Xinjiang is a province of China, with the statute of ‘Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region’ under control of the central Chinese government. It is very Chinese and at the same time it seems not Chinese at all. Xinjiang borders Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. It has a climate that is barely appropriate for human life with temperatures of minus 30 to plus 48, with strong dessert winds that regularly cover everything in dust and sand. It is one of the areas on earth furthest away from the sea.
In 2008 – after 20 years of residing on and off in China and crossing most of the country several times – Jeanne Boden visited Xinjiang for the first time. She discovered an area with a rich diversity that seems to be little known to the world. It felt like a melting pot of cultures at the end of the world.
Not only the position of Xinjiang bordering Central Asia and Russia, but also the desserts full of oil and gas turn Xinjiang into a strategic area for China. Han-Chinese, Kazakh, Uyghur, Mongol, and many other ethnic groups live close together. It is fascinating but not easy.
But economic development has a flipside. Economic development puts pressure on the smaller ethnic groups in the area, the so-called ‘minorities’ in China.
The changed global position of the Islam after 9/11 also plays a role in what is happening in Xinjiang today. Many of Xinjiang’s minorities like the Uyghur, Hui, Kazakh are Muslim.
This project tries to give a view of the complexity of the area.
Blog on Knack.be - from 30/12/2009 - 31/03/2010
Book (only in Dutch)
The Chinese province Xinjiang in northwestern China covers an area the size of Great Britain, France, Spain and Germany together and still it is a blind spot to most of us. Xinjiang borders on Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tadzjikistan, Pakistan, Afghanistan and India. It is one of the globe’s remotest areas, far away from any sea. Interfering and overlapping cultures cause the area to be historically explosive.
Subtitle: De nieuwe grens van China
Eitor: ASP editions
Date of publication: 16/10/2010