China Sets 100% as Target for Bilingual Kindergarten Enrollment among Shule County Kids

A Uyghur teacher in the classroom, image by pmorgan, some rights reserved.Image by pmorgan BY NC ND 2.0BY NC ND 2.0BY NC ND 2.0

I’ve translated a short article published today on Radio Free Asia’s Uyghur service. Bilingual education is one of the most controversial policies of the Xinjiang regional government, and is frequently accused of being disproportionately conducted in Mandarin, of co-opting a freer system where Uyghurs had the individual choice to send their children to exclusively Uyghur or Mandarin schools, of creating new educator standards that drive Uyghur teachers with poor Mandarin skills into unemployment, and of putting the education of Uyghur kids into the hands of Han educators unsympathetic to Uyghur culture. While many of these criticisms are valid and documented, I also think that the bilingual education policy is also extremely difficult to criticize, particularly since the concern with providing Uyghurs with the linguistic skills to be competitive on the job market is indeed a valid one and can be seen all over the world, as in, for example, the United States where providing immigrant children with English-speaking skills is paramount. Education in Xinjiang is a rich topic that spotlights issues of indigenous rights, cultural involvement in education, the relationship between language and nationalism, and “domestic” globalization. Here’s a short article where RFA reporter Irade, a Uyghur, weighs in on the topic.

Chinese authorities in the Uyghur region are presently undertaking firm measures to expand “bilingual” education starting with children in kindergarten. According to information from today’s Xinjiang newspaper, Shule County [Hanzi: 疏勒县; Uyghur: Qeshqer Yéngisheher Nahiyisi] has set the target for children’s enrollment in “bilingual kindergartens” to 100%.

According to the article, Shule County has managed to build 105 bilingual kindergartens, which together have a total of 14,166 children. The first “bilingual kindergarten” in Shule County was built in March of 2006, and under a policy mandating the construction of a standard bilingual kindergarten, in just 4 years “bilingual kindergartens” have spread to every single village in the county, including the most remote and distant ones.

The central Chinese government has allocated dedicated funding for the expansion of bilingual education in the Uyghur region up until the year 2012 as part of the 11th 5 year plan. The policy was originally aimed at educational training at the kindergarten, elementary, and middle school level, and emphasized working to broaden the areas designated for construction projects.

The so-called “bilingual” education policy, based on forcing Uyghur children to speak Chinese, has aroused intense discontent among Uyghur intellectuals both within and outside the Uyghur homeland. Critics draw attention to the potential of “bilingual” education to threaten the normal development and healthy thinking of immature children and accuse bilingual education of being a planned and deliberate assimilation policy.

As usual, the original Uyghur will pop up on hovering over the text, written in ULY. While I think the article I’ve translated is definitely worth sharing, it doesn’t necessarily reflect accurately my own opinions on the subject.

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Comments 47

  1. Weeger wrote:

    Interesting post, and thanks for the translated article. I think, however, that the argument that the government is promoting bilingual education to provide Uyghurs with competitive job skills is problematic, and that Uyghurs need more than Chinese language skills to combat pervasive job discrimination in both the public and private sectors of the job market. It appears that the government’s move to push forward with bilingual education is moving much faster than any corresponding programs to promote equal employment opportunities for Uyghurs and other “minorities” in Xinjiang.

    Posted 30 Mar 2010 at 9:23 am
  2. Josh wrote:

    Interesting article, although I can’t quite tell what the author’s opinion is. Does he agree with this new plan or not? It sounds more like a news piece than an op-ed.

    I recently finished the book “Under the Heel of the Dragon” and it was interesting to see what most Han and Uyghur thought about mandatory Mandarin. Ever read it?

    Posted 30 Mar 2010 at 10:36 am
  3. Porfiriy wrote:

    @Weeger

    I agree with you. I believe by all appearances the claim of converting education to Mandarin for purposes of opportunity loses its luster when viewed alongside generally discriminatory policies throughout the region and, more importantly, the lack of a Uyghur voice in the education system decision making process.

    My concern is that when discussing bilingual education in Xinjiang in the media and in forums of international relations, adopting they cry of “assimilation!” to enthusiastically will probably be answered with accusations by the PRC government that the West is solely interested in preserving a museum-like Uyghur people and is adopting a hypocritical Western human rights position that deprives Uyghurs of an “education.”

    So my desire basically is that people critical of the bilingual education policy (myself included) ask the right questions. For example, “Where is evidence of Uyghur participation in the designing of bilingual education?” is a good place to start.

    Posted 30 Mar 2010 at 8:11 pm
  4. Porfiriy wrote:

    @Josh

    You’re right, it’s not an op-ed, but by virtue of the fact that it’s an RFA article, and written by diaspora Uyghurs living in the United States, you can see that (understandable) opinions do peek through. For example, the scare quotation marks around “bilingual” are not mine; they’re in the original article. Also, the phrase “so-called,” which ironically is very frequently seen in Chinese propaganda (所谓) is also the author’s word (Uyghur: atalmish). The author is very hesitant to give the policy the credit of even been called “bilingual.”

    Also the author asserts that the policy is basically forcing or making Uyghur children speak Chinese – I agree with this evaluation, though the phrase-ology seems more like op-ed talk than news reporting – in Uyghur, the word is “sözlitish,” which is the verb “to speak” in the causative form: “to make speak.”

    Finally I think (neglecting the existence of article length limits) the author would have made a stronger case if he (she?) actually cited or quoted some of the “Uyghur intellectuals” critical of bilingual education (there are a lot of them) rather than briefly, and in my opinion, simplistically summarizing them.

    I have to admit I don’t know if Irade is a boy’s name or a girl’s name. I’m pretty sure most RFA workers use pseudonyms, anyway, Irade means both will/determination and fate. Anybody out there know what gender this name would be?

    Posted 30 Mar 2010 at 8:20 pm
  5. Porfiriy wrote:

    Oh, and no, I haven’t read Under the Heel of the Dragon, Josh -are you planning on writing a review of it? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

    Posted 30 Mar 2010 at 8:21 pm
  6. CaoMengDe wrote:

    The Abomination that is the result of Chinese “bilingual education”

    http://ent.joy.cn/video/950344.htm

    Posted 31 Mar 2010 at 11:48 am
  7. Kellen Parker wrote:

    Interesting indeed.

    re “Where is evidence of Uyghur participation in the designing of bilingual education?”

    I’m not at all sure, but weren’t Uygurs very active in the whole ULY/UEY standardisation a while back? I wonder if in places like Anhui or Henan local mayors and gov’t people have such huge power to do what they want if there’s any sort of thing like that with the language in Xinjiang. As in, I wonder how much the Uyghurs in power could do themselves without anyone bothering to mess with it. I’m guessing the answer is “not much”.

    Posted 31 Mar 2010 at 2:02 pm
  8. kahraman wrote:

    What is the status of bilingual education among the other non Mandarin speaking minorities in Xinjiang (Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Mongols, etc.)? This is the most obvious point of comparison to the Uyghur case but I’ve never seen anything mentioned about it. Some comparison may help answer the question of whether this is a policy specifically directed at assimilating Uyghurs into the broader Chinese polity.

    Posted 31 Mar 2010 at 9:01 pm
  9. CaoMengDe wrote:

    Example of perfidious Chinese brain-washing her Tajik citizens to learn Mandarin in Kindergarten (starts at 2:21 in the video segment):

    http://you.video.sina.com.cn/b/20548474-1589251397.html

    Poor Tajik toddlers, have their tongue polluted so young by Chinese jibberish.
    Whatever villainous Chinese propose, Self…er…Righteous people must resolutely oppose!

    Posted 31 Mar 2010 at 9:39 pm
  10. Porfiriy wrote:

    @Kellen

    I’m not as familiar with the gritty intricacies of language policies, for that I’d have to call in my partner-in-crime Comrade Tewpiq to chip in.

    What I do about ULY in particular is from the Duval Janbaz paper which indeed does say that Uyghur intellectuals were heavily involved in the creation of ULY.

    I would say this is a unique case, though. The standardization of a Latin script was brought about more for a desire to create consistency in computer work. From the paper: “It is to be used solely in computer-related fields as an ancillary writing system.” That being said, it always surprises me how rare knowledge of ULY seems to be among Uyghur themselves – chatting with Uyghurs on QQ is always a frustrating exercise of wading through a hundred bastardized half-pinyin Latin systems cobbled together differently by each different person you talk to. ULY’s creation, though “indigenous,” so to speak, had no political implications nor any bearing on the education system (unless you’re a Uyghur studying computer science).

    As for governmental power over education policy, Xinjiang (and Tibet and the IMAR for that manner) is unique because of it’s Autonomous Region status – it’s not a province, and it’s more than just titular, as it has significant effects on the structure of government power. Though a dual Communist Party / actual local government structure exists pretty much in all provinces, in ARs the “local government” as far as I’ve seen is reduced to an exclusively ethnic clique that has no legitimacy in the eyes of most of the minority population and serve consistently and primarily as lickspittles for the always Han-led communist party secretary. If there’s a question of who’s more powerful in, say, Anhui, between the governor and the provincial party secretary, that question has a crystal clear answer in the case of Xinjiang.

    Posted 01 Apr 2010 at 12:07 am
  11. Porfiriy wrote:

    @kahraman

    That is an excellent question. Unfortunately, I don’t know the answer to it. I’m going to have to ask around.

    Personally, if I accuse the government of adopting assimilating policies towards the Uyghurs, I’m not saying that it’s practiced exclusively towards the Uyghurs – I have the tendency to see Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, and Tibet all strung out on a chronological timeline of assimilation with Mongolia being the furthest ahead, Xinjiang being the same, and Tibet being the last. That being said, I think Inner Mongolians of Mongolia can be held (loosely) as a sort of model where Uyghurs will end up in x years and Tibetans will end up in x + y years assuming educational and economic policies run their course.

    I would assume – and obviously I’d have to research this – that the policies are no different towards Kazakhs or Tajiks in the like, since it’s my belief that any assimilating policies are ultimately powered by a deeply rooted nationalist discourse on what it means to be a “Chinese” citizen, one that pretty much remains constant if you’re in Guizhou or Heilongjiang.

    Posted 01 Apr 2010 at 12:12 am
  12. Porfiriy wrote:

    @CaoMengDe

    Those are really interesting videos. And I’m not sure if you’re being tongue in cheek. I would *wager* that most Uyghurs would view Bahaguli (definitely bahargül) with disdain. And when it comes down to it I have no issue with minorities learning Chinese, as long as they have a say in it and Uyghur alternatives are not sacrificed in the process.

    On a side note, Cao Cao has always been my favorite RTK character.

    Posted 01 Apr 2010 at 12:15 am
  13. kahraman wrote:

    I definitely agree with the thrust of you argument with the caveat that many minorities are not stateless in the way the Uyghurs are. So these groups have implicit guarantors of their traditions and language and thus a serious alternative to the 中华民族 narrative.

    This and the practical considerations that go in to China’s relations with the central asian states and the importance of those states to China’s energy and strategic needs makes me wonder if these groups aren’t treated differently in language and minority policy.(especially in the case of Kazakhs)

    Posted 01 Apr 2010 at 1:27 am
  14. CaoMengDe wrote:

    @Porfiriy

    Man, you mean you don’t watch “Go! Oriental Angels”, the show that brought Lou Jing to fame? Time to get yourself acquainted with manufactured Chinese youth Pop culture, that’s an order from MengDe!

    She is indeed Bahargül. Now that would be an interesting topic in itself why SOME Uyghurs would view her with disdain.

    Appearing in the same video is her friend
    曲尼次仁, winner of the show. I’ve seen Tibetan posters castigate 曲尼次仁 while extolling Purba Rgyal (蒲巴甲) in literally the same sentence. 蒲巴甲 and 曲尼次仁 are both young, good looking Tibetans making it in the Chinese entertainment industry. The difference? 曲尼次仁 is a girl while 蒲巴甲 is a man. Why the different reception? That, of course, is another interesting topic.

    Posted 01 Apr 2010 at 1:57 am
  15. CaoMengDe wrote:

    Now here is the only acceptable and politically correct Uyghur entertainment beloved of The Uyghur masses. 0% Chinese influence! 90% Soviet influence, but that’s okay, at least it’s not Chinese.

    Ah, brought a tear to my eye.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2DktCHd4ALU

    Long live the East Turkestan National Army!!!

    Of course, that’s before they all turn traitors and joined Chinese commies.

    They look much sharper in Soviet commie uniform. What were they thinking to trade those for crumbly Chinese peasant army cloth anyhow.

    Posted 01 Apr 2010 at 2:27 am
  16. Porfiriy wrote:

    Are there racist, hypocritical, or sexist strains to Uyghur resentment towards Han Chinese and the party that represents their interest? Certainly. I don’t think that neatly nullifies their discontent, though, any more than the race riots of the American 60s nullifies the civil rights movement. As for why minorities would be more protective/concerned about sell-out women than sell-out men, I have a few rather undeveloped ideas on that, but you’ve apparently put some thought on it, so please share with us, why the imbalance between views of Quniciren and Purba?

    As for the youtube movie, seriously, you’re bringing up some really interesting videos. I’m going to have to write posts on some of them. But again, I while on totally technical grounds you can accuse Uyghur sentimentality for the ETR and the days in the Soviet sphere as hypocritical, the fact of the matter is the Uyghurs today are dealing with and are unhappy with the Chinese, so, um, yeah, they’ll look fondly on the not-Chinese days. And, hey, if in my personal talks with Uyghurs in and outside of Xinjiang reveal a sentimentality for the Soviet days, it’s usually and quite openly because “If we were in the Soviet nation we’d be our own country today.” So not that they think that the ETR or USSR communism was better. It’s that assuming history unfolded at as it did they’d have their own Uyghuristan.

    Posted 01 Apr 2010 at 3:06 am
  17. Porfiriy wrote:

    Cao Mengde, is there an example among Uyghurs where a female successful-in-China Uyghur is demonized but a male one is admired?

    Posted 01 Apr 2010 at 3:14 am
  18. CaoMengDe wrote:

    I can’t claim to speak for any Uyghurs but here are some popular Uyghur artists in China (female and male)

    Male:

    Askar Huilang (Grey Wolf)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k2tHeSwtGgA&feature=related

    (He is a bit of Uyghur Nationalist, I doubt most his New Agey Han-Chinese fan base really understood the meaning of this song, good music nonetheless.)

    Arken 艾尔肯
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xY9oz6M1L5Y&feature=related

    Now in this video, Chinese pulls their usually trick to substitute a Chinese girl for a Uyghur
    The Hottie 佟丽娅 (Donya or Dong Liya) is a Xibe, Nevermind that she was born and grew up in Xinjiang but her people came to Xinjiang with the conquering Manchu butchers 300 years old, Bad!

    Female

    艾图兰

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2exzgRkdl64&feature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EdyuIf5q3wo&feature=related

    In her case, I understand the shock to the traditional mind set.

    Shahrizoda (everybody’s favorite sellout)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUZUHPIE0Sc

    Child

    Example of Han corrupting the Ugyhur Youth at early age:

    阿尔法 Erefat ( Arafat )
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFVcQsf28zU&feature=related

    Posted 01 Apr 2010 at 4:45 am
  19. CaoMengDe wrote:

    In Memory of Civil Rights Movement and its Chinese connection by the way of Paul Robeson:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJv0jMLLRcw&playnext_from=TL&videos=i3jO12YHhHQ

    Posted 01 Apr 2010 at 4:55 am
  20. Porfiriy wrote:

    Do you think Askar and Arken are perceived differently than Aitulan and Shahrizoda? Or are they all seen as sellouts? I have to admit I don’t know crap about pop-culture. Anywhere in China.

    Well, I guess that’s not *completely* true. I’ve heard that Shahrizoda is an Uzbek but I don’t know if that has any bearing on how she’s received by Uyghurs. I also heard the observation you made about Askar, something along the lines of yes, he does what he needs to do to sell in greater China, but he’s a “stealth” nationalist/activist. I’d have to take a closer look at his lyrics, which are frequently a mix of Uyghur and Mandarin, so I hear.

    Posted 01 Apr 2010 at 5:57 am
  21. CaoMengDe wrote:

    MengDe thinkth that you are being lazy. Please get off your bums and do your own research.

    MengDe out.

    Posted 01 Apr 2010 at 6:07 am
  22. Porfiriy wrote:

    Well damn dude, if you have something to say, then say it. I guess the whole cryptic talk is clever enough but I don’t get the whole, “I’m going to insinuate an ambiguous point but avoid clarification” approach. I don’t know much about pop-culture, the OP was about bilingual education, and I’d love for you to fill in the gaps. If you wanted to, though. Anyway, thanks for the links.

    Posted 01 Apr 2010 at 6:34 am
  23. CaoMengDe wrote:

    Here is what shameless Uyghur sellout (those who went thru Mandarin educational system, ie, MinKaoHan ) has to say about the true defender of Uyghur culture (MinKaoMin, those who went thru all Uyghur system) . Unfortunately the original BBS forum (新疆民考汉论坛) have been “harmonized” since the glorious days of 7/5. So here is the excerpt from anti-cnn website :

    http://bbs.anti-cnn.com/viewthread.php?tid=184303&extra=&page=1

    Posted 02 Apr 2010 at 2:55 am
  24. CaoMengDe wrote:

    Oh btw Google translate 民考汉 into Han-Chinese. That pretty much confirms that suspicions of 民考民 (real Uyghurs, unpolluted by knowledge of Chinese).

    Posted 02 Apr 2010 at 3:13 am
  25. Porfiriy wrote:

    You know in Google Translate you can suggest a better translation? I suggested one. If enough of us do it it’d change.

    Uyghurs confirm their suspicions of minkaohan a number of ways – one of the most common I’ve seen (anecdotal, yes, but I can’t run a survey to verify it – but that’s okay, right? Survey not needed apparently) is when minkaohan Uyghurs can’t speak or read Uyghur. They’re actually quite common. Yes, that bothers minkaomin. Not without justification, I think.

    Also, I reiterate, sure, you can find prejudice, sexism, racism, etc., in Uyghur opinions. That doesn’t nullify what Uyghur discontent says about Xinjiang’s current sociocultural landscape.

    I’ve put your link onto my translation queue. Once I render it into English more people can read it and jump into the discussion.

    Posted 02 Apr 2010 at 3:55 am
  26. kahraman wrote:

    民考民translates as “university” in google. Now there’s real food for thought.

    Posted 02 Apr 2010 at 10:18 pm
  27. CaoMengDe wrote:

    This is a classic. Righteous 民考民(MinKaoMin), Defender of Uyghur culture and Guardian of immutable truth face down race traitor 民考汉(MinKaoHan) aka, Han wannabes.

    What is also very interesting is how 民考汉(MinKaoHan) responder thinks how the Xinjiang bureaucracy really works in terms of promoting Uyghur.

    http://blog.ifeng.com/article/2581619.html

    Posted 02 Apr 2010 at 10:58 pm
  28. kahraman wrote:

    @CaoMengDe
    That was a very interesting exchange on the ifeng blog. I can’t say either side really swayed me, but they raise interesting issues. Would you say that this is representative of the state of the education debate between 民考民 and 民考汉 uyghurs?

    You should really tweet these gems as you find them.

    Posted 03 Apr 2010 at 3:28 am
  29. CaoMengDe wrote:

    I am still a tweet virgin.

    Posted 03 Apr 2010 at 4:20 am
  30. CaoMengDe wrote:

    Again in Memory of Civil Rights Movement,
    Paul Robeson Sings Arise (March of the volunteers, aka Chinese National Anthem) in Mandarin and English this time:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erwwBpVTnVU&feature=fvw

    Listen to the English Lyrics (it’s slightly different from Chinese in meaning)

    How it ties to Xinjiang or Uyghurs, watch and drew your own conclusions.

    Posted 03 Apr 2010 at 10:25 pm
  31. Porfiriy wrote:

    Sure, the conclusion is that when a people are oppressed by a system they’ll naturally be interested in looking at outside systems as more just alternatives. That makes sense. Paul Robeson’s historical significance says little, though, about communism or democracy’s respective, inherent ability to provide justice and fairness to minorities.

    Posted 03 Apr 2010 at 10:57 pm
  32. Porfiriy wrote:

    Despite the utterly unambiguous and quite well researched interest of many Civil Righters in socialism and communism (honestly, by bringing it up you’re not presenting anything new and shocking…), I’d honestly wager that socialism and communism as a philosophy contributed very little to the gains that were achieved by the Civil Rights movement. Given the sardonic tone you’ve employed in many of your comments, I think you think you’re exposing some sort of hypocrisy in criticism of Chinese policies by a Westerner, but unfortunately while the material you’re showing is quite valuable (and several will have their own posts, I believe) most of the links are quite non sequitor to points you seek to illustrate.

    Posted 03 Apr 2010 at 11:06 pm
  33. CaoMengDe wrote:

    I think you think you’re ….

    Methinkth you think too much.

    Posted 04 Apr 2010 at 12:20 am
  34. Porfiriy wrote:

    Well, there’s a clear difference between

    I think you’re exposing

    and

    I think you think you’re exposing

    and I most certainly intended the meaning of the latter.

    Posted 04 Apr 2010 at 12:31 am
  35. Josh wrote:

    Glad to know that CaoMengDe doesn’t discriminate between Xinjiang blogs.

    Also, and I’m sorry this comment is a bit late, but yes, I got a review copy of “Under the Heel of the Dragon” and I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts about my review coming out this next week.

    Josh…out :)

    Posted 04 Apr 2010 at 12:44 am
  36. Lessoskallow wrote:

    All this talk here about whether there should be binational Kindergarten is completely academic. Although it would certainly be desirable if Uighur children knew Mandarin this is not at issue here.
    The “binational” education is in reality a front for trying to completely rob children of their culture, to make them lose their native tongue.
    And the problems the Uighurs face are exactly the same that all other minorities in Xinxiang face.
    The Kasakhs are desparate as well. How desperate you can deduce from the fact that 362 students wrote to Nurusultan Nasarbeyev the President of Kasakhstan for help. They signed with their names and I don´t want to be in their places know. I doubt whether Nasarbeyev has it in him to stand up against Beijing.
    Here the link: http://www.elim.kz/article/166/
    And here the relevant points:
    1. They ask the president for preferantial access for work in Kasakhstan as 500 000 Chinese already work there. Also for the help in studying Russian as Russian is the language of commerce in Kaskhstan.
    2. Education
    Here my direct translation:
    We ask for help regarding the national culture of the Kasakhs in China. You know yourself with what effort the powers in China try to turn all national minorities into “dshunhua”, by cutting them off from their native language and their native believes. Even the kasakh language mass information media are agitating for it.
    Not long ago Kasakh schools were united with chinese language schools under the pretext of “developing the culture of the national minorities”.
    This campaign was conducted with great effort and now – apart from the study of the native language itself – all lessons are conducted in Chinese.
    From next year the teaching in native lagnauges will be restricted to three hours per week in elementary schools. The Kasakhs here in China are seriuously concerned about the future of their native culture.

    And here summararily the next points the students are petitioning the president about:

    3. It is getting more and more difficult for Kasakhs to find work and to be admitted to institutes of higher education. The president is asked to conclude a treaty with the Chinese government to allow Kasakh students to apply directly to Kasakh Universities.

    4. They want to be called Kasakhs not Orlaman. This is a more difficult point and my letter is not long enough to explain it. Suffice to say that they regard themselves as “real Kasakhs” and reject Orlaman as Chinese terminology. They argue if the Ksakh government agreed to this Terminology they might as well also agree to chinese textbooks that show Eastern Ksakhstan to be part of China.

    5. Ask the Chinese Goverment to stop the usage of Kasakh symbols to make money. I.e. chinese companies sell bottles with wodka or wine named after Kasakh national heroes a.s.o.

    O.K. That is it. I hope with this little excursion I have shown what is really going on in Xinxiang. The future is bleak but there will be a reaction across the border sooner or later. If you read the blogs in Kasakhstan their blood is boiling. And not only regarding the Kasakhs. There is a feeling of solidarity with the Uighurs as well. In seventy years Soviet Union the goverment has never tried anything like what the Chinese are now trying to do in the minority areas of Xinxiang.
    Their good fortune is that all the central asian “republics” are dictatorships where the old communist elites are still ruling. But if the censorship and suppression is lifted the now fairly subdued voices will rise to a storm. That won´t be good for business to say the least.

    Posted 06 Apr 2010 at 9:59 am
  37. Lessoskallow wrote:

    Before I forget: The appeal of the 362 students from Urumtshi first appeared on the 29.6.2009. I don´t think the timing is a coincidence. The Kasakhs are being backed into a corner just like the Uighurs.
    And yet something else: Last direct news I had from Xinjiang was through a Kasakh national who led a group of Western (American, European, Australian) tourists through Xinjiang. That was last October. Although she could understand a lot of Uighur and of course Kasakh she was given an ethnic Han guide with barely understandable English.
    The tourists protested to no avail. Before the Australian company that organizes these trips always had Uighurs or Kasakhs as local guides. No more!!!!
    The Han guide pointed out how the life of the “primitive” aboriginals was brought up to modern standards. He showed the tourists a model village near Turfan. The local Uighurs were deported from their traditional dwellings and made to live a few Kilometers from their fields. The new houses were concrete.
    A Uighur, who managed to talk to the Kasakh guide alone told her that it wasn´t at all about them getting new dwellings (which they disliked because they get terribly hot in summer) but the local Bintuan (chinese settlers) taking their land.
    As he saw it they take their girls as well. Every one of the big families has to let one girl go to factory work in China otherwise the family gets heavily fined.
    Police and military were everywhere.
    You can imagine the tourists weren´t too impressed by the “goodness” of the chinese government that the Han guide was constantly proclaiming.
    The final straw was, that at the border all and really all pictures were deleted from the cameras that showed soldiers or policemen. As there are soldiers and policemen everywhere most of the pictures of monuments and mosques were deleted as well.
    Xinxiang is a horror story…..

    Posted 06 Apr 2010 at 11:23 am
  38. CaoMengDe wrote:

    @Lessoskallow

    Why do 362 students write to Nurusultan Nasarbeyev the President of Kasakhstan in Russian instead of Kazakh language?

    By the way, their Russian is pretty good.

    Posted 06 Apr 2010 at 11:44 am
  39. CaoMengDe wrote:

    @Lessoskallow

    Kazakhstan has official policies aimed at enticing ethnic Kazakhs living abroad to return to their “historical homeland” The government set aside $1.3 billion for this program. Why don’t the Chinese Kazakhs just immigrate if things are so terrible in Xinjiang?

    Posted 06 Apr 2010 at 11:55 am
  40. CaoMengDe wrote:

    btw

    Isn’t ‘Orlamans’ defined by Kazakh Migration Law to be foreign citizens of Kazakh descent? What does it have it have to do with Chinese?

    Posted 06 Apr 2010 at 12:08 pm
  41. kahraman wrote:

    You can’t put much stock in this letter. Where does it come from? What students? Given the lack of hard evidence about contemporary Xinjiang, this is a poor starting point for discussion. If you can’t establish its provenance, by citing it you’re probably just confirming your existing biases.

    @CaoMengDe I’m curious where you’ve read about this program for Chinese Kazakhs. $1.3 billion dollars would be about 1% of Kazakhstan’s GDP (working out to over $1000 per Xinjiang Kazak). This seems high, but I could be wrong. But your right about the immigration choice. I guess it depends on if you’d rather be Russified or Sinified. I think most would ambivalent toward this choice, knowing full well there is better economic opportunity in China.
    Based on the numbers I’ve seen at the Kazakh consulate in Urumqi, it seems their visa policy is fairly liberal toward Xinjiang Kazakhs. I personally know many Xinjiang Kazakhs with multiple entry visas. I think this satifies the majority who may have family and business there.

    Posted 07 Apr 2010 at 3:08 am
  42. CaoMengDe wrote:

    @kahraman

    $1.3 billion dollars

    http://www.eurasianet.org/departments/insightb/articles/eav022709.shtml

    I was under the impression that Han-Kazakh relation is quite different from that of Han-Uyghur dynamic. But info provided by Lessoskallow seem to suggest otherwise.

    btw Kazakhstan is the most developed Central Asian states due to the income from oil and gas export. So in terms of economic opportunity, it’s probably better than Xinjiang. At least Kazakhstan holds lot of appeals to Kazakhs in Mongolia:

    http://www.eurasianet.org/departments/insightb/articles/eav110409a.shtml

    Posted 07 Apr 2010 at 6:58 am
  43. Lessoskallow wrote:

    There´s a good old saying: If the facts contravene the preconception so much worse for the facts. So let´s start with some of the facts:
    1. Kahramans “choice” between being russified and sinized that allegedly confronts Kasakhs in Xinxiang.
    In the Soviet Union Kasakhs who chose so could always find a school where the medium of instruction was Kasakh. Of course all schools schools taught Russian as a first foreign language. Something like what is happening in Xinxiang was completely unheard of. And today? In what world do you live? Do you think that Kasakhs don´t have their own language and culture in Kasakhstan?
    Kasakhs in China would be damn happy if they would at least have the national rights their co brothers had in the Soviet Union. Meaning the possibility of an eduaction and feeling not discriminated against in their own homeland. And many would undoubtedly choose for their children to get a chinese education. And many do but unfortunately that has turned out not to be enough. They are still not “Han” and even with a Chinese education get discriminated against. The Chinese system doesn´t seem to be able do “digest” even people with a chinese eduaction. Still they are not “Han” enough. Kasakhs, Uighurs and Tadshiks truly have no way out.
    2. As to the authenticity of the letter. I posted a Russian translation for I read Kasakh only badly. But the fact of the letter I heard from Ksakhs and they read it in the original language.
    3. Why don´t they emigrate? Where do you live? Have you really been to Xinxiang? I doubt it very much. Just a little bit about the history of issuance of passports for people of the “minorities”.
    The first ones to lose their right to visit the “Stans” were the Uighurs. They even dominated China – “Stan” trade until about 2000. They had all the connections and are born traders. Fearing the influence of freer people speaking nearly the same language the Government doesn´t issue them passports anymore.
    The Kasakhs had this right much longer. But just as the Uighurs are starting to make common cause with the Tibetans the Kasakhs are getting much closer to their old enemies the Uighurs. Just do give you an example: If you look in any way Chinese the Uighurs and in fact all members of the minorites shut up and won´t say more than a few polite words when you are in a place like Kashgar. But as soon as they notice you are anything else but Chinese and especially Kaaskh they become very friendly.
    The Kasakhs are behind the curve regarding opposition but they are catching up. Since a few years it has become much more difficult for them to get a visa for Kasakhstan. It is ridiculous to suppose a Kasakh from Xinxiang can just get a passport. A few years ago yes. Today absolutely no. Same for emigration. The only thing I can imagine is the Chinese government gladly agreeing to let the Kasakhs emigrate au masse.
    There are exceptions: Some carefully vetted people do have multiple visas. Just as there are Uighurs who proclaim to be happy with Government policy.
    And finally something very important: The chinese themselves might distinguish between Kasakh and Uighur but they are equally prejudiced against them. The Han media has been full of the atrocities of the Uighur against the Han on the 5th of July. But there is almost nothing on the reactions of the Han. That has been swept under the carpet just like Guang Zhou. But what do you think a businessman from Kasakhstan thinks when he has to spend a week in his hotel and never go out because his Han partners warn him that anybody with a Uighur like appearance is fair game and liable to be killed?
    Or what do you think a Kasakh thinks after having been chased through the streets and narrowly escaped chinese people with hatchets? Do you really think he will ever return to complete indifference about politics in Xinxiang?
    There were numerous Kasakh traders in Urumtshi in July. And these were the experiences you could hear from them personally. Officially everything was alright. The Chinese and the Kasakh Government finally organized their evacuation and flew them out. Chinese officials treated people with Kasakh nationality were treated very well indeed. But that couldn´t change the fact that some of the Kasakhs were beaten very badly by Hans. There are rumours that some even have been killed.
    Now that is why I say the Chinese Government must be immensely grateful that none of the “Stans” has a free press. That they still round up Uighurs who have fled and hand them back to the PCR. If that should ever change they will be in trouble. The nice smiling chinese with their politeness and industriousness who are allowed to trade all over and even to farm will be viewed with very different eyes. And that is already starting. Mark my words. Already now I hear from Kasakh businessmen that they only travel with minority Taxidrivers in Xinxiang as Han chinese evidently don´t pick up non Han looking persons except Russians. What do you think they talk in those taxis?

    The Chinese have erected an iron wall around Xinxiang. An iron wall for the minorities. But not for the Han. That is even true for the internet. Big companies (who are exclusively Han owned and 95% Han staffed) get unrestricted internet by special permission but private persons don´t.
    In theory there´s no internet for everybody. In practise the employees of big companies do have internet.
    There are two kinds of laws in Xinxiang: One for the “civilized” Hans and one for the “to be civilized” minorities. Most chinese refer to the minorities as “our red indians” to defend their actions. You know what happened to the Red Indians. Except there weren´t Red Indians across the border who would watch what happens to their brethren.
    The Chinese want access to the raw material, the land in fact to everything in Central Asia. But their treatment of their minorities will inevitably get in the way. They are creating immense hatred that has backfired the first time in Urumtshi. And it will backfire yet more. I was not surprised in the least about what happened last July. I had never witnessed such hatred as when I was in Xinxiang.

    Posted 07 Apr 2010 at 9:17 am
  44. kahraman wrote:

    @CaoMengDe Thanks for the reference. I didn’t realize depopulation in northern Kazakhstan was such a problem that this was necessary. In light of that I understand the large sums involved. I doubt this program would be well publicized in Xinjiang though. China will be facing its own demographic problems soon enough.

    Posted 08 Apr 2010 at 5:28 am
  45. kahraman wrote:

    @Lessoskallow
    1. I certainly simplified in making that distinction. What I should have said is that Kazakhstan is a relatively new nation state that is still in the process of defining itself culturally. Russian influence is still very strong and there is a not insignificant Russian minority (~30%). Kazakhs in Kazakhstan certainly have more freedom in expressing their Kazakh identity than those in China. But, that said, if the China and Kazakhstan are two different societies and the decision to migrate is not necessarily cut and dry. (not yet anyway)

    I completely agree that minorities are still discriminated against even if they speak perfect Chinese and understand Han culture. I’m amazed how deeply rooted racism is in China. Even many very well educated people of all ethnicities in China have no problem believing the most absurd and simplistic stereotypes.

    2. Until I see a clear origin for this letter I can’t believe it. If it isn’t clear we really don’t know who the authors are and what their agenda may be.

    3. Your right that Uyghurs seem to have a very difficult time obtaining passports. I did not mention them explicitly. I’m not sure if this may have changed since 7-5. I doubt anyone but a handful of Chinese bureaucrats knows and there not telling.

    Like I mentioned above, there is deep seated racism in China. This holds for both Han Chinese and ethnic minorities. Unfortunately, the Chinese government doesn’t see this as a problem. They would rather harass people like Mehmet Tohti who try to foster an honest and serious dialogue between ethnicities.

    We strayed some from the original topic, but I don’t want to leave the impression I agree with current policies in xinjiang, educational or otherwise.

    Posted 08 Apr 2010 at 12:19 pm
  46. Mr. Jeck wrote:

    @ Porfiriy: Irade is female’s name.

    Posted 08 Apr 2010 at 1:53 pm
  47. Swan wrote:

    I am so glad you guys are back!

    Posted 15 Apr 2010 at 8:58 pm

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