Big data-mediated repression: a novel form of preemptive repression in China’s Xinjiang region

Creative Commons License

Öztiğ L. I.

CONTEMPORARY POLITICS, vol.0, no.0, pp.1-23, 2023 (SSCI)

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 0 Issue: 0
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/13569775.2023.2203568
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI)
  • Page Numbers: pp.1-23
  • Yıldız Technical University Affiliated: Yes


Governments repress using different logics. Responsive repression is employed in the aftermath of dissent activities. Preemptive repression is applied in anticipation of challenges to the state's authority. This article brings a novel insight into the mechanism of preemptive repression by giving analytical weight to big data analytics. It is shown that a new type of preemptive repression has emerged in China's Xinjiang region. While targeted repression is generally associated with specific opposition groups, with the use of big data technology, China is now able to apply targeted repression against millions of Muslim minorities by processing data to predict dissent behaviour, which constitutes a radical transformation of preemptive repression. This article defines this mode of repression as ‘a techno-panoptic form of repression’ in which human behaviour is reduced to data and big data analytics becomes an instrument through which the state gains hyper-agency.