Xinjiang Notes

Xinjiang, or the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, constitutes one-sixth of China’s territory, and has the country’s richest oil and gas resources. It is also seen by China’s ruling class, and indeed is portrayed as such by the world’s media, as a “troubled” region with sensitive security issues. This “New Frontier”, a name acquired since the Qing dynasty’s conquest of the region, is at the top of China’s national security agenda. Military settlement has been deliberately enlarged over the years, and the armed forces are heavily deployed throughout the region. A series of anti-terrorist campaigns have been launched here as part of the US-led war on terror, while investment has been poured into a number of targeted cities in order to secure stability and maintain a “harmonious society”.
Behind the alarming headlines that seek to convey a high level security threat posed by Uighur “separatism” and “splittism”, the realities of people's daily life in this vast region have remained unknown both to the Chinese populace and the outside world; what really goes on in Xinjiang has been a secret kept well away from public knowledge.
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Soon after I set foot in Xinjiang, I began to ask this question:
How do you remain sane when the public speech is dominated by the state loudspeaker?
During those months, I coped with the daily insanity by recording and documenting it...I witnessed that the lives of working-class people here have been shaped by economic scarcity and hardship, migration and political repression.
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"Speak the nationally promoted Mandarin," says slogan, town centre, Kashgar
Ten months after the 2009 riot, Kashgar was designated by the central government as a new Special Economic Zone. Since then, this Uighur-majority city near the border to Tajikistan has seen trade and investment come in from the much more developed eastern coast of China. The real agenda for developing Kashgar is clear to everyone: the aim is to stabilise the region. The first sign of this intention was the demolition of Kashgar’s old town, home to the most ancient Islamic communities in Xinjiang…
"Be patriotic, be grateful, be hardworking; Help one another, be open and make progress," says slogan, Kashgar

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