Many scholars perceive ethnic politics in China as an untouchable topic due to lack of data and contentious, even prohibitive, politics. This book fills a gap in the literature, offering a historical-political perspective on China's contemporary ethnic conflict. Yan Sun accumulates research via field trips, local reports, and policy debates to reveal rare knowledge and findings. Her long-time causal chain of explanation reveals the roots of China's contemporary ethnic strife in the centralizing and ethnicizing strategies of its incomplete transition to a nation state--strategies that depart sharply from its historical patterns of diverse and indirect rule. This departure created the institutional dynamics for politicized identities and ethnic mobilization, particularly in the outer regions of Tibet and Xinjiang. In the 21st century, such factors as the demise of socialist tenets and institutions that upheld interethnic solidarity, and the rise of identity politics and developmentalism, have intensified these built-in tensions.