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The Not At All Autonomous Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region: An International Human Rights Embarrassment And Pothole On China’s Belt And Road

The Not At All Autonomous Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region: An International Human Rights Embarrassment and Pothole on China’s Belt and Road

The northwestern-most area of the People’s Republic of China has fit uneasily into the PRC since the day its leaders bowed to the inevitable and declared their allegiance to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Then mostly populated by Turkic Muslims who felt more kinship with Central Asia, the area had been incorporated into China as a province only in 1884, after the Manchu Qing dynasty feared that Czarist Russia had designs on it: the name itself means “New Territory.” The Soviet Union also coveted the area and, despite repeated affirmations of friendship with the PRC, maintained control of several districts in the north of Xinjiang until 1954. When Mao Zedong’s 1958 Great Leap Forward caused the death of millions, the U.S.S.R. was happy to give asylum to refugees, even providing them with a radio station to urge those who remained in China to join them, since life was so much better on the Soviet side of the border. Read more.

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