Fighting the "Three Evils" : A Structural Analysis of Counter-terrorism Legal Architecture in China

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journal

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-365
Journal / PublicationEmory International Law Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


In the aftermath of September 11 attacks, China has not been immune to the global trend of destructive terrorism. However, China's perceptions of terrorism and legal responses to it greatly diverge from those of other countries. This Article first seeks to understand the cause, source, and impact of terrorist threats in China, known as 'Three Evils''terrorism, extremism, and separatism, through a critical inquiry of the country's ethnic and religious policies. It then proceeds to delineate China's legal framework for combating the 'Three Evils' to explore the cultural characteristics of the government's approach against these rising threats. Tracing the evolution of the country's counter-terrorism laws and policies, this Article argues that China has developed an operational infrastructure composed of four strands to fight terrorism: crackdown, criminalization, control, and cooperation. This framework of 'four Cs' operates within a vertically coordinated system by deploying diverse strategies and measures to regulate terrorism-related acts according to their level of severity and risk. While crackdown and criminalization serve mainly as reactive responses to terrorist violence through repression and retribution, control and cooperation are largely used as pre-emptive instruments to prevent substantial terrorist acts through incapacitation and community policing.