Foreign Policy Blogs

Xinjiang: A Transformation from the Outside-In

Uighur street salesmanJoshua Kucera, in a diary published in Slate, describes a Xinjiang Province undergoing a great transition. He explored Kashgar, Korla, Urumqi, and Kanas Lake and in all these places he paints a vivid picture of an Uighur people and culture's regional dominance being challenged by an influx of Han Chinese people, money, and government power. Kucera portrays a dynamic, yet schizophrenic region that at times seems like it is "the end of the world' or stuck in the "middle ages,' but also one showing rapid signs of modernization and high class culture. He does a wonderful job providing the reader both an Uighur and Han Chinese perspective on the region's changes. The Chinese government is bringing much prosperity to the province, but Kucera accurately asserts that this newfound wealth and power is largely bypassing the local Uighurs, and in many ways in his reporting, they appear to be just background players in the Chinese vision for the region's future. (Make sure you check out his Picture Slideshow)


Kucera also interviews Michael Manning, a 27 year old American from New Jersey, who lives in Korla and reports about the region in his blog, The Opposite End of China, which can be found at the bottom of this page under Blogroll. Manning also has written about Friday's plane terrorist incident and last month's Chinese Government Raid against ETIM, which have both brought the region much publicity in the past couple days.


In a related story, Joshua Kucera interviewed Uighur human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize Nominee Rebiya Kadeer, about her home, the Xinjiang Province. In the interview, she calls the Chinese government's policies an "existential threat' to the Uighur people, dismisses the idea that radical Islamic elements are present in Xinjiang's Uighur community (although she does say that "when people are pushed into a corner, and stripped naked without any kinds of rights, that kind of life may drive people to do crazy things'), and praises the US government for its continued support, but asks for more progress and international community participation.

(Picture by Joshua Kucera from



Patrick Frost

Patrick Frost recently graduated from New York University's Masters Program in Political Science - International Relations. His MA thesis analyzed the capabilities and objectives of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Central Asia and beyond and explored how these affected U.S. interests and policy.

Areas of Focus:
Eurasia, American Foreign Policy, Ideology, SCO

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