Chinese Imperialism Update: One from Column A, one from Column B
Our friends the Chinese have finally figured out a way to deal with the ethnic tensions between Han (Chinese) and Uyghur (Turkic) which caused riots in Ürümchi earlier in the month: demolish more of the old city of Kashgar (pictured) in the name of urban renewal.
The Chinese had presumably decided that Kashgar was too architecturally unusual and lacking in Starbucks, so they’ve been knocking down parts of it for a while. Kashgar is a famed Silk Road city, that as the Time article linked to below, is literally closer to Baghdad than Beijing.* After the riots we covered a little, they’ve really gotten busy with the smash-smash. Says Time:
According to observers, the bulldozing of Old Kashgar has only accelerated in the riots’ aftermath. The old town’s warrens and alleyways are home to a tightly knit Uighur community and present, in Beijing’s eyes, a potential haven for antistate activities. “Uighurs may see the area as a space of refuge,” says Szadziewski. “Moving them out makes the situation much easier for China to control.” As many as 220,000 residents (almost half the urban center’s population) will be relocated to “modern” housing estates almost 8 km from their original homes, which have been passed down within families over generations. The project has been reportedly executed with little to no consultation with those to be displaced. A sliver of Old Kashgar will remain as a sanitized tourist site, with a staff of actors enacting traditional Uighur culture.
And ABC (Australia):
“It’s a total lie. They never tell the truth. There’s not one official who speaks truthfully in Kashgar,” he said.
“All of them have lied and sent people to jail. They beat people, they wrong people, they receive money from the rich and that’s who they promote.”
Following the clashes in Urumqi, which killed nearly 200 people and injured 1600, foreign journalists have been rushing to Kashgar to see if this city with a majority Uighur population would also explode into violent conflict.
The Government is now escorting journalists to the airport and telling them to leave.
And the NYT:
The uncertainty and sense of isolation have been only magnified by the blocking of access to the Internet and shutdown of text messaging and international phone service that has severed communications in Kashgar and the entire region.
Like Urumqi, which has been flooded with soldiers since July 5, Kashgar is patrolled by young men in military camouflage, many of whom ride through the city day and night, their green army trucks draped with ostensibly calming slogans like “National Separatists Are Our Enemy.”
But the government’s most effective weapon against potential trouble is largely unseen: the neighborhood committees made up of appointed Uighur cadres and citizens who, driven by fear or ambition, are ready to do the government’s bidding.
[In the countryside]Later, after some gentle prodding, the farmers allowed that life was not without difficulties. One man, pointing to a row of unfinished brick houses, said local officials had demolished the villagers’ old homes and promised that the government would pay for the construction of new ones.
“The homes they’re building are half as large, and now we have to pay half their cost,” he said as his neighbors nodded with disgust. “We don’t have that kind of money.”
The men continued on for a while, speaking animatedly as the tour guide’s face registered a kaleidoscope of troubled expressions. Their ranting done, the guide, a graduate student best left unidentified, paused before declining to render their words into English.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “But it’s better for everyone if I just pretend I didn’t hear that.”
Oh, and if like Andy McCarthy, you’re cool with this because they’re Muslim, here are some sympathetic Tibetan Buddhists also getting a boot up their 红日.
*Pinyin allowed in for English-language alliteration, not Chinese, since “B” is /p/.
Don’t ask impertinent questions like that jackass Adept Lu.