We all have counties that boast on their mix of ethnically indigenous demographics. Countries such as India, Canada, and the United States have a multitude of people living who belong to different ethnicities. People of all such ethnicities co-exist with each other and they live with each other joyously. Sometimes there gets some saltiness between people of different regions over opinions about something specific in question, political choices, or linguistic differences. Otherwise, usually, humans are so wrapped up in their hustle to earn their place and bread in the world, they simply turn a blind eye towards the fact that they are living in such an ethnically diverse world.
Countries with such diverse demographics are usually proud of such an aspect and consider that as a matter of national pride. But that is not always the case. There is one such country that does not think that all of its citizens have equal rights and should be given equal opportunities to grow and thrive on their motherland, or at least the news shows that some countries are not proud of all their ethnicities. One such country is China.
When we think about China, we think about shining cities, the valleys of flowers, the great wall, and the tech sector. But there is also something China is in news for from the past few years. It's the Xinjiang province in North-Western China.
Xinjiang is the largest administrative region of China and bordered by many countries such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, etc. The region derives most of its economic sources from agriculture and trade because the original Silk Route passed through it.
Xinjiang has not always been a part of China. It was an East Turkestan state and it became a part of China in 1949. Some protests for its independence started surfacing in the region during the 1990s but those were suppressed by the Communist Party of China. Since then, Xinjiang has been an indigenous part of China.
The majority of the population in the Xinjiang province is the Uighurs. Uighurs are mostly Muslims and they derive their ethnic resemblance from the provinces and ethnicities of Central Asia. Mainland China, i.e. regions accept for Xinjiang usually consists of Han Chinese people.
During the past few years, the news columns are filled with the news of Xinjiang people facing violence by the Communist Party of China. These people are the Uighur Muslims of this region. Critics say that this ethnic tension is caused because of the economic and cultural differences between the Uighurs and the Han Chinese, but the people of Xinjiang have their reasons for resentment.
Citizens of Xinjiang say that there is on so many levels that the Communist Party of China is discriminating against them. Their major concern is that the majority of the government designations in the Xinjiang province are given to the Han Chinese people and not the Uighurs. Since the recent infrastructure projects have brought an economical boom in Xinjiang, locals say that the top-paying jobs or the best jobs are given to the Han Chinese people who come here from the Eastern states. Since 2014, the Communist Party has also banned fasting during the month of Ramadan, which is totally against the beliefs of the people who follow Islam.
The reason for this cat and mouse chase between the Uighurs and the Han Chinese is unknown but it has been believed that when the Uighurs began their protests during the 1990s, the Communist Party induced crackdown on the protesters was the first instance of government-sponsored violence in the region. Things then worsened during 2009, when a large scale ethnic riot took place in the state capital, Urumqi, killing more than 200 Han Chinese people.
China's action and policy regarding this region are highly debated and are criticized by people all over the world. Critics believe that China is maintaining concentration camps in the Xinjiang province to keep political prisoners. Protesters are arrested and charged with Separatism and Terrorism and they are then sent to the concentration camps, without even informing their families of the whereabouts of the convicts. Some also believe that organ harvesting is then done by using the people living in such concentration camps. On the other hand, China maintains that it is the countrywide crackdown on the East Turkestan Islamic Movement and the people arrested are all extremists, tied somehow to this organization. Keeping in mind the state of the Chinese judiciary, it is quite clear that whoever gets convicted, is given a shot at a fair trial.
In a report published by Amnesty International, a civil rights group, it was said that China has criminalized what they thought as illegal or separatist activities, which further suppressed peaceful and cultural identity-based activities in the region, fuelling the rage against the Communist Party of China. Because of this pitiful condition of this region, tourism has also taken a toll, depriving the people of a major source of income.
In my opinion, as the Chinese investment is increasing in Xinjiang, so is the number of separatists, which China claims as terrorists. If China continues to clamp down Xinjiang like this in the future also, it would mean that there could be major civil unrest in the region and critics also believe that China could lose its sovereignty over Xinjiang.
I hope to see some positive changes in the future of this region.