The Extremely Broad 2017 Xinjiang De-extremification Regulations

Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region De-extremification Regulations [新疆维吾尔自治区去极端化条例], archived here]. The regulations were passed in March 2017 by the Standing Committee of the People's Congress of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), going into effect April 1.

I got like forty-five minutes into translating this when I realized that a) there is a revised 2018 edition of the law, and b) that law has already been translated by the good people at China Law Translate. So I'll link you to the China Law Translate translation and just highlight a few sections I find particularly salient from the 2017 version, all of which appear to accord with the revised version. The main takeaway here should be how extremely broad the government's definition of illegal, extremist behavior is, which is particularly clear in Article 9. Think about how this broadness could be abused for otherwise normal religious activity taken up by a willing individual of their own accord—is this an acceptable way of treating an entire religious group within the region? Here's a quick and very conservative list of behaviors explicitly or implicitly banned by these regulations:

  • Growing your beard too long ("abnormally")
  • Wearing niqāb of your own accord
  • Naming your child Mohammad*
  • Sharing any content the state, through its extremely broad and vague definition of extremism, finds objectionable
  • Saying something interpreted by the state as extremist to others
  • Protesting any of these policies you find objectionable

The above are the most generous reading, but evidence recounted in numerous media (such as primary testimony in the database, independent journalism, and detainees' relatives writings) show that the reckless broadness of the Regulations lends itself to absolutely absurd reasons for detention, which the Chinese government has shown zero desire to modify. "Reckless" is, frankly, too generous of a term—these legal foundations for grave overreach are a feature, not a bug.

* A month after the publication of these regulations, the New York Times claims to have received a copy of a list of "abnormal names" from unspecified Uyghur activist groups. The article says banned names including Mohammed, Arafat, Jihad, Mujahid, and Medina. The article also claims to have verified the ban with officials: "Security officials in Urumqi and other cities in Xinjiang confirmed the ban. Some said in interviews that if residents did not comply, they risked forfeiting critical benefits for their children, including education and health care."

新疆维吾尔自治区去极端化条例  (2017年3月29日新疆维吾尔自治区第十二届人民代表大会常务委员会第二十八次会议通过)

Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region De-extremification Regulations (Passed on March 29, 2017 at the 28th Meeting of the 12th Session of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region People's Congress Standing Committee)

第一章 总 则 第一条 为了遏制和消除极端化,防范极端化侵害,实现社会稳定和长治久安,根据《中华人民共和国宪法》《中华人民共和国反恐怖主义法》、国务院《宗教事务条例》等有关法律、法规,结合自治区实际,制定本条例。

Section 2 General Principles Article 1 In order to curb and eliminate extremism, guard against the encroachment of extremism, and achieve social stability and lasting, peaceful order, the following Regulations are forumulated in accordance the "Constitution of the People's Republic of China," the "Anti-Terrorism Law of the People's Republic of China," the State Council's "Regulations on Religious Affairs," and other relevant laws and regulations, integrated with the realities of the autonomous region.

第三条 本条例所称极端化,是指受极端主义影响,渲染偏激的宗教思想观念,排斥、干预正常生产、生活的言论和行为。本条例所称极端主义,是指以歪曲宗教教义或者其他方法煽动仇恨、煽动歧视、鼓吹暴力等的主张和行为。自治区预防、遏制和消除极端化,预防和惩治极端主义犯罪活动。

Article 3 The term “extremification” in these Regulations refers to speech and action influenced by extremism; which is exaggerated, radical religious thought [or ideology]; or which rejects or interferes with normal productivity and livelihood. The term “extremism” in these Regulations refers to advocacy or actions which, through the distortion of religious doctrine or other means, incite hatred, discrimination, and violence. The Autonomous Region prevents, curbs and eliminates extremism, and guards against and punishes extremist criminal activity.

第四条 去极端化应当坚持党的宗教工作基本方针,坚持宗教中国化、法治化方向,积极引导宗教与社会主义社会相适应。

Article 4 De-radicalization should adhere to the party’s basic policy of religious work, continue toward Sinicization of religion [宗教中国化] and rule of law, and actively guide the adaptation of religion to socialist society.

第七条 任何单位和个人应当自觉抵制和反对极端化,检举揭发极端化言行。

Article 7 All work units and individuals must consciously resist and oppose extremism, [as well as] report and expose extremist words and deeds.

第二章 极端化的主要表现

Section 2 Main manifestations of extremism

第九条 受极端主义影响,下列言论和行为属于极端化,予以禁止: (一)宣扬、散布极端化思想的; (二)干涉他人宗教信仰自由,强迫他人参加宗教活动,强迫他人向宗教活动场所、宗教教职人员提供财物或者劳务的; (三)干涉他人婚丧嫁娶、遗产继承等活动的; (四)干涉他人与其他民族或者有其他信仰的人员交往交流交融、共同生活,驱赶其他民族或者有其他信仰的人员离开居住地的; (五)干预文化娱乐活动,排斥、拒绝广播、电视等公共产品和服务的; (六)泛化清真概念,将清真概念扩大到清真食品领域之外的其他领域,借不清真之名排斥、干预他人世俗生活的; (七)自己或强迫他人穿戴蒙面罩袍、佩戴极端化标志的; (八)以非正常蓄须、起名渲染宗教狂热的; (九)不履行法律手续以宗教方式结婚或者离婚的; (十)不允许子女接受国民教育,妨碍国家教育制度实施的; (十一)恐吓、诱导他人抵制享受国家政策,故意损毁居民身份证、户口簿等国家法定证件以及污损人民币的; (十二)故意损毁、破坏公私财物的; (十三)出版、印刷、发行、销售、制作、下载、存储、复制、查阅、摘抄、持有含极端化内容的文章、出版物、音视频的; (十四)蓄意干涉或破坏计划生育政策实施的; (十五)其他极端化言论和行为。

Article 9 Influenced by extremism, the following speech and behaviors are [instances/types of] extremification and are prohibited: (1) Propagating and spreading extreme thoughts; (2) Interfering with the freedom of other people's religious beliefs, forcing others to participate in religious activities, or forcing others to provide property or labor to religious venues or staff; (3) Interfering in activities such as others' marriages, funerals, and inheritances; (4) Interfering with exchange, interaction, mixing and co-living between other ethnic groups or religions, and driving people of other ethnicities or religions to leave their place of residence; (5) Interfering in cultural and entertainment activities, rejecting public products and services such as radio and television; (6) Generalizing the concept of halal, expanding the concept of halal to other fields beyond halal food, and rejecting or interfering in the secular life of others under the pretense of being halal; (7) Wearing or forcing others to garments covering the face or signs of radicalization; (8) Those who exaggerate religious fanaticism with abnormal beards and names;* (9) Religious marriage or divorce without fulfilling legal procedures; (10) Not allowing children to receive national education or hindering the implementation of the national education system; (11) Intimidating or inducing others to boycott the enjoyment of national policies, deliberately destroying national statutory documents such as resident ID cards, household registration books, and defacement of RMB; (12) Intentionally damaging or destroying public or private property; (13) Publishing, printing, distributing, selling, producing, downloading, storing, copying, consulting, extracting, holding articles, publications, audio and video with extreme content; (14) Deliberately interfering with or undermining the implementation of the family planning policy; (15) Other extremist speech and behavior.