Foreign Policy Blogs

Evidence the Chinese Government would like to see Mummified

19mummy_600.JPGThe New York Times, which has done a more than decent job covering the people, culture, and political situation of the Uighurs in China's Xinjiang Province, has a well-researched piece examining the impact of several mummified Xinjiang ancestors’ genetic background.

A museum in the province's capital of Urumqi holds several well-preserved mummified humans found in the Tarim Basin. Some of these mummies are more than 4,000 years old and their genetic make-up is widely seen as an accurate way to answer the ‘who was there first’ question being fought over by the Han Chinese and Uighur Muslims. Forget, the Cold War, this is the true East vs. West battle.

Each group has their claims to regional legitimacy and both have obvious important ramifications to who rightly has claim to the region and its rule. It is for this reason that the Chinese government, fearing the genetic evidence from these mummies would verify the Uighur's long-time presence, has been loath to let biological testing take place that they could not control. Nonetheless, foreign scholars have slipped away some tissue, which though still far from conclusive, has shown strong western roots in the region's people. The mummies have been found to have Central Asian, Iranian, and even European traits.

However, it is near impossible to pin down exactly how long a specific group has ruled/inhabited an area, as can be sadly seen in the Caucasus and Balkan regions where each group has ancient stories and anthropological evidence to defend their claims. And even more important is what a group can do with the knowledge. The Uighurs of Xinjiang can uncover a book written by Mao proclaiming their rightful place and rule of the region and the Chinese government would find a way to discredit or ignore it.

This is truly a case where science meets politics. Only time will tell who wins….Politics.

(Source: New York Times)



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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