East Turkestan independence movement
The East Turkestan independence movement (ETIM) is a broad term that refers to advocates of an independent, self-governing East Turkestan in the region now known as Xinjiang, an autonomous region in the People's Republic of China.
- 1 Name
- 2 Historical background
- 3 Uyghur views by oasis
- 4 Soviet support for East Turkestan Independence
- 5 Attempts at Independence
- 6 Official Chinese position on ETIM
- 7 Turkic nationalism
- 8 Literature
- 9 Argument for East Turkestan independence
- 10 Argument against East Turkestan independence
- 11 Groups
- 12 Recent events
- 13 See also
- 14 Further reading
- 15 References
- 16 External links
The name "East Turkestan" was created by the Russian Sinologist Nikita Bichurin to replace the term "Chinese Turkestan" in 1829. "East Turkestan" was used traditionally to only refer to the Tarim Basin, and not Xinjiang as a whole, with Dzungaria being excluded from the area consisting of "East Turkestan".
Xinjiang before the Qing dynasty did not exist as one unit. It consisted of the two separate political entities of Dzungaria and the Tarim Basin (Eastern Turkestan). Dzungharia or Ili was called Zhunbu 準部 (Dzungar region) Tianshan Beilu 天山北路 (Northern March), "Xinjiang" 新疆 (New Frontier), Dzongarie, Djoongaria, Soungaria, or "Kalmykia" (La Kalmouquie in French). It was formerly the area of the Zunghar Khanate 準噶爾汗國, the land of the Dzungar Oirat Mongols. The Tarim Basin was known as "Tianshan Nanlu 天山南路 (southern March), Huibu 回部 (Muslim region), Huijiang 回疆 (Muslim frontier), Chinese Turkestan, Kashgaria, Little Bukharia, East Turkestan", and the traditional Uyghur name for it was Altishahr (Uyghur: التى شهر, ULY: Altä-shähär). It was formerly the area of the Eastern Chagatai Khanate 東察合台汗國, land of the Uyghur people before being conquered by the Dzungars. The Chinese Repository said that "Neither the natives nor the Chinese appear to have any general name to designate the Mohammedan colonies. They are called Kashgar, Bokhára, Chinese Turkestan, &c., by foreigners, none of which seem to be very appropriate. They have also been called Jagatai, after a son of Genghis khan, to whom this country fell as his portion after his father’s death, and be included all the eight Mohammedan cities, with some of the surrounding countries, in one kingdom. It is said to have remained in this family, with some interruptions, until conquered by the Eleuths of Soungaria in 1683."
The Tarim Basin was ruled by China during the Han dynasty in 60 BC as the Protectorate of the Western Regions and the Tang dynasty in 640 AD as the Protectorate General to Pacify the West. The region was called Xiyu by the Chinese, which literally translates to "Western Regions". The Turfan Basin was ruled by the Chinese Kingdom of Gaochang.
Zunghar Khanate and Qing dynasty
Prior to the 20th century, the cities of present-day Xinjiang, hosting Mongolic ethnicities like Oirats, Turkic ethnicities such as Uyghurs, Kyrgyz, Uzbeks, Kazakhs, and Iranic Tājiks, held little unified nationalistic identity. Identity in the region was heavily "oasis-based" identity focused on the city, town and village level. Cross-border contact from Russia, Central Asia, India and China was significant in shaping each oasis' identity and cultural practices. Under Qing Dynasty and Republic of China rule, a largely Uyghur, but also multi-ethnic Turkic, based identity began to coalesce.
Xinjiang consists of two main geographically, historically, and ethnically distinct regions with different historical names, Dzungaria north of the Tianshan Mountains and the Tarim Basin south of the Tianshan Mountains, before Qing China unified them into one political entity called Xinjiang province in 1884. At the time of the Qing conquest in 1759, Dzungaria was inhabited by steppe dwelling, nomadic Tibetan Buddhist Oirat Mongol Dzungar people, while the Tarim Basin was inhabited by sedentary, oasis dwelling, Turkic speaking Muslim farmers, now known as the Uyghur people. They were governed separately until 1884. The native Uyghur name for the Tarim Basin is Altishahr.
After perpetrating wholesale massacres and completing the Zunghar Genocide on the native Dzungar Oirat Mongol (Zunghar) population after conquering the Zunghar Khanate, in 1759, the Qing finally consolidated their authority by settling Han Chinese, Hui, and Uyghur emigrants the Dzungar (Zunghar) land in Dzungaria, together with a Manchu Qing garrison of Bannermen. The Han, Hui, and Uyghurs worked as farmers on state farms in the region to supply the Manchu garrison with food. The Qing put the whole region under the rule of a General of Ili (Chinese: 伊犁将军, Yili Jiangjün), headquartered at the fort of Huiyuan (the so-called "Manchu Kuldja", or Yili), 30 km west of Ghulja (Yining). The Qing dynasty Qianlong Emperor conquered the Jungharian (Dzungarian) plateau and the Tarim Basin, bringing the two separate regions, respectively north and south of the Tianshan mountains, under his rule as Xinjiang. The south was inhabited by Turkic Muslims (Uyghurs) and the north by Junghar Mongols (Dzungars). The Dzungars were also called "Eleuths" or "Kalmyks".
The Qing dynasty was well aware of the differences between the former Buddhist Mongol area to the north of the Tianshan and Turkic Muslim south of the Tianshan, and ruled them in separate administrative units at first. However, Qing people began to think of both areas as part of one distinct region called Xinjiang . The very concept of Xinjiang as one distinct geographic identity was created by the Qing and it was originally not the native inhabitants who viewed it that way, but rather it was the Chinese who held that point of view.
In the late 19th century, it was still being proposed by some people that two separate parts be created out of Xinjiang, the area north of the Tianshan and the area south of the Tianshan, while it was being argued over whether to turn Xinjiang into a province.
The Turkic Muslim sedentary people of the Tarim Basin were originally ruled by the Chagatai Khanate while the nomadic Buddhist Oirat Mongol in Dzungaria ruled over the Zunghar Khanate. The Naqshbandi Sufi Khojas, descendants of the Prophet Muhammad, had replaced the Chagatayid Khans as the ruling authority of the Tarim Basin in the early 17th century. There was a struggle between two factions of Khojas, the Afaqi (White Mountain) faction and the Ishaqi (Black Mountain) faction. The Ishaqi defeated the Afaqi, which resulted in the Afaqi Khoja inviting the 5th Dalai Lama, the leader of the Tibetan Buddhists, to intervene on his behalf in 1677. The 5th Dalai Lama then called upon his Dzungar Buddhist followers in the Zunghar Khanate to act on this invitation. The Zunghar Khanate then conquered the Tarim Basin in 1680, setting up the Afaqi Khoja as their puppet ruler.
Zunghar genocide and resettlement of Dzungaria
The Turkic Muslims of the Turfan and Kumul Oases then submitted to the Qing dynasty of China, and asked China to free them from the Dzungars. The Qing accepted the rulers of Turfan and Kumul as Qing vassals. The Qing dynasty waged war against the Dzungars for decades until finally defeating them and then Qing Manchu Bannermen carried out the Zunghar genocide, nearly wiping them from existence and depopulating Dzungaria. The Qing then freed the Afaqi Khoja leader Burhan-ud-din and his brother Khoja Jihan from their imprisonement by the Dzungars, and appointed them to rule as Qing vassals over the Tarim Basin. The Khoja brothers decided to renege on this deal and declare themselves as independent leaders of the Tarim Basin. The Qing and the Turfan leader Emin Khoja crushed their revolt and China then took full control of both Dzungaria and the Tarim Basin by 1759.
Anti-Zunghar Uyghur rebels from the Turfan and Hami oases had submitted to Qing rule as vassals and requested Qing help for overthrowing Zunghar rule. Uyghur leaders like Emin Khoja were granted titles within the Qing nobility, and these Uyghurs helped supply the Qing military forces during the anti-Zunghar campaign. The Qing employed Khoja Emin in its campaign against the Zunghars and used him as an intermediary with Muslims from the Tarim Basin to inform them that the Qing were only aiming to kill Oirats (Zunghars) and that they would leave the Muslims alone, and also to convince them to kill the Oirats (Zunghars) themselves and side with the Qing since the Qing noted the Muslims' resentment of their former experience under Zunghar rule at the hands of Tsewang Araptan.
The Dzungar (or Zunghar), Oirat Mongols who lived in an area that stretched from the west end of the Great Wall of China to present-day eastern Kazakhstan and from present-day northern Kyrgyzstan to southern Siberia (most of which is located in present-day Xinjiang), were the last nomadic empire to threaten China, which they did from the early 17th century through the middle of the 18th century. After a series of inconclusive military conflicts that started in the 1680s, the Dzungars were subjugated by the Manchu-led Qing dynasty (1644–1911) in the late 1750s. Clarke argued that the Qing campaign in 1757–58 "amounted to the complete destruction of not only the Zunghar state but of the Zunghars as a people." After the Qianlong Emperor led Qing forces to victory over the Zunghar Oirat (Western) Mongols in 1755, he originally was going to split the Zunghar Empire into four tribes headed by four Khans, the Khoit tribe was to have the Zunghar leader Amursana as its Khan. Amursana rejected the Qing arrangement and rebelled since he wanted to be leader of a united Zunghar nation. Qianlong then issued his orders for the genocide and eradication of the entire Zunghar nation and name, Qing Manchu Bannermen and Khalkha (Eastern) Mongols enslaved Zunghar women and children while slaying the other Zunghars.
The Qianlong Emperor issued direct orders for his commanders to "massacre" the Zunghars and "show no mercy", rewards were given to those who carried out the extermination and orders were given for young men to be slaughtered while women were taken as spoils. The Qing extirpated Zunghar identity from the remaining enslaved Zunghar women and children. Orders were given to "completely exterminate the Zunghar tribes, and this successful genocide by the Qing left Zungharia mostly unpopulated and vacant. Qianlong ordered his men to- "Show no mercy at all to these rebels. Only the old and weak should be saved. Our previous campaigns were too lenient." The Qianlong Emperor did not see any conflict between performing genocide on the Zunghars while upholding the peaceful principles of Confucianism, supporting his position by portraying the Zunghars as barbarian and subhuman. Qianlong proclaimed that "To sweep away barbarians is the way to bring stability to the interior.", that the Zunghars "turned their back on civilization.", and that "Heaven supported the emperor." in the destruction of the Zunghars. According to the "Encyclopedia of genocide and crimes against humanity, Volume 3", per the United Nations Genocide Convention Article II, Qianlong's actions against the Zunghars constitute genocide, as he massacred the vast majority of the Zunghar population and enslaved or banished the remainder, and had "Zunghar culture" extirpated and destroyed. Qianlong's campaign constituted the "eighteenth-century genocide par excellence."
Qianlong emperor moved the remaining Zunghar people to China and ordered the generals to kill all the men in Barkol or Suzhou, and divided their wives and children to Qing soldiers. In an account of the war, Qing scholar Wei Yuan, wrote that about 40% of the Zunghar households were killed by smallpox, 20% fled to Russia or the Kazakh Khanate, and 30% were killed by the army, leaving no yurts in an area of several thousands of li except those of the surrendered. Clarke wrote 80%, or between 480,000 and 600,000 people, were killed between 1755 and 1758 in what "amounted to the complete destruction of not only the Zunghar state but of the Zunghars as a people." 80% of the Zunghars died in the genocide. The Zunghar genocide was completed by a combination of a smallpox epidemic and the direct slaughter of Zunghars by Qing forces made out of Manchu Bannermen and (Khalkha) Mongols.
It was not until generations later that Dzungaria rebounded from the destruction and near liquidation of the Zunghars after the mass slayings of nearly a million Zunghars. Historian Peter Perdue has shown that the decimation of the Dzungars was the result of an explicit policy of extermination launched by Qianlong, Perdue attributed the decimation of the Dzungars to a "deliberate use of massacre" and has described it as an "ethnic genocide". Although this "deliberate use of massacre" has been largely ignored by modern scholars, Dr. Mark Levene, a historian whose recent research interests focus on genocide, has stated that the extermination of the Dzungars was "arguably the eighteenth century genocide par excellence."
The Qing identified their state as "China" (Zhongguo), and referred to it as "Dulimbai Gurun" in Manchu. The Qing equated the lands of the Qing state (including present day Manchuria, Dzungaria in Xinjiang, Mongolia, and other areas as "China" in both the Chinese and Manchu languages), defining China as a multi ethnic state. The Qianlong Emperor explicitly commemorated the Qing conquest of the Zunghars as having added new territory in Xinjiang to "China", defining China as a multi ethnic state, rejecting the idea that China only meant Han areas in "China proper", meaning that according to the Qing, both Han and non-Han peoples were part of "China", which included Xinjiang which the Qing conquered from the Zunghars. After the Qing were done conquering Dzungaria in 1759, they proclaimed that the new land which formerly belonged to the Zunghars, was now absorbed into "China" (Dulimbai Gurun) in a Manchu language memorial. The Qing expounded on their ideology that they were bringing together the "outer" non-Han Chinese like the Inner Mongols, Eastern Mongols, Oirat Mongols, and Tibetans together with the "inner" Han Chinese, into "one family" united in the Qing state, showing that the diverse subjects of the Qing were all part of one family, the Qing used the phrase "Zhong Wai Yi Jia" 中外一家 or "Nei Wai Yi Jia" 內外一家 ("interior and exterior as one family"), to convey this idea of "unification" of the different peoples.
The Qing "final solution" of genocide to solve the problem of the Zunghar Mongols, made the Qing sponsored settlement of millions of Han Chinese, Hui, Turkestani Oasis people (Uyghurs) and Manchu Bannermen in Dzungaria possible, since the land was now devoid of Zunghars. The Dzungarian basin, which used to be inhabited by (Zunghar) Mongols, is currently inhabited by Kazakhs. In northern Xinjiang, the Qing brought in Han, Hui, Uyghur, Xibe, and Kazakh colonists after they exterminated the Zunghar Oirat Mongols in the region, with one third of Xinjiang's total population consisting of Hui and Han in the northern are, while around two thirds were Uyghurs in southern Xinjiang's Tarim Basin. In Dzungaria, the Qing established new cities like Urumqi and Yining. The Qing were the ones who unified Xinjiang and changed its demographic situation.
The depopulation of northern Xinjiang after the Buddhist Öölöd Mongols (Zunghars) were slaughtered, led to the Qing settling Manchu, Sibo (Xibe), Daurs, Solons, Han Chinese, Hui Muslims, and Turkic Muslim Taranchis in the north, with Han Chinese and Hui migrants making up the greatest number of settlers. Since it was the crushing of the Buddhist Öölöd (Dzungars) by the Qing which led to promotion of Islam and the empowerment of the Muslim Begs in southern Xinjiang, and migration of Muslim Taranchis to northern Xinjiang, it was proposed by Henry Schwarz that "the Qing victory was, in a certain sense, a victory for Islam". Xinjiang was a unified defined geographic identity was created and developed by the Qing. It was the Qing who led to Turkic Muslim power in the region increasing since the Mongol power was crushed by the Qing while Turkic Muslim culture and identity was tolerated or even promoted by the Qing.
Settlement in Dzungaria
After Qing dynasty defeated the Dzunghars Oirat Mongols and exterminated them from their native land of Dzungaria in the Zunghar Genocide, the Qing settled Han, Hui, Manchus, Xibe, and Taranchis (Uyghurs) from the Tarim Basin, into Dzungharia. Han Chinese criminals and political exiles were exiled to Dzungaria, such as Lin Zexu. Chinese Hui Muslims and Salar Muslims belonging to banned Sufi orders like the Jahriyya were also exiled to Dzhungaria as well. In the aftermath of the crushing of the 1781 Jahriyya rebellion, Jahriyya adherents were exiled.
The Qing enacted different policies for different areas of Xinjiang. Han and Hui migrants were urged by the Qing government to settled in Dzungaria in northern Xinjiang, while they were not allowed in southern Xinjiang's Tarim Basin oases with the exception of Han and Hui merchants. In areas where more Han Chinese settled like in Dzungaria, the Qing used a Chinese style administrative system.
The Manchu Qing ordered the settlement of thousands of Han Chinese peasants in Xinijiang after 1760, the peasants originally came from Gansu and were given animals, seeds, and tools as they were being settled in the area, for the purpose of making China's rule in the region permanent and a fait accompli.
Taranchi was the name for Turki (Uyghur) agriculturalists who were resettled in Dzhungaria from the Tarim Basin oases ("East Turkestani cities") by the Qing dynasty, along with Manchus, Xibo (Xibe), Solons, Han and other ethnic groups in the aftermath of the destruction of the Dzhunghars.[citation clutter] Kulja (Ghulja) was a key area subjected to the Qing settlement of these different ethnic groups into military colonies. The Manchu garrisons were supplied and supported with grain cultivated by the Han soldiers and East Turkestani (Uyghurs) who were resettled in agricultural colonies in Zungharia. The Manchu Qing policy of settling Chinese colonists and Taranchis from the Tarim Basin on the former Kalmucks (Dzungar) land was described as having the land "swarmed" with the settlers. The amount of Uyghurs moved by the Qing from Altä-shähär (Tarim Basin) to depopulated Zunghar land in Ili numbered around 10,000 families. The amount of Uyghurs moved by the Qing into Jungharia (Dzungaria) at this time has been described as "large". The Qing settled in Dzungaria even more Turki-Taranchi (Uyghurs) numbering around 12,000 families originating from Kashgar in the aftermath of the Jahangir Khoja invasion in the 1820s. Standard Uyghur is based on the Taranchi dialect, which was chosen by the Chinese government for this role. Salar migrants from Amdo (Qinghai) came to settle the region as religious exiles, migrants, and as soldiers enlisted in the Chinese army to fight in Ili, offen following the Hui.
After a revolt by the Xibe in Qiqihar in 1764, the Qianlong Emperor ordered an 800-man military escort to transfer 18,000 Xibe to the Ili valley of Dzungaria in Xinjiang. In Ili, the Xinjiang Xibe built Buddhist monasteries and cultivated vegetables, tobacco, and poppies. One punishment for Bannermen for their misdeeds involved them being exiled to Xinjiang.
In 1765, 300,000 ch'ing of land in Xinjiang were turned into military colonies, as Chinese settlement expanded to keep up with China's population growth.
The Qing resorted to incentives like issuing a subsidy which was paid to Han who were willing to migrate to northwest to Xinjiang, in a 1776 edict. There were very little Uyghurs in Urumqi during the Qing dynasty, Urumqi was mostly Han and Hui, and Han and Hui settlers were concentrated in Northern Xinjiang (Beilu aka Dzungaria). Around 155,000 Han and Hui lived in Xinjiang, mostly in Dzungaria around 1803, and around 320,000 Uyghurs, living mostly in Southern Xinjiang (the Tarim Basin), as Han and Hui were allowed to settle in Dzungaria but forbidden to settle in the Tarim, while the small amount of Uyghurs living in Dzungaria and Urumqi was insignificant. Hans were around one third of Xinjiang's population at 1800, during the time of the Qing Dynasty. Spirits (alcohol) were introduced during the settlement of northern Xinjiang by Han Chinese flooding into the area. The Qing made a special case in allowing northern Xinjiang to be settled by Han, since they usually did not allow frontier regions to be settled by Han migrants. This policy led to 200,000 Han and Hui settlers in northern Xinjiang when the 18th century came to a close, in addition to military colonies settled by Han called Bingtun.
Professor of Chinese and Central Asian History at Georgetown University, James A. Millward wrote that foreigners often mistakenly think that Urumqi was originally a Uyghur city and that the Chinese destroyed its Uyghur character and culture, however, Urumqi was founded as a Chinese city by Han and Hui (Tungans), and it is the Uyghurs who are new to the city.
Conversion of Xinjiang into a province and effect on Uyghur migration
The two separate regions, Dzungaria, known as Zhunbu 準部 (Dzungar region) or Tianshan Beilu 天山北路 (Northern March), and the Tarim Basin, which had been known as Altishahr, Huibu (Muslim region), Huijiang (Muslim-land) or "Tianshan Nanlu 天山南路 (southern March), were combined into a single province called Xinjiang by in 1884. Before this, there was never one administrative unit in which North Xinjiang (Zhunbu) and Southern Xinjiang (Huibu) were integrated together.
A lot of the Han Chinese and Chinese Hui Muslim population who had previously settled northern Xinjiang (Dzungaria) after the Qing genocide of the Dzungars, had died in the Dungan revolt (1862–77). As a result, new Uyghur colonists from Southern Xinjiang (the Tarim Basin) proceeded to settle in the newly empty lands and spread across all of Xinjiang.
After Xinjiang was converted into a province by the Qing, the provincialisation and reconstruction programs initiated by the Qing resulted in the Chinese government helping Uyghurs migrate from southern Xinjiang to other areas of the province, like the area between Qitai and the capital, which was formerly nearly completely inhabited by Han Chinese, and other areas like Urumqi, Tacheng (Tabarghatai), Yili, Jinghe, Kur Kara Usu, Ruoqiang, Lop Nor, and the Tarim River's lower reaches. It was during Qing times that Uyghurs were settled throughout all of Xinjiang, from their original home cities in the western Tarim Basin. The Qing policies after they created Xinjiang by uniting Zungharia and Altishahr (Tarim Basin) led Uyghurs to believe that the all of Xinjiang province was their homeland, since the annihilation of the Zunghars (Dzungars) by the Qing, populating the Ili valley with Uyghurs from the Tarim Basin, creating one political unit with a single name (Xinjiang) out of the previously separate Zungharia and the Tarim Basin, the war from 1864-1878 which led to the killing of much of the original Han Chinese and Chinese Hui Muslims in Xinjiang, led to areas in Xinjiang with previously had insignificant amounts of Uyghurs, like the southeast, east, and north, to then become settled by Uyghurs who spread through all of Xinjiang from their original home in the southwest area. There was a major and fast growth of the Uyghur population, while the original population of Han Chinese and Hui Muslims from before the war of 155,000 dropped, to the much lower population of 33,114 Tungans (Hui) and 66,000 Han.
A regionalist style nationalism was fostered by the Han Chinese officials who came to rule Xinjiang after its conversion into a province by the Qing, it was from this ideology that the later East Turkestani nationalists appropiated their sense of nationalism centered around Xinjiang as a clearly defined geographic territory.
Republic of China
A rebellion in Kashgar against Republic of China rule led to the establishment of the short-lived First East Turkestan Republic or Turkish Islamic Republic of East Turkestan (1933–1934). The Chinese Hui Muslim 36th Division (National Revolutionary Army) crushed the Turkic First East Turkestan Republic at the Battle of Kashgar (1933) and Battle of Kashgar (1934). Hui Muslim leaders like Ma Shaowu, General Ma Zhancang and General Ma Fuyuan fought the Turkic seperatists.
Sheng Shicai, a secret member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, came into power after a military coup. He disobeyed the decree and order from the Chinese central government, but still ruled the region under the name of the Republic of China.
Sheng Shicai later became anti-Russian when he became aware of the Soviet's intent to control his government. He expelled Soviet advisors and executed many Han Communists. Joseph Stalin was very angry with his convert and dispatched troops to invade Xinjiang. The Soviet troops helped the rebellion at Ili (Yining City) during the Chinese civil war. The rebellion lead to the establishment of the Second East Turkistan Republic (1944–1949), which existed in three northern districts (Ili, Tarbaghatai, Altai) of Xinjiang province of the Republic of China with secret aid from the Soviet Union (Russia used consistent effort to annex Chinese territory since the 17th century). The majority of Xinjang remained under the control of the Republic of China.
After winning the Chinese civil war in 1949, the People's Liberation Army took control of Xinjiang from Republic of China forces and the Second East Turkestan Republic.
Pan-Turkic Jadidists and East Turkestan Independence activists Muhammad Amin Bughra and Masud Sabri rejected the Soviets and Sheng Shicai's imposition of the name "Uyghur people" upon the Turkic people of Xinjiang. They wanted instead the name "Turkic ethnicity" (Chinese: 突厥族; pinyin: tūjué zú) to be applied to their people. Masud Sabri also viewed the Hui people as Muslim Han Chinese and separate from his own people. The names "Türk" or "Türki" in particular were demanded by Bughra as the real name for his people. He slammed Sheng Shicai for his designation of Turkic Muslims into different ethnicities, which could sow disunion among Turkic Muslims.
The usage of the name "Uyghur" for the modern ethnic group has led to anachorisms and falsehood when applied to history by both the PRC and Uyghur nationalists.
People's Republic of China
At the start of the 19th century, 40 years after the Qing reconquest, there were around 155,000 Han and Hui Chinese in northern Xinjiang and somewhat more than twice that number of Uyghurs in southern Xinjiang. A census of Xinjiang under Qing rule in the early 19th century tabulated ethnic shares of the population as 30% Han and 60% Turkic, while it dramatically shifted to 6% Han and 75% Uyghur in the 1953 census, however a situation similar to the Qing era-demographics with a large number of Han has been restored as of 2000 with 40.57% Han and 45.21% Uyghur. Professor Stanley W. Toops noted that today's demographic situation is similar to that of the early Qing period in Xinjiang. Before 1831, only a few hundred Chinese merchants lived in southern Xinjiang oases (Tarim Basin) and only a few Uyghurs lived in northern Xinjiang (Dzungaria).
Uyghur nationalists often incorrectly claim that 5% of Xinjiang's population in 1949 was Han, and that the other 95% was Uyghur, erasing the presence of Kazakhs, Xibes, and others, and ignoring the fact that Hans were around one third of Xinjiang's population at 1800, during the time of the Qing Dynasty.
In 1955 (the first modern census in China was taken in 1953), Uyghurs were counted as 73% of Xinjiang's total population of 5.11 million. Although Xinjiang as a whole is designated as a "Uyghur Autonomous Region", since 1954 more than 50% of Xinjiang's land area are designated autonomous areas for 13 native non-Uyghur groups. The modern Uyghur people experienced ethnogenesis especially from 1955, when the PRC officially recognized that ethnic category - in opposition to the Han - of formerly separately self-identified oasis peoples.
The People's Republic of China has directed the majority of Han migrants towards the sparsely populated Dzungaria (Junggar Basin), before 1953 most of Xinjiang's population (75%) lived in the Tarim Basin, so the new Han migrants resulted in the distribution of population between Dzungaria and the Tarim being changed. Most new Chinese migrants ended up in the northern region, in Dzungaria. Han and Hui made up the majority of the population in Dzungaria's cities while Uighurs made up most of the population in Kashgaria's cities. Eastern and Central Dzungaria are the specific areas where these Han and Hui are concentrated. China made sure that new Han migrants were settled in entirely new areas uninhabited by Uyghurs so as to not disturb the already existing Uyghur communities. Lars-Erik Nyman noted that Kashgaria was the native land of the Uighurs, "but a migration has been in progress to Dzungaria since the 18th century".
Both Han economic migrants from other parts of China and Uyghur economic migrants from southern Xinjiang have been flooding into northern Xinjiang since the 1980s.
Southern Xinjiang is where the majority of the Uyghur population resides, while it is in Northern Xinjiang cities where the majority of the Han (90%) population of Xinjiang reside. Southern Xinjiang is dominated by its nine million Uighur majority population, while northern Xinjiang is where the mostly urban Han population holds sway. This situation has been followed by an imbalance in the economic situation between the two ethnic groups, since the Northern Junghar Basin (Dzungaria) has been more developed than the Uighur south.
Since the Chinese economic reform from the late 1970s has exacerbated uneven regional development, more Uyghurs have migrated to Xinjiang cities and some Hans have also migrated to Xinjiang for independent economic advancement. Increased ethnic contact and labor competition coincided with Uyghur separatist terrorism from the 1990s, such as the 1997 Ürümqi bus bombings.
In the 1980s, 90% of Xinjiang Han lived in north Xinjiang (Jiangbei, historical Dzungaria). In the mid-1990s, Uyghurs consisted of 90% of south Xinjiang (Nanjiang, historical Tarim)'s population. In 1980, the liberal reformist Hu Yaobang announced the expulsion of ethnic Han cadres in Xinjiang to eastern China. Hu was purged in 1987 for a series of demonstrations that he is said to have provoked in other areas of China. The prominent Xinjiang and national official Wang Zhen criticized Hu for destroying Xinjiang Han cadres' "sense of security", and for exacerbating ethnic tensions.
In the 1990s, there was a net inflow of Han people to Xinjiang, many of whom were previously prevented from moving because of the declining number of social services tied to hukou (residency permits). As of 1996, 13.6% of Xinjiang's population was employed by the publicly traded Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (Bingtuan) corporation. 90% of the Bingtuan's activities relate to agriculture, and and 88% of Bingtuan employees are Han, although the percentage of Hans with ties to the Bingtuan has decreased. Han emigration from Xinjiang has also resulted in an increase of minority-identified agricultural workers as a total percentage of Xinjiang's farmers, from 69.4% in 1982 to 76.7% in 1990. During the 1990s, about 1.2 million temporary migrants entered Xinjiang every year to stay for the cotton picking season. Many Uyghur trading communities exist outside of Xinjiang; the largest in Beijing is one village of a few thousand.
In 2000, Uyghurs "comprised 45 per cent of Xinjiang's population, but only 12.8 per cent of Urumqi's population." Despite having 9% of Xinjiang's population, Urumqi accounts for 25% of the region's GDP, and many rural Uyghurs have been migrating to that city to seek work in the dominant light, heavy, and petrochemical industries. Hans in Xinjiang are demographically older, better-educated, and work in higher-paying professions than their Uyghur cohabitants. Hans are more likely to cite business reasons for moving to Urumqi, while some Uyghurs also cite trouble with the law back home and family reasons for their moving to Urumqi. Hans and Uyghurs are equally represented in Urumqi's floating population that works mostly in commerce. Self-segregation within the city is widespread, in terms of residential concentration, employment relationships, and a social norm of endogamy. As of 2010, Uyghurs constitute a majority in the Tarim Basin, and a mere plurality in Xinjiang as a whole.
Han and Hui mostly live in northern Xinjiang (Dzungaria), and are separated from areas of historical Uyghur dominance south of the Tian Shan mountains (southwestern Xinjiang), where Uyghurs account for about 90% of the population.
After the declarations of independence of the constituent republics of the area of Central Asia(Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) from the Soviet Union in 1991, calls for the liberation of East Turkestan from China began to surface again from many in the Turkic population.
Those that use the term Uyghurstan tend to envision a state for the Uyghur people. Those groups that adopt this terminology tended to be allied with the Soviet Union while it still existed (Indeed, Russia incited and aided the rebellion in attempt to annex these regions in the future). Since then some of the leaders of these groups have remained in Russia, Kazakhstan or Kyrgyzstan, or have emigrated to Europe and North America. It is worth noting that none of these identities are exclusive. Some groups support more than one such orientation. It is common to support both an Islamic and Turkic orientation for Xinjiang, for example, the founders of independent Republic in Kashgar in 1933 used names Turkic Islamic Republic of East Turkestan and Eastern Turkestan Republic the same time.
Uyghur views by oasis
Uyghur views vary by the oasis they live in. China has historically favored Turpan and Hami. Uyghurs in Turfan and Hami and their leaders like Emin Khoja allied with the Qing against Uyghurs in Altishahr. During the Qing dynasty, China enfeoffed the rulers of Turpan and Hami (Kumul) as autonomous princes, while the rest of the Uyghurs in Altishahr (the Tarim Basin) were ruled by Begs. Uyghurs from Turpan and Hami were appointed by China as officials to rule over Uyghurs in the Tarim Basin. Turpan is more economically prosperous and views China more positively than the rebellious Kashgar, which is the most anti-China oasis. Uyghurs in Turpan are treated leniently and favourably by China with regards to religious policies, while Kashgar is subjected to controls by the government. In Turpan and Hami, religion is viewed more positively by China than religion in Kashgar and Khotan in southern Xinjiang. Both Uyghur and Han Communist officials in Turpan turn a blind eye to the law and allow religious Islamic education for Uyghur children. Celebrating at religious functions and going on Hajj to Mecca is encouraged is encouraged by the Chinese government, for Uyghur members of the Communist party. From 1979-1989, 350 mosques were built in Turpan. Han, Hui, and the Chinese government are viewed much more positively by Uyghurs specifically in Turpan, with the government providing better economic, religious, and political treatment for them.
Soviet support for East Turkestan Independence
The Soviet Union supported the Uyghur Second East Turkestan Republic in the Ili Rebellion against the Republic of China. According to her autobiography, Dragon Fighter: One Woman's Epic Struggle for Peace with China, Rebiya Kadeer's father served with pro-Soviet Uyghur rebels under the Second East Turkestan Republic in the Ili Rebellion (Three Province Rebellion) in 1944-1946, using Soviet assistance and aid to fight the Republic of China government under Chiang Kai-shek. Kadeer and her family were close friends with White Russian exiles living in Xinjiang and Kadeer recalled that many Uyghurs thought Russian culture was "more advanced" than that of the Uyghurs and they "respected" the Russians a lot.
Many of the Turkic peoples of the Ili region of Xinjiang had close cultural, political, and economic ties with Russia and then the Soviet Union. Many of them were educated in the Soviet Union and a community of Russian settlers lived in the region. As a result, many of the Turkic rebels fled to the Soviet Union and obtained Soviet assistance in creating the Sinkiang Turkic People's Liberation Committee (STPNLC) in 1943 to revolt against Kuomintang rule during the Ili Rebellion. The pro-Soviet Uyghur who later became leader of the revolt and the Second East Turkestan Republic, Ehmetjan Qasim, was Soviet educated and described as "Stalin's man".
The Soviet Union incited separatist activities in Xinjiang through propaganda, encouraging Kazakhs to flee to the Soviet Union and attacking China. China responded by reinforcing the Xinjiang-Soviet border area specifically with Han Bingtuan militia and farmers. The Soviets massively intensified their broadcasts inciting Uyghurs to revolt against the Chinese via Radio Tashkent since 1967 and directly harbored and supported separatist guerilla fighters to attack the Chinese border, in 1966 the amount of Soviet sponsored separatist attacks on China numbered 5,000. The Soviets transmitted a radio broadcast from Radio Tashkent into Xinjiang on 14 May 1967, boasting of the fact that the Soviets had supported the Second East Turkestan Republic against China. In addition to Radio Tashkent, other Soviet media outlets aimed at disseminating propaganda towards Uyghurs urging that they proclaim independence and revolt against China included Radio Alma-Ata and the Alma-Ata published Sherki Türkistan Evazi ("The Voice of Eastern Turkestan") newspaper. After the Sino-Soviet split in 1962, over 60,000 Uyghurs and Kazakhs defected from Xinjiang to the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic, in response to Soviet propaganda which promised Xinjiang independence. Uyghur exiles later threatened China with rumors of a Uyghur "liberation army" in the thousands that were supposedly recruited from Sovietized emigres.
The Soviet Union was involved in funding and support to the East Turkestan People's Revolutionary Party (ETPRP), the largest militant Uyghur separatist organization in its time, to start a violent uprising against China in 1968. In the 1970s, the Soviets also supported the United Revolutionary Front of East Turkestan (URFET) to fight against the Chinese.
"Bloody incidents" in 1966-67 flared up as Chinese and Soviet forces clashed along the border as the Soviets trained anti-Chinese guerillas and urged Uyghurs to revolt against China, hailing their "national liberation struggle". In 1969, Chinese and Soviet forces directly fought each other along the Xinjiang-Soviet border.
The Soviet Union supported Uyghur nationalist propaganda and Uyghur separatist movements against China. The Soviet historians claimed that the Uyghur native land was Xinjiang and Uyghur nationalism was promoted by Soviet versions of history on turcology. Soviet turcologists like D.I. Tikhonov wrote pro-independence works on Uyghur history and the Soviet supported Uyghur historian Tursun Rakhimov wrote more historical works supporting Uyghur independence and attacking the Chinese government, claiming that Xinjiang was an entity created by China made out of the different parts of East Turkestan and Zungharia. These Soviet Uyghur historians were waging an "ideological war" against China, emphasizing the "national liberation movement" of Uyghurs throughout history. The Soviet Communist Party supported the publication of works which glorified the Second East Turkestan Republic and the Ili Rebellion against China in its anti-China propaganda war. Soviet propaganda writers wrote works claiming that Uyghurs lived better lives and were able to practice their culture only in Soviet Central Asia and not in Xinjiang. In 1979 Soviet KGB agent Victor Louis wrote a thesis claiming that the Soviets should support a "war of liberation" against the "imperial" China to support Uighur, Tibetan, Mongol, and Manchu independence. The Soviet KGB itself supported Uyghur separatists against China. Among some Uyghurs, the Soviet Union was viewed extremely favorably and several of them believed that people of Turkic origin ruled the Soviet Union, claiming that one of these Turkic Soviet leaders was Mikhail Gorbachev.
Uyghur nationalist historian Turghun Almas and his book Uyghurlar (The Uyghurs) and Uyghur nationalist accounts of history were galvanized by Soviet stances on history, "firmly grounded" in Soviet Turcological works, and both heavily influenced and partially created by Soviet historians and Soviet works on Turkic peoples. Soviet historiography spawned the rendering of Uyghur history found in Uyghurlar. Almas claimed that Central Asia was "the motherland of the Uyghurs" and also the "ancient golden cradle of world culture".
Xinjiang's importance to China increased after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, leading to China's perception of being encircled by the Soviets. The China supported the Afghan mujahideen during the Soviet invasion, and broadcast reports of Soviet atrocities on Afghan Muslims to Uyghurs in order to counter Soviet propaganda broadcasts into Xinjiang, which boasted that Soviet minorities lived better and incited Muslims to revolt. Chinese radio beamed anti-Soviet broadcasts to Central Asian ethnic minorities like the Kazakhs. The Soviets feared disloyalty among the non-Russian Kazakh, Uzbek, and Kyrgyz in the event of Chinese troops attacking the Soviet Union and entering Central Asia. Russians were goaded with the taunt "Just wait till the Chinese get here, they'll show you what's what!" by Central Asians when they had altercations. The Chinese authorities viewed the Han migrants in Xinjiang as vital to defending the area against the Soviet Union. China opened up camps to train the Afghan Mujahideen near Kashgar and Khotan and supplied them with hundreds of millions of dollars worth of small arms, rockets, mines, and anti-tank weapons.
A chain of aggressive and belligerent press releases in the 1990s making false claims about violent insurrections in Xinjiang, and exaggerating both the number of Chinese migrants and the total number of Uyghurs in Xinjiang were made by the former Soviet supported URFET leader Yusupbek Mukhlisi.
After the establishment of the Soviet Union, many Uyghurs who studied in Soviet Central Asia added Russian suffixes to Russify their surnames and make them look Russian. Urban Uyghurs sometimes select Russian names when naming their children, in cities such as Qaramay and Urumqi.
Attempts at Independence
Yaqub Beg establishment of Kashgaria
Also during the Dungan revolt, the Taranchi Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang initially cooperated with the Dungans (Chinese Muslims) when they rose in revolt, but turned on them, because the Dungans, mindful of their Chinese heritage attempted to subject the entire region to their rule. The Taranchi massacred the Dungans at Kuldja and drove the rest through Talk pass to the Ili valley.
First East Turkestan Republic
The first republic established by the Uighurs was short lived, the Uighur army was defeated by the Chinese Muslim 36th Division (National Revolutionary Army), which destroyed the Republic at the Battle of Kashgar (1933).
Second East Turkestan Republic
A Soviet backed state was created by Uighur rebels in northern Xinjiang. It was absorbed into the newly founded People's Republic of China in 1950.
Official Chinese position on ETIM
People's Republic of China
Republic of China (Taiwan)
The Republic of China's (Taiwan) ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Chinese Muslim General Ma Bufang, in response to a request by a former Uyghur Mufti living in Saudi Arabia, Abdul Ahad Hamed for accommodations to be granted to Uyghurs living outside of China who held Republic of China passports, sent the following letter, which rejected Abdul Ahad Hamed's demands and his usage of the term "East Turkestan", upholding the official position of the Republic of China (Taiwan) that Xinjiang was a part of China and that it did not recognize the East Turkestan Independence Movement.
With all due respect to your previous position in the Government of Sinkiang and to the confidence placed in you by His Excellency the President of the Republic of China, I hope that you will refrain from using expressions which should not be used by one who occupied the position of a mufti. We are all serving our beloved country trying to do our best for our countrymen. I also hope that you will refrain from using the expression "The Turkestani Nation" which was the creation of one Abdul Qayyum Khan while he was living in Germany. We are working for the welfare of the true people of Sinkiang not for the Turkestanis living outside Sinkiang or the followers of Abdul Qayyum Khan.
Ambassador of Nationalist China in Saudi Arabia
During the First East Turkestan Republic, the Turkic nationalist ideology of the Republic led to hostility between different Muslim ethnic groups. The Uyghurs and Kirghiz, who were both Turkic Muslim peoples, fought against the Chinese Muslims of southern Xinjiang and sought to expel them with the Han Chinese. This led several Chinese Muslim Generals like Ma Zhancang, Ma Fuyuan, and Ma Hushan to fight against the Uyghur attempts and independence.
Anti Tungan (Chinese Muslim) political graffiti was painted by Uighurs on Khotan's city gates.
Revolution is an edifice built of many bricks
Each brick is an injustice
Blood is Mortar
Each wall is a mountain of sorrow
The foundation is most important
Alone, it must sustain the structure
Martyrdom is the Excellent Foundation!
Mustafa Ali, the Turkish advisor to the Uyghurs in the First East Turkestan Republic was an anti kemalist. Muhsin Çapanolu was also anti kemalist, and they both had Pan Turanist views. Mahmud Nadim Bay, another anti kemalist Turk, was also an advisor to the Uyghur separatists.
Argument for East Turkestan independence
Many Uyghurs are forced to assimilate to a Han Chinese way of life and feel threatened by the spread of Han Chinese culture. In Xinjiang, school instruction is in Mandarin and very few pieces of literature are published in Uyghur or other Turkic languages. Millions of Han Chinese have settled in Xinjiang.
Many Uyghurs face religious persecution and discrimination at the hands of the government authorities. Uyghurs who choose to practice their faith can use only a state-approved version of the Koran; Many nationalists are killed or tortured or jailed for their independence efforts, and even non-violent protesters have said to have been facing human rights abuses. Their dress, language, and culture are slowly being eroded away as more and more ethnic Han are moving there in the Migration to Xinjiang. The religion and way of life are misunderstood and the government cracks down on any sign of resistance. The "Uyghur Human Rights Project" alleges that children under the age of 18 were banned from a mosque in southern Xinjiang.
Argument against East Turkestan independence
China claims to have a historic claim on modern-day Xinjiang dating back two thousand years. East Asian migrants arrived in the eastern portions of the Tarim Basin about 3,000 years ago, while the Uighur people arrived after the collapse of the Orkon Uighur Kingdom, based in modern-day Mongolia, around the year 842. It fears that independence movements are largely funded and led by outside forces that seek to weaken China. China points out that despite such movements, Xinjiang has made great economic strides, building up its infrastructure, improving its education system and increasing the average life expectancy.
Uyghur independence activists express concern over the Han population changing the Uyghur character of the region, yet the historical native land of the Uyghurs is not the whole land of Xinjiang, but Tarim basin. Also the capital of Xinjiang Urumqi was even originally a Han and Hui (Tungan) city with few Uyghur people before recent Uyghur migration to the city, but foreigners mistakenly think that Urumqi was originally a Uyghur city and that the Chinese destroyed its Uyghur character and culture. Moreover, the Han and Hui mostly live in northern Xinjiang Dzungaria, and are separated from areas of historical Uyghur dominance south of the Tian Shan mountains (southwestern Xinjiang), where Uyghurs account for about 90% of the population.
Uyghur nationalist historians such as Turghun Almas claim that Uyghurs were distinct and independent from Chinese for 6000 years, and that all non-Uyghur peoples are non-indigenous immigrants to Xinjiang. However, the Han Dynasty (206 BCE–220 CE) established military colonies (tuntian) and commanderies (duhufu) to control Xinjiang from 120 BCE, while the Tang Dynasty (618-907) also controlled much of Xinjiang until the An Lushan rebellion. Chinese historians refute Uyghur nationalist claims by pointing out the 2000-year history of Han settlement in Xinjiang, documenting the history of Mongol, Kazakh, Uzbek, Manchu, Hui, Xibo indigenes in Xinjiang, and by emphasizing the relatively late "westward migration" of the Huigu (equated with "Uyghur" by the PRC government) people from Mongolia the 9th century. The name "Uyghur" was associated with a Buddhist people in the Tarim Basin in the 9th century, but completely disappeared by the 15th century, until it was revived by the Soviet Union in the 20th century.
Uyghur nationalists often incorrectly claim that 5% of Xinjiang's population in 1949 was Han, and that the other 95% was Uyghur, erasing the presence of Kazakhs, Xibes, and others, and ignoring the fact that Hans were around one third of Xinjiang's population at 1800, during the time of the Qing Dynasty. At the start of the 19th century, 40 years after the Qing reconquest, there were around 155,000 Han and Hui Chinese in northern Xinjiang and somewhat more than twice that number of Uyghurs in southern Xinjiang. A census of Xinjiang under Qing rule in the early 19th century tabulated ethnic shares of the population as 30% Han and 60% Turkic, while it dramatically shifted to 6% Han and 75% Uyghur in the 1953 census, however a situation similar to the Qing era-demographics with a large number of Han has been restored as of 2000 with 40.57% Han and 45.21% Uyghur. Professor Stanley W. Toops noted that today's demographic situation is similar to that of the early Qing period in Xinjiang. In northern Xinjiang, the Qing brought in Han, Hui, Uyghur, Xibe, and Kazakh colonists after they exterminated the Zunghar Oirat Mongols in the region, with one third of Xinjiang's total population consisting of Hui and Han in the northern are, while around two thirds were Uyghurs in southern Xinjiang's Tarim Basin.
In general, the wide variety of groups who seek independence can be distinguished by the type of government they advocate and the role they believe an independent East Turkestan should play in international affairs. Groups who use the term East Turkestan tend to have an orientation towards western Asia, the Islamic world, and Russia. These groups can be further subdivided into those who desire secularism, and identify with the struggle of secular Kemal Atatürk in Turkey, versus those who want an Islamic theocracy and identify with Saudi Arabia, the former Taliban government in Afghanistan, or Iran. In many cases the latter diminish the importance or deny the existence of a separate Uyghur ethnicity and claim a larger Turanian or Islamic identity. These groups tend to see an independent East Turkestan in which non-Turkic, and especially non-Islamic minorities, such as the Han Chinese would play no significant role.
Some of the groups that support independence for East Turkestan have been labeled terrorist organizations by both the People's Republic of China, the United Nations and/or the United States. Pro-independence organizations overseas include the East Turkistan National Freedom Center, the East Turkistan Government in Exile, and the East Turkestan Liberation Organization (Transnational Hizb ut-Tahrir). The most noticeable event towards the East Turkistan Independence Movement was the establishment of the East Turkistan Government in Exile by a group of East Turkistani immigrants led by Anwar Yusuf Turani in Washington D.C. on 14 September 2004. The target audience of these organizations is generally the Western governments and public, as almost none of the websites are in Chinese or Uyghur, and most Uyghurs in China and Central Asia have never heard of them. The East Turkestan Islamic Movement(ETIM)(also East Turkestan Islamic Party), which has claimed responsibility for attacks in Xinjiang, has been identified as a terrorist organization by the governments of China, Kazakhstan, Pakistan and the United States, as well as the United Nations.
There continues to be concern over tensions in the region, centering upon Uyghur cultural aspirations to independence, and resentment towards what Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch describe as repression of non-Han Chinese culture.
Conversely, many Han Chinese perceive PRC policies of ethnic autonomy as discriminatory against them (see autonomous entities of China). Independence advocates view Chinese rule in Xinjiang, and policies like the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps as Chinese imperialism. The US and the UN have labelled the East Turkestan Islamic Movement a terrorist group.
The tensions have occasionally resulted in major incidents and violent clashes during the PRC period. For example, in 1962, 60,000 Uyghur and Kazakh refugees fled northern Xinjiang into the Soviet Union to escape the famine and political purges of the Great Leap Forward era; in the 1980s there was a smattering of student demonstrations and riots against police action that took on an ethnic aspect; and the Baren Township riot in April 1990, an abortive uprising resulted in more than 50 deaths.
A police roundup of suspected separatists during Ramadan resulted in large demonstrations that turned violent in February 1997 in an episode known as the Ghulja Incident that led to at least 9 deaths. The Urumqi bus bombs of 25 February 1997, perhaps a response to the crackdown that followed the Ghulja Incident, killed 9 and injured 68. Speaking on separatist violence, Erkin Alptekin, a former East Turkestan National Congress chairman and prominent Uyghur activist, said “We must emphasise dialogue and warn our youth against the use of violence because it de-legitimises our movement”. Despite much talk of separatism and terrorism in Xinjiang, especially after the 9-11 attacks in the United States and the US invasion of Afghanistan, the situation in Xinjiang was quiet from the late nineties through mid-2006. In 2005, Uighur author Nurmemet Yasin was sentenced to ten years' imprisonment for inciting separatism following his publication of an allegorical short story, "The Blue Pigeon".
On 5 January 2007 the Chinese Public Security Bureau raided a suspected terrorist training camp in the mountains near the Pamir Plateau in southern Xinjiang. According to the reports, 18 terrorists were killed and another 17 captured in a gun battle between the East Turkestan Independence Movement and PRC forces. One police officer was killed and "over 1,500 hand grenades... were seized."
In 2008, the Chinese government announced that several terrorist plots by Uyghur separatists to disrupt the 2008 Olympic Games involving kidnapping athletes, journalists and tourists were foiled. The security ministry said 35 arrests were made in recent weeks and explosives had been seized in Xinjiang province. It said 10 others were held when police smashed another plot based in Xinjiang back in January to disrupt the Games. However, Uyghur activists accused the Chinese of fabricating terror plots to crack down on the people of the region and prevent them airing legitimate grievances. Some foreign observers were also skeptical, questioning if China was inflating a terror threat to justify a clampdown on dissidents before the Olympics.
In the run-up to the Summer Olympics in Beijing, during which world attention was drawn by pro-Tibet protests along the Olympic torch relay, Uyghur separatist groups staged protests in several countries. According to the Chinese government, a suicide bombing attempt on a China Southern Airlines flight in Xinjiang was thwarted in March 2008.
Four days before the Beijing Olympics, 16 Chinese police officers were killed and 16 injured in an attack in Kashgar by local merchants. Chinese police injured and damaged the equipment of two Japanese journalists sent to cover the story. Four days later a bombing in Kuqa killed at least two people.
On 27 August, two Chinese police officers were killed and seven more wounded near the city of Kashgar when their patrol was ambushed by at least seven militants, including one woman, wielding knives and automatic weapons. Apparently the patrol was lain upon in a corn field while acting on an erroneous tip from another woman that had been suspected of assisting militants. According to Uighur sources Chinese officials have been "cracking down" on ethnic Uighurs, detaining large numbers in recent weeks and view the incident as Uighurs resisting arrest. Reportedly, 33 people died in Xinjiang because of clashes in the month of August.
On 5 July 2009, riots broke out in Ürümqi, the capital of Xinjiang. The state media reported close to 150 people dead. While the riots occurred after a demonstration protesting the deaths of two Uyghurs in the June 2009 Shaoguan incident, the central government claimed that the riot had been masterminded by separatists abroad, particularly exiled leader Rebiya Kadeer.
- List of active separatist movements in Asia
- East Turkistan National Freedom Center
- East Turkistan Government in Exile
- East Turkestan Liberation Organization
- East Turkestan Islamic Movement
- Separatist movements of China
- Inner Mongolian People's Party
- International Tibet Independence Movement
- World Uyghur Congress
- 2008 Uyghur unrest
- 2013 Xinjiang unrest
- Xinjiang conflict
- Affirmative action in China
- Human rights of ethnic minorities in China
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