chapter  5
41 Pages

The Great Wall of Steel: Military and Strategy in Xinjiang

In the summer of 2002, both the United States and the United Nations supported China's claim that an organization known as the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) should be recognized as an international terrorist organization. It is important to note, however, that China makes little distinction between separatists, terrorists, and civil rights activists, whether they are Uyghurs, Tibetans, Taiwanese, or Falungong Buddhists. It is important to note that other border regions with large minority populations, such as Yunnan, Guizhou, Guangxi, Hainan, and even the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, have not had any reported separatist or terrorist activities. Thus, the problems in Xinjiang and the oppositional voices of mostly Uyghur groups stand out all the more sharply. Many Uyghur nationalists are quite secular in their orientation; they would overthrow Chinese rule in Xinjiang in the name of Uyghur sovereignty and human rights rather than in the name of religion.