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China Letter-News and Human Rights

China human rights news with focus on the Uygur of Xinjiang, Tibetans and Tibet, Chinese mining workers, religion, corruption and censorship.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Ethnicity in China: The Case of Xinjiang


Xinjiang  Uygur China mapI recently had the pleasure to attend a lecture at Sydney University by Professor Colin Mackerras of Griffith University Brisbane, concerning the current situation in Xinjiang. I reported on this in a previous post in the China Letter. The above link takes you to the published paper which formed the basis of that lecture.

Without rehashing that post I commend you to a reading of this paper put together after a field trip Professor Mackerras undertook in Xinjiang in late 2003.

Professor Mackerras is a world renowned China expert but has an affinity with Xinjiang and has visited there quite often in the last decade or so.

His conclusions essentially are that the lot of the Uygur has improved over the last ten years as evidenced by his personal observations and a variety of indicators but, obviously, serious problems still exist.

The professor's viewpoint is less than palatable to some Uygur in diaspora and I have have had quite "warm" discussions in Uygur bulletin and newsboards over my original post of the professor's assessment.

There is unfortunately a number of these Uygurs who perhaps do not want to consider that things may be improving even slightly for the Uygur at home and that the desire for independence does not burn as brightly within Xinjiang as it once did and still obviously does with them. That is to be expected and is understandable as many of these people left Xinjiang at the height of Han oppression and brutality and suffered personally.

There is nonetheless serious problems still existing in Xinjiang for the Uygur as their exists a similar situation for the Tibetans. When something improves from a very low base it still may not be anywhere considerd acceptable despite the positive movement.

Professor Mackerras' assessment is based on cool headed analysis despite a certain "love" for the people and the area. Definately a must read for anyone interested in the Uygur and general Han Chinese ethnic policy.

Professor Mackerras' website. for a list of other publications on China and the Uygur.

Linked Article Read Rating: A Must