How the West Was Lost: China's Xinjiang Policy

By Tsuo, Kurt | Harvard International Review, Fall 2009 | Go to article overview

How the West Was Lost: China's Xinjiang Policy


Tsuo, Kurt, Harvard International Review


In Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang province in western China, riots between Uyghur minorities and their Han majority neighbors claimed 197 lives and injured thousands in July 2009, reprising China's periodic problems with ethnic minorities living in its Special Autonomous Regions. The riots erupted out of Uyghur protests and culminated in both Uyghur and Han-initiated attacks and clashes with the police. The Chinese government has blamed the violence on Uyghur separatists and painted the riots as planned Muslim terrorist attacks. This move to blame the violence on religiously driven terrorism ignores the true roots of the violence in Xinjiang and undermines what should be China's core interests in the region.

The Chinese government has long been concerned with the instability of its western regions. In 2004, Chinese President Hu Jintao identified a trio offerces--extremism, separatism, and terrorism--to describe his concerns with the western region. While separatism has been a long-standing" point of contention for China and its Special Autonomous Regions, as evidenced by China's historical tensions with Tibet and Taiwan, terrorism and extremism only emerged as prominent Chinese domestic concerns after September 11, 2001. Since then, the Chinese government has worked consistently to connect issues of separatism with terrorism, even in the absence of any evidence of organized terrorist opposition to the Chinese government in Xinjiang. The government has emphasized China's porous western borders with Muslim nations and Xinjiang's resulting susceptibility to influence by Muslim extremism. This emphasis is misplaced. While al Qaeda members in Afghanistan have trained some Uyghurs for action in Xinjiang, the groups that have historically claimed responsibility for violence in Xinjiang are neither long-standing nor stable. Only one Uyghur separatist group, the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, has been listed as a terrorist group by the United States and the United Nations, and there is no evidence that it maintains cells in Xinjiang.

After the July riots, the provincial government in Xinjiang blamed the World Uyghur Congress, which seeks a united and independent nation of "East Turkistan" that would include parts of Xinjiang province in China, and its exiled leader, Rebiya Kadeer, for organizing the violence. China also alleges that the World Uyghur Congress has close ties to terrorism. Four days after the violence ended, the Chinese Politburo labeled the riots a product of the same trio of forces that President Hu originally identified: separatism, extremism, and terrorism. Nevertheless, there is no evidence that the largely unarmed violence in Urumqi was religiously driven or that the riots were planned and organized by any significant portion of the more than 8 million Uyghurs living in Xinjiang.

Though the Chinese government seems determined to attribute the unrest in Xinjiang to groups such as the World Uyghur Congress, it will eventually need to take on a more challenging task than finding a convenient scapegoat for the riots: minimizing the root causes of violence in Xinjiang and reducing the long-term tensions between the Han and Uyghur populations of Xinjiang. To achieve long-term peace, the government must acknowledge the array of forces that were the true causes of violence in July.

The principal Uyhgur grievances stem from the government's economic policy in the West and from unfair political treatment. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

How the West Was Lost: China's Xinjiang Policy
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.