur: victims of the war on terror; a minority group that may resort to violent methods of protest; and suspected terrorists. This new interpretation holds important ramifications for how scholars should understand China’s treatment of the Uyghur, as well as for Sino-U.S. relations.