Violence in Urumqi

It’s pronounced /oo room chee/ with the accent on room. The Uighurs are rioting.

My wife and I spent some time there a decade ago or so. It didn’t seem a particularly nice place at the time, and the surrounding desert is dust and wasteland. Sometimes beautiful and sometimes just desolate and empty. The Uighurs we met complained bitterly about repression by the Han Chinese.

One guy I remember well. He worked at a bank, and told us that he could never aspire to climb the ladder because only Chinese people are promoted. (He used “Chinese” for the Han Chinese, and “Uighur” for Uighurs.)

His point of view was that the Chinese came into that territory as a minority, then repressed the local majority of non-Chinese who didn’t share their religion, genes, or way of life. And more were coming every year.

He felt hopeless, except for the possibility of getting out of China somehow. This was a reasonably educated person, who spoke English, but felt that he had no future purely due to his background. It was sad.

[Note that the people we met there didn’t talk about brutal physical repression, imprisonment, and cultural and religious “re-education.” It was probably happening then (as now), but that’s not what they spoke to us about.]

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