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.

You May Like

Guatemala Mudslide Death Toll Rises to 86

Death toll is expected to continue to rise as emergency crews dig through tons of earth for an estimated 350 people still missing More

Goodbye Pocahontas: Photos Reveal Today's Real Native Americans

Weary of stereotypes, photographer Matika Wilbur is determined to reshape the public's perception of her people More

Debris Found in Search for Missing Ship

Objects located Sunday have not yet been confirmed to be from the 240 meter container ship, El Faro, which disappeared in the eye of Hurricane Joaquin, according to US Coast Guard More

This forum has been closed.
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.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs