The mass abuse of minorities in China’s Xinjiang region provides a disturbing contemporary example of the extremes to which a society will go when gripped by fear of the Other.

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Taklamakan Desert, Xinjiang, China.

Xinjiang (pron. ‘Shin jee-ang’), a landlocked region of north-west China, has become the setting for the systematic violation of human rights on an industrial scale. Home to stunning deserts, sacred mountains and pristine lakes, the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region is known throughout China for its melons, raisins, and traditional dancing. In recent years, however, it has shot to prominence in the global media for all the wrong reasons.

Chinese troops first conquered Xinjiang in the Han dynasty (c.206 BC to 220 AD), but rule was sporadic until the territory was incorporated into the Qing empire in the 18th century. Many of the ethnic groups inhabiting the region are closer in language, culture and religion to those of other Central Asian states than to the Han Chinese. These groups, which are predominantly Muslim, include the Kazakhs, Kyrgyz and Tajiks. The largest is the Uyghur (pron. …

About

Phil Entwistle

Hunting heads in higher ed. Writing and tweeting on China, politics, HE. Speaking Mandarin with a Dudley accent.

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