Sinicisation vs. Arabisation: Online Narratives of Islamophobia in China

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This article examines the recent rise of Islamophobic narratives in the Chinese cyberspace. Using content analysis of social media headline articles, this article argues that key Islamophobic actors in the Chinese cyberspace have constructed a ‘victims and villains’ narrative to effectively ‘other’ Muslim populations in China. By implying that non-Sinicised Muslims are under Arab fundamentalist influences, religious autonomy becomes political betrayal and Islamophobia is legitimised. Elements of Islamophobia is then subsumed in the official narrative calling for ethnic loyalty to the Chinese nation, which presents a unique challenge to the Chinese Party-state as Islamophobic discourses both legitimises state-sponsored autocratic control in Muslim regions, but also could potentially bring destabilisation to an already fragile ethnic relationship between Muslim minorities and the Han majority.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)748-762
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Contemporary China
Issue number125
Early online date18 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis Group in Journal of Contemporary China on 18 Dec 2019, available online at:


  • China
  • Islamophobia
  • Online Narrative
  • Uyghurs


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