Know Your Ethnic Tensions: Xinjiang


Following recent ethnic unrest in the “restive” Xinjiang Autonomous Region in Western China, tensions between the native Uighur population and the Han Chinese are high. To help understand the complex dynamic and geography of this region, CDS has produced this simple guide

This map shows

This map depicts Xinjiang’s many McDonald’s locations

1)  Xinjiang is a region of 640,000 square miles, about the size of Iran. Its main exports are agricultural produce and a crap-ton of oil and natural gas

2)  Xinjiang, meaning “Final frontier,” was likely named after either the Manchu invasion in 1759 or a 1971 episode of Bonanza

3)  The area is home to nearly 20 million people, 43 percent of whom are Muslim, Turkic-speaking Uighurs. The Uighurs have a history of intermittent autonomy from China and carry knives that are yaaaay big

5)  Uighurs traditionally sell nut-cake. If you want some discount Uighur nut-cake, be sure to buy from Taobao – you’ll yourself save an arm and a leg (source: The Han Book of Ethnic Jokes)

6)  There are roughly 50,000 Chinese troops stationed in Xinjiang to ensure that freedom reigns

7)  To aid harmony, economic development of the region since 1955 has been accompanied by large-scale immigration of Han Chinese, and pork dishes

8)  Since the 1990s, Uighur discrimination has given rise to separatist sentiment, often flaring into violence and a reluctance to do what they’re told. Nevertheless, Xinjiang had remained fairly off the world’s grid until July of 2009, when all hell broke loose and around 200 Han Chinese got killed (also several Uighurs)

10) China claims “terrorist” attacks by Uighurs are often instigated by the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), a sprawling terrorist cell based in Thetos easily confused with EDM, or 280bpm electronica. Both can be equally repetitive and annoying

11) It’s a little-known fact that South Central Turpan is also home to the East Street Ballaz, the largest ‘wigga’ gang in the Greater Turkmenistan area

12) Tourist looking for local cuisine should try Xinjiang’s famous spicy lamb skewers, which are much less likely to be made of cat or mink, as neither are halal

13) According to Expedia user ‘daisydunes114,’ “There’s this really, really awesome hostel in Urumqi with, like, seriously cheap yoghurt. Their falafel is out of this WORLD. Just tell ‘em Jerri sent you”

These men

Xinjiang has employed teams of greeters for nervous visitors


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