Thursday, May 28, 2009

China versus the Uighurs

One of my neighbors is a Uighur, a person I've mentioned before as having told me on several occasions how brutal China is to his people, how the media covers it up, and how the Uighurs don't consider themselves particularly Chinese. (I myself am no newbie to the plight of the Uighurs.)

And, it seems, the Chinese would just as soon have the Uighurs not be around either, or at least not their culture. Yes, it seems, it would be so nice and simple if the Uighurs would consider themselves good citizens of the PRC and their cultural trappings all went by the wayside.

Places like the thousand-year-old Kashgar (above, source), at the westernmost edge of the PRC, are being razed and replaced with modern structures designed to fit with Beijing's modern idea of what this testy ethnic and religious minority should look like:
Nine hundred families already have been moved from Kashgar’s Old City, “the best-preserved example of a traditional Islamic city to be found anywhere in central Asia,” as the architect and historian George Michell wrote in the 2008 book “Kashgar: Oasis City on China’s Old Silk Road.”

Over the next few years, city officials say, they will demolish at least 85 percent of this warren of picturesque, if run-down homes and shops. Many of its 13,000 families, Muslims from a Turkic ethnic group called the Uighurs (pronounced WEE-gurs), will be moved.

In its place will rise a new Old City, a mix of midrise apartments, plazas, alleys widened into avenues and reproductions of ancient Islamic architecture “to preserve the Uighur culture,” Kashgar’s vice mayor, Xu Jianrong, said in a phone interview.

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