Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self. - Cyril Connolly
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
Dispatches from Western China
Slate's Joshua Kocera has been posting a series of articles all week on the China portion of a trip he started in Russia last fall. He ended up in Kashgar just a week or two before we arrived, during Ramadan.
Overall, his impressions match mine exactly - even down to the laughable "all for one and one for all" hypocrisy on a plaque in the garden of the Ida Kah Mosque which proclaims that the Chinese government is working hard to protect the cultural identity of the Uighurs, when in fact, every move they make only benefits the Chinese and further marginalizes and alienates the Uighur people and their rich culture.
He states that there is a $4 fee to enter Kashgar's old city. Unless our guide paid such a fee, I did not know about it, and find it very disturbing that a private Chinese businessman is benefiting from something like that and the residents of the town do not receive any of the benefits.
I urge you to read his article(s). I think it's very important for more US citizens to know about and understand the Uighurs and what they are enduring in Western China. For so many years, westerners have been all about "Free Tibet!", but I think if more of them knew about Xinjiang and the Uighurs, they would adopt the same policy of "Free the Uighurs!".
I'm taking my Uighur friend and her daughter shopping this weekend. I'll be anxious to know what she thinks of the article. She has been very frank and outspoken in her defense of her people and their culture. She works for the Chinese Red Cross and is studying at Hopkins to be able to take back HIV/AIDS education and treatment programs - something that is sorely lacking in her region. A recent article reported that the incidence of HIV/AIDS in China has increased by some 45% in the last year. Much of this was due to better reporting of data, but it is a real problem in the most populated place on the planet.