Thursday, July 30, 2015

Ethnic Tensions in Xinjiang Complicate China-Turkey Ties


The New York Times - July 28, 2015

BEIJING — For many Chinese, the images coming out of Turkey this month have been ferocious and frightening.
Online video clips and photographs from Istanbul have shown Turkish and ethnic Uighur protesters burning a Chinese flag outside China’s consulate; angry men racing threateningly toward Korean tourists, apparently thinking they were Chinese; and a mostly Uighur mob smashing windows at the Thai Consulate after Thailand sent more than 100 Uighurs back to China against their wishes.
Chinese might wonder whether this is the same Turkey that has been attracting their country’s tourists in greater numbers — or, for that matter, the one that agreed to buy a missile defense system from a Chinese company, or that paid Chinese state-owned enterprises to build a 300-mile high-speed rail line between its two largest cities.
Turkey, heir to the Ottoman Empire, has long seen itself as a protector of Turkic-speaking people across the arc of Central Asia — and that includes the mostly Muslim Uighurs in China’s western region of Xinjiang, where ethnic tensions and outbursts of violence between Uighurs and ethnic Han, the dominant group in China, have been rising because of what Uighurs say is official repression, though Chinese officials blame terrorist ideology.