The Repulsive Racism in Western China
It's not enough for the Chinese government to crack down on the protests either. The Uighur, in particular, have insanely long memories and, as Bambino (whose people are closely related to the Uighur) notes, they actually enjoy revenge. The bloodshed will only be temporarily suspended through a crackdown. The resentments will not dissipate without educational efforts.
Among the other correctable factors leading the Uighur to resent the Han is the Chinese government's moronically shortsighted decision to bulldoze their ancient city centers. Using the danger of earthquakes as the rationale, they are leveling the heritage of a people who have survived this way just fine for ages:
For hundreds of years, Uighur shopkeepers have been selling bread and firewood along the edges of Kashgar's old town to families whose ancestors bought their traditional mud-brick homes with gold coin and handed them down through the generations.Not only is the government destroying the Uighur's heritage, but they are also foolishly reducing an important tourist attraction and architectural landmark to rubble. Assimilation is the government's obvious goal in their efforts to move the Uighur out of their ancestors' homes and into cookie-cutter high-rise apartments. No amount of lip service to safety is going to convince a people who've survived for centuries they're better off in concrete honeycombs. The Chinese government should work with Uighur leaders to identify and then preserve (and fortify) significant sections of the old city centers.
Now, this labyrinth of ancient courtyard homes and narrow, winding streets is endangered by the latest government plan to modernize a way of life that officials consider dangerous and backward.
Left behind are piles of brick and rubble, houses without roofs and hurt feelings. It is the most recent fault line to develop between Chinese rulers and Xinjiang province's majority ethnic Uighur population, a Turkic-speaking people who have long chafed under Beijing's rule and who worry that their culture is slowly disappearing.Like Tibetans, Uighurs resent the influx of Han Chinese immigrants who dominate government and economic positions and have pushed for more autonomy and economic opportunity.
Finally, despite how they feel about the Uighur's religion, I suspect the Chinese government is going to have to make peace with their desire to observe it. Not only is their continued religious oppression likely to attract agitators from other countries the more they open their borders (as they must) for trade throughout the region, but I suspect the Uighur themselves will see acceptance of their faith and rituals as a sign of respect that will go a long way toward easing tensions.
Again, these are not people who forget transgressions against them...they will seek revenge. Unless the Chinese government is willing to essentially wipe them out, they should begin educational and cultural efforts now. They should also remind the Han in no uncertain terms that they are the relatively new kids in the region and as such should bring their arrogance quotient down a few notches.