November 20, 2019

Inside China’s Brutal Campaign Against Uighur Muslims

“Xinjiang, a province home to millions of Uighurs, translates to “New Dominion.” The area has been historically and geographically known as East Turkestan. Though the Chinese state has existed for more than 3,500 years, Xinjiang first became part of China’s Qing Dynasty only in the mid-18th century. Since then it has often been in a condition the British explorer Fitzroy Maclean labeled as “sustained turbulence.”

When I first traveled through Xinjiang and interviewed Uighurs in 1994, their hatred of what they considered ethnic Han Chinese occupiers was complete. “This is Turkestan, not China. Chinese don’t learn our language, and many of us don’t learn theirs. Even on a personal level, relations are bad,” one young Uighur man told me.

Relations have worsened since. A deep, unspoken reason why China has never liberalized is its authoritarian leadership fears ethnic rebellion. Uprisings of this sort happened in the outer reaches of the Soviet Union after it liberalized in the 1980s. So China has kept its political system closed, while simultaneously pushing into Central Asia through diplomacy and economic interventions. It is building vast infrastructure projects in the region to ally with the Turkic Muslims of the former Soviet Union and deny China’s own Muslims a friendly rear base for future rebellion. China’s push beyond its borders ultimately has to do with demons within.”

Read more

JJ Editor's Picks

"Most people think of ancient Nubia, if they think of it at all, as a poor imitation and perpetual vassal of Pharaonic Egypt. Archaeological discoveries in recent decades have proved them wrong, incrementally revealing magnificent kingdoms. The..."

"“Happiness is a butterfly which, when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you sit down quietly, may alight upon you.” Screw that. The saying, sometimes attributed to the novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne, cautions us to not..."

"The fires we see are only part of our disturbed pyrogeography. Of perhaps equal magnitude is a parallel world of lost, missing and sublimated fires. The landscapes that should have fire and don’t. The marinating of the atmosphere by greenhouse..."

"Acouple of weeks ago, we had our three-month-old son christened at the Methodist church in the County Durham village where my partner, Edie, grew up. I’m not religious myself, but Edie was raised in the church — her dad leads the singing for..."

"Igot my first email containing the words "Black Friday" in April. "Black Friday was a bit of a disaster for us (unsure why we expected otherwise) and we said we'd make it up to you in the near future," wrote the cult beauty brand Deciem, whose..."

"Zeitgeist-defining movies have a way of reshaping reality so that what was distinctive about them becomes too familiar to even notice. It takes effort to appreciate how unusual it was for Star Wars to treat spaceships like rusty jalopies, that..."

"Israeli kingmaker politician Avigdor Lieberman on Wednesday refused to endorse a candidate for prime minister, blaming both the contenders engaged in a tense standoff that has paralyzed Israeli politics and pushing the country toward a likely..."

"Bias is an unavoidable feature of life, the result of the necessarily limited view of the world that any single person or group can achieve. But social bias can be reflected and amplified by artificial intelligence in dangerous ways, whether it..."