Reports from the West

Details are still emerging about the unrest in western China, but there are already some fabulous round-ups of media coverage of the events, such as this one at Shanghaiist and this one at EastSouthWestNorth. Here is a short video report from Al Jazeera:

Twitter is proving to once again be an important tracker for journalists and others. We recommend keeping track of these feeds if you’d like to keep up on what is happening (as well as recommendations for further reading as it is posted online): Michael Anti (journalist, Nieman Fellow); Louisa Lim (NPR reporter); Melissa K. Chan (Al Jazeera reporter).

Open Democracy has a new piece up by Yitzhak Shichor (a professor of East Asian studies at University of Haifa) that contextualizes the events.

For those wishing to put the events in further context (and more is certain to emerge in the coming days as academics, journalists, and China watchers are able to gather enough information to make informed commentaries on the riots and the likely crackdown to follow), here are a few pieces we’ve run at China Beat on Xinjiang in recent months:

Regarding the Guatanomo Uyghurs,” by James Millward:
It was not that long ago that references to Uyghurs hardly ever appeared in the international press. From the late 1980s through the late 1990s there were occasional stories, when reporters given rare opportunities to travel to Xinjiang sought out silk road exotica and separatism—story lines they seem to have settled on before their trip. It was not hard to flesh out the template with colorful minority clothing, mutton kabobs and some young guy in the bazaar complaining about the Chinese. The rare actual violent incidents were exciting—they fit the imagined narrative that Xinjiang was a “simmering cauldron” or “powder-keg waiting to blow.” But they were harder to write about, as information was scant and mainly filtered through PRC state media, which was then intent on minimizing any local unrest or dissent. Internally, in the late 1990s Xinjiang Party officials still worried about the Xinjiang issue becoming “internationalized”—in other words, emerging, like Tibet, as a global cause célèbre.
“Chinese Intellectuals and the Problem of Xinjiang,” by Sebastian Veg (Part I and Part II) :
It is a common assumption that Chinese intellectuals, however critical of their government, its institutions, and its policies, are unreceptive to calls for greater self-government, much less independence, in China’s autonomous regions, most notably Tibet and Xinjiang. It is therefore worth taking note of Wang Lixiong’s book on Xinjiang, published in 2007 in Taiwan, the title of which can be rendered as My Far West, Your East Turkistan...
Growing up Han: Reflections on a Xinjiang Childhood,” by Timothy Weston and “Leong,” a Han Chinese student who grew up in Xinjiang:
My parents had a very close Kazak friend. My parents felt equally friendly toward all ethnic groups. Some Han Chinese were very biased, however. I lived in a mixed area of the city, where people regularly interacted with others from different ethnic groups. Some who live in more exclusively Han areas display bias toward other ethnic groups. I did not understand the difference between myself and other ethnic groups until I was 5 or 6 years old. I only knew their faces were different. In festivals they would dress distinctively, but otherwise we all dressed the same way.