centralasian (centralasian) wrote,

[PER] Muslim China

© David Lynch/USA Today

как вы догадались, это самый что ни на есть китай.

"The city of Kashgar is known for its old beautiful mosques. The Id Kah Moscque was constructed in 1442 and holds up to 20,000 people"

а вот ещё неплохая статья -

</b>China's own 'wild West' tale unfolds</b>

KASHGAR, China - Not long ago, this city's commercial heart was an open-air bazaar where butchers hacked at sides of beef, vendors measured purchases with hand-held scales, and braying donkeys joined the blare of car horns in an unruly bedlam.

Then, from all over mainland China, the Han Chinese started arriving. Some members of the Han - China's majority ethnic group - came to Muslim Xinjiang Province to pick cotton, others to escape increasingly fierce competition in the country's more developed areas. Either way, they are changing the face of one of China's most remote and restive regions.

Aided by lavish government pump-priming, the Han influx has made this unlikely backwater the richest province outside of China's coastal capitalist belt. The Chinese coming here by airplane, or via the 4-year-old railway, are building new lives in a hauntingly beautiful land of snow-dusted mountains, wind-blown deserts and lush oasis towns.

"This is a place that's newly developed, so there are more opportunities. ... It's easier to make money here," says Wang Changgao, 23, who moved here last year from Zhejiang Province in southeastern China to open a shoe store.

Like the 19th century American pioneers who heeded Horace Greeley's call to "Go west, young man," the Han Chinese believe they are bringing civilization and prosperity to a less-developed native population. And as in the Wild West, the natives don't see it that way. In fact, in an area with a long history of ethnic conflict, the Uighur Muslims, Xinjiang's largest group, say they're being marginalized in the march to modernize. The good jobs and desperately needed credit are monopolized by newly arriving Han, they say, leaving them with economic scraps.

Distinctly different peoples

When the Communists won control of China in 1949, Xinjiang was populated almost exclusively by Uighur Muslims, Kazahks and Hui ethnic minorities. Only 6% of the residents were Han Chinese. As late as 1960, the Han remained scarce. "One day, there was this meeting for the Han, and they couldn't even fill the room," says Huo Futian, 78, who first came to Xinjiang as a soldier in China's People's Liberation Army.

Today, the Uighurs and Han share Chinese nationality, but they remain distinctly different peoples. They look different, wear different clothes, worship different gods and eat different foods. (The Uighurs' diet is heavy on lamb kebabs and round nan bread. The Han Chinese prefer rice and the pork that is forbidden by the Uighurs' Muslim religion.) The Uighurs, one of Central Asia's Turkic peoples, use an Arabic writing script rather than Chinese characters.

For decades, China's rulers have encouraged Han migration to solidify their control over this distant province.

In recent years, public-sector inducement has been supplemented by private-sector attraction. "It's more of a pull than a push. The government's not forcing anyone to go. It's more a sense of attraction to perceived opportunities," says Dru Gladney, a Xinjiang expert at the University of Hawaii.

In the 1990s, up to 2 million Han settled in sparsely populated Xinjiang, says Nicolas Becquelin, a Xinjiang expert with Human Rights in China. That shift is akin to a surge of more than 30 million people into the USA.

Today, the Han officially make up 40% of Xinjiang's 19 million residents. The actual figure is certainly higher, because Chinese officials routinely understate the Han migration to avoid inflaming Uighur sensibilities.

Until the past few years, most new Chinese settlers clustered in northern Xinjiang, especially in the boomtown capital of Urumqi. Kashgar remained a place with sights, sounds and smells distinctively different from the rest of China.

But in the past few years, the Han have pushed deeper into areas in southern Xinjiang that traditionally were almost exclusively Uighur, such as Kashgar. Abdul Ghani, a local municipal official, insists the Han still make up less than 10% of the city's population. But a more reasonable estimate is that one-third of Kashgar's 340,000 residents are now Han Chinese, according to Becquelin.

Many of the new arrivals, including shoe store owner Wang, hail from Wenzhou, a commercial center in southeastern China. Kashgar's central Renmin Xi Lu street is like a little bit of Wenzhou transplanted to the Chinese frontier. A hotel called Wenzhou Mansion, adjacent to a string of Han-owned retail shops, dominates the street. "We have a community of Wenzhou people here. Maybe 70% of the shops are owned by people from Wenzhou," says Wang. "If I have some difficulty, they help me."

Economic migrants from across China

Like so many of the migrants, Wang learned of the opportunities in this near-virgin land from a relative. That's the customary pattern: A migrant comes here, does well and sends word back to his hometown.

Economic migrants are coming here from all over what the Uighurs refer to as naidi, meaning elsewhere in China. Down the street from Wang's shoe story is a gleaming new mall, which perhaps more than anything else serves as the physical embodiment of the Han influx.

A venerable Uighur neighborhood here was razed last year to make room for hundreds of new shops and restaurants, which are almost exclusively owned and staffed by Han Chinese. On a recent visit, the only Uighurs in evidence were a pair of musicians playing traditional instruments at the foot of an escalator.

Nearby stores offering clothes, shoes, eyeglasses, tea and DVDs are all staffed by Han. At the rear of the mall, a food court of perhaps two dozen restaurants also is exclusively Chinese.

Inside a first-floor DVD shop, Cao Wenying, 52, is waiting on one of a steady stream of customers. In July, she moved back to Kashgar after 17 years in Henan Province, about 2,000 miles east of here, to help her son run his new business. "Great changes have taken place. The roads are wider. There are more big buildings and, of course, there are more Han people coming to do business," she says.

They are coming to a place that bears little resemblance to the popular image of China's economic juggernaut, which ingests huge amounts of foreign capital and sends out into the world enormous volumes of exports.

Elsewhere, private businesses account for close to half the economy. Here, more than 80% of industrial assets are controlled by state-owned companies, according to Becquelin. Much of Xinjiang's economic activity, in fact, resembles traditional colonial relationships. Raw materials, including oil and natural gas, are extracted from the province and shipped east to feed China's economic engine. Landlocked Xinjiang's exports are insignificant.

The amount of foreign direct investment in Xinjiang would be considered almost a rounding error in the national accounts. Of the $33.9 billion in foreign cash China attracted in the first six months of this year, just $10.7 million landed in Xinjiang. Foreign companies are deterred by Xinjiang's isolated location and its history of what Beijing calls separatist-inspired terrorism.

Hard to attract skilled workers

For some Xinjiang companies, the tyranny of geography makes it difficult to attract needed talent. "We lie in a desert area far from the eastern region," says Li Chunsheng, board chairman of San Daoling coal mine. "Many people don't want to come to this place."

Yet, many do. Each year, an estimated 1 million temporary workers come from inland provinces such as Gansu, Sichuan and Anhui for Xinjiang's cotton harvest, according to L.C. Chui, general manager of shirt maker Turpan Esquel. Over a four-month period, the men, mostly farmers filling the time between harvest and planting, can earn about 6,000 yuan (about $725) - almost as much as they'd make in three years back home.

They stay for the same reason that Wan Ling, 23, left rural Gansu Province to work as a clerk in the West Shoes Superstore. Every month, she earns about 650 yuan ($78.50), more than three times what she'd make farming back home. "We're from the countryside. The economy in our hometown is not very developed," she says.

Construction workers also flood into the province, drawn by the government's massive investment in infrastructure. Near the 15th century Id Kah Mosque, Kashgar's most important place of worship, construction crews on jobs along both sides of the mosque are entirely Han - in defiance of a local law requiring half the jobs to go to ethnic minorities.

Some analysts look to prejudice as a contributor to the Uighurs' high level of unemployment. Chinese companies have a perception that "local people are lazy or can't speak Chinese," Gladney says.

Many Uighurs do speak only their native Turkic tongue. One local man, a 21-year-old who uses only one name, Migit, says he was unable to find work for two years because he couldn't speak Chinese.

Under a long-term program announced in 1999 to develop the west, Beijing poured $30.7 billion into Xinjiang. The current five-year plan calls for an additional $51 billion in central government spending.

The largesse is evidence that China's rulers are betting economic development will solve all their problems here. Some experts aren't so sure.

"Many government officials feel economic growth is a panacea for social, religious and other problems. The reality is that economic growth often exacerbates tensions, particularly if some groups feel left behind," Gladney says. "If the Chinese can't close the gap between rich and poor ... in the future, I worry they may have real problems."

By David J. Lynch, USA Today, Oct 7, 2004

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