XINJIANG AND CHINA
Mao statue in Kashgar Beijing regards Xinjiang as an integral part of China and an important strategic area for defense. It also very interested in the large deposits of oil and natural gas in the area.
Some people refer to western China and Turkish-speaking countries in Central Asia as Turkestan ("Land of the Turks"). It is a term laden with Islamic and separatist connotations. Using it in China can land someone in a labor camp.
An often heard phrase in western China is "The mountains are high and the emperor is far away." This refers to the geographical distance and cultural differences between Xinjiang and Beijing. It is also often said that China ends and Turkestan begins where the Great Wall ends in Gansu Corridor of north-central Gansu Province.
People in Xinjiang are supposed to Beijing time even though Beijing is four time zones away. If one were to follow Beijing time exactly in Xinjiang one would wake up hours before sunrise and go to bed at sunset. According to Beijing time, the sun rises in Kashgar in midwinters at 10:00am and sets is the summer at 11:00pm.
Most Uighurs ignore Beijing time but many Han Chinese use it, albeit with a few alterations. A Han student in Kashgar told the Los Angeles Times, “Most people are using Beijing time; only local Uighurs use Xinjiang time. But our class starts two hours later than usual time. It is quite easy to adapt to it, just as when you are in Rome, do as the Romans do.”
In 1968, Long Shujin, the hardline Communist Party secretary of Xinjiang, issued a decree ordering Uighurs to stop using their own time. But the Chinese government could not enforce the law. In 1986, a small notices was quietly published that gave tacit approval to the use of local time.
In Xinjiang today, local time remains officially unofficial. Many Uyghurs set their watches two hours earlier than the official time, making the sun in winter rise sensibly at around 7.30 am rather 9.30 am as the Communist Party prescribes. In some hotel lobbies there are still clocks with the local times in New York, Moscow, London, Tokyo and Beijing but not Xinjiang. When asked why there was no clock for Xinjiang at his hotel, one hotel employee told the Los Angeles Times, “there’s no need; they know what time it is.” An Uighur watchmaker, who tried to sell a watch that displayed both times but withdrew it because nobody bought it, said, “People use one time or the other, not both. The Chinese use Beijing time, the Uighurs use their time. But if somebody buys a watch from me, I’ll set it however they like.”
working at night in Xinjiang in the 1950s
Websites and Resources
Good Websites and Sources: Muslimwiki Islam in China Muslimwiki Islam in China Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; Blog with stuff on Xinjiang china.notspecial.org ; About Xinjiang (Chinese government site) aboutxinjiang. ; History and Development of Xinjiang (Chinese government site) news.xinhuanet.com ; Uighurs and Xinjiang Council on Foreign Relations ; Muslims in China: Islam in China islaminchina.wordpress.com ; Claude Pickens Collection harvard.edu/libraries ; Islam Awareness islamawareness.net ; Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; Asia Times atimes.com ; Xinjiang History Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; Great Game Info sras.org ; Great Game in Afghanistan atimes.com . Book on the Great Game: The Dust of Empire: The Race for Mastery in the Asian Heartland by Karl E. Meyer (Century Foundation/Public Affairs, 2003). Separatism and Human Rights: Wikipedia article on Terrorism in China Wikipedia ; All Quiet on the Western Front? silkroadstudies.org Human Rights in Xinjiang Human Rights Watch article hrw.org ; Human Rights in Xinjiang Human Rights Watch article hrw.org ; Human Rights in Xinjiang Human Rights Watch article hrw.org ; Uyghur Human Rights Groups: U.S.-based Taklamakan Uighur Human Rights Association; German-based East Turkestan Information Center; Germany-based World Uyghur Congress; and Rebiya Kadeer’s Uyghur American Association: World Uyghur Congress uyghurcongress.org ; Uyghur American Association uyghuramerican.org ; Uyghur Human Rights Project uhrp.org Uighur and Xinjiang Experts: Dru Gladney of Pomona College; Nicolas Bequelin of Human Rights Watch; and James Miflor, a professor at Georgetown University. Book: Eurasian Crossroads: A History of Xinjiang by James A Millward (C Hurst, 2007).
Links in this Website: XINJIANG Factsanddetails.com/China ; XINJIANG EARLY HISTORY Factsanddetails.com/China ; XINJIANG LATER HISTORY Factsanddetails.com/China ; XINJIANG AND CHINA Factsanddetails.com/China ; XINJIANG SEPARATISM AND HUMAN RIGHTS Factsanddetails.com/China ; TERRORISM IN XINJIANG Factsanddetails.com/China ; Factsanddetails.com/China ; XINJIANG RIOTS IN 2009 Factsanddetails.com/China ; UIGHURS Factsanddetails.com/China ; HORSEMEN AND SMALL MINORITIES IN XINJIANG Factsanddetails.com/China ; XINJIANG, URUMQI Factsanddetails.com/China ; XINJIANG. KASHGAR Factsanddetails.com/China ; XINJIANG KARAKORUM HIGHWAY Factsanddetails.com/China
PLACES IN XINJIANG : Xinjiang Tourism Administration, 16 South Hetan Rd, 830002 Urumqi, Xinjiang China, tel. (0)- 991-282-7912, fax: (0)- 991-282-4449. Web Sites : Wikipedia Wikipedia Government site Xinjiang.gov ; Photos and Qanats : Synaptic Synaptic Wikipedia article on qanats Wikipedia ; Turpan : Turpan Tourism Division, 41 Qingnian Rd, 838000 Turpan. Xinjiang China, tel. (0)- 995-523-706, fax: (0)- 995-522-768 ; Urumqi : Urumqi Tourism Bureau, 32 Guangming Rd, 830002 Urumqi, Xinjiang China, tel. (0)-991-283-2212, fax: (0)- 991-281-9357 Web Sites: Travel China Guide Travel China Guide ; China Map Guide China Map Guide ; Getting There Sites : Urumqi is accessible by air and bus and lies at the end on the main east-west train line from Beijing. It is connected to Kashgar and other Xinjiang cities to southwest by a new train that began operating in the early 2000s.Travel China Guide (click transportation) Travel China Guide Tian Shan : Wikipedia Wikipedia ; Links in this Website: XINJIANG, URUMQI Factsanddetails.com/China
Kashgar Travel China Guide Travel China Guide ; Lonely Planet Lonely Planet ; China Vista China Vista ; Getting There: Kashgar is accessible by air and bus and connected to Urumqi and the rest of China by a new train that began operating in 2004. There are two daily trains between Kasghar and Urumqi that cover the 1,598 kilometer distance in about 24 hours, There are also flights on Xinjiang Airlines 757s every evening. Website: CNINFO.net Travel China Guide (click transportation) Travel China Guide Lonely Planet (click Getting There) Lonely Planet ; Links in this Website: XINJIANG. KASHGAR Factsanddetails.com/China ; XINJIANG KARAKORUM HIGHWAY Factsanddetails.com/China
Chinese Policy in Xinjiang
Muslim slums in Urumqi The Chinese use carrot and stick approach to Xinjiang, providing development and jobs while cracking down hard on dissent. Their goal is to create a generation of Mandarin speakers with stronger ties to China and less strong ties to Islam. There are programs, for example, in which the best and brightest Uighurs are sent to Mandarin-only schools in other provinces.
Alim Setoff of the of the Uighur American Association told the Los Angeles Times: “China has been very successful at portraying Uighurs as terrorists and themselves as victims of terrorism, while they manipulated Islam through their control over mosques. It’s really not easy trying to stand up to such a powerful country and emerging superpower.”
Beijing also hopes to win hearts and minds in Xinjiang by rasing incomes, improving infrastructure and creating more opportunities. Dru Gladney, a professor of Asian Studies at the University of Hawaii, told the Washington Post, "There is a feeling that the Chinese government has given and given to Xinjiang and all they get is criticism. "
Beijing also uses heavy does propaganda and indoctrination. Banners hung in Kasghar read: “All ethnic groups welcome the party’s religious policies.” Some Uighur civil servants are required to take ideology classes for two hours a day that aim to teach the glories of the Communist Party, the dangers of separatism and the benefits of a unified China. They are also required to sing a song that drives home he latest party slogan: “Eight Virtues and Eight Shames.” One Uighur civil servant told the Los Angeles Times. ‘At work I have to say, ‘I love everything Han Chinese’ or I get into trouble."
For decades the Chinese government has given Uighurs benefits not available to Han Chinese The non-Han-Chinese people in Xinjiang are allowed to ignore the one-child policy and have three children if they live in rural areas and two if they live in urban areas. They pay virtually no taxes; farmer receive tax-free leases on land; and low-interest loans are available. The people of Xinjiang are afforded the same affirmative action policies—preferences for university admission and government promotions—given other minorities. Students are given extra points on university entrance exams. The radiators and thick carpets in Kashgar’s Id Kah mosque, the largest mosque in China, were paid for by the Chinese government.
See Religion Under Xinjaing
New Communist Leadership in Xinjiang
Edward Wong wrote in the New York Times, “The long-serving party chief of Xinjiang, Wang Lequan, was replaced in 2010, following a surge in violence in the region. Some Uighurs held out hope that the new party leader, Zhang Chunxian, the top official in Hunan Province, would adopt a softer line and try to examine the discriminatory policies that have led to the rise in ethnic tensions. But cycles of crackdown and violence have continued. Last July, clashes erupted in the towns of Hotan and Kashgar, which lie on either side of Yecheng County. [Source: Edward Wong, New York Times, February 29, 2012]
“Zhang Chunxian brought a new style, but the policies haven’t changed,” Nicholas Bequelin, a senior Asia researcher for Human Rights Watch, told the New York Times. “They were laid out at the Xinjiang work conference in 2010. These policies promised a rapid boost to the local economy — which has happened — but absent from this blueprint were the issues that top the list of the Uighur discontent: discrimination, Han in-migration and the ever-more invasive curbs on language, culture, religious expression.”
Mr. Bequelin added that the one notable change since Mr. Zhang took office is that there is a greater recognition that socio-economic discrimination against Uighurs needs to be addressed. “But not much has been done in this respect, and the polarization between Uighurs and Chinese continues to grow,” he said.
Chinese Xinjiang Exhibition
A state-sponsored exhibition of ancient books, documents and seals opened in August 2010 at the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Museum in Urumqi. Organized by the China National Preservation and Conservation Center for Ancient Books in the National Library of China, it is the first comprehensive exhibition of this kind since 1949 and includes 106 items that date back to 4,000 years ago and up to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). [Source: Guo Shuhan, China Daily August, 18 2010]
Among the items displayed were Accounts of the Western Regions of the Great Tang Dynasty, written by Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907) Buddhist master Xuanzang in and 646, after his pilgrimage to India. A transcript of Xuanzang's work was made soon after the original was completed. Researchers say it was the earliest copy of the work and was offered to Turpan, an important trade center on the Silk Road. “ [Ibid]
Xinjiang had many important trading posts along the Silk Road and remained a center for the confluence of various cultures over many centuries. The Kharosthi script, for example, was used before the 3rd century; while Kuchean, a branch of the Tocharian language, was used before the 9th century. “ [Ibid]
Chinese Development in Xinjiang
Government-constructed house The Chinese in many ways have helped the people of Xinjiang progress and modernize at a great expense. Before the arrival of the Chinese, there were few roads, hardly any electricity, no modern medicine and no education outside the mosques in Xinjiang. Many people lived under warlords in feudal arrangements. The Chinese introduced land reform and brought paved roads, electricity and running water. Under the Chinese, life expectancy has increased, a greater variety of food has become available, and the levels of illiteracy have been greatly reduced.
The Chinese have a hard time understanding why the schools, factories and roads they built are not appreciated. What they have failed to realize it seems is that the people of Xinjiang do not want their help and would rather modernize and progress on their own terms.
Massive urban renewal projects have resulted in the demolition of traditional Old-City- neighborhoods and their maze of alleys and have forced Uighurs out of their traditional mud brick houses into Chinese-style apartments in the suburbs.
The people of Xinjiang are increasingly torn between their desire to get rid of the Chinese and their dependence on the jobs, opportunities and development that the Chinese bring. Some are glad to get the roads and railroads but also complain they just allow more Han Chinese to flow in and take the good jobs.
Tearing Down the Old City of Kashar, See Separate Article
Go West Program in Xinjiang
Xinjiang has been ground zero of the Go West program, launched in 2000 with the aim of developing and modernizing the poor western parts of China and reducing the income gap between western China and the more developed parts of the country and spreading the economic wealth from the coastal provinces and helping the people in impoverished areas in the interior of China. According to the original plan the Communist government allocated $106 billion for 60 major projects, including rail and road expansions, hydroelectric dams, and oil pipelines. Not only workers but highly educated engineers, entrepreneurs, professors and IT personnel left for the relatively poor western provinces, leaving behind larger paychecks and comfortable lifestyles in the east.
The "Go West" program was started in the late 1990s by the administration of former President Jiang Zemin. Highways were built, houses were constructed , nomads were resettle in ‘model’ villages. Million were give access to electricity and clean water. New rail lines were built to Lhasa in Tibet and Kashgar in Xinjiang. As of 2006, thirty-one projects had been completed at a cost of $56 billion. These include the new railway to Kashgar, new highways through the Taklamakan Desert, electricity grids, several factories, a heating plant and a copper smelter.
Who Has Benefited from Go West?
Many feel that ultimately the program has helped Han Chinese more than it has the people in Xinjiang. Zhap Baotong of the Shaanxi Academy of Social Sciences in Xian told the Washington Post, “among the key projects of the Go West program, the majority only benefit the east. These projects are transporting electricity, natural gas and other resources from west to east to fuel development there.”
Even though western China has chalked up 12 percent economic growth rate it remains the poorest least-developed, and least-educated part of the country. The government has boasted of promoting pharmaceuticals and handicrafts in the region but the overall impact of these industries has been relatively small.
Keith Richburg wrote in the Washington Post, ‘The massive investments, critics say, has mainly benefited state-owned companies that build the roads and railways and mine the minerals. There is little indigenous industry and scant foreign investment. Hundreds of thousand of people have been displaced from their homes, and nomads have been resettled into villages where they have no livelihood. Locals complain that China is primarily interested in extracting minerals to keep the factories back east running.’
Robert Barnett, a Tibet expert at Columbia, told the Washington Post, ‘It’s misleading to just ask if there’s been economic progress. Who benefits from it? What is the cost locally, culturally and politically?’
Nicholas Bequelin of Human Rights Watch told the Washington Post, ‘It’s not a people-centered modernization program, It’s a top down program that has mostly benefitted state enterprises and the party-controlled institutions.
One Uighur farmer told the Washington Post: It’s a little better than years past. We can eat. We have clothes to wear.” Then added “It’s more convenient for the Han to do business with one another.” An Uighur in the oil boom town of Kuche said, “Yes, there’s oil here but the money doesn’t reach ordinary people.”
Expanded Xinjiang Development
A central plank of the Hu Jintao’s "scientific theory of development" is specifically shrinking the gap between eastern and western China. In a major speech marking the opening of National People’s Congress in March 2010, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao promised to expand growth and development in Xinjiang and Tibet. In May 2010, Chinese President Hu Jintao announced a $15-billion-a-year investment package at a special meeting of the Politburo on Xinjiang's economic future, partly to improve livelihoods and living conditions in the region and bolster confidence in the regional government, which was widely criticized by citizens after deadly ethnic rioting in the summer of 2009. [Source: Edward Wong, New York Times May 28, 2010]
The announcement by the new Communist Party secretary of Xinjiang, Zhang Chunxian, 57, came on the heels of the national planning session. Zhang said the regional government would focus on developing the relatively poor areas of Uighur-dominated south Xinjiang. “ [Ibid]
Among the programs that ave been suggested are ones that promote bilingual education in all schools by 2015, especially in southern Xinjiang, so that all students can speak fluent Mandarin by 2020. Another was to move 700,000 urban families to safer and earthquake-resistant houses by 2015 and force 100,000 nomads to settle down. “ [Ibid]
The economic policies announced by the central government last week include overhauling tax policies in Xinjiang, encouraging foreign and commercial banks to open branches there, releasing more land for construction, and easing market access for some industries. The goal is to create a moderately well-off society in the region by 2020, Chinese leaders say. “ [Ibid]
The massive economic support package is significant, wrote Alistair Thornton, an analyst with IHS Global Insight, an international economic analysis group. However, Thornton said, whether breakneck economic development can placate Uighur grievances is uncertain. “ [Ibid]
In August 2011 the China Daily reported that 31 large state-owned enterprises plan to pour 991.6 billion yuan ($155 billion) into Xinjiang from 2011 to 2015. It said the investment will boost the region's infrastructure and transform it into a major production base for petroleum and energy-related industries.
Chinese Crackdowns and Discrimination in Xinjiang
A Chinese official told the Los Angeles Times, “In Xinjiang, the separatists, religious extremists and violent terrorists are all around us, In China, endangering national security is the No. 1 crime. We have to crackdown on it severely.” September 11th gave Beijing more leverage as the accused Xinjiang separatist groups of having ties with Al-Qaida.
"Xinjiang Party Secretary Wang Lequan once opined that the Turkic-like Uighur language was out of step with the 21st century. Since being posted to Xinjiang in 1991, Wang has relentlessly promoted a Sinicization policy aimed at making Uighurs more like ordinary Chinese. Wang’s performance so impressed the CCP leadership that this former head of the Shandong Branch of the CYL was awarded Politburo status in 2002. That Wang has stayed in Xinjiang for 18 years, however, goes against the time-honored CCP personnel policy of not allowing a local chieftain to remain in the same jurisdiction for more than five to six years." [Source: Willy Lam, China Brief, July 23 2009]
Security cameras are becoming a common sights in Uighur housing projects in Kashgar and Urumqi. Mashrap, traditional all-male gathering, are closely regulated by the government. Uighurs are often barred from hotels and Internet cafes because they are assumed to be terrorists or criminals. They are watched suspiciously by Han security guards when they enter shops.
See Repression of Islam
Beijing’s grip on Xinjiang has been described as Soviet-like. The Chinese government has restricted religious freedom, closed local publishing houses and given special powers to the special "rapid-deployment force." Soldiers and police have increased their presence. Paramilitary guards with semi-automatic weapons stand at entrances to government buildings in Urumqi. Authorities have raided street stalls and whole markets that sold Osama bin Laden merchandise.
The Chinese government has used terrorism as an excuse to crack down on any kind of activity they view as a threat or don’t like. Uighurs have been arrested for showing signs of dissent, meeting with foreigners, and fasting in Ramadan. Among those that have been arrested are travel agency workers that met with foreign tourists after work. As a carrot, Beijing has offered job opportunities as a way blunting separatist activities.
Strike Hard—an anti-crime campaign intended to fight organized crime, drugs and pornography—has become a cover to crackdown on Uighurs. Yu Jianrong of the Institute of Rural Development told the Washington Post: “If you want a peaceful life, you must have strong and forceful measures. If the government wants to keep Xinjiang inside Chinese territory. They must take measures to crack down on separatists without any softness.”
It is difficult too get a handle as to what is going on as many Uighur replies are quickly and defensively "on message". For example, one man said "The Chinese help us. They are more educated than us, they are helping us develop." Few Uighurs are willing to identify themselves by name when they talk to foreign reporters out of fear of drawing the attention of police and authorities to themselves. Those that do talk are very careful about what they say. One told the New York Times, “There are some words we feel in our hearts, but we cannot say.” [Source: New York Times, BBC]
One man who talked with the BBC metaphorically accused the Chinese of ‘stealing our bread; if someone takes your bread, will you not take it back?’ He then went on: ‘I don't like violence, but we need a revolution, and you cannot have a revolution without blood.’
Complaints by Xinjiang People About China
with a Han Chinese Many people in Xinjiang don't like the Chinese. Some Uighurs spit on the ground whenever they pass a Han Chinese and call Chinese women baorzi (sluts). The Muslims in Xinjiang are unhappy about three major issues: the mass migration of Han Chinese, the testing of nuclear weapons in Lop Nor and the exploitation of Xinjiang oil, which locals view as theirs.
Flight attendants on flights to Xinjiang speak English but not Uighur. On trains in Xinjiang only Chinese is spoken. To get gain entrance into a Chinese university and get a good job, the Muslim minorities in Xinjiang have to pass Chinese-language examinations. The people of Xinjiang also resent having Mandarin names attached to their ancient ruins, and believe that its none of the Chinese business how many children they have. When Uighurs do speak Mandarin they are often mocked for heir accents by Han Chinese.
Many Chinese support the rough treatment given to Uighurs and other Muslims. One Chinese man from Sichuan told the Washington Post, “You have to watch them carefully. A lot of them hate us, you know. We have to suppress them. There’s no other choice.”
Rebiya Kadeer wrote in the Times of London, “Uighurs have been slowly suffocating from official policies aimed at eliminating our Turkic culture and mystical brand of Islam—much in the same way that official policies have destroyed the culture and customs of Tibetans.”
On Chinese migration diluting the local population, Nicholas Bequelin of Human Rights Watch told the Washington Post, “China probably has the most efficient assimilation model in the world. It’s the ultimate solution.”
One Uighur man told Reuters, “What we want is simple—freedom. But there are too many Han and too few of us.”
Even so most Uighurs are opposed to violence, knowing that protest would almost certainly be suppressed by the People's Liberation Army, and accepting that investment from Beijing is providing work, development and greater prosperity for Uighur people.
Han Settlers in Xinjiang
About 2.5 million Han arrived in Xinjiang between the late 1990s and the late 2000s. Han settlers often get free transportation, insurance, housing and help finding jobs and starting businesses.
Beijing has loosened immigration rules and offers tax incentives to encourage Han Chinese to head to Tibetan and Xinjiang to open new businesses. In many Xinjiang cities, Chinese live in modern apartment blocks while Uighurs live in run-down mud-rick homes.
Many arrive in Urumqi on the 56-hour train ride from China’s east coast and know little about Xinjiang other than that the region boasts 10 percent growth rates and individuals can make $400 a month, twice the amount they can back home.
The economic crisis in 2008 and 2009 and the closing down of factories and the decline of construction in eastern China spurred even greater numbers of Han Chinese to head to Xinjiang.
Leaders in other places in China have encouraged their residents to move to Xinjiang, effectively exporting their unemployment problems and potential for unrest to Xinjiang. The city of Chongqing said it was going to send 100,000 people to Xinjiang in 2009. One county in Ningxia gave 3,200 peasants it was sending off a special ceremony. In March 2009, the railroad ministry boasted 109 trans has carried 210,000 people from three cities in central China to Urumqi to work in construction, agriculture and energy. [Source: Los Angeles Times]
Job Discrimination in Xinjiang
Many employers refuse to hire Uighurs for even the most menial positions, even things like dangerous mine work or packing cotton. In one request for new workers in the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, 800 of the 840 civil service job openings were reserved for Han workers.
Many of the best jobs are government jobs. Advancement is easier if one joins the Communist Party which requires one to renounce their religion. Most Uighurs are not willing to do that. Many Uighurs have to migrate to the east to find opportunities.
The Chinese are accused of taking all the good jobs and being only interested in money. "Every employee I saw in my Western-style hotel was a Han," wrote Thomas Allen in National Geographic. "All the police officers I saw were Han. Even unskilled laborers were Han, lured from other provinces to work on the dozens of high rises, sprouting in Urumqi." Allen saw only one Kazak woman in a factory that produced leather jackets for export to Sweden. The jackets were made from sheepskin brought in by Kazakh herdsmen on bicycles and donkeys and then sewn into jackets by Han woman who earn more in two months than a herdsman makes in a year.
Ilham Tohti, a leading Uighur intellectual and economic profession at the Central Nationalities University in Beijing, estimated that 1.5 million Uighur workers—the equivalent of half the adult males—are unemployed. In 2009 Tohti disappeared and is believed to be under house arrest.
Phrases like “Han only” and “No ethnic minorities” routinely appear in classified job ads. The Los Angeles Times reported a job listing in a government-rum employment agency that went: “Room service staff needed. 18-40 year old. Junior high school degree required. Han only.”
Bilingual Uighur university graduates have more difficulty than Han Chinese on job placement tests that require knowledge of thousands of Chinese characters.
Uighurs get especially bitter when they see the discrimination against them coupled with the advantages given the Han. “All we want is the same opportunity,” one Uighur told the Los Angeles Times.
Owners of Uighur and Muslim restaurants in Beijing complain of being harassed over trivial health matters by health officials and police. Uighur workers at these restaurants and other Uighurs sometimes have heir papers checked every morning by Beijing police. Many Uighurs who were in Beijing at the time of the Olympics left. Those that didn’t leave voluntarily were pressured to leave by police.
Chinese and Uighurs
Han and Uyghur university students live remarkably separate lives, with dormitories ethnically segregated and canteens also separate because of the Muslim taboo on eating pork. In his book The Tree That Bleeds: a Uyghur Town on the Edge Nick Holdstock wrote:"The Han and Uyghur students didn't talk to each other or play sport together. They certainly did not date. But despite this separation, there was little visible rancor. It was more likely they were trying to pretend each other did not exist." [Source: Michael Rank, Asia Times, January 7, 2012]
Holdstock found his Han Chinese colleagues and students cool and standoffish, even though he had had no trouble making Han friends when he taught in Hunan province. He found this was partly due to the fact that students were allowed to visit his room only in groups of three or more and teachers only if accompanied by a colleague because a few years earlier a Norwegian teacher had used his classes to proselytize for Christianity.
At the university in Yining only four out of 350 students in the English department were Uyghurs. This is partly because, although non-Han need lower exam scores to enter university, they are, to balance this reverse discrimination, admitted only in alternate years.
Book: The Tree That Bleeds: a Uyghur Town on the Edge by Nick Holdstock (Luath Press Ltd, 2011)
Image Sources: 1) Mongabey; Louis Perrochon http://www.perrochon.com/photo/china/
Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, Lonely Planet Guides, Compton’s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.
© 2008 Jeffrey Hays
Last updated April 2012