The great Altai, Tian Shan, and Kunlun mountain ranges enclose the region on the north, west, and south, respectively; a barren plateau lies to the west. Xinjiang's rivers, including the Tarim, Yarkant, Ili, Manas, and Hotan, rise in the mountains and flow from east to west. The level land, divided by the Tian Shan in central Xinjiang, comprises Dzungaria, a grazing region to the north, and the Tarim basin (Taklimakan), a vast desert to the south. Lop Nur, a largely dried-up salt lake in the Tarim basin, is the site of Chinese nuclear test explosions. Xinjiang has a dry continental climate with great extremes of winter and summer temperature. Rainfall is scant, seldom exceeding 10 in. (30 cm) annually.
Xinjiang is ethnically diverse, with mainly Muslim, Turkic-speaking Uigurs making up nearly half the population. There are also Hui, Mongolians, Manchu, dozens of other minority groups and, as a result of government-encouraged migration and development, a growing Chinese population that roughly equals the Uigur population. Most people live along the borders of the Dzungaria and the Tarim basin. Xinjiang Univ. is in Ürümqi.
Agriculture has long been important to Xinjiang's economy and, with government encouragement, it is increasingly undertaken on a large scale. Cotton, sugar beets, wheat, rice, millet, potatoes, sorghum, and fruit are grown. The Manas irrigation project in S Dzungaria is one of several extensive modern government attempts to expand the area under cultivation. Although extensive areas of grazing land have been converted to raising crops, large-scale animal husbandry remains important, and the number of livestock (sheep, goats, cattle, horses, and camels) is increasing. Many of the Kazakh and Mongol stock-herders are still at least seminomadic.
Xinjiang also has rich mineral resources, and their extraction has become more significant economically. The vast oil fields at Karamay (served by both highways and an airline) are among the largest in China, and there are extensive deposits of coal, silver, copper, lead, nitrates, gold, and zinc. New mines as well as associated industry, such as refineries, ironworks, steelworks, and chemical plants, have been established. Other industries include textile (especially cotton and wool) and cement production and sugar refining.
The region is linked to the Chinese rail network by line from Lanzhou, Gansu, to Ürümqi (completed 1963). West and south of Ürümqi transportation is mainly by highways built along two ancient roads: the north road, which skirts the southern edge of the Dzungaria and connects Ürümqi with the Turkistan-Siberia rail line, and the south road, encircling the Tarim basin. The camel remains an important means of transport, but the use of trucks continues to increase.
Xinjiang has had a turbulent history. Some of the earliest known inhabitants, from c.4,000 years ago, have been found mummified in the region's deserts and appear to be of Caucasoid origin, possibly ancient Tokharians. Xinjiang first passed under Chinese rule in the 1st cent. B.C., when the emperor Wu Ti sent a Chinese army to defeat the Huns and occupy the region. In the 2d cent. A.D., China lost Xinjiang to the Uzbek Confederation but reoccupied it in the mid-7th cent. It was conquered (8th cent.) by the Tibetans, overrun by the Uigurs, who established a kingdom there, and subsequently invaded (10th cent.) by the Arabs. Xinjiang passed to the Mongols in the 13th cent. An anarchic period followed until the Manchus established (1756) loose control.
The subsequent relations between China and Xinjiang were marked by cultural and religious conflict, bloody rebellions, and tribal dissensions. In the 19th cent., this unrest was encouraged by Great Britain and czarist Russia to protect India and Siberia, respectively. Xinjiang became a Chinese province in 1881, but even as late as the establishment of the Chinese republic in 1912 it remained more or less independent of the central government. Rebellions in 1936, 1937, and 1944 further eased Chinese rule.Chinese Communist Rule
Late in 1949, Xinjiang capitulated to the Chinese Communists without a struggle, but there was a Uigur uprising in Hotan in 1954. On the basis of the 1953 census, which showed the Uigurs to comprise 74% of the population, Xinjiang prov. was reconstituted (1955) an autonomous region. Autonomous districts were created as well for the Kazakhs, Mongols, Hui, and Kyrgyz. In the 1950s and 1960s, the central government sent massive numbers of Chinese to Xinjiang to help develop water-conservancy and mineral-exploitation schemes. This has drastically altered the population balance, and the Chinese are approaching numerical parity with the Uigurs. National defense has also been a consideration in the strategic and sensitive region. In 1969, frontier incidents led to fighting between Soviet and Chinese forces along the border.
In the 1990s, the Turkic peoples of Xinjiang grew increasingly discontented with Chinese rule, in part because of the migration of large numbers of Chinese to the area as a result of government resettlement programs, and rioting by proindependence Muslims broke out in 1997. China subsequently increased the number of troops in the region, and has instituted a harsh crackdown on political dissent and Turkic separatists. Orthodox Islamic practices have been discouraged or suppressed by the government for fear that they will become a focus of Uigur nationalism. Occasional anti-Chinese protests have occurred since 1997, most recently and violently in 2009 (when Uigurs and Chinese attacked each other in the streets), and there also have been separatist attacks on government officials and buildings and other targets.
Xinjiang (Uyghur: شىنجاڭ, Shinjang; ; Postal map spelling: Sinkiang; Turkish: Sincan, Sincan Uygur Özerk Bölgesi, or commonly known as Doğu Türkistan) is an autonomous region (Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region) of the People's Republic of China. It is a large, sparsely populated area (spanning over 1.6 million sq. km) which takes up about one sixth of the country's territory. Xinjiang borders the Tibet Autonomous Region to the south and Qinghai and Gansu provinces to the southeast, Mongolia to the east, Russia to the north, and Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India to the west. It administers most of Aksai Chin, a territory formally part of Kashmir over which India claims sovereignty.
"Xinjiang" or "Ice Jecen" in Manchu, literally means "New Frontier", a name given during the Manchu Qing Dynasty in China. It is home to a number of different ethnic groups, many of them Turkic, the largest of which is the Uyghur people. Older English-language reference works often refer to the area as Chinese Turkestan, Sinkiang, East Turkestan, or Uyghuristan.
The very well preserved Tarim mummies with Caucasoid features, often with reddish or blond hair, today displayed at the Ürümqi Museum and dated to the 3rd century BC, have been found in precisely the same area of the Tarim Basin. Various nomadic tribes, such as the Yuezhi were part of the large migration of Indo-European speaking peoples who were settled in eastern Central Asia (possibly as far as Gansu) at that time. The Ordos culture situated at northern China east of the Yuezhi, are another example.
Nomadic cultures such as the Yuezhi are documented in the area of Xinjiang where the first known reference to the Yuezhi was made in 645 BC by the Chinese Guan Zhong in his Guanzi 管子(Guanzi Essays: 73: 78: 80: 81) . He described the Yuzhi 禺氏, or Niuzhi 牛氏, as a people from the north-west who supplied jade to the Chinese from the nearby mountains of Yuzhi 禺氏 at Gansu. The supply of jade from the Tarim Basin from ancient times is indeed well documented archaeologically: "It is well known that ancient Chinese rulers had a strong attachment to jade. All of the jade items excavated from the tomb of Fuhao of the Shang dynasty, more than 750 pieces, were from Khotan in modern Xinjiang. As early as the mid-first millennium BC the Yuezhi engaged in the jade trade, of which the major consumers were the rulers of agricultural China." (Liu (2001), pp. 267-268).
The nomadic tribes of the Yuezhi are also documented in detail in Chinese historical accounts, in particular the 2nd-1st century BC "Records of the Great Historian", or Shiji, by Sima Qian, which state that they "were flourishing" but regularly in conflict with the neighbouring tribe of the Xiongnu to the northeast. According to these accounts:
The Yuezhi originally lived in the area between the Qilian or Heavenly Mountains (Tian Shan) and Dunhuang, but after they were defeated by the Xiongnu they moved far away to the west, beyond Dayuan, where they attacked and conquered the people of Daxia and set up the court of their king on the northern bank of the Gui [= Oxus] River. A small number of their people who were unable to make the journey west sought refuge among the Qiang barbarians in the Southern Mountains, where they are known as the Lesser Yuezhi.
Traversed by the Northern Silk Road, Western Regions or Xinjiang is the Chinese name for the Tarim and Dzungaria regions of what is now northwest China. At the beginning of the Han Dynasty (206 BC – AD 220), the region was subservient to the Xiongnu, a powerful nomadic people based in modern Mongolia. In the 2nd century BC, Han China sent Zhang Qian as an envoy to the states in the region, beginning several decades of struggle between the Xiongnu and Han China over dominance of the region, eventually ending in Chinese success. In 60 BC Han China established the Protectorate of the Western Regions (西域都護府) at Wulei (烏壘; near modern Luntai) to oversee the entire region as far west as the Pamir.
During the usurpation of Wang Mang in China, the dependent states of the protectorate rebelled and returned to domination in AD 13. Over the next century, Han China conducted several expeditions into the region, re-establishing the protectorate from 74-76, 91-107, and from 123 onward. After the fall of the Han Dynasty, the protectorate continued to be maintained by Cao Wei (until 265) and the Western Jin Dynasty (from 265 onwards).
The Western Jin Dynasty succumbed to successive waves of invasions by nomads from the north at the beginning of the 4th century. The short-lived non-Han Chinese kingdoms that ruled northwestern China one after the other, including Former Liang, Former Qin, Later Liang, and Western Liáng, all attempted to maintain the protectorate, with varying extents and degrees of success. After the final reunification of northern China under the Northern Wei empire, its protectorate controlled what is now the southeastern third of Xinjiang. Local states such as Shule, Yutian, Guizi and Qiemo controlled the western half, while the central region around Turpan was controlled by Gaochang, remnants of a state (Northern Liang) that once ruled part of what is now Gansu province in northwestern China.
Both Tibet and the Uyghur Khaganate declined in the mid-9th century. The Kara-Khanid Khanate, which arose from a confederation of Turkic tribes scattered after the destruction of the Uyghur empire, took control of western Xinjiang in the 10th century and the 11th century. Meanwhile, after the Uyghur khanate in Mongolia had been smashed by the Kirghiz, branches of the Uyghurs established themselves in the area around today's Turfan and Urumchi in 840. This Uyghur state would remain in eastern Xinjiang until the 13th century, though it would be subject to various overlords during that time. Some scholars have argued, that the Kara-Khanids were likewise "Uyghurs," as some of the components in the Kara-Khanid federation were likewise from the ruling clans of the Uyghur empire. The Kara-Khanids converted to Islam, whereas the Uyghur state in eastern Xinjiang remained Manicheaean, while tolerating Buddhism and Christianity.
In 1132, remnants of the Khitan Empire from Manchuria entered Xinjiang, fleeing the onslaught of the Jurchens into north China. They established an exile regime, the Kara-Khitan Khanate, which became overlord over both Kara-Khanid-held and Uyghur-held parts of the Tarim Basin for the next century.
In the 17th century, the Dzungars (Oirats, Kalmyks) established an empire over much of the region. Kalmyks controlled a vast area known as the Kalmyk Empire to Westerners, which stretched from the Great Wall of China to the present day Eastern Kazakhstan, and from the Himalayas to Siberia.
By the mid-19th century, the Russian Empire was encroaching upon Qing China along its entire northern frontier. The Opium Wars and Taiping and other rebellion's in China proper had severely restricted the dynasty's ability to maintain its garrisons in distant Xinjiang. In 1864 both Chinese Muslims (Hui) and Uyghurs rebelled in Xinjiang cities, following an on-going Chinese Muslim Rebellion in Gansu and Shaanxi provinces further east. Qing control of the region was swept away. In 1865, Yaqub Beg, a warlord from the neighbouring Khanate of Kokand, entered Xinjiang via Kashgar, and conquered nearly all of Xinjiang over the next six years. In 1871, Russia took advantage of the chaotic situation and seized the rich Ili River valley, including Gulja. By then, Qing China held onto only a few strongholds, including Tacheng.
Yaqub Beg's rule lasted until General Zuo Zongtang (also known as General Tso) reconquered the region between 1875 and 1877 for Qing China. In 1881, Qing China recovered the Gulja region through diplomatic negotiations (Treaty of Saint Petersburg (1881)). In 1884, Qing China established Xinjiang ("new frontier") as a province, formally applying onto it the political system of China proper.
The Second East Turkistan Republic came to an end when the People's Liberation Army (PLA) entered Xinjiang in 1949. According to the PRC interpretation, the 2nd ETA was Xinjiang's revolution, a positive part of the communist revolution in China; the 2nd ETA acceded to and welcomed the PLA when they entered Xinjiang, a process known as the Peaceful Liberation of Xinjiang. However, independence advocates view the ETA as an effort to establish an independent state, and the subsequent PLA entry as an invasion. The autonomous region of the PRC was established on October 1, 1955, replacing the province. The PRC's first nuclear test was carried out at Lop Nur, Xinjiang, on October 16, 1964.
Conversely, many Han Chinese perceive PRC policies of ethnic autonomy as discriminatory against them (see autonomous entities of China). Independence advocates view Chinese rule in Xinjiang, and policies like the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps as Chinese imperialism. The US and the UN have labelled the East Turkestan Islamic Movement a terrorist group.
The tensions have occasionally resulted in major incidents and violent clashes during the PRC period. For example, in 1962, 60,000 Uyghur and Kazak refugees fled northern Xinjiang into the Soviet Union to escape the famine and political purges of the Great Leap Forward era; in the 1980s there was a smattering of student demonstrations and riots against police action that took on an ethnic aspect; and the Baren Township riot in April, 1990, an abortive uprising, resulted in more than 50 deaths.
A police roundup of suspected separatists during Ramadan resulted in large demonstrations that turned violent in February 1997 in an episode known as the Ghulja / Yining Incident that led to at least 9 deaths The Urumqi bus bombs of February 25, 1997, perhaps a response to the crackdown that followed the Ghulja Incident, killed 9 and injured 68. Despite much talk of separatism and terrorism in Xinjiang, especially after the 9-11 attacks in the United States and the US invasion of Afghanistan, the situation in Xinjiang was quiet from the late nineties through mid-2006.
Then, on January 5, 2007 the Chinese Public Security Bureau raided a suspected terrorist training camp in the mountains near the Pamir Plateau in southern Xinjiang. According to the reports, 18 terrorists were killed and another 17 captured in a gun battle between the East Turkestan Independence Movement and PRC forces. One police officer was killed and "over 1,500 hand grenades... were seized."
In the runup to the Summer Olympics in Beijing, during which world attention was drawn by pro-Tibet protests along the Olympic torch relay, Uyghur separatist groups staged protests in several countries. According to the Chinese government, a suicide bombing attempt on a China Southern Airlines flight in Xinjiang was thwarted in March 2008.
On August 4, 2008, 4 days before the Beijing Olympics, 16 Chinese police officers were killed and 16 were injured by suspected ETIM members. Chinese police injured and damaged the equipment of two Japanese journalists sent to cover the story.
|Conventional|| Uyghur |
| Uyghur Latin |
|Simplified Chinese character||Traditional Chinese character||Hanyu pinyin||Remarks|
|Ürümqi||ئۈرۈمچى شەھرى||Ürümqi Xəh̡ri||乌鲁木齐市||烏魯木齊市||Wūlǔmùqí Shì|
|Karamay||قاراماي شەھرى||K̡aramay Xəh̡ri||克拉玛依市||克拉瑪依市||Kèlāmǎyī Shì|
|Directly administered county-level cities|
|Shihezi||شىخەنزە شەھرى||Xihənzə Xəh̡ri||石河子市||石河子市||Shíhézǐ Shì||Administered de facto by the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps|
|Tumxuk||تۇمشۇق شەھرى||Tumxuk̡ Xəh̡ri||图木舒克市||圖木舒克市||Túmùshūkè Shì|
|Aral||ئارال شەھرى||Aral Xəh̡ri||阿拉尔市||阿拉爾市||Ālā'ěr Shì|
|Wujiaqu||ئۇجاچۇ شەھرى||Wujiaqü Xəh̡ri||五家渠市||五家渠市||Wǔjiāqú Shì|
|Turpan Prefecture||تۇرپان ۋىلايىتى||Turpan Vilayiti||吐鲁番地区||吐魯番地區||Tǔlǔfān Dìqū|
|Kumul Prefecture||قۇمۇل ۋىلايىتى||K̡umul Vilayiti||哈密地区||哈密地區||Hāmì Dìqū|
|Hotan Prefecture||خوتەن ۋىلايىتى||Hotən Vilayiti||和田地区||和田地區||Hétián Dìqū|
|Aksu Prefecture||ئاقسۇ ۋىلايىتى||Ak̡su Vilayiti||阿克苏地区||阿克蘇地區||Ākèsū Dìqū|
|Kashgar Prefecture||قەشقەر ۋىلايىتى||K̡əxk̡ər Vilayiti||喀什地区||喀什地區||Kāshí Dìqū|
|Tacheng Prefecture||تارباغاتاي ۋىلايىتى||Tarbaƣatay Vilayiti||塔城地区||塔城地區||Tǎchéng Dìqū||subordinate to Ili Prefecture|
|Altay Prefecture||ئالتاي ۋىلايىتى||Altay Vilayiti||阿勒泰地区||阿勒泰地區||Ālètài Dìqū|
|Kizilsu Kirgiz Autonomous Prefecture||قىزىلسۇ قىرغىز ئاپتونوم ئوبلاستى||K̡izilsu K̡irƣiz Aptonom Oblasti||克孜勒苏柯尔克孜自治州||克孜勒蘇柯爾克孜自治州||Kèzīlèsū Kē'ěrkèzī Zìzhìzhōu|
|Bayingolin Mongol Autonomous Prefecture||بايىنغولىن موڭغۇل ئاپتونوم ئوبلاستى||Bayinƣolin Mongƣol Aptonom Oblasti||巴音郭楞蒙古自治州||巴音郭楞蒙古自治州||Bāyīnguōlèng Měnggǔ Zìzhìzhōu|
|Changji Hui Autonomous Prefecture||سانجى خۇيزۇ ئاپتونوم ئوبلاستى||Sanji Huizu Aptonom Oblasti||昌吉回族自治州||昌吉回族自治州||Chāngjí Huízú Zìzhìzhōu|
|Bortala Mongol Autonomous Prefecture||بۆرتالا موڭغۇل ئاپتونوم ئوبلاستى||Bɵrtala Mongƣol Aptonom Oblasti||博尔塔拉蒙古自治州||博爾塔拉蒙古自治州||Bó'ěrtǎlā Měnggǔ Zìzhìzhōu|
|Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture||ئىلى قازاق ئاپتونوم ئوبلاستى||Ili K̡azak̡ Aptonom Oblasti||伊犁哈萨克自治州||伊犁哈薩克自治州||Yīlí Hāsàkè Zìzhìzhōu|
Most of Xinjiang is young geologically, having been formed from the collision of the Indian plate with the Eurasian plate, forming the Tian Shan, Kunlun Shan, and Pamir mountain ranges. Consequently, Xinjiang is a major earthquake zone. Older geological formations occur principally in the far north where the Junggar Block is geologically part of Kazakhstan, and in the east which is part of the North China Craton.
Xinjiang has within its borders the point of land remotest from the sea, the so-called Eurasian pole of inaccessibility (Lat. 46 degrees 16.8 minutes N, Long. 86 degrees 40.2 minutes E) in the Dzoosotoyn Elisen Desert, 1,645 miles (2648 km) from the nearest coastline (straight-line distance).
List of Chairmen of Xinjiang Government
Xinjiang's nominal GDP was approximately 220 billion RMB (about 28 billion USD) in 2004, and increased to 349 billion RMB (about 46 billion USD) in 2007, due to the China Western Development policy introduced by the State Council to boost economic development in Western China. Its per capita GDP for 2007 was 16,860 RMB (2,217 USD).
Xinjiang's exports amounted to 11.503 billion USD, while imports turned out to be 2.213 billion USD in 2007. Most of the overall import/export volume in Xinjiang was directed to and from Kazakhstan through Ala Pass China's first border free trade zone (Horgos Free Trade Zone) was located at the Xinjiang-Kazakhstan border city of Horgos Horgos is the largest land port in China's western region and it has easy access to the Central Asian market. Xinjiang will also open its second border trade market to Kazakhstan in March 2006, the Jeminay Border Trade Zone.
Xinjiang is home to several distinct ethnic groups of various religious traditions, however, the majority of the region's total population are adherents of Islam. Among ethnic groups who are of the Muslim faith, most notable are Muslim Turkic peoples including the Uyghurs, Uzbeks, Kyrgyz, Tatars and the Kazakhs; there are also Muslim Iranian peoples including Tajiks and the Sarikolis/Wakhis (often conflated as Tajiks); and Muslim Sino-Tibetan peoples such as the Hui (i.e. Muslim Han Chinese). Other PRC ethnic groups in the region include Han Chinese, Mongols, Russians, Xibes, and Manchus.
The percentage of ethnic Han Chinese in Xinjiang has grown from 6 percent in 1949 to an official tally of over 40 percent at present. This figure does not include military personnel or their families, or the many unregistered migrant workers. Much of this transformation can be attributed to the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC), a semi-military organization of settlers that has built farms, towns, and cities over scattered parts of Xinjiang. The demographic transformation is held by Uyghur independence advocates as a threat to Uyghurs and other non-Han ethnicities in maintaining their culture, similar to the case of Tibet. At the same time, the minorities of Xinjiang have been exempted from the one-child policy and many Uyghur people emigrated out of Xinjiang to other parts of China, and consequently the percentage of Uyghur people in the total population of China has increased steadily.
|Ethnic groups in Xinjiang, 2000 census|
In general, Uyghurs are the majority in western Xinjiang, including the prefectures of Kashgar, Khotan, Kizilsu, and Aksu, as well as Turpan prefecture in eastern Xinjiang. Han Chinese are the majority in eastern and northern Xinjiang, including the cities of Urumqi, Karamay, Shihezi and the prefectures of Changji, Bortala, Bayin'gholin, Ili (especially the city of Kuitun), and Kumul. Kazakhs are mostly concentrated in Ili prefecture in northern Xinjiang.
|Major ethnic groups in Xinjiang by region, 2000 census|
|Changji AP + Wujiaqu DACLC||3.9%||75.1%||8.0%||13.0%|
|Aksu Prefecture + Alar DACLC||71.9%||26.6%||<0.1%||1.4%|
|Kashgar Prefecture + Tumushuke DACLC||89.3%||9.2%||<0.1%||1.5%|
|- Kuitun DACLC||0.5%||94.6%||1.8%||3.1%|
|- former Ili Prefecture||27.2%||32.4%||22.6%||17.8%|
|- Tacheng Prefecture||4.1%||58.6%||24.2%||13.1%|
|- Altay Prefecture||1.8%||40.9%||51.4%||5.9%|
Some Uighur scholars claim descent from both the Turkic Uighurs and the pre-Turkic Tocharians (or Tokharians, whose language was Indo-European), and relatively fair-skin, hair and eyes, as well as other so-called 'Caucasoid' physical traits, are not uncommon among them. In general Uyghurs resemble those peoples who live around them in Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Pakistan. In 2002, there were 9,632,600 males (growth rate of 1.0%) and 9,419,300 females (growth rate of 2.2%). The population overall growth rate was 10.9‰, with 16.3‰ of birth rate and 5.4‰ mortality rate.
Until recently, addicts were largely left to the police, who regarded them as simple criminals whose drug use was to be combated mercilessly. Resistance to treating drug addiction as a public health concern has been high, mirroring what some international health experts say was, more generally, a slow response to HIV/AIDS in the People's Republic of China.
The construction of the first expressway in the mountainous area of Xinjiang began a new stage in its construction on July 24, 2007. The 56 km highway linking Sayram Lake and Guozi Valley in Northern Xinjiang area had cost 2.39 billion yuan. The expressway is designed to improve the speed of national highway 312 in northern Xinjiang. The project started in August 2006 and several stages have been fully operational since March 2007. Over 3,000 construction workers have been involved. The 700 m-long Guozi Valley Cable Bridge over the expressway is now currently being constructed, with the 24 main pile foundations already completed. Highway 312 national highway Xinjiang section, connects Xinjiang with China's east coast, central and western Asia, plus some parts of Europe. It is a key factor in Xinjiang's economic development. The population it covers is around 40 percent of the overall in Xinjiang, who contribute half of the GDP in the area.