Author: Yitzhak Shichor
A remote region in Western China usually avoided by foreigners, and even by Chinese, Xinjiang has reached the headlines over the last two decades. International media, also underscored by Beijing’s, have created the impression that Xinjiang is in a state of war, undergoing unrest and a series of violent clashes between the authorities and rebellious Uyghurs. Whereas Beijing attributes Uyghurs unrest primarily to separatism and “pursuit of independence”, its response is also induced by “religious extremism” and “terrorism” that Beijing associates with Uyghurs. And this is not just an internal threat. It is believed to be fed by external sources in Central Asia and the Middle East – and on the Internet. These threats are supplemented by unsettled problems with neighboring countries, like the border conﬂict with India, competition with Russia over Central Asia, the continued US military presence in Afghanistan and Beijing’s perceived US (and Turkish) support for Uyghur separatism.