Ethnic strife on China's western frontier
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Ethnic tension frequently causes unrest in Xinjiang, a province in northwestern China that shares international borders with Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, and India. The Uighurs a Turkic Muslim ethnic group of about 8 million who once made up the vast majority of Xinjiang, but now they only represent about half of Xinjiang's population due to mass migration of Han Chinese into the region. Uighur groups living outside of China claim that China suppresses the Uighurs' religious freedom and is diluting their culture in the region through its policies that encourage Chinese to move into the region. Beijing argues that Xinjiang has always been a part of China, despite its language and cultural differences, and that the Uighurs have benefitted from Chinese rule. The purpose of this report is to examine the source of the ethnic tensions through first-hand reporting in the region and interviews with expert sources, Chinese sources, and Uighurs sources both inside and outside of China. The final goal of this paper is to tell a balanced truth of the ethnic struggle between the Uighurs and Han Chinese in Xinjiang.