Uyghur academic Ilham Tohti

The arrest and detention of the outspoken Uyghur academic Ilham Tohti (pictured) in Beijing on 15 January demonstrates that the Chinese Communist Party has returned to an uncompromising, hard line approach toward Xinjiang and the Uyghur.

Tohti, an economist at the Central University for Nationalities in Beijing, was reportedly arrested after 30 police raided his apartment, confiscating the scholar’s documents, books and computer hard drives. Hong Lei, a spokesman from China’s Foreign Ministry, subsequently claimed that Tohti ‘is suspected of breaking the law’ and that ‘the relevant departments will now deal with him in accordance with the law’. He is most likely to be charged with ‘endangering state security’, which carries heavy penalties including life imprisonment.

Dr Michael Clarke, Senior Research Fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute, discusses the rising tensions between the Chinese government and the Xinjiang Uyghurs in a new blog article –Ilham Tohti’s arrest demonstrates China’s renewed hard line on Xinjiang – for the Lowy Institute’s The Interpreter.