Nuisance Value: Uyghur activism in Germany and Beijing-Berlin relations

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While a small number of Uyghur communities had begun to settle in Germany already in the 1950s and 1960s, since the 1990s they have chosen Munich as their center of national and political activism in Europe and worldwide. By that time the Chinese had begun to apply pressure on the German government to restrict Uyghur activities and to monitor and intimidate them and their German supporters, also by using spies and collaborators. As a democratic country Germany rejected the Chinese demands, although refusing to admit former Uyghur Guantanamo inmates. Despite occasional tension, Sino-German relations have not been affected by the presence of Uyghurs, some of them labeled as 'terrorists' by Beijing. My conclusion is that the Uyghur 'threat' has been deliberately inflated by China as a tool in its relations with other governments and that economic relations and technology import are far too important to spoil by persecuting Uyghurs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)612-629
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Contemporary China
Issue number82
StatePublished - 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
* Yitzhak Shichor, Ph.D., London School of Economics and Political Science, is Professor Emeritus of Political Science and Asian Studies at the University of Haifa and Michael William Lipson Chair Professor Emeritus at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. A former Dean of Students at the Hebrew University and Head of the Tel-Hai Academic College, his main research interests are: China’s Middle East policy; international energy relations; Chinese defense conversion; labor export; East Asian democratization processes; Sino–Uyghur relations and the Uyghur Diaspora. His recent publications include: Ethno-Diplomacy: The Uyghur Hitch in Sino–Turkish Relations (2009) and Missiles Myths: China’s Threat to Taiwan in a Comparative Perspective (2008). He is the Chief Editor of All Under Heaven: A History of the Chinese Empire, 3 vols (Tel Aviv: Open University, 2011–2013). The author can be reached by email at The support of the Haifa Center for German and European Studies, University of Haifa, for this study is gratefully acknowledged. This article is part of a more comprehensive study of the Uyghur Diaspora. Earlier research, field study trips to Germany, materials collection and interviews, were made possible by a MacArthur Foundation grant, No. 02-76170-000-GSS, titled ‘Uyghur Expatriate Communities: Domestic, Regional and International Challenges’, for which I am thankful. Special thanks are due to my research assistant Itamar Livni who helped me with materials in German.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Political Science and International Relations


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