Xinjiang -- China's Muslim Far Northwest

Xinjiang -- China's Muslim Far Northwest

Xinjiang -- China's Muslim Far Northwest

Xinjiang -- China's Muslim Far Northwest

Synopsis

Xinjiang, China's far northwestern province, is of increasing international strategic and economic importance. With a population which is maninly non-Chinese and Muslim, the forces for autonomy and independence in Xinjiang are quite strong. This book provides a comprehensive overview of Xinjiang and introduces its history, economy and society and above all, outlines the political and religious opposition by the Turkic peoples of Xinjiang to Chinese Communist rule.

Excerpt

There has been no comprehensive study of Xinjiang in English since 1950 when Pivot of Asia: Sinkiang and the Inner Asian Frontiers of China and Russia was published. The main author of Pivot of Asia was Owen Lattimore but the book was based on a major research programme carried out at the Page School of International Affairs, Johns Hopkins University by a distinguished team of scholars, which included specialists on the languages, history and cultures of China, Russia and the Turkic societies of Central Asia.

An up-to-date survey of the same breadth and depth is long overdue but a number of factors have convinced me that there is an urgent need to make background information and analysis on the conflict in the region more widely available. These factors are the escalation of ethnic tension and armed resistance to Chinese rule in the 1990s; the deterioration of the situation in what is now commonly referred to as China’s most turbulent or restive region since the onset of the ‘Strike Hard’ campaign of the summer of 1996; and finally the potential instability in Central and Inner Asia as a result of the attacks on New York and Washington on September 11th, 2001 and the changing balance of power in the region. It is essential that there is better understanding of both the plight of the Uyghurs and other non-Han Chinese residents of Xinjiang, and the choices that the Chinese authorities in Xinjiang and Beijing are compelled to make in order to deal with what they consider to be their national interests.

My approach to the Xinjiang question is intended to be as balanced and as objective as possible but this is not an easy task, even for a disinterested outsider, given the extreme partisanship of the protagonists and the depth of disagreement about the issues. Documentary sources from both the official Chinese press and opponents of Chinese control have been used in this study, but both sides have clearly defined and opposing political agendas and it is often extremely difficult to evaluate the evidence that is available. To some of those most deeply involved in the politics of the region, the choices for the future are stark: Xinjiang must either remain a fully integrated region of China, albeit with token autonomy, or it must become a completely independent non-Chinese state. However other approaches such as genuine autonomy within a federal and decentralised China have been suggested and it may be that a solution along these lines could be part of the answer to the conflict. I am aware that those who support the policies of . . .

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