China is a country that is not very stable in terms of its ethnic groups. Like I have previously discussed, Hong Kong and Macau are in a strange situation as well as Taiwan (But more about Taiwan in a different article.) There is one group of people in China that are one of the country’s smallest minorities. They live in the ultimate location for China’s trade, that being Xinjiang. Of course I’m talking about the Uighurs. (Pronounced as Weegurs.) The mostly Muslim population of China. They have probably gone through more than any of the ethnic minorities in the country and it is still an ongoing issue.
Previously, the Uighurs have tried to gain their own independence by establishing the Republic of East Turkestan. This was way before China’s government was overthrown and became communist. East Turkestan was eventually taken over by China but later they tried again to gain independence but China took over yet again for the second time. The reason for this is simply because the area of Xinjiang is rich in resources and it’s what the country relies on for it’s energy production.
Because of this, China has been suppressing the Uighurs as harsh as it can. New detention camps have been build all over the Xinjiang region to detain the people. In these camps they are being abused. Mentally, sexually and physically. They are told to recite Chinese communist propaganda every day and even criticise Islam. The whole area of Xinjiang is under extreme police control as well and residents are required to give DNA samples and having their phones checked for any “sensitive” religious content. Thousands of Uighurs have fled to Turkey but there are still tons of people in the area that are being stripped of their human rights. China has of course denied that such camps exist but eventually called them “re-education centres” after western media and internet sleuths found lots of evidence. To the Chinese government the Uighurs are just terrorists who are part of a separatist group.
The west and in particular, the USA have criticised China for this but China does not seem to care at all about this. To them it’s important that the Chinese government has total control over the Xinjiang area despite breaking international law.
Apart from the human rights abuse, China is now using Xinjiang to build trade networks with Europe to further crack down on the Uighurs. Project Belt and Road is there to build infrastructure within other Asian countries to make it easier for the world to trade with China. Most but not all of this infrastructure goes through the province of Xinjiang which makes it very important for China to have control here.
How long this situation for the Uighurs will last, nobody knows. We can only hope that these gruesome human rights violations will come to an end soon and that actions will be taken. If you want to help in making a difference for the Uighurs, then you can donate to this charity.