Community Engagement under the Mass Line for Counterterrorism in China

Chi Zhang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The mass line principle offers an alternative approach to mobilize citizens to participate in governance. The key tenets of the mass line principle resemble that of the regime of community engagement, aiming at encouraging democratic participation, improving the trust between the rule and the ruled, and improving the ability of the government to gather intelligence. In the context of China's counterterrorism strategy, the mass line involves the encouraging citizens' participation in the People's War on Terror, incentivizing individuals to provide tip-offs, and engaging patriotic believers, opinion leaders, grass-roots propagandists, and cultural workers to persuade and educate the masses to adopt "correct" views. In addition, the government seeks to publicize the voice of Uyghurs from within the community. However, such efforts only served as evidence for intolerance for diversity and an invitation for further suspicion and criticism. This article demonstrates the trust dilemma the state faces-in order to improve democratic participation, the efforts to engage a community and gather intelligence often result in eroding the trust. This article also highlights the importance of differentiating harmony and political conformity. Diversity per se is not the source of conflict, but it is often targeted by the state as it is desperately seeking to demonstrate efficacy in the face of terrorism.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages19
JournalStudies in Conflict and Terrorism
Publication statusPublished - 24 Apr 2019


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