July 8, 2009

This is What Imperialism Looks Like

The uprising in Iran has been tamped down, at least for now, by the Islamic Republic's instruments of repression. The regime will one day fall, even so, if it does not reform itself out of all recognition – which seems unlikely to me.

A smaller and more deadly uprising has broken out in China. The Chinese Communist Party government will also one day fall or reform itself, yet again, out of all recognition. The deepest grievances of the Turkic Uighurs (pronounced WEE-goors) in the Xinjiang region, however, might never be fully addressed even in the event of regime-change.

Gordon Chang reports in Forbes:

This week, rioting left scores dead in Urumqi, the capital of China's troubled Xinjiang region. The latest official death toll is 156, but that number undoubtedly understates the count of those killed. The disturbances are accurately portrayed as ethnic conflict--Turkic Uighurs against the dominant Hans--but they also say much about the general stability of the modern Chinese state.

That state says the Uighurs are "Chinese," but that's not true in any meaningful sense of the term. The Uighurs are, in fact, from different racial stock than the Han; they speak a different language, and they practice a religion few others in China follow. Of the 55 officially recognized minority groups in China, they stand out the most.

The Uighurs are a conquered people. In the 1940s, they had their own state, the East Turkestan Republic, for about half a decade. Mao Zedong, however, forcibly incorporated the short-lived nation into the People's Republic by sending the People's Liberation Army into Xinjiang.

As much as the Uighurs deserve to govern themselves again--and they most certainly do--almost no one thinks they will be able to resurrect the East Turkestan state. They have even lost their own homeland, as Beijing's policies encouraged the Han to populate Xinjiang. In the 1940s, Hans constituted about 5% of Xinjiang's population. Today, that number has increased to about 40%. In the capital of Urumqi, more than 70% of the residents are Hans. In short, the Uighurs are no match for the seemingly invincible Han-dominated state.

Read the rest.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at July 8, 2009 12:22 PM

Gee, and who was it less than a decade ago that accused the United States of being a hegemon?

Posted by: gus3 Author Profile Page at July 8, 2009 6:01 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

Winner, The 2008 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

Winner, The 2007 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

Read my blog on Kindle


Recommended Reading