Ethnic Tensions Between The Uyghur Muslim And Han Migration Essay example

Ethnic Tensions Between The Uyghur Muslim And Han Migration Essay example

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In 2009, members of the Uyghur ethnic group staged mass riots against the Chinese government in Urumqi, the capital city of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Regioni. These riots epitomized the long, violent ethnic conflict between the Uyghur Muslim and Han Chinese ethnic groups, the latter being the dominant ethnicity in China and controlling the centralized Beijing governmentii. China maintains a multicultural identity with its 56 distinct ethnic groups, but the Han government limits the political freedom of the minority groupsiii. In this paper I will argue that the ethnic tensions in Xinjiang are the result of repression of Uyghur language and religion by the Chinese government, and Han migration into the region, which itself is due to the PRC’s adoption of market economic policies.
The Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, the traditional land of the Uyghur Muslim ethnic group has been subjected to mass in-migration of workers from other provinces of China. This migration is twofold, with some migration designed and administered by the state, and the rest naturally market- driveniv. This migration has caused a massive demographic shift in the ethnic composition of Xinjiang; The Uyghurs find themselves a minority in their homeland. Today, approximately 46% of the population are Uyghur, 37% of the population are Han Chinese, with the remaining population consisting of ethnic groups such as the Kazaks and the Huiv. In the capital city of Urumqi, these figures are 77% and 14% respectivelyvi. The Uyghur people of Xinjiang see this migration as a deliberate act of the government to “Sinify” the regionvii, as ethnic genocideviii, and an effort to dilute the power of the local ethnic groupsix. Social, political and economic inequality is v...


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... can speak the languages of both major ethnic groups in Xinjiang. A study conducted in Urumqi in 2000 observed that 49% of Han cannot speak any of the Uyghur language, and that only 3% of them are proficientxxxv. Teaching both languages in school would abandon the monist cultural practice and likely bring greater social harmony between the ethnic groups. In addition to this change in social policy, the Chinese government must adopt economic reforms if it wishes to smoothen ethnic tensions with the Uyghur minority. The government must re-instate quotas and affirmative action plans for ethnic minorities in order to benefit the economic livelihoods of the largely unemployed ethnic group. Although these policies contrast the neoliberal, free-market economic policies that China is continually following, it is necessary to aid disenfranchised Uyghur population of Xinjiang.

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