I’m not here to gripe about a ticket that I admittedly earned. What I couldn’t believe was just how difficult it was to pay the fine. [more inside]
"Putting the kids out front echoed the Chinese depiction of ethnic minorities, regularly represented—as in the 2008 Olympic opening ceremonies—as children. It created a familiar, comfortable world for the majority Han clientele, especially since the kids, unlike their parents, spoke fluent Mandarin. When the back door opened, I sometimes got a glimpse of another world; a cluster of Uighur men and one woman smoking, cooking, and joking in their own language, entirely isolated from the diners." -- James Palmer on the ethnic tensions between Han Chinese and Uighur in Xinjiang.
The World’s Oldest Pornography. The Kangjiashimenji Petroglyphs in the Tien Shan Mountains: A Fertility Ritual Tableau.
In 2003, the BBC reported that a population explosion of Great Gerbils had destroyed more than 4 million hectares of grasslands in China's north-western Xinjiang region -- an area about the size of Switzerland. By 2005 the damage covered 5 million hectares, and the Xinjuang Regional Headquarters for Controlling Locusts and Rodents were reported to be breeding and attracting pairs of golden eagles to curb the gerbil population. So McSweeney's Joshuah Bearman was assigned to the story. His report: An Investigation Into Xinjiang's Growing Swarm of Great Gerbils, Which May or May Not be Locked in a Death-Struggle With the Golden Eagle, With Important Parallels and/or Implications Regarding Koala Bears, The Pied Piper, Spongmonkeys, Cane Toads, Black Death, [and] Text-Messaging..
China’s partnership of stability in Xinjiang As news breaks that Wang Lequan has been replaced as Party secretary in Xinjiang (a fall for the long-serving hard man some expected last last year, though only last month Wang was bullish in interviews about major new central investment in the western border region), Tom Cliff has a timely and informative short background piece up at the East Asia Forum that gives some of the context behind the move.
Fascinated by the Orient An exhibition of the letters, photographs and maps bequeathed to the Hungarian Academy of Sciences by the great explorer, archaeologist, geographer and Sanskritist Sir Marc Aurel Stein. Journeyer in the footsteps of Alexander, explorer of Central Asia and West China, surveyor of the antiquities of India and Iran; after a long life of journeying through and studying central Asia, Aurel Stein found his final rest in Kabul. He is also remembered for rediscovering the oldest dated printed book still in existence, a copy of the Diamond Sutra in the caves at Mogao. That the latter and many thousands of other manuscripts collected by Stein now reside in the British Library is of course, like his other 'treasure hunting', not without controversy.
China’s wild west Considered journalism on the historical and political background to the recent inter-ethnic violence in Xinjiang.
"On the evening of July 5th, several hundred Uighur youths went on a bloody rampage [in Urumqi, Xinjiang] following a peaceful demonstration over a separate incident of ethnic violence at a Guangdong toy factory. . . . In the days that followed, bands of roving Han vigilantes armed with kitchen knives, hammers, metal pipes and other improvised weapons sought to mete out revenge in the Uighur suburbs of the city. . . . Caught in-between these increasingly polarized and agitated ethnic communities is the Chinese state, which, rather than orchestrating the brutal oppression of the non-Han minorities, finds itself increasingly powerless to stop the spiralling circle of ethnic hatred which its policies helped to foster in the first place." [more inside]
In the 1860’s, while the US was busy crushing its agrarian revolution, the Russians were busy expanding their empire towards Afghanistan and cleansing the Caucuses of those pesky Circassians, Chechens, and Tartars (to name a few) in a little known places like Abkhazia, the British were busy expanding their empire towards Afghanistan and extinguishing the last outposts of “mutineers,” and the Qing Dynasty of China was losing its grip on its Empire due to a cult of longhaired Christians lead by Jesus’s Chinese little brother. Alimkul, the de facto Khan of Khotan took advantage of the chaos by sending his greatest general, Yakub Beg, to Kashgar... [more inside]
Documentary about China's Wild West: an area on the west frontier of China's Gobi Desert named Xinjiang (New Land) by the Chinese, but populated by a Muslim minority known as Uighurs who believe they should be an independent Uighur nation.
Is Xinjiang Province The Islamic Jihad Battlefront in China? China detains 82 'terrorists' targeting Olympics and police have shot Uighurs dead. Meanwhile people from the Uighur minority call on the international community to boycott the Beijing Olympic games. What side of the Jihad is China on? Previously there was The Al Qaeda - China Tie. The oil and petrochemical sector account for 60% of Xinjiang's local economy.
Uyghur goes pop! Fully downloadable album (with samples to try before you don't have to buy) of pop music from Xinjiang, aka East Turkestan, home to the Uyghur.
The republic of Kalmykia is a unique place. A member of the Russian Federation, it was settled in 1608 by Mongols from what is now the Chinese province of Xinjiang. It is the only state in Europe where Buddhism is the dominant religion, and probably the only state in the world whose president claims to have created an "extra-sensory field" around it. Kalmykia's spiritual leader, Telo Rinpoche, is an American from Philadelphia who was appointed by the Dalai Lama. There has been a long history of migrations between Europe and Asia. In one really intriguing case, 3000-year-old mummies with reddish-blond hair, Caucasian features and wearing tartans similar in design to Celtic ones, were discovered in the Takla Makan Desert in Xinjiang. If these ancient Caucasians were absorbed by the population of Xinjiang, then perhaps the Kalmyk migration might have unknowingly been a return to their ancestral lands. [First link via plep].