Social Issues

Uyghur-Xinjiang Explained in Four Minutes

The extremely complex and controversial topic of Uyghurs in China is quickly demystified below. Basically, it’s about three things: separatism, terrorism, and geopolitics.

  1. The crux of the matter is about separatism
    • A tiny fraction of Uyghurs demand their own country. They call it “Turkistan” and want it to be created out of China’s Xinjiang province.
    • No country in world history has tolerated separatism and secession.
  2. Separatist demands are not reasonable
    • Uyghurs are 0.7% of China’s population. And the separatists want Xinjiang, which is four times the size of Germany or 16% of China’s land area! Not gonna happen.
    • Uyghurs in urban areas like Urumqi are secular and they definitely don’t want to live in an Islamic state run by religious extremists.
    • Finally, Uyghurs aren’t even half the population of Xinjiang.
  3. The US bombs Uyghurs and other Muslims, while demonizing China
    • There are thousands of Uyghur terrorists in Afghanistan. And guess what? The U.S. bombs and kills them! Oh, the US also captures Uyghurs and sends them to Guantanamo to be tortured. Are those actions better than China sending the jihadists to education and job-training programs???
    • The U.S. spent $6 trillion bombing numerous Muslim countries and created 50 million Muslim refugees over the last 20 years. And the U.S. is crying about Uyghur human rights??
  4. Good Jihadists, Bad Jihadists
    • Uyghur jihadists in Afghanistan or Syria are bad when they threaten NATO/U.S. military. However, when these jihadists go back to China, they are portrayed by the West as freedom fighters or innocent victims. Sheer hypocrisy.
  5. U.S. role in creating Uyghur jihadists
    • In the 1980s, the U.S. recruited, funded, trained, and armed Islamic militants (“Mujahedeens”) from all over the world to fight the USSR in Afghanistan. Not surprisingly, thousands of Uyghurs joined this jihad, since Afghanistan shares a border with Xinjiang.
    • Uyghur militants colluded with Bin Laden and created a group called “East Turkistan Islamic Movement” or ETIM, which is designated as a terrorist group by the U.N
  6. Uyghur terrorism in China and outside gets whitewashed by western media
    • Uyghur Mujahideens have carried out hundreds of terrorist attacks in China since 1990. These vary from knife attacks and car attacks to massive riots and terrifying suicide bombings.
    • Tens of thousands of Uyghurs went to Syria and joined ISIS and Al Qaeda. They want to come back to China and destabilize the country.
    • However, the only current narrative in the West is that China, the big bad wolf, oppresses Uyghurs for no reason.
  7. China’s anti-terrorism methods are working
    • After 25 years of struggling, China cracked down on Uyghur separatists and terrorists. The result is that there hasn’t been a terrorist attack since 2017.
    • BTW, the World Bank and 50+ Muslim countries sent representatives to evaluate these rehabilitation camps and praised China’s efforts.
  8. Combating jihadism is not easy
    • No country has found an easy solution to combat jihadism or change the minds of radicalized jihadists.
    • While China could do a better job with due process and transparency, the overall efforts are reasonable.
  9. Muslims and Islam are not oppressed in China
    • Xinjiang alone has 20,000+ mosques; and all major cities in China have large mosques, some built one thousand years ago. There are also 20 million Hui Muslims in China, but they don’t feel oppressed. (See video at the end of this article).
  10. Uyghurs are moderate Muslims
    • Uyghurs have traditionally followed Sufism, a very moderate version of Islam that’s totally different from Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabism.
    • Uyghur women wear beautiful colorful clothes, love dancing and singing, and don’t wear burqas. Uyghur tradition even includes mild alcoholic drinks (called Museles).
    • But if you watch the Uyghur separatist women, they are always covered up like the ultra-orthodox sects. That tells you who’s funding these radicals.
  11. China has helped Uyghurs prosper
    • Uyghur population has doubled in the last 40 years. Uyghurs were exempted from China’s one-child policy.
    • Xinjiang’s GDP has grown 10 times in the last 20 years.
    • There are many popular Uyghur actors, dancers, singers, athletes, politicians etc.
    • Uyghurs get preferential treatment for college admission and in other areas.
    • China wants Uyghurs to be happy, prosperous, and loyal citizens.
  12. This is all about geopolitics
    • Xinjiang is a crucial part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Every month, more than 1,000 freight trains go through Xinjiang while transferring goods between China and Europe. Disrupting Xinjiang means disrupting Chinese economy.
    • The U.S. just wants to contain the rise of China and thus is waging hybrid wars. From stirring up internal chaos in Hong Kong and Xinjiang to external chaos via Taiwan and India and to stifling Chinese tech companies like Huawei and TikTok, America’s playbook is just ruthless geopolitics.

For more in-depth analysis of this matter, check out the the blog post Xinjiang and Uyghurs — What You’re Not Being Told.”

There’s also a blog post with a slideshow of Uyghur and Xinjiang.

And here’s the video of Chinese Muslims celebrating Eid Mubarak:

Dongguan Mosque in Qinghai Province, China. Eid celebration.