Core team member Alessandro Rippa published this past spring the article “Infrastructure Development in Xinjiang”. The article is available from the Oxford Research Encyclopedia website here:



The Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region covers one-sixth of the entire territory of the People’s Republic of China and shares international borders with eight countries. Rich in natural resources, Xinjiang is home to several Turkic-speaking, Muslim Indigenous groups. Following Xinjiang’s formal incorporation into the Qing empire as a province in the late 19th century, recent scholarship shows how the region was subjected to a colonial-like civilizing project, in part carried out through large state investments in infrastructure. These covered agriculture, mining, and connectivity infrastructure, as well as a growing number of Han migrants settling into new urban centers. While the last few decades of the Qing administration and the convoluted Republican period that followed them (1912–1949) did not deliver much of what was planned, this phase would nevertheless define the approach taken later by the Chinese Communist Party toward Xinjiang. Since the Communist takeover in 1949, in fact, the way in which the Chinese authorities see Xinjiang has crystallized: as a potential economic outpost and a restless frontier space in need of further integration. This is particularly evident in Xinjiang’s history in the 21st century, as the region is both a backbone of transnational connectivity as part of the Belt and Road Initiative, and the site of one of the world’s most severe security apparatuses.