A "Land of Borderlands": Implications of Xinjiang's Trans-border Interactions
One cannot understand Xinjiang' s recent economic, cultural, or political development solely by examining reform processes underway in China. At least as important to Xinjiang's development are the many transnational and crossborder processes in which this region is presently engaged. These interactions are facilitated by geographical, historical, and cultural ties between Xinjiang and its western and southwestern neighbors that, in general, are much stronger than those between Xinjiang and the remainder of China. This chapter provides a brief outline of the extent and impact of these transnational and cross-border processes that, together, have intertwined recent events in Xinjiang with forces from outside China, particularly at Xinjiang's western and southwestem edges. In doing so, the chapter highlights how Xinjiang's recent "opening up" to the world is simultaneously serving both to strengthen the Chinese state's rule ofXinjiang and to provide support to local Muslims who are discontent with that rule.