Eastern Turkestan Information Bulletin Vol. 4 No. 5
Published by Eastern Turkestan Union in Europe
Eastern Turkestan Information Bulletin Vol. 4 No. 5-6 (December 1994)
HAPPY NEW YEAR
The editors would like to take this opportunity to wish all our readers a happy New Year.
Although the peoples of Eastern Turkestan, including Muslims, Christians and Buddhists celebrate the new year according to various calendars and traditions, it has been common to celebrate the new year according to the Western calendar as well.
This year, however, celebrations in Eastern Turkestan will be overshadowed by the fact that its indigenous peoples have been pressed into a life and death struggle for cultural survival.
It is part of the mission of the Eastern Turkestan Information Bulletin that this struggle of the peoples of Eastern Turkestan should not be forgotten even as we celebrate a season of joy and peace.
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ETIB REJECTS CHINESE CLAIMS
We read with great interest the letter of Zhai Jun, Counselor Embassy of China in Riyadh, published in the English language 'Arab News' on November 11, 1994.
In his letter Counselor Zhai Jun claimed that '...China's Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region has been mistakenly called 'Eastern Turkestan' ... So-called 'Eastern Turkestan' was created by a handful of foreigners referring to Xinjiang...and the Chinese people, including the all-ethnic communities in Xinjiang, have never used or accepted such a term.'
If the Counselor had taken the time to do some research in Western, Islamic, and even Chinese sources before writing his letter he might have discovered the name 'Turkestan', which means 'the Land of the Turkic people' has existed since the 5th century AD. We would suggest that he read the Sui Dynasty (580-618) and Tang Dynasty (618-906) chronicles. After the gradual conquest of the western part of Turkestan by Tsarist Russia after 1865; that area became known as Western Turkestan. The eastern part was conquered by the Manchu rulers of China in 1876. Subsequently it was called Eastern Turkestan. Eastern Turkestan is, therefore, historically the more correct name for the country that the Counselor refers to as 'Xinjiang'.
The name Eastern Turkestan was not created by 'a handful of foreigners' as the Counselor claims but has grown out of the region's own history.
The reason that the Chinese people have never used or accepted such a term(Eastern Turkestan), as the Counselor claims, is just that the Chinese have always used Chinese terms to identify different countries. For instance, the Chinese call the United States 'Meygo', France 'Fago', Germany 'Digo'. But the peoples of these countries use their own historical names. The Chinese call their country by its historical name -- Zhonggou. But foreigners identify 'Zhongguo' as 'China'. 'Kitay', 'Kina', 'Chin' etc. Likewise, the peoples of Eastern Turkestan identify their country with its historical name, Eastern Turkestan.
If the 'all-ethnic communities in Xinjiang have ever used or accepted the term' as the Counselor asserts, it is because the term is suppressed by Chinese authorities. Those who use the historical name of their country are accused of being 'separatists' and sent to hard-labor camps, tortured, or even executed.
Counselor Zhai Jun's claim that 'Xinjiang has been an unalienable part of China since ancient times' is another distortion of historical fact.
The historical fact is that until the mid-18th century, Chinese attempts to control Eastern Turkestan were sporadic and never resulted in the establishment of permanent Chinese authority there.
Reviewing the Chinese historical chronicles dating from the Han Shu period one sees that between 104 BC. and 751 AD. China staged six different invasions of Eastern Turkestan, the cradle of Turkic history, culture and civilization, resulting in a period of occupation lasting from seven to 49 years. The total period of Chinese occupation during these 855 years was only 157, and even then, as the frequency of invasions suggests, Chinese control of Eastern Turkestan was temporary and incomplete. During the remaining 698 years of this period, Easter Turkestan remained an independent country.
After Arab, Turkic, and Tibetan forces repulsed the Chinese occupiers in 751 AD., a period of a thousand years passed before the conquest of Eastern Turkestan by the Manchu rulers of China in 1876. After this invasion, Eastern Turkestan was given the name Xinjiang, and was annexed to the Manchu empire on November 18,1884.
The Manchus were foreigners not only to the people of Eastern Turkestan but also to the Chinese. The overthrow of Manchu rule in China ought to have disengaged the fate of China from that of Eastern Turkestan. The Chinese, however, insisted on their claims to Eastern Turkestan, even though the link between the two countries was merely that of a common set of masters - the Manchus.
The very name applied by the Chinese to Eastern Turkestan, Xinjiang, meaning 'New Territory', is evidence that the country has not, as the Counselors claims, 'belonged to China from ancient times.'
China's claim that Eastern Turkestan is an ancient and inseparable part of China is based on a false interpretation of history and grounded on the hope that suppression and assimilation will eventually establish this distortion as legitimate in the eyes of the world.
In his letter, the Counselor denies the effects of nuclear tests conducted in Eastern Turkestan, saying the '...Scientific studies have proved that these tests have brought no harm to the people living in Xinjiang...'
According to experts, nuclear testing, whether at low altitudes or underground, causes pollution to the area around the testing site. In atmospheric testing radioactive material quickly forms clouds and may spread according to climatic conditions and continue to contaminate the world for years. Over the last thirty years China has conducted 41 nuclear tests, 22 atmospheric tests and 19 underground.
Scientific studies aside, hundreds of letters from Eastern Turkestanis to relatives, friends and various organizations abroad demonstrate the serious problems caused by these tests.
A letter from Eastern Turkestan says that during February and March 1987, almost 800 Uighurs died in the cities of Lop, Charkalik, Cherchen, Keriya, Chira and Hoten of radioactive fallout. The same kind of deaths have been reported in other parts of Eastern Turkestan. Another letter says that in July and August 1990, in the surroundings of Kashgar, over 5,000 young people became paralyzed and lost their eyesight. One Eastern Turkestani wrote that 160 children born in the city of Chatan in August 1991 had cataracts in their eyes.
The World Health Organization said in a report released in 1988 that 3,931 people in the cities of Hoten, Yarkent, and Kashgar died of an 'unknown disease'.
Many Western, Islamic and Chinese language newspapers have reported extensively on the serious consequences of nuclear testing in Eastern Turkestan .
The Hong Kong 'Mingbao Daily', for example, published the following on August 13, 1989 :
' A group of 20 Chinese scientists, after six years of study on the consequences of nuclear testing in Xinjiang, handed over their 120,000 word findings to Tomur Dawamet, the Governor of the People's Government of Xinjiang. The events described in the report were a nightmare to everyone who read it. According to the report, within and around the nuclear testing site there were 20,000 deformed children; the rate of cancer was higher than other parts of China; and most of the diseases in Eastern Turkestan were directly caused by radioactive fallout; or by polluted drinking water, food, or animals.'
A German language handbook entitled 'Atomwaffen -- Der unerklarte Nuklearkreieg' published in March 1992 wrote that, 'A high ranking Chinese officer, Quian Xuesen, had to admit to the fact that ''some deaths occurred in the course of nuclear testing in Xinjiang' If a high ranking Chinese officer admits to 'some deaths', the situation in that country must be very serious.'
In the face of all this evidence it is hard to take seriously Chinese counselor Zhai Jun's claims that 'scientific studies have proved that these tests have brought no harm to the people living in Xinjiang.'
Finally, the Counselor's suggestion that: 'These comments not only counter the fact, but also interfere in China's internal affairs', begs a few observations. First, his 'facts' are countered not only by the people of Eastern Turkestan, but as we have seen, by Chinese officials themselves. Furthermore, it may be noted that even Marxist-Leninist and Maoist teaching holds that there are no 'internal affairs' in a multinational country, and the Chinese constitution recognizes China as.
Finally, human rights abuses, human suffering and ecological disasters are a common concern of every individual, society and culture that values, upholds and respects the principles of universal human rights and the brotherhood of mankind.
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DEMONSTRATIONS IN EASTERN TURKESTAN
Reports have recently reached the West from Eastern Turkestan telling of fierce anti-Chinese demonstrations which have taken place since October (1994) in the cities of Karamay, Gulja, Urumchi, Aksu and Kashgar. The demonstrations have demanded greater self-determination and autonomy.
According to the reports thousands of people demonstrated in front of the Idgah mosque in Kashgar on December 27, The demonstrators chanted slogans like 'Chinese leave the country'. 'Eastern Turkestan belongs to the Eastern Turkestanis', and 'End the Chinese domination of Eastern Turkestan.
The demonstrators were reported to have occupied buildings of the local government, Party and security forces. About 300 demonstrators were said to have occupied the airport in Kashgar, and when they moved to take over military aircraft, units of the People's Liberation Army were dispatched and opened fire to block the protesters. Reports said several people were killed, 20 were injured, and some fifty demonstrators were arrested.
The reports also said that 5,000 Eastern Turkestanis demonstrated in the administrative capital Urumchi on November 16. The demonstration was centered around the city's People's Garden and included slogans demanding greater self-rule and autonomy. Police, paramilitary forces and PLA units were used to disperse the demonstration with the result that several people were wounded. The reports had no information on deaths or numbers arrested.
A group of Eastern Turkestanis were also reported to have sent telegrams to Chinese President Jiang Zemin demanding self-rule and 'special-status' for Eastern Turkestan.
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TORTURE IN CHINESE PRISONS
The editors of ETIB have received a letter describing some of the conditions in Chinese prisons in Eastern Turkestan. The writer of the letter who wishes to remain anonymous, said that he has spent 15 years in a Chinese prison in Eastern Turkestan and had been released a year ago. The following are excerpts from his letter:
'The state of the prison cells cannot be described. Depending on the size of the prison, often four to six prisoners are forced to share a single cell of six square meters. We were usually forced to sleep on the damp floor as there were no beds. Toilets are no more than a corner of the cell and one cannot stand the smell. There is no water source in the cell and a person is lucky if he can take a shower once in a month. Our rations three times a day were 'sheefan' (boiled rice) with a piece of bread. Vegetables were very rare. Prisoners received piece of meat only once a year during the Id Festival. As a result of poor conditions of hygiene most prisoners are sick, but there are no doctors or if there are they are never seen. The bodies of prisoners who die in prison are not given to the relatives. They are buried around the prison without benefit of any religious rites. Anyone who knows anything of belief would understand it is very important for a Muslim to be buried according to religious teachings.'
'Political prisoners in particular become targets of the Chinese guards at the prison. They are subjected to particularly cruel tortures until they repent their supposed crimes (even if he is innocent), renounce their beliefs, and promise to accept the leadership of the Communist Party.'
'Political prisoners are made to walk barefoot over pieces of hot iron. Needles are stuck under the nails of the feet and hot oil is poured over parts of the body and parts of the body are even cut off. Prisoners are made to stand for days or deprived of sleep. In winter they are bound and exposed without clothing. Hot pepper is placed into the noses of prisoners and they are lashed with ragged whips.'
'I am free now, although still under strict observation, but there are still thousands of political prisoners being daily subjected to these kinds of tortures. In the name of mankind I ask you to bring the plight of my fellow-prison to the attention of the people of the free world. I am sure that there are still some kind hearted people who would like to relieve the suffering of my fellow-victims of these cruelties...'
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AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL RECORDS DEATH PENALTIES IN EASTERN TURKESTAN
In a report dated November 1 Amnesty International said that Chinese authorities had executed 1007 people for violent and non-violent crimes throughout China in the first six months of 1994.
Amnesty International said that five of the death sentences had been carried out in Eastern Turkestan. A previous Amnesty International report said that the death penalty had been extensively applied in Eastern Turkestan at an proportionately higher rate than in China as a whole.
ETIB has meanwhile received the names of several newly arrested people in various parts of Eastern Turkestan and is presently trying to confirm the information.
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300 DIE IN FIRE IN EASTERN TURKESTAN
It has been reported that almost 300 people, most of them school children, died when fire engulfed Karamay, in Eastern Turkestan.
According to the information, about 800 people, including 500 school children, were in the Friendship Hall Cinema in Karamay, an oil town near the border with Kazakhstan, when the fire broke out.
The children were from 15 local schools and were staging a cultural performance when the fire broke out.
Eastern Turkestan's worst reported fire of recent times also broke out in a movie theater in 1979, killing more than 600 people.
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KYRGYZ WARN UIGHUR ORGANIZATION
As reported on December 30 by the Russian news agency ITAR-TASS, Kyrgyzstan's Procuracy has refused to register the Uighuristan Freedom Organization. The Procuracy was said to have accused the organization of trying to detach Eastern Turkestan from the People's Republic of China. The leaders of the organization were warned by the Procuracy that their activities were in contravention of Kyrgyz and international law. Protest against the Procuracy's decision were raised by Kyrgyz opposition party leaders, parliamentarians and Uighurs living in Kyrgyzstan.
Recently there have been anti-Chinese demonstrations in Kyrgyzstan and the Chinese government has lodged serious protests with Kyrgyz authorities. It is widely believed that the decision to refuse official recognition to the Uighur organization was taken under the pressure of these protests.
There are an estimated 40,000 Uighurs living in Kyrgyzstan. Many of them sought refuge in Kyrgyzstan after the Chinese Communist occupation of Eastern Turkestan in 1949. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union Uighurs living in the Central Asian republics have begun to establish their own organizations. At present there are three main Uighur organizations in Kyrgyzstan, the Kyrgyzstan Uighur unity, the Lob Nor Committee and the Uighuristan Freedom Organization. Only the Uighuristan Freedom Organization has not been allowed to register in Kyrgyzstan.
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TRT DISCUSSES EASTERN TURKESTAN
Turkish Radio and Television International's Euro Asia broadcast (TRT-Int Avroasya) aired a program on December 19 about Turkey's relations with the Central Asian republics and Eastern Turkestan.
Professor Oral Sander of Ankara University's Political Science Faculty and Professor Ali Osman Karaosmanoglu of Bilkent University were invited as speakers.
Both professors said that Turkey shared historical, cultural, and linguistic relationships with the people of Central Asia, and despite any displeasure it might cause Russia Turkey must continue to encourage close cultural and economic relations with the Central Asian republics.
Both scholars agreed that Eastern Turkestan had nurtured the formation of Turkic history, culture and civilization. The Turkic people of Eastern Turkestan - Uighurs, Kazakhs and Kyrgyz - are historically, culturally, and linguistically related to both the peoples of Central Asia and to the Turks of Turkey. In the long run, the professors said, Turkey could not remain indifferent to what was happening there. The threat to the cultural survival of the people's of Eastern Turkestan posed by Chinese policies of population transfer, birth control, and sinocization of the Turkic languages must remain a concern to Turkey, concluded the TRT broadcast.
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SATTAR MAKBULCHOBAN REMEMBERED
Eastern Turkestanis living abroad have commemorated the 10th anniversary of the death of the Uighur national poet Sattar Makbulchoban who passed away in Munich, Germany, on October 10, 1984, after a heart attack.
Makbulchoban was born on March 18, 1928 in the city of Turfan. He completed his secondary and higher education in Urumchi. After graduating from the Teachers School in Urumchi, Makbulchoban took an active part in awakening his people through his poems published in various Uighur language journals, periodicals and newspapers in Eastern Turkestan. This led several times to his arrest by the Chinese authorities. With his poems he conquered the hearts of the people of Eastern Turkestan who gave him the nickname 'Bulbul' meaning nightingale.
After the Communist Chinese occupation of Eastern Turkestan in 1949, Makbulchoban, like many of his countrymen, was obliged to immigrate to Turkey via India. At the time of his death Makbulchoban was employed by Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty in Munich.
In one of his last poems Makbulchoban expressed the following sentiment:
If today the voice of the Uighur is not raised
Do not say it is bound and tied,
The voice of the Uighur rang out for thousands of years
It will ring again, the storm shall not silence it.
Can it's echo be silenced ?
For that is the cry of the oppressed...
Chains and shackles are not for the voice, but the heart
Yet there can be no cage around the heart.
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EASTERN TURKESTANIS HOST TIBETAN MUSLIM
Masood Butt, Assistant Deputy Secretary at the India Desk of the Department of information and International Relations of the Tibetan Government in Exile, met with representatives of the Eastern Turkestani Union in Europe during a recent visit to Munich. Butt, a Tibetan Muslim, discussed the situation of Tibetan Muslims at home and abroad during a reception given in his honor by ETUE.
Tibetan Muslims are mostly descendants of Muslim merchants and traders from neighboring countries who settled in Tibet between the 14th and 17th centuries. The Muslims, coming as traders, often married Tibetan women and remained in the country. Their children adopted the Tibetan language and many Tibetan customs and traditions, but continued to follow the religion of their fathers. before the 1949 occupation of Tibet by the Chinese there were about three thousand Tibetan Muslims in U-Tsang province and a substantial number in the Kokonor region.
Butt said that for centuries Muslims and Buddhists have lived together in harmony. Today they face a common destiny under Chinese Communist rule. He said that after the Chinese Communist occupation of Tibet, Muslims, like their Buddhist brothers, had been forced to suffer extortion, terrorism and cruelty at the hands of the Chinese Communist authorities. Tibetan Muslims had taken an active part in the Tibetan National Uprising against Chinese Communist rule in 1959, and hundreds of Tibetan Muslims followed His Holiness the Dalai Lama into exile. Butt said that Tibetan Muslims at home and abroad acknowledged His Holiness as their legitimate leader. He said that there are several Tibetan Muslims lie himself who occupy important seats in the Tibetan Government in Exile.
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MAHMUD KASHGARI ANNIVERSARY MARKED
The 900th anniversary of the death of Mahmud Kashgari, a native of Eastern Turkestan, was marked in Istanbul in December by a two-day conference devoted to the study of his life and work. The conference was organized by the Istanbul-based Eastern Turkestan Foundation and included scholars, parliamentarians and prominent figures from Turkey and Eastern Turkestan.
Mahmud Kashgari was the author of the well-known work, 'Divan-i Lugat-it Turk' (Compendium of Turkic languages), written in 1070 AD. 'Divan-i Lugat-it Turk' records the various dialects of the Turkic peoples of the eleventh century. It also preserves information on the customs and the social and cultural environment in their different regions.
Mahmud Kashgari traveled widely among the Turkic peoples before compiling his encyclopedic dictionary and applied sophisticated scholarly methods in collecting and analyzing his data. Kashgari's work remains a main source in Turkic studies throughout the world. Kashgari died in 1094, and was buried in Chapchal, near Kashgar. His tomb is still visited and revered not only by Uighurs, but all Turkic people.
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KAZAKHSTAN OPPOSES CHINESE TESTS
Kazakhstan, site of hundreds of nuclear tests in the Soviet era, is seeking international support to persuade Beijing to stop nuclear testing near its territory.
Activist and officials in the Central Asian republics say explosions at the nuclear test site at Lop Nor in Eastern Turkestan, send dangerous fallout across the frontier and they want them stopped.
During and interview with a Reuters correspondent on December 11, Viktor Slavgorodsky, head of the radiation department at the center for ecology and biological resources in Almaty, Kazakhstan, said 'carrying out tests without the agreement of your neighbors, it is just impossible. It is inhuman. The Kazakh government and Kazakhstan as a whole believe it is necessary to stop the tests immediately.'
Kazakhstan denounced the last Chinese test, in early October, as a threat to health and the environment. Three days after the explosion, the Russian news agency ITAR-TASS quoted Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev as saying that preventing nuclear proliferation and banning nuclear tests were among Kazakhstan's top diplomatic priorities.
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Referring to the Allied Committee conference held in New York on October 16, The Gazette, published in Montreal, Canada, wrote the following on October 29:
'Two weeks ago, a historic meeting took place at Columbia University in New York. For the first time, Tibetans, Inner Mongolians, and Eastern Turkestanis met with North American sympathizers to talk about repression, human rights and strategies for future resistance...'
'While the fate of Tibet has attracted an outpouring of concern in Europe and North America, the lesser-known tensions in the far west of China might cause greater anxiety in Beijing. Chinese authorities call those areas Xinjiang (literally, 'New Territory'), exiles from the region prefer the term Eastern Turkestan...'
'Unlike Tibetans, the residents of Eastern Turkestan are mostly Muslim. They share much in the way of history, language and culture with the newly independent Central Asian republics...'
'Recent years have seen armed clashes between the local people and Chinese troops...'
The London-based Central Asian Survey (13/3) published an article by Alexie D. Voskressenski entitled 'Current Concepts of Sino-Russian Relations and Frontier Problems in Russia and China' including the following:
'The 'suicide' of the Soviet Union (as Chinese political analysts call it) has profoundly influenced China. This could be something that may one day happen to the People's Republic of China. Furthermore, if the reforms in the former Soviet Union succeed, it is feared by the Chinese Government that people in China will also demand democracy. Such a situation would end the modern regime, disintegrate the Chinese empire and create a new balance of power in Asia. In addition, new separatists movements in Guangdong Province are reinforcing movements in Tibet and Xinjiang and vice-versa. Though well-known in the west, the case of Tibet may be of less importance and much more regionalized than that of Xinjiang. This autonomous regions is inhabited by Muslims of Turkic origin who are ethnically related to the people just over the border of Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan...'
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EASTERN TURKESTAN IN THE INTERNATIONAL PRESS
Friday, September 30, 1994
Tension with ethnic groups may end in splinter States
By Donald McMillen
When the economics, politics, ethnicity and religion are stirred with the stick of great expectations, the perfect recipe for volatility is created.
This has been shown in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.
However, that this might also apply to the People's Republic of China, the world's most populous State, should give cause for reflection.
It has been suggested that the Chinese state as we know it will go in much the same direction as its western neighbors.
Some argue that China must go towards a 'federalist State structure' predict the eventual disintegration of the People's Republic and its fragmentation into several sovereign entities.
And many, say that if this happens, it will be the Muslim areas of Western China that will bolt first.
Of particular concern to Beijing in this regard is Xinjiang, China's new frontier in Central Asia.
The fabled 'silk roads' passed through the formidable, but resource-rich deserts and mountains there, and it was only in the last years of Imperial China that this largely Islamic and Turkic speaking realm was incorporated.
Known since 1955 as the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, its integration into the Chinese state has never been easy, or complete.
The region's people's have long been restive and infrastructural linkages with 'China proper' to the east have remained tenuous.
Several big anti-Han or secessionist movements in the region have been put down over the years.
In the 1960s the regions' 5400 km border with the Soviet Union was militarized as relations soured to the point of armed clashes.
It is not surprising that China's leaders have intensified their concerns about ethno-nationalism in this border region in the broader context of the USSR's demise, the use of Islamic militancy, and trends towards global economic interdependency.
This was all at a time when their own legitimacy was under continuing challenge from the forces of 'democracy' (such as in April and June 1989, and in Taiwan and Hong Kong), economic modernization and 'openness'.
In fact, China maintained its power in Xinjiang almost exclusively through a Han-dominated, military driven and heavily subsidized authoritarianism most recently articulated through the Chinese Communist Party.
Few from the dozen or so non-Han groups, which include Uygurs, Kazakhs, Uzbeks, Kirghiz, Tajiks, Tartars, and Hui, have ever held positions of real authority in Xinjiang and those with high nominal positions are often criticized as being 'jackals serving the Han.'
For the locals, 'politics' is primarily a game of 'Chinese musical chairs.'
Socially and culturally the local people lead lives quite distinct from that of the Han, and they retain at least some kinship ties with the ethnic cousins in the Soviet successor states of Central Asia.
From the 1960s, many Han youths and other 'social elements'-including unemployed workers, dissidents and criminals - were 'resettled' there from cities like Shanghai.
More recently a 'tide of drifters' - laborers escaping poverty in their home areas - have arrived in Xinjiang.
They have been attracted by the new opportunities offered by booming border trade and by the fact that the job market in the economically more developed coastal provinces have become saturated.
All have brought with them the Han habits and beliefs, which has added to social tensions already extant among the region's nationalities.
Many locals hold that Chinese Marxism, like its Soviet counterpart, is largely a spent force although they do concede that assertive Chinese nationalism is alive and well.
For the nine to ten million Muslims in Xinjiang's 16 million plus population, this is a threat to a way of life which is deeply imprinted by hundreds of years of Islamic influence. With much of China's firm communist practice now discredited it is easy to see how Islam in combination with capitalism could provide a dynamic ideological and economic ethic in Xinjiang.
Theoretically, this kind of 'market Islam' could both provide a model for and network with the other 40-plus-million Muslims in China alone not to mention the co-believers outside the state.
Undeniably, increased cross-border trade has blurred the political map of the region, a fact which concerns many People's Liberation Army and People's Armed Police commanders whose security brief now has to address an enlarged 'domestic community'.
And, Beijing would be happy if all governments in Central Asia would remain secular and divided.
But, this is not to say that the nationalities groups of Xinjiang or Central Asia. let alone the Islamic practices among them, are in any way 'united.'
They remain united by their ethnicities - a condition traditionally played upon by Han (and Russian rulers) and if they are occasionally united it is only by their hatred of the 'infidels', Han or otherwise, and their policies.
Beijing now openly admits to 'persistent ethnic unrest' in its western regions.
A spate of often bloody incidents
This is said to be Muslim inspired and Islamic areas throughout China, including Xinjiang, have experienced a spate of often bloody incidents over the past several years, even if many cases could be traced to incompetent or corrupt administrators or misguided policies from the centre.
A 1994 study by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences charged that 'enemy forces and separatists elements living abroad, under the pretext of nationalism, religion, and human rights, have attacked the relations among Chinese races and social stability.'
the Minister of State Affairs, Mr. Ismail Amat, had earlier claimed that 'the economic problems faced by areas inhabited by the minorities and the mistakes incurred by the various levels of government in carrying out policies toward the minorities, may have engendered detrimental effects on relations among the nationalities.'
In April 1990, a riot in Baren, located in the more Muslim southern Xinjiang, left 50 dead. Officials claim that it was sparked by elements belonging to the underground 'Islamic Party of East Turkestan Republic; supporters as far away as Turkey.
Throughout 1992-93, there dozens of severe bus bombings and attacks on military vehicles in and around the regional capital of Urumqi, and Kashgar. In May 1993, 19 died when 'feuding armed Muslim gangs' were suppressed in Ningxia.
More details occurred in October, 1993, when PAP troops stormed the Dongguan mosque in Xining following anti-Han demonstrations involving more than 100,000 people.
Even Xinjiang's economy has been buoyant, with GDP increasing more than 10 per cent annually, and to the point where things were far better than on the other side of the frontier.
China's recent decision to team up with foreign firms such as the Italian company Agip to develop the petroleum reserves - believed to be 10 billion tonnes - in Xinjiang's Tarim Basin also is significant.
Concurrent plans are in place to develop transportation and processing infrastructure to support this.
The question remains whether the local people either favor the exploitation of their resources for these purposes or believed that they would reap reasonable benefits from them.
Sentiments do favor retaining socio-economic stability, and hence prosperity, rather than provoking what maybe seen as a liberation struggle, which could unravel everything.
Moreover, security sector actors in Xinjiang, as elsewhere in China, also are involved in a big way in entrepreneurial activities and would want to see the economy remain vibrant.
But, just to be safe the security forces have been beefed up considerably over the last few years.
It is known that Beijing would not oppose Russian intervention into the more chaotic Central Asian states.
It is interesting to contemplate whether either co-operate militarily with Russia or take its own pre-emptive actions in the adjacent regions should things go awry to the point of threatening Chinese control in Xinjiang.
Troops on the Chinese side of the border are there in part to cut off physical support for separatists, although the effectiveness of this is questionable.
However, there are signs that China's economic boom has been accompanied by some serious consequences in terms of increased income and developmental gaps and spreading corruption.
And if the economic bubble bursts and lifestyles or expectations are dampened, nationality disturbances and even separatist sympathies could increase.
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The aim of the Eastern Turkestan Information Bulletin is to disseminate objective current information on the people, culture and civilization of Eastern Turkestan and to provide a forum for discussion on a wide range of topics and complex issues. ETIB is published bi-monthly by the Eastern Turkestani Union in Europe(ETUE), established January 11, 1991 in Munich, Germany. Neither ETIB nor ETUE claim or accept responsibility for views otherwise identified within our pages. We hope that those using information from our publication in published works will be courteous enough to cite its source. All inquiries and contributions should be addressed to Eastern Turkestan Information Bulletin, Asgar Can, Editor, St. Blasien Str. 2, D-80809 Munich, Germany.
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Last updated 06/29/98