The Xinjiang Perspective: In Photos
Image Credit: Graham Adams

The Xinjiang Perspective: In Photos


Graham Adams shares his personal observations, experiences, and conversations from around Xinjiang. For earlier articles in the series, please see Part IPart II, and Part III.

Following the 2009 riots in Xinjiang (East Turkestan), the government of the People’s Republic of China is “striking hard” against perceived separatist and terrorist activities. Critics argue that the government is actually using the specter of ethnic and religious instability to crack down on the local Central Asian populace and dramatically increase the security presence.

A sign in Urumqi reads: “The military loves the people, the people embrace the military, the military and people are united as one family.”

Ever since its “peaceful liberation” of Xinjiang and Tibet, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army has endeavored to present itself as a benevolent protector of ethnic minorities. Local propaganda in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) features members of the military linked arm-in-arm with colorfully dressed minorities, all of whom are unified as one family, one nation. However, beneath the official veneer of ethnic solidarity, local Central Asian ethnic groups tend to remain extremely distrustful of the military and Public Security Bureau.


I once remarked to a Uyghur businesswoman that the World Uyghur Congress has declared the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (East Turkestan) a “police state.” Did she believe the statement was true? Had the situation truly become so grave? “Of course,” came the reply. “And you don’t know the half of it.”

The police and military presence is indeed quite large in Xinjiang. Although locals in Beijing noticed more boots on the ground during the 18th Party Congress in November, it is a common sight to see riot police vans driving down the streets and patrols walking down the sidewalks of Uyghur communities. In the three intervening years since the 2009 Urumqi riots, they have now become a part of everyday life in Xinjiang.

In various parts of the XUAR, particularly in the south, one may often witness four or five person patrols policing the streets in urban areas. They consist of one policeman walking in front, three men dressed in fatigues, and perhaps another policemen at the rear. The men in fatigues appear to be members of the People’s Armed Police. One is carrying a rifle, and the other two are carrying riot batons and shields (see below).

In addition, the Public Security Bureau also seems to have set up small civilian patrols. Bearing red armbands and batons, they are reportedly paid 800RMB per month (approximately $125) to keep watch over local neighborhoods. Ironically, one is far more likely to find them chatting idly outside of storefronts or playing cards.

May 12, 2013 at 18:40

Has anyone else heard reports that the United States has JSOC assets in Xinjiang?

May 5, 2013 at 08:15

If China's already heavily overpopulated with migrants, human rights will be the last of their worries.  When the air becomes thick with smoke and people begin struggling over basic necessities like food and water, the last thing they will care bout is freedom of speech.  Be a realist, not an idealist.

May 5, 2013 at 08:13

More idealist talk.  Man can never be equal.  All attempts to do so have failed drastically.  Some people will always be more priviliged by others just by the circumstances of their birth.  In pursuit of "equality" we will only lead to destruction.

April 29, 2013 at 11:11

There are more American stationed around the world and in the Middle East than there are Chinese securoty forces station in Xinjiang

Kim's Uncle
April 23, 2013 at 15:41

East Turkestan deserves to be free from China. It is called right of self determination !

April 22, 2013 at 22:49

What are legitimate reasons and pretenses USA uses to suppress people around the world, China only use at home.

April 20, 2013 at 23:29

@John Chan,

So everything bad somewhere else can a be "a way of life" for the Chinese?

April 20, 2013 at 23:25


And this is a legitimate reason for the CCP to oppress its minorities?

April 20, 2013 at 23:22


You seem to have difficulty in understanding the difference between equality and diversity. A man and a woman are very different, but they should be treated equally in front of law. A normal man and a hearing impaired man have different physical capability. But they should both enjoy life and cultural activities equally in a modern society.

April 20, 2013 at 23:15


And therefore China can use other pretext to suppress human rights?

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