Xinjiang: A history of intertwined ethnic ties

Source: China Daily [16:03 July 14 2009]

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Nine years ago, I had a chance to ride along the northern rim of the Tarim basin, cut cross the Tianshan Mountains, and pass through the southern rim of the Turban basin in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

As the new century began, the region was enjoying an economic boom, with burgeoning border trade, bumper grain harvests, and steady improvement in the local people's standard of living. Urumqi was fast becoming the sophisticated metropolis it is today.

Across Xinjiang, per capita income in rural areas and disposable income of the urban residents more than doubled between 2000 and 2008. Over the years, more refrigerators and color TV sets have entered local people's homes. The number of private automobiles from mini buses, trucks to sedan cars has more than doubled since 2000 to surpass 900,000 early this year.

On Sunday, however, mobsters attempted to ruin it all, stoning and beating pedestrians and bus passengers, torching cars and buses, and ransacking shops and other buildings.

I hope their attempt to fan ethnic hatred fails. I do not believe their criminal behavior can erase the long history of ethnic mingling and shared development in Western China.

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