News / Asia

China Pushes Assimilation to Calm Xinjiang Unrest

FILE - Two ethnic Uighur men walk in a clothing market in downtown Urumqi, Xinjiang province.
FILE - Two ethnic Uighur men walk in a clothing market in downtown Urumqi, Xinjiang province.
China's remote Xinjiang region is facing growing ethnic unrest, becoming one of Chinese President Xi Jinping's biggest challenges. At a recently concluded top-level meeting on the resource-rich region, Xi outlined policies aimed a promoting more assimilation of Xinjiang's Uighur minorities.
Since Xi took office 14 months ago, a series of violent attacks have claimed the lives of more than 200 people in China. Most of the attacks have occurred in Xinjiang, but the violence also has reached north to Beijing's Tiananmen Square and south to Yunnan province.

Last month, days after attackers tossed explosives into a crowd at a market in Xinjiang's capital, Urumqi, China held its second top-level meeting about the remote region. Xi called for a strong crackdown on terrorism and the promotion of long-term stability. He also said controls would be tightened on religion.

Xi also talked about promoting assimilation, though, between China's Han majority and Uighur minorities.

Attacks in ChinaAttacks in China
Attacks in China
Attacks in China
Migrating Xinjiang's Uighurs

Asian studies senior lecturer James Leibold, of La Trobe University in Melbourne Australia, said an explicit call to shift more Uighurs from Xinjiang's south is significant.

"I think that what is new here is the recognition that money alone is not going to solve the problem, and what is needed is to actually free up these people to seek opportunities, whether they be in Urumqi or Shanghai or in Beijing. That is bold and risky," said Leibold.

He said moving Uighurs to other parts of the country could lead to more ethnic conflict.  

"If on the one hand, the state wants to solve this problem of violence and terrorism, but on the other hand their policy [assimilation], at least in my opinion, is going to make that challenge more difficult in the short term," said Leibold.

According to state media reports, Xi told the group that assimilation is crucial to helping forge understanding, safeguarding national unity and solving the problem. He also stressed the need to build a common sense of Chinese destiny among the country's ethnic groups.

There already have been reports of Uighurs living in different parts of the country being forced to return to Xinjiang.

Assimilation issues

The president of the Uyghur American Association, Alim Seytoff, said the effort to promote assimilation will increase ethnic tensions, just as it has done in the past.

"This is not some promotion of inter-ethnic understanding or reconciliation. This is the acceleration of cultural genocide and the forceful assimilation of the Uighur people," said Seytoff. "The problems we are witnessing today are really a result of this kind of forceful assimilation policies."

Seytoff said the only good thing that came out of the meeting was a pledge from the Chinese government to wave high school fees for Uighur children and to help provide each Uighur family with one job.
Seytoff said that although China has poured billions of dollars into developing Xinjiang, that has not always helped Uighurs.  

"The Chinese government is not creating jobs for the Uighur people. The Chinese government is creating jobs for the Han settlers," said Seytoff.

During the meeting late last month, Xi said the government's policies were already on the right course. He mentioned measures to help with the development of southern Xinjiang, home to many Uighur minorities.  

Recently, state media reported the government plans to boost textile jobs in the region to 1 million by 2020.

Officials also have talked about the need to develop jobs more tailored to the needs of the local population in Xinjiang, and to encourage companies to do more to absorb local labor.

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Comment Sorting
by: YinHong from: China
June 15, 2014 11:00 PM
That's only a part of China, it's not at all. We love peace. We only kill people who break our peace.
In Response

by: anonymous from: canada
June 22, 2014 5:42 PM
"we only kill people who break our peace". Killing people for peace? are you kidding me? the language of aggressive Chinese.

by: Nigeshabi from: Canada
June 14, 2014 8:44 PM
@ little resident from: HK
"American should put the nuke bomb on Beijing to destroy china"

The US put the nuke bomb on Japan in WWII since Japan were Fascists/Nazi killing lot of civilian people in WWII.

China have ~5000 years history, are you even scared when you talked about destroying China and all its civilian people with such a long history and culture?

VOA is a place to talk about something peacefully, you are insane full of hatred and hostility like an extremist, you are not welcomed here. Go away!

by: NG from: Canada
June 14, 2014 3:39 PM
China is NOT facing growing ethnic unrest, specifically it is unrest problems caused by small amount of terrorists and extremists in China. Most Uyghur are peacefully living in China, studying and working hard to make their life better. Actually minority in China has advantages over majority (Han) in education, work and promotions.

Separatists can seek independence by peaceful means and protesting like Quebec has done in Canada,but these separatists/terrorists/extremists in Xinjiang killed civilian people brutally all the times, and all civilized people should condemn these brutal means of killing civilian people, so the western media is better use terrorism/extremism term for these kinds of killing instead of ethnic unrest, like 911 and Boston Marathon Explosions in US are NOT only ethnic unrest, it is terrorists who killed civilians.
In Response

by: you are terrorists from: canada
June 22, 2014 5:51 PM
really, stop lying, the whole world knows how your Han majority treated those minorities. You people are nothing but land hunger. You people took their land and treated them like animals. How could you dare to compare your country with Canada ? lol

by: little resident from: HK
June 14, 2014 2:51 PM
American should put the nuke bomb on Beijing to destroy china

by: Wangchuk from: NY
June 13, 2014 11:22 AM
The assimilation the CCP preaches is one of forced or coerced assimilation, not a peaceful one. The CCP isn't interested in protecting the rights of Uighurs or preserving their culture & religion. The CCP is only interested in preserving its colonial rule over the Uighur homeland and maintaining is monopoly of power. The CCP came to power in China through violence and it will use violence to subdue the Uighurs & any dissidents.

by: lukebc from: There
June 11, 2014 7:03 PM
URUMQI IS NOT EVEN THE HOME OF THE UIGHURS. Urumqi is in northern Xinjiang which is the home of Mongols and Kazakhs. Chinese and Chinese Hui Muslims (for all intents Chinese but they are muslim) have been settling into NORTHERN Xinjiang for nearly 300 years. The Han Chinese/Hui have existed alongside the Mongols and Kazakhs for those hundreds of years with absolutely NO problems. The Han Chinese NOW make up over 80% of the population of northern Xinjiang. The uighurs first started migrating into NORTHERN Xinjiang from THEIR HOME in SOUTHERN Xinjiang in the early 1800s, but their numbers remained small in NORTHERN Xinjiang up until after 1949 when they started to migrate to NORTHERN Xinjiang FOR ECONOMIC REASONS as the Chinese Communist government made the development of Xinjiang a priority, OF WHICH MOST OF THAT DEVELOPMENT OCCURRED IN NORTHERN XINJIANG WHERE THE CHINESE/HAN/HUI MIGRATED TO. But today the numbers of uighurs in NORTHERN Xinjiang is still small and they are only about 10-15% of the population of NORTHERN Xinjiang. This OBVIOUSLY means that the overwhelming majority of uighurs are in SOUTHERN Xinjiang. So IF there was ever to be a "turkestan" IT WOULD NOT BE ALL OF XINJIANG BUT JUST THE SOUTHERN 60%. NORTHERN Xinjiang is for all intents CHINESE/HAN so the uighurs are NOT being repressed in NORTHERN Xinjiang. If anyone is being "repressed" in NORTHERN Xinjiang it would be the native Mongol and Kazakh peoples and the Mongols and the Kazakhs get along fine with the Chinese/Han/Hui WHO HAVE BEEN THERE FOR GENERATIONS.

by: Jonathan huang from: Canada
June 11, 2014 1:16 AM
The only way to deal with aboriginals is to learn from America, the beacon of freedom, to send them to conservations.
In Response

by: Nigeshabi from: Canada
June 14, 2014 8:33 PM
@Suchoi-35 Flanker-E : Your question "Why to force them (China) to learn from America?"

You should ask America for this question, not jonathan huang.

Plus, you should learn and talk about American aboriginals first because you forced yourself to learn English, and you also know nothing about Chinese language and China/Xinjiang history.
In Response

by: jonathan huang from: canada
June 13, 2014 12:16 PM
@wangcuk, did america allow aboriginals to build their own autonomous states in this 21st century? did america give up those conservations in this 21st century?
since america is always correct and is the beacon of freedom, I strongly suggest CCP copy everything from america including this conservation system!
In Response

by: Wangchuk from: NYC
June 13, 2014 11:20 AM
This confirms that the CCP's view of ethnic minorities like Uighurs & Tibetans is to commit the kind of genocide that the USA did the American Indians. It seems the CCPs' view of ethnic minorities is firmly entrenched in the 19th century.
In Response

by: Suchoi-35 Flanker-E from: Внутренняя Монголия
June 13, 2014 7:42 AM
Why to force them to learn from America?

by: Tim from: Houston, TX
June 10, 2014 12:49 PM
China: These little guys from Xinjiang and Tibet have no humour, troublemakes. Can they see that we are so busy bullying and stealing lands from other small countries, and they wouldn't us alone? Let's call them terrorists first and get rid of them.

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