Around Taklamakan


The province of Xinjiang (« new frontier » in chinese) located in the far western region of China is the biggest province of the country. It is bordering 8 other countries such as Tajikistan and Afghanistan or India and Mongolia. Xinjiang has a long history of discord between China's authorities and the Uighur ethnic minority. The Uighurs of Xinjiang are one of 55 minorities in China and they are ethnically and historically closer to the Muslim Turkic group of Central Asia.

As Xinjiang is a significant source of raw material and energy (40% of China’s coal), the central governement of China has been working hard on controlling and exploiting the resource rich Xinjiang by establishing a tight social, cultural and religious regulation system and by resettling millions of eastern Han chinese (the ethnic majority in China) into Xinjiang. This continuous influx of Han migrants has followed the extension of the Chinese railway from Urumqi to Kashgar in the West (in 1999) and from Kashgar to Hotan in the South (in 2011) around the Taklamakan desert. Today, the share of Uighurs is in constant decline: Han chinese count now for a little less than half of Xinjiang total population as the Uighurs used to account for 90% of the total population when Mao Zedong took power in 1949. As Han chinese immigrants come with hopes of making a new and better life, Uighurs suffer from the Chinese influence and discrimination in education, employment, language and religion. They must adapt to the chinese way and forget their roots or be left behind.


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