A friend of mine, Madlen Kobi, is doing research work for her dissertation in Xinjiang. In April 2013 she presented a very interesting overall review of Xinjiang in a public talk. One of her focus points was the various forms of cohabitation of the two main ethnic groups, the Uyghurs (45%) and the Han-Chinese (45%), living in Xinjiang. Other ethnic groups living in this area are Kazakhs, Kirghiz, Russians und Hui.
This is a short summary of the main points of her talk. If you’d like to read the whole article, click here Article about Xinjiang . The pictures in this article are Madlen’s unless otherwise indicated.
(Source: http://china.notspecial.org/albums/maps/map_xinjiang.jpg 7.5.2013)
The area serves as a buffer zone between East-China and Central Asia.
Xinjiangs is economically and geopolitically very important for China. The area has many natural resources such as oil, gas, coal, all kinds of minerals as well as water. The fruit from Xinjiang are exported all over China. The sweetest grapes and the most delicious mangos I’ve ever eaten had been grown there!
The cohabitation of different ethnic groups
The government propagates the advantages of mingling of the various ethnic groups with posters like the one below. Such posters can be seen at every street corner in Xinjiang today.
民族 团结 是 福. 分裂 动乱 是 祸. Minzu tuanjie shi fu. Fenlie dongluan shi huo. “Ethnic unity means happiness. Segregation and unrest mean disaster.”
The cohabitation between ethnic groups takes place mainly in the cities. These have grown enormously due to immigration from the countryside of Xinjiang and from other parts of China, where land is becoming scarce. The people are looking for new living space as well as better work chances.
In the 1980’s and the 1990’s there were quite a number of bilingual schools in Xinjiang. Today Mandarin Chinese is the main language used for teaching. The Uighur language is used only in classes about the Uighur history and culture. Anyway, it is easier to find a job for those who master Chinese.
Shopping malls are meeting places for all!