Amoeblog

East Turkestan / Xinjiang/ Uyghurstan/ شىنجاڭ

Posted by Eric Brightwell, April 10, 2008 06:58pm | Post a Comment


East Turkestan is the English name for an occasionally independent region occupied by China since it invaded in 1949. In Manchu Chinese it is known as Xinjiang, which means "new frontier", a phrase which belies its extrinsic nature to China. For the Turkic peoples that live beyond this "new frontier", the country is known as "Sharqi Turkistan" which translates to "Eastern Land of the Turks." The country is largely desert with towns built around oasises that were, in ancient times, important stops on the Silk Road.


The population of the region is mainly made up of Turkic peoples, the largest group being the Uyghurs (less commonly spelled Uighur, Uighur, Uygur or Uigu). Most Uyghurs feel more culturally aligned with their Turkic brethren to the West than the Beijing goverment of the East which currently controls the region. However, as with Tibet, China is attempting to dilute the region's culture and ethnicity by inundating it with Han immigrants lured by economic incentives and an apartheid system that favors them over the indigenous population. In 1949, when China invaded, the region was 75% Uyghur. As of 2003 it had been diluted to 45%. Ironically, identity in the region was largely based on the particular oasis communities and a strong coalescence based on a common, Turkic identity only really began in response to Chinese repression and occupation.

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