Wild West China: The Taming of Xinjiang

Front Cover
Rutgers University Press, 2004 - History - 314 pages

Closed to the world for half a century, like a black hole in the Asian landmass, the wilderness of Xinjiang in northwest China is returning to the light. The picture it presents is both fascinating and disturbing.

Despite a savage landscape and climate, Xinjiang has a rich past: sand-buried cities, painted cave shrines, rare creatures, and wonderfully preserved mummies of European appearance. Their descendants, the Uighurs, still farm the tranquil oases that ring the dreaded Taklamakan, the world's second largest sand desert, and the Kazakh and Kirghiz herdsmen still roam the mountains. The region's history, however, has been punctuated by violence, usually provoked by ambitious outsiders--nomad chieftains from the north, Muslim emirs from Central Asia, Russian generals, or warlords from inner China.

The Chinese regard the far west as a barbarian land. Only in the 1760s did they subdue it, and even then their rule was repeatedly broken. Compared with the Russians' conquest of Siberia, or the Americans' trek west, China's colonization of Xinjiang has been late and difficult. The Communists have done most to develop it, as a penal colony, as a buffer against invasion, and as a supplier of raw materials and living space for an overpopulated country. But what China sees as its property, the Uighurs regard as theft by an alien occupier. Tension has led to violence and savage reprisals.

This portrait of Xinjiang should be essential reading for travelers and for anyone interested in today's China and the fate of minority peoples.

 

What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - xuebi - LibraryThing

A truly fascinating portrayal of China's hinterlands in the far west and the Uyghur people, whose history and culture is at risk from ever-encroaching Han Chinese dominance in the region. Tyler not ... Read full review

Contents

In the Wilderness
3
Kings Khans and Khojas
24
The Fragrant Concubine
57
The Baby General
88
Red Dawn
129
Riots and Reprisals
153
Skeletons in the Sand
179
The Great Leap West
197
The Diaspora
220
Separate Tables
245
The Dragon and the Wolf
266
Glossary
272
Notes
274
Bibliography
287
Index
293
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

Bibliographic information