Migration to Xinjiang

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Migration to Xinjiang is both an ongoing and historical movement of people, often sponsored by various states who controlled the region, including the Han dynasty, Qing dynasty, Republic of China, and People's Republic of China.

Part of a series on the
History of Xinjiang
Museum für Indische Kunst Dahlem Berlin Mai 2006 063.jpg
Dzungaria (Red) and the Tarim Basin (Blue)


Northern Xinjiang (Junggar Basin) (Yellow), Eastern Xinjiang- Turpan Depression (Turpan Prefecture and Hami Prefecture) (Red), and the Tarim Basin (Blue)

Xinjiang consists of two primary geographically, historically, and ethnically distinct regions: Dzungaria--north of the Tian Shan Mountains--and the Tarim Basin--south of the Tian Shan. The regions were only unified as Xinjiang by the Qing China 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.

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.[1] However, Qing people began to think of both areas as part of one distinct region called Xinjiang .[2] 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.[3] During the Qing rule, no sense of "regional identity" was held by ordinary Xinjiang people, rather, Xinjiang's distinct identity was given to the region by the Qing, since it had both its distinct geography, history and culture, but at the same time was created by Chinese, was multiethnic, settled by Han and Hui, and separated from Central Asia for over a century and a half.[4]


Southern Xinjiang below the Tianshan had military colonies established in it by the Han dynasty.[5]

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.[6] 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.[7] 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.[6] 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.[8]


The Kingdom of Gaochang consisted of Chinese colonists who settled the oases after the collapse of the Han dynasty.

Buddhist Uyghur migration into the Tarim Basin[edit]

The discovery of the Tarim mummies has created a stir in the Uyghur population of the region, who claim the area has always belonged to their culture. While scholars generally agree that it was not until the 10th century when the Uyghurs have moved to the region from Central Asia, these discoveries have led Han Kangxin to conclude that the earliest settlers were not Asians.[9] American Sinologist Victor H. Mair claims that "the earliest mummies in the Tarim Basin were exclusively Caucasoid, or Europoid" with "east Asian migrants arriving in the eastern portions of the Tarim Basin around 3,000 years ago", while Mair also notes that it was not until 842 that the Uighur peoples settled in the area.[10]

Protected by the Taklamakan Desert from steppe nomads, elements of Tocharian culture survived until the 7th century, when the arrival of Turkic immigrants from the collapsing Uyghur Khaganate of modern-day Mongolia began to absorb the Tocharians to form the modern-day Uyghur ethnic group.[11]

Professor James A. Millward described the original Uyghurs as physically Mongoloid, giving as an example the images in Bezeklik at temple 9 of the Uyghur patrons, until they began to mix with the Tarim Basin's original eastern Iranian inhabitants.[12]

The modern Uyghurs are now a mixed hybrid of Mongoloid and Caucasian.[13][14][15]

Yuan dynasty[edit]

Han Chinese were moved to Central Asian areas like Besh Baliq, Almaliq, and Samarqand by the Mongols where they worked as artisans and farmers.[16] Alans were recruited into the Mongol forces with one unit called "Right Alan Guard" which was combined with "recently surrendered" soldiers, Mongols, and Chinese soldiers stationed in the area of the former Kingdom of Qocho and in Besh Balikh the Mongols established a Chinese military colony led by Chinese general Qi Kongzhi (Ch'i Kung-chih).[17]

Qing dynasty[edit]

The Zunghar Khanate (c.1750) (within blue borders)

The Turkic Muslims of the Turfan and Kumul Oases 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 imprisonment 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.

Between Jiayu Guan's west and Urumchi's East, an area of Xinjiang was also designated as Tianshan Donglu 天山東路 (Eastern March).[18][19][20] The three routes that made up Xinjiang were - Tarim Basin (southern route), Dzungaria (northern route), and the Turfan Basin (eastern route with Turfan, Hami, and Urumqi).[20][21]

Dzungaria's alternate name is 北疆 Beijiang (North Xinjiang) and Altishahr's alternate name is 南疆 Nanjiang (South Xinjiang).[22]

Dzungar Genocide[edit]

The Dzungar genocide was the mass extermination of the Mongol Buddhist Dzungar people, at the hands of the Manchu Qing dynasty of China.[23] The Qianlong Emperor ordered the genocide due to the rebellion in 1755 by Dzungar leader Amursana against Qing rule, after the dynasty first conquered the Dzungar Khanate with Amursana's support. The genocide was perpetrated by Manchu generals of the Qing army sent to crush the Dzungars, supported by Uyghur allies and vassals due to the Uyghur revolt against Dzungar rule.

Some scholars estimate that about 80% of the Dzungar population, or around 500,000 to 800,000 people, were killed by a combination of warfare and disease during or after the Qing conquest in 1755–1757.[24][25] After wiping out the native population of Dzungaria, the Qing government then resettled Han, Hui, Uyghur, and Xibe people on state farms in Dzungaria along with Manchu Bannermen to repopulate the area.

Consequences of the Genocide in Xinjiang's demographics[edit]

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.[26][27] The Dzungarian basin, which used to be inhabited by (Zunghar) Mongols, is currently inhabited by Kazakhs.[28] 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 area, while around two thirds were Uyghurs in southern Xinjiang's Tarim Basin.[29] In Dzungaria, the Qing established new cities like Urumqi and Yining.[30] The Qing were the ones who unified Xinjiang and changed its demographic situation.[31]

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".[32] Xinjiang as 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.[33]

The Qing gave the name Xinjiang to Dzungaria after conquering it and wiping out the Dzungars, reshaping it from a steppe grassland into farmland cultivated by Han Chinese farmers, 1 million mu (17,000 acres) were turned from grassland to farmland from 1760-1820 by the new colonies.[34]

Settlement of Dzungaria with Han, Hui, Uyghurs (Taranchi), Xibo, and others[edit]

After Qing dynasty defeated the Dzungars 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 Dzungaria. 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 Jahriyya rebellion, Jahriyya adherents were exiled.

The Qing enacted different policies for different areas of Xinjiang. Han and Hui's migrants were urged by the Qing government to settle 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.[35] In areas where more Han Chinese settled like in Dzungaria, the Qing used a Chinese style administrative system.[36]

The Manchu Qing ordered the settlement of thousands of Han Chinese peasants in Xinjiang 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.[37]

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.[38][39][40] Kulja (Ghulja) was a key area subjected to the Qing settlement of these different ethnic groups into military colonies.[41] 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.[42] 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.[43][44] The amount of Uyghurs moved by the Qing from Altä-shähär (Tarim Basin) to depopulated Zunghar land in Ili numbered around 10,000 families.[45][46][47] The amount of Uyghurs moved by the Qing into Jungharia (Dzungaria) at this time has been described as "large".[48] 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.[49] Standard Uyghur is based on the Taranchi dialect, which was chosen by the Chinese government for this role.[50] 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, often following the Hui.[51]

In Dzungaria (Northern Xinjiang), the Qing exacted corvée labor for construction and infrastructure projects from Uyghur (Taranchi) colonizers and Han colonizers.[52][53]

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.[54][55] In Ili, the Xinjiang Xibe built Buddhist monasteries and cultivated vegetables, tobacco, and poppies.[56] One punishment for Bannermen for their misdeeds involved them being exiled to Xinjiang.[57]

Sibe Bannermen were stationed in Dzungaria while Northeastern China (Manchuria) was where some of the remaining Öelet Oirats were deported to.[58] The Nonni basin was where Oirat Öelet deportees were settled. The Yenisei Kirghiz were deported along with the Öelet.[59] Chinese and Oirat replaced Oirat and Kirghiz during Manchukuo as the dual languages of the Nonni-based Yenisei Kirghiz.[60]

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.[61]

The Qing resorted to incentives like issuing a subsidy which was paid to Han who was willing to migrate to the northwest to Xinjiang, in a 1776 edict.[62][63] There were very little Uyghurs in Urumqi during the Qing dynasty, Urumqi was mostly Han and Hui, and Han and Hui's 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.[64][65][66] Hans was around one-third of Xinjiang's population at 1800, during the time of the Qing Dynasty.[67] Spirits (alcohol) were introduced during the settlement of northern Xinjiang by Han Chinese flooding into the area.[68] 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.[69]

The Qing Wianlong Emperor settled Hui Chinese Muslims, Han Chinese, and Han Bannermen in Xinjiang, the sparsely populated and impoverished Gansu provided most of the Hui and Han settlers instead of Sichuan and other provinces with dense populations from which Qianlong wanted to relieve population pressure.[70]

Professor of Chinese and Central Asian History at Georgetown University, James A. Millward wrote that foreigners often mistakenly think that Urumqi was originally an 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.[71][72]

While a few people try to give a misportrayal of the historical Qing situation in light of the contemporary situation in Xinjiang with Han migration, and claim that the Qing settlements and state farms were an anti-Uyghur plot to replace them in their land, Professor James A. Millward pointed out that the Qing agricultural colonies in reality had nothing to do with Uyghur and their land, since the Qing banned settlement of Han in the Uyghur Tarim Basin and in fact directed the Han settlers instead to settle in the non-Uyghur Dzungaria and the new city of Urumqi, so that the state farms which were settled with 155,000 Han Chinese from 1760-1830 were all in Dzungaria and Urumqi, where there was only an insignificant amount of Uyghurs, instead of the Tarim Basin oases.[73]

Dzungaria was subjected to mass Kazakh settlement after the defeat of the Dzungars.[74]

From Manchuria, Solon, Dagur, and Sibe were swapped for Yenisei Kirghiz (Fuyu Kirghiz) and Oirats from Dzungaria.[75]

Henning Haslund found in the Ili valley descendants of Chahar soldier migrants still living there in 1928-1929.[76] The China Year Book of 1914 said that there were "Some Ch'ahars on the river Borotala in Sinkiang (N. of Ili).".[77]

6,000 agriculturalist migrants were reported by the military governor of Ili in 1788, in Ili, 3,000 migrant agriculturalists were reported in 1783, at Urumqi one thousand and at Ili agriculturalists of exile criminal backgrounds numbering 1,700 were reported in 1775, 1,000 or several hundred migrants moved to Ili yearly in the 1760s.[78]

he Qing used Xinjiang as a place to put deported Jahriyya rebels from the Jahriyya revolt.[79] The Khufiyya Sufis and Gedimu joined together against the Jahriyya Sufis whom they fiercely opposed and differed from in practices.[80]:19-20 Salar Jahriyyas were among those deported to Xinjiang.[81]

In addition to sending Han exiles convicted of crimes to Xinjiang to be slaves of Banner garrisons there, the Qing also practiced reverse exile, exiling Inner Asian (Mongol, Russian and Muslim criminals from Mongolia and Inner Asia) to China proper where they would serve as slaves in Han Banner garrisons in Guangzhou. Russian, Oirats and Muslims (Oros. Ulet. Hoise jergi weilengge niyalma) such as Yakov and Dmitri were exiled to the Han banner garrison in Guangzhou.[82] In the 1780s after the Muslim rebellion in Gansu started by Zhang Wenqing 張文慶 was defeated, Muslims like Ma Jinlu 馬進祿 were exiled to the Han Banner garrison in Guangzhou to become slaves to Han Banner officers.[83] The Qing code regulating Mongols in Mongolia sentenced Mongol criminals to exile and to become slaves to Han bannermen in Han Banner garrisons in China proper.[84]

Kalmyk Oirats return to Dzungaria[edit]

The Oirat Mongol Kalmyk Khanate was founded in the 17th century with Tibetan Buddhism as its main religion, following the earlier migration of the Oirats from Zungharia through Central Asia to the steppe around the mouth of the Volga River. During the course of the 18th century, they were absorbed by the Russian Empire, which was then expanding to the south and east. The Russian Orthodox church pressured many Kalmyks to adopt Orthodoxy. In the winter of 1770–1771, about 300,000 Kalmyks set out to return to China. Their goal was to retake control of Zungharia from the Qing dynasty of China.[85] Along the way many were attacked and killed by Kazakhs and Kyrgyz, their historical enemies based on intertribal competition for land, and many more died of starvation and disease. After several gruelling months of travel, only one-third of the original group reached Zungharia and had no choice but to surrender to the Qing upon arrival.[86] These Kalmyks became known as Oirat Torghut Mongols. After being settled in Qing territory, the Torghuts were coerced by the Qing into giving up their nomadic lifestyle and to take up sedentary agriculture instead as part of a deliberate policy by the Qing to enfeeble them. They proved to be incompetent farmers and they became destitute, selling their children into slavery, engaging in prostitution, and stealing, according to the Manchu Qi-yi-shi.[87][88] Child slaves were in demand on the Central Asian slave market, and Torghut children were sold into this slave trade.[89]

Settlement of the Tarim Basin[edit]

Han and Hui merchants were initially only allowed to trade in the Tarim Basin, while Han and Hui settlement in the Tarim Basin was banned, until the Muhammad Yusuf Khoja invasion, in 1830 when the Qing rewarded the merchants for fighting off Khoja by allowing them to settle down permanently, however, few of them actually took up on the offer.[90] Robert Michell noted that as of 1870, there were many Chinese of all occupations living in Dzungaria and they were well settled in the area, while in Turkestan (Tarim Basin) there were only a few Chinese merchants and soldiers in several garrisons among the Muslim population.[91][92]

Indo-European speaking Shia Mountain Tajik Ghalchas made up the majority of slave trafficked and sold in Xinjiang to the Sunni Muslim Turkic inhabitants and they were seen as foreigners and strangers. Serfs were treated in a "wretched" manner.[93][94]

Altishahr (Southern Xinjiang) served as a place to send convicted Han Chinese convicts to become slaves to Turkestani (Uyghur) begs.[95][96][97] Christian converts were also sent as slaves to the Begs.[98][99][100] These Han Chinese exile-slaves managed to consort with the local Turkestani (Uyghur) women and even marry them, in addition to Han Chinese Green Standard soldiers, Bannermen, and Manchus, Turkestani women were also married by Kokandi merchants.[101][102] Xinjiang (Uyghur) Muslim begs also received Hui Muslims as slaves since those Hui were punished by the government for being members of illegal heterodox Sufi orders.[103] Slave masters in Xinjiang arranged for convict slave women to marry convict slave men.[104]

Even though Muslim women are forbidden to marry non-Muslims in Islamic law, from 1880-1949 it was frequently violated in Xinjiang since Chinese men married Muslim Turki (Uyghur) women, a reason suggested by foreigners that it was due to the women being poor, while the Turki women who married Chinese were labelled as whores by the Turki community, these marriages were illegitimate according to Islamic law but the women obtained benefits from marrying Chinese men since the Chinese defended them from Islamic authorities so the women were not subjected to the tax on prostitution and were able to save their income for themselves. Chinese men gave their Turki wives privileges which Turki men's wives did not have since the wives of Chinese did not have to wear a veil and a Chinese man in Kashgar once beat a mullah who tried to force his Turki Kashgari wife to veil. The Turki women also benefited in that they were not subjected to any legal binding to their Chinese husbands so they could make their Chinese husbands provide them with as much their money as she wanted for her relatives and herself since otherwise the women could just leave, and the property of Chinese men was left to their Turki wives after they died.[105] Turki women considered Turki men to be inferior husbands to Chinese and Hindus. Because they were viewed as "impure", Islamic cemeteries banned the Turki wives of Chinese men from being buried within them, the Turki women got around this problem by giving shrines donations and buying a grave in other towns. Besides Chinese men, other men such as Hindus, Armenians, Jews, Russians, and Badakhshanis intermarried with local Turki women.[106] The local society accepted the Turki women and Chinese men's mixed offspring as their own people despite the marriages being in violation of Islamic law. Turki women also conducted temporary marriages with Chinese men such as Chinese soldiers temporarily stationed around them as soldiers for tours of duty, after which the Chinese men returned to their own cities, with the Chinese men selling their mixed daughters with the Turki women to his comrades, taking their sons with them if they could afford it but leaving them if they couldn't, and selling their temporary Turki wife to a comrade or leaving her behind.[107]

Slaves from British India were imported into Xinjiang by the Begs.[108][109]

Conversion of Xinjiang into a province and effect on Uyghur migration[edit]

The two separate regions, Dzungaria, known as Zhunbu or Tianshan Beilu (Northern March),[110][111][112] 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),[42][113] were combined into a single province called Xinjiang by in 1884.[114] Before this, there was never one administrative unit in which North Xinjiang (Zhunbu) and Southern Xinjiang (Huibu) were integrated together.[115]

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.[116] 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.[117]

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 appropriated their sense of nationalism centred on Xinjiang as a clearly defined geographic territory.[31]

Among the Uyghur settlers in Gulja (Yining in Ili) were Rebiya Kadeer's family, her family were descendants of migrants who moved across the Tianshan Mountains to Gulja, Merket was the hometown of her mother's father and Khotan was the hometown of her father's parents.[118]

Qing era-demographics[edit]

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.[119] 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.[120] Professor Stanley W. Toops noted that today's demographic situation is similar to that of the early Qing period in Xinjiang.[29] 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).[121] Northern Xinjiang was where most Han were.[122]

Population growth[edit]

The Qing dynasty gave large amounts of land to Chinese Hui Muslims and Han Chinese who settled in Dzungaria, while Turkic Muslim Taranchis were also moved into Dzungaria in the Ili region from Aqsu in 1760, the population of the Tarim Basin swelled to twice its original size during Qing rule for 60 years since the start, No permanent settlement was allowed in the Tarim Basin, with only merchants and soldiers being allowed to stay temporarily,[123] up into the 1830s after Jahangir's invasion and Altishahr was open to Han Chinese and Hui (Tungan) colonization, the 19th century rebellions caused the population of Han to drop, the name "Eastern Turkestan" was used for the area consisting of Uyghuristan (Turfan and Hami) in the northeast and Altishahr/Kashgaria in the southwest, with various estimates given by foreign visitors on the entire region's population- At the start of Qing rule, the population was concentrated more towards Kucha's western region with around 260,000 people living in Altishahr, with 300,000 living at the start of the 19th century, one tenth of them lived in Uyghuristan in the east while Kashgaria had seven tenths of the population.[124]

Around 1,200,000 people lived in Kashgaria according to Kuropatkin at the close of the 19th century,[125] while 1,015,000 people lived in Kashgaria according to Forsyth. 2.5 million was the population guessed by Grennard, the population was commonly estimated at 2-3 million in 1922 according to Golomb while it was estimated at 5 million according to Yang Zengxin, it was then estimated at 6-8 million in 1931.[126]

An estimate of 65,000 Kirghiz, 92,000 Hui, 326,000 Kazakh, 187,000 Han, and 2,984,000 Uyghur adding up to a total population of 3,730,000 in all of Xinjiang in 1941 was estimated by Toops, and 4,334,000 people lived in Xinjiang according to Hoppe in 1949.[127]

Republic of China[edit]

Hui Muslim General Bai Chongxi was interested in Xinjiang. He wanted to resettle disbanded Chinese soldiers there to prevent it from being seized by the Soviet Union.[128] The Kuomintang settled 20,000 Han in Xinjiang in 1943.[129][130]

The Kuomintang government settled a million refugees from central China in Dzungaria before the outbreak of the Ili Rebellion.

People's Republic of China[edit]

  Uyghur majority
  Han majority
  Kazakh majority
The distribution map of Xinjiang's GDP per person (2011)

In 1950 Owen Lattimore wrote that 90% of Uyghurs lived in the Tarim Basin and they made up 95% of the Tarim Basin's population.[131] In 1978 Joseph Fletcher estimated that the Turfan Basin (Uyghurstan) held 10% of the Uyghurs population while the Tarim Basin held 70% of the Uyghur population.[132]

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.[133] 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.[134] 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.[135]

The People's Republic of China has directed the majority of Han migrants towards the sparsely populated Dzungaria (Junggar Basin). Before 1953 75% of Xinjiang's population lived in the Tarim Basin, thus the Han migrants resulted in the distribution of population between Dzungaria and the Tarim being changed.[136][137][138] Most new Chinese migrants ended up in the northern region, in Dzungaria.[139] 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.[140] Eastern and Central Dzungaria are the specific areas where these Han and Hui are concentrated.[141] 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.[142] 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".[143]

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.[144] Deliberately kept away from the Uyghur populated southern Xinjiang, Northern Xinjiang had been populated by 2 million Han in 1957–1967.[145]

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.[146] Southern Xinjiang is dominated by its nine million Uighur majority population, while northern Xinjiang is where the mostly urban Han population holds sway.[147] 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.[148]

From the 1950s to the 1970s, 92% of migrants to Xinjiang were Han and 8% were Hui. Most of these migrants were unorganized settlers coming from neighbouring Gansu province to seek trading opportunities.[149]

After the Sino-Soviet split in 1962, over 60,000 Uyghurs and Kazakhs defected from Xinjiang to the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic.[150] China responded by reinforcing the Xinjiang-Soviet border area specifically with Han Bingtuan militia and farmers.[151]

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.[152] The Chinese authorities viewed the Han migrants in Xinjiang as vital to defending the area against the Soviet Union.[153] 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.[154][155]

Since the Chinese economic reform from the late 1970s has exacerbated uneven regional development, more Uyghurs have migrated to Xinjiang cities and some Hans has 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.[156]

In the 1980s, 90% of Xinjiang Han lived in north Xinjiang (Beijiang, historical Dzungaria). In the mid-1990s, Uyghurs consisted of 90% of south Xinjiang (Nanjiang, historical Tarim)'s population.[149] 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.[157]

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).[158] 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 Bingtuans activities relate to agriculture, and 88% of Bingtuan employees are Han, although the percentage of Hans with ties to the Bingtuan has decreased.[159] 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.[160] During the 1990s, about 1.2 million temporary migrants entered Xinjiang every year to stay for the cotton picking season.[161] Many Uyghur trading communities exist outside of Xinjiang; the largest in Beijiang is one village of a few thousand.[161]

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.[162][163]

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.[164] Hans in Xinjiang are demographically older, better-educated, and work in higher-paying professions than their Uyghur cohabitants. Hans is 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.[165] 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.[166] As of 2010, Uyghurs constitute a majority in the Tarim Basin and a mere plurality in Xinjiang as a whole.[167]

Manchu, Daur, Tartar, Tajik, Xibo, Uzbeks, Russians, Kirgiz, Hui, Mongols, Kazakhs, Han, and Uyghur make up the ethnicities in Xinjiang, the Uyghur population has grown along with the Kazakh, there were 1.3 million Kazakhs and 8.4 million Uyghurs in 2001, an increase from 900,000 Kazakhs and 6 million Uyghurs in 1982, which was an increase from 500,000 Kazakhs and 4 million Uyghurs in the 1960s. There has been a declining death rate for childbirth and diseases have been checked by advanced medical care, helping Xinjiang's population growth, and China does not strictly apply birth control to the area.[168]

There was a 1.7 growth in the Uyghur population in Xinjiang while there was a 4.4% growth from 1940–1982 in the Hui population in Xinjiang. Uyghur Muslims and Hui Muslims have experienced a growth in major tensions against each other due to the Hui population surging in its growth. Some old Uyghurs in Kashgar remember that the Hui army at the Battle of Kashgar (1934) massacred 2,000 to 8,000 Uyghurs, which caused tension as more Hui moved into Kashgar from other parts of China.[169] Some Hui criticize Uyghur separatism, Dru C. Gladney said the Hui “don't tend to get too involved in international Islamic conflict, They don't want to be branded as radical Muslims."[170][171] Hui and Uyghur live separately, attending different mosques.[172]

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.[173]

Uyghur is the dominant language in southern Xinjiang while Mandarin is the dominant language in northern Xinjiang.[174]

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