Police remove barricades erected by pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, October 2014. 
Carlos Barria/REUTERS

Disturbing things have been happening in China lately. Hundreds of thousands of Muslim Uighurs have been sent to Orwellian reeducation camps in the western province of Xinjiang. A political party in Hong Kong has been outlawed despite the city’s special status and history of free speech. Teachers in a southern port city were asked to hand over their passports so that closer watch could be kept on their movements. An ailing dissident, the Nobel Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, was barred from seeking medical treatment abroad. Upon traveling to his native China, the chief of the international crime-fighting organization Interpol vanished, only to reappear in government custody, facing corruption charges. And the list goes on. 

As reports of such events trickle out, each may be shocking in its own right but all too easy to dismiss as an outlier to more positive trends. Taken together, however, the dots connect to

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  • KELLY HAMMOND is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Arkansas. Her work focuses on the history of Islam in East Asia and minorities in China’s borderlands.
  • RIAN THUM is Associate Professor of History at Loyola University New Orleans and a research fellow with the University of Nottingham. His research focuses on the overlap of China and the Muslim world. 
  • JEFFREY WASSERSTROM is Chancellor’s Professor of History at UC Irvine and has written extensively about popular protests in China. 
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