Minority Group: the Uyghur People of Xinjiang China

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  • Topic: Xinjiang, Uyghur people, Central Asia
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  • Published : March 6, 2011
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NAME: Nelson Gable STUDENT ID: U4667263 TUTOR: Alan Rumsey
  ASSIGNMENT TITLE: Minority Group: The Uyghur people of Xinjiang China. WORD COUNT: 2049 (Not including Bibliography)

Even since China’s rapid development of the 1990’s, to this day there is still a large degree of unrest encompassing all it’s minority groups. One such group is the Uyghur people, of whom reside in China’s northwest region of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, more commonly referred to as the Xinjiang province. This minority group face a definite number of cultural, social, political and economic deficiencies and as a result have been said to of overseen over ten savage attacks in the 1990’s alone (Ask.com. 2007). Amid China’s largely homogenous cultural build, over 90% of which abides to the Han ethnic group, it is only natural that the minorities can be somewhat disregarded by the Chinese political, economic and media systems, all of which often develop into simple stereotypical depictions, as can be seen through the cultural description of the Xinjiang region. Although the violent expressions of acceptance demonstrated by the Uyghur people are in no way acceptable, in essence their purpose can be seen as a cry to highlight their unrest in matters such as; absence of independence, social and economic discrimination, forced implementations of cultural integration and their high level of inequality. Throughout this paper a number of these issues will be addressed along with an insight into certain measures formed at economic, social, cultural and political levels, that can work to correct this deterable situation of unrest. On a social level, the state-controlled forms of media largely enforce the misperceptions and negative depictions of the Uyghur people. Through forms of art, music and film the Uyghur people are commonly depicted in an exotic, sexual, uncivilised and backward fashion (Gladney 1994: 108). Some examples include, Han singers (e.g. Wang Luobin) who sing and even mimic the styles native to the Xinjiang region, in ways that are not readily accepted by the Uyghur people, but are deemed offensive to their ethnic and cultural identity (Harris, 2005). Also through novels of the Xinjiang region, portraying a criminalist, poor, incompetent and unintelligent nature toward the Uyghur people. Since the September 11 attacks on the U.S.A, the Chinese media have fuelled debates surrounding the Uyghur people’s way of life, labelling any forms of religious identity or self-rule as an advocate for terrorism. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) creates the allegations, in effort to promote the greater acceptance of the Han “way of life”, but in doing so only furthers the

discrimination and fleeting social acceptance of the Uyghurs (Gladney 1994: 116117). Whether forced or by choice the CCP party have been relocating Han into the Xinjiang province for decades due to the introduction of a number of migration policies. Whether the efforts are set to create social forms of integration or the evident ‘flushing out’ of the Uyghur people, this matter has become yet another social dilemma on the Uyghurs. Between 1990 and 2000, the growth of the Xinjiang Han population grew at a whopping 31.6%, leading to the Xianjiang population being over 40% Han (Becquelin 2004: 369). These policies and forms of cultural assimilation can be seen as part of the foundation toward the Uyghurs hatred regarding the Han. Given the name Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region it can be understood that the Uyghurs enjoy a certain level of independence in the Xinjiang region, however on a political scale the reality is actually a sense of submission toward the Han leaders. The key factor surrounding the Xinjiang political system is the lack of representation and authority over the province, held by the Uyghur people. It is known throughout history that a large sector of lower level governance derives...
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