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Blogging Beijing

The 2008 Summer Olympics will punctuate three decades of development and test China's global legitimacy. They've already transformed the way millions of people think and live. Seattleite and Fulbright researcher Daniel Beekman brings you Beijing.

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February 7, 2008 3:14 PM

Gone Xinjiang-ing, back soon

Posted by Daniel Beekman

On February 8, I will leave Beijing for the capital city of China's Xinjiang Autonomous Uyghur Autonomous Region. From there I will proceed on to Kashgar, a predominantly Muslim, ethnically non-Chinese city famous for its Silk Road bazaar.

Blogging Beijing will not be updated again until mid-to-late February. In the meantime, please check the archives for entries you may have missed (especially 'The People's Wall - February 5).

Entries planned for after my trip to Xinjiang include - a look at green automobiles and the 2008 Games, a catalogue of Beijing street foods, a glimpse of Beijingers' daily commutes and an examination into cursing at the Olympics. Thanks for reading - and for your patience!

Xinjiang is an enormous region and primarily desert, although it boasts alpine terrain in the north and Tibetan plateau in the south. Home to a number of non-Chinese ethnic groups, including Uyghurs, Kazaks, Uzbeks, Mongols and Kyrgyz, and known for its diverse and beautiful natural scenery as well as its unique customs, it is located in China's extreme northwest.

Urumqi is a large, quickly developing city that recently acquired a Chinese ethnic majority. Kashgar is a center of Uyghur history and culture. I also plan to travel to other parts of Xinjiang, including the region's north. Uyghurs are ethnically Turks, and speak a Turkic language.

Some, but not all, of Xinjiang's Uyghurs advocate Uyghur indepedence from China. They have been targeted in past Chinese government crackdowns. Despite much talk of separatism and terrorism in Xinjiang, particularly following 9/11, there have been no major violent incidents related to ethnic conflicts since the late 1990s.

On January 5, 2007, when Chinese security forces raided a terrorist training camp in southern Xinjiang 18 people were killed. The critically acclaimed American author Peter Hessler wrote about Uyghurs in his latest book on China - 'Oracle Bones.'

I will be exploring Uyghur culture, Xinjiang's history and the region's relationship with the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

Happy Chinese New Year!


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