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The ITT List

Thursday, Jul 9, 2009, 3:21 pm

Chinese Minorities, and Their Discontent

By Adam Case
Many in the West are unaware that China is a multicultural nation. There’s nothing like an uprising to bring this fact to the forefront.

The recent unrest in Xinjiang province parallels similar complaints by some of China’s other ethnic minorities. Beijing’s policy of settling the ethnically dominant Han Chinese in the region has created tension. Many of the native Uighurs feel they are being discriminated against, with the majority Han receiving the better jobs and opportunities.

The Chinese government has found the War on Terror to be a convenient means to paint Uighurs dissidents as terrorists. The Uighurs, being Turkic and mostly Muslim, have found themselves ensnared in Washington’s anti-terrorism policies. A handful of Uighurs who were captured by U.S. forces in Afghanistan have been imprisoned at Guantanamo.

The Chinese want them back, but the United States refuses to repatriate them for fear of the Chinese treatment. The prisoners find themselves adrift, with few countries wishing to incur the diplomatic wrath of the Middle Kingdom. Beijing’s domestic policies, helped along by the legal quagmire that is Guantanamo Bay, have created an international mess.

Adam Case, a former In These Times editorial intern, is a San Diego-based I.W.W. organizer and freelance writer. He has traveled extensively throughout Latin America, encountering guerrillas, intellectuals and change-makers. But most of the time he tries to indulge his passions, which include surfing, social justice and a good Philly Cheesesteak.

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