The People Who Barely Exist In China.
The largest of China’s administrative regions, Xinjiang borders eight countries – Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India – and until recently its population was mostly Uighur. The Uighurs are Muslims. They regard themselves as culturally and ethnically close to Central Asian nations. The region’s economy has for centuries revolved around agriculture and trade, with towns such as Kashgar thriving as hubs along the famous Silk Road. In the early part of the 20th Century, the Uighurs briefly declared independence. The region was brought under the complete control of communist China in 1949. Xinjiang is officially designated an autonomous region within China, like Tibet to its south. Activists say central government policies have gradually curtailed the Uighurs’ religious, commercial and cultural activities. Beijing is accused of intensifying a crackdown after street protests in Xinjiang in the 1990s, and again in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Over the past decade, many prominent Uighurs have been imprisoned or have sought asylum abroad after being accused of terrorism. Mass immigration of Han Chinese to Xinjiang had made Uighurs a minority in Xinjiang. Beijing is accused of exaggerating the threat from Uighur separatists in order to justify repression in the region. Credit: The BBC.
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