China's Forgotten People
Xinjiang, Terror and the Chinese State
Author(s): Nick Holdstock
Xinjiang, in the west of China, has been probably the most heavily securitized part of China due to its culture, traditions, history and identity. Traditionally, a heavily Muslim populated area, it has rich mineral resources and a strategic location. The Uyghur have their roots in the Turkish tribes of Central Asia and Turkey. Their language, food habits, religious commitment and ethnic identity make them distinct. As part of its strategy of national integration, successive Chinese governments for over five decades engaged in making demographic changes in the region. A visible Han population settlement in the region and particularly appointments of Han Chinese in civil administration and the heavy presence of security forces are the results of this policy, which has further alienated the Uyghurs. In the post 9/11 scenario, the Chinese government intensified its surveillance of the Uyghurs. A lack of press freedom under an authoritarian regime is not an unusual phenomenon. Nevertheless, the personal accounts of scholars and journalists provide horrifying details about the systematic marginalization, if not total elimination through forced migration, of the Uyghurs and the settlement of Han Chinese in Xinjiang.