East Turkestan independence movement
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The East Turkestan independence movement, also known as the Xinjiang independence movement or the Uyghur independence movement, is a political and social movement seeking independence for Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China as a homeland for the Uyghur people, to be named "East Turkestan". The territory of Xinjiang has been continuously controlled by the People's Republic of China since its incorporation of the Republic of China's Xinjiang Province in 1949.
The Uyghurs are a sedentary farmer people of Turkic origin who have traditionally inhabited a series of oases scattered across the Taklamakan Desert comprising the Tarim Basin. Uyghurs have predominantly practiced Islam since the 9th–10th century AD, according to some Uyghur sources. These sources also claim that Uyghurs have lived in East Turkestan for 4000 years. This claim is based on so-called "Tarim mummies"; 3800-year-old mummies which have been discovered in the Tarim Basin.
China considers all support for the East Turkestan independence movement to fall under the definitions of "terrorism, extremism, and separatism". Currently, the movement is supported by the verifiably terroristic group Turkistan Islamic Party, which has links to other verifiably terroristic groups in the Middle East, such as ISIL and Al Qaeda. However, certain advocacy groups such as the World Uyghur Congress have no verifiable links to terrorism but are also designated as terrorist organizations by China.
Recently, the East Turkestan independence movement has risen to prominence in the international arena due to allegations that China is indiscriminately interning and "re-educating" the Xinjiang Uyghurs in an attempt to eradicate Uyghur religion, culture, language, and identity. Xinjiang is a multi-ethnic Chinese province-level subdivision where no ethnic group makes up the majority. Uyghurs make up around 45% of the population whereas Han Chinese (the main Chinese ethnicity) make up around 40%.
- 1 Legal basis for East Turkestan independence
- 2 Name of the proposed independent state
- 3 Ethnic identity of Uyghur independence advocates
- 4 History of East Turkestan independence
- 5 Uyghur views by oasis
- 6 Restrictions
- 7 Support for East Turkestan independence
- 8 Attempts at independence
- 9 Official Chinese position on the movement
- 10 Reactions
- 11 Infighting between Uyghur separatists
- 12 Turkic nationalism
- 13 Argument for East Turkestan independence
- 14 Argument against East Turkestan independence
- 15 Groups
- 16 Leaders
- 17 Recent events
- 18 See also
- 19 Notes
- 20 References
- 21 Further reading
- 22 External links
Legal basis for East Turkestan independence
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Arguments in favor of East Turkestan independence
The supporters of Xinjiang (East Turkestan) independence generally take two routes. The more controversial route is terrorism, which consists of strategically random acts of violence against the People’s Republic of China and people of Han Chinese descent, with the intention of liberating Xinjiang in mind. Terrorism is generally condemned by most sovereign states and intergovernmental organizations. Meanwhile, the second route is peaceful activism. The most prominent peaceful advocacy groups for Xinjiang independence are the World Uyghur Congress, which is based in Germany, and the Uyghur American Association, which is based in the United States.
Arguments for Xinjiang independence which are generally more accepted by developed countries are those which advocate for peaceful self-determination. Various justifications can be presented in order to justify this measure. Given that historical claims presented by secessionist groups are generally not accepted by developed countries due to concerns over legitimacy, peaceful advocacy groups for Xinjiang independence often instead base their arguments on the belief that the human rights of the people living in Xinjiang are being violated by the PRC, and that independence is the only way to protect those people.
There are historical arguments for the independence of Xinjiang, such as the argument that the People’s Republic of China is a colonial occupier of Xinjiang, rather than the sovereign state which has traditionally ruled over Xinjiang. Evidence for this argument usually consists of claims that the PRC is not the legitimate successor state to either the ROC (now based in Taiwan) or the previous imperial dynasty of China, which is the Qing dynasty, or that previous regimes were also illegitimate.
Elaborating on this argument, a common concept which is cited by independence-aligned historians is that the Qing dynasty was an empire composed of many realms, which each operated somewhat independently from the main territory of Qing China, which is known in modern times as "China proper" and which has traditionally occupied the arable lands of the country and has been separated from "Chinese Tartary" by what is now known as the "Heihe–Tengchong Line". The argument further elaborates that the Han Chinese, who are the dominant ethnic group in the PRC, are indigenous only to China Proper and not to the various regions of Chinese Tartary.
Several Uyghur advocacy groups state that the Uyghurs have had a defined history in Xinjiang for "over 4000 years", a claim which has neither been proven nor disproven. They also claim that Xinjiang was illegally occupied by the Communist Party of China in 1949 and that the Manchu-led Qing dynasty, a recent predecessor to the PRC, was not Chinese. They also claim that China's Great Wall is "a logical boundary of China" and that all of the lands beyond the wall do not belong to China. This claim has been considered dubious since historical China has had an intermittent presence in Xinjiang for over 2000 years and since borders were fluid back then.
Arguments in opposition to East Turkestan independence
The main camp which is opposed to Xinjiang (East Turkestan) independence is the Government of China and its supporters (including Chinese nationalists). China officially claims that Xinjiang has been part of China (the historical region) since the year 60 BCE, when the Han dynasty of China established the Protectorate of the Western Regions. China claims that Xinjiang has always belonged to China even when it was mostly occupied by several other countries. Historically, Chinese regimes have described invasions of Xinjiang as a sort of "re-conquering" of previously lost territories ever since the Han dynasty.
If the claim of the People’s Republic of China is assessed from a much more recent date, such as 1912 CE, the date of the collapse of the Qing and establishment of the ROC, then it can be concluded that it has a legitimate claim to Xinjiang. The legitimacy of territorial claims is conventionally assessed from international recognition at historical points in time. By the year 1912, Qing China was recognized by most countries of the world as being sovereign over most of the territory of modern Xinjiang. Later, the ROC would succeed the Qing and claim (and control) the same territory, and the PRC would (mostly) succeed the ROC and do the same.
Therefore, the People’s Republic of China can be considered currently sovereign over Xinjiang, due to inheriting a claim from the ROC, which inherited a claim from the Qing. During the 20th century, following the collapse of the Qing, certain parts of Xinjiang seceded from the ROC and experienced de facto independence, receiving minimal international recognition. However, throughout much of the 20th and 21st centuries, most of the world has recognized Xinjiang as being part of China (either under the Qing, ROC, or PRC), regardless of how long Xinjiang might have been part of China throughout earlier centuries.
Name of the proposed independent state
Officially, the territory claimed by the independence movement is named "Xinjiang" (Uyghur: شىنجاڭ; SASM/GNC: Xinjang; Chinese: 新疆; pinyin: Xīnjiāng alternately romanized as "Sinkiang"). This name has its origins in the Mandarin Chinese language, and it translates to "New Frontier". The name originated from the Qing dynasty (of China), which established Xinjiang as a Province of China in 1884. Previously, Xinjiang was known by the Qing as "Zhunbu" (準部, Dzungar region) and "Huijiang" (meaning "Muslimland"). On October 1, 1955, China (PRC) changed the administrative status of Xinjiang from that of a "province" to that of an "autonomous region"; this is indicated in Xinjiang's official extended name. Also in the official extended name of Xinjiang, the word "Uyghur" (alternately "Uygur") is present. This word refers to the Uyghur ethnic group, which is the most populous ethnic group in Xinjiang. According to the Xinjiang 2010 census, Uyghurs accounted for 45.84% of Xinjiang's population at the time.
Supporters of independence for Xinjiang prefer to refer to the territory as "East Turkestan" (alternately "East Turkistan"). This name is perceived to reflect the culture of the Uyghur people and the other Turkic peoples who inhabit Xinjiang. The name "East Turkestan" is not currently used in an official sense by most sovereign states and intergovernmental organizations.
Ethnic identity of Uyghur independence advocates
Throughout history, various independence movements have emerged in Xinjiang, aka East Turkestan, advocating for the independence of various different peoples. The current groups which are advocating for independence are primarily Uyghur-centric, hence why the modern movement is sometimes referred to as the "Uyghur independence movement". Because the Uyghurs haven't exactly possessed a defined sovereign state of their own throughout much of history, their identity has always been subjected to foreign influences from various neighbouring regions such as China, Russia, Mongolia, Manchuria, Tibet, Central Asia, Iran, and South Asia.
The connections between the modern Uyghur independence movement and historical independence movements in Xinjiang are heavily debated. The People’s Republic of China considers the Uyghurs to be descendants of the Xiongnu Confederation who have been "poisoned by Islam" and are now affected by a national identity crisis. Meanwhile, historical advocates for East Turkestan independence have claimed that the definition of "Uyghurs" is a fabrication designed to divide the Turkic peoples of Xinjiang. Some researchers postulate that the definition of Uyghur identity has led to anachronisms regarding historical independence movements in Xinjiang.
Mongols have at times advocated for the historical Oirat Dzungar Mongol area of Dzungaria in northern Xinjiang to be annexed to the Mongolian state in the name of Pan-Mongolism. The part Buryat Transbaikalian Cossack Ataman Grigory Semyonov declared a "Great Mongol State" in 1918 and had designs to unify the Oirat Mongol lands, portions of Xinjiang, Transbaikal, Inner Mongolia, Outer Mongolia, Tannu Uriankhai, Khovd, Hu-lun-pei-erh and Tibet into one Mongolian state. Agvan Dorzhiev tried advocating for Oirat Mongol areas like Tarbagatai, Ili, and Altai to get added to the Outer Mongolian state. Out of concern that China would be provoked, this proposed addition of the Oirat Dzungaria to the new Outer Mongolian state was rejected by the Soviets.
Pan-Turkic Jadidists and East Turkestan independence activists Muhammad Amin Bughra and Masud Sabri rejected the imposition of the name "Uyghur people" upon the Turkic people of Xinjiang by the Soviets and Chinese warlord Shen Shicai. They wanted instead the name "Turkic ethnicity" (Chinese: 突厥族; pinyin: tūjué zú) to be applied to their people. Masud Sabri also viewed the Hui people as Muslim Han Chinese and separate from his own people. The names "Türk" or "Türki" in particular were demanded by Bughra as the real name for his people. He slammed Sheng Shicai for his designation of Turkic Muslims into different ethnicities, which could sow disunion among Turkic Muslims.
History of East Turkestan independence
Xinjiang within the Republic of China (1912–1949)
One of the earliest attempts at East Turkestan independence was the establishment of the short-lived "First East Turkestan Republic" (aka "Turkish Islamic Republic of East Turkestan"), which lasted between 1933 and 1934. This republic was formed following a rebellion in Kashgar against the Republic of China (1912–1949) (ROC), which was still in the process of conquering Kashgar after two decades of Warlordism in China (ROC). The Chinese Hui Muslim 36th Division (National Revolutionary Army) re-annexed the First East Turkestan Republic following Chinese (ROC) victories at the conclusions of the Battle of Kashgar (1933) and Battle of Kashgar (1934).
During the later years of China under the ROC, which was engaged against the Chinese Communists in the context of the Chinese Civil War, the Soviet Union under leader Joseph Stalin invaded Xinjiang and assisted a local rebellion at Ili (Yining City). The rebellion led to the establishment of the Second East Turkistan Republic (1944–1949), which existed in three northern districts (Ili, Tarbaghatai, Altai) of Xinjiang with secret aid from the Soviet Union. After emerging (mostly) victorious at the conclusion of the Chinese Civil War in 1949, the People's Liberation Army annexed Xinjiang from the ROC and the Second East Turkestan Republic.
Xinjiang within the People's Republic of China (1949–present)
At the start of the 19th century, 40 years after the Qing reconquest, there were around 155,000 Han and Hui Chinese in northern Xinjiang and somewhat more than twice that number of Uyghurs in southern Xinjiang. A census of Xinjiang under Qing rule in the early 19th century tabulated ethnic shares of the population as 30% Han and 60% Turkic, while it dramatically shifted to 6% Han and 75% Uyghur in the 1953 census, however a situation similar to the Qing era-demographics with a large number of Han has been restored as of 2000 with 40.57% Han and 45.21% Uyghur. Professor Stanley W. Toops noted that today's demographic situation is similar to that of the early Qing period in Xinjiang. Before 1831, only a few hundred Chinese merchants lived in southern Xinjiang oases (Tarim Basin) and only a few Uyghurs lived in northern Xinjiang (Dzungaria).
Uyghur nationalists often incorrectly claim that 5% of Xinjiang's population in 1949 was Han, and that the other 95% was Uyghur, erasing the presence of Kazakhs, Xibes, and others, and ignoring the fact that Hans were around one third of Xinjiang's population at 1800, during the time of the Qing Dynasty.
In 1955 (the first modern census in China was taken in 1953), Uyghurs were counted as 73% of Xinjiang's total population of 5.11 million. Although Xinjiang as a whole is designated as a "Uyghur Autonomous Region", since 1954 more than 50% of Xinjiang's land area are designated autonomous areas for 13 native non-Uyghur groups. The modern Uyghur people experienced ethnogenesis especially from 1955, when the PRC officially recognized that ethnic category – in opposition to the Han – of formerly separately self-identified oasis peoples.
The People's Republic of China has directed the majority of Han migrants towards the sparsely populated Dzungaria (Junggar Basin), before 1953 most of Xinjiang's population (75%) lived in the Tarim Basin, so the new Han migrants resulted in the distribution of population between Dzungaria and the Tarim being changed. Most new Chinese migrants ended up in the northern region, in Dzungaria. Han and Hui made up the majority of the population in Dzungaria's cities while Uighurs made up most of the population in Kashgaria's cities. Eastern and Central Dzungaria are the specific areas where these Han and Hui are concentrated. China made sure that new Han migrants were settled in entirely new areas uninhabited by Uyghurs so as to not disturb the already existing Uyghur communities. Lars-Erik Nyman noted that Kashgaria was the native land of the Uighurs, "but a migration has been in progress to Dzungaria since the 18th century".
Both Han economic migrants from other parts of China and Uyghur economic migrants from southern Xinjiang have been flooding into northern Xinjiang since the 1980s.
Southern Xinjiang is where the majority of the Uyghur population resides, while it is in Northern Xinjiang cities where the majority of the Han (90%) population of Xinjiang reside. Southern Xinjiang is dominated by its nine million Uighur majority population, while northern Xinjiang is where the mostly urban Han population holds sway. This situation has been followed by an imbalance in the economic situation between the two ethnic groups, since the Northern Junghar Basin (Dzungaria) has been more developed than the Uighur south.
Since the Chinese economic reform from the late 1970s has exacerbated uneven regional development, more Uyghurs have migrated to Xinjiang cities and some Hans have also migrated to Xinjiang for independent economic advancement. Increased ethnic contact and labor competition coincided with Uyghur separatist terrorism from the 1990s, such as the 1997 Ürümqi bus bombings.
In the 1980s, 90% of Xinjiang Han lived in north Xinjiang (Jiangbei, historical Dzungaria). In the mid-1990s, Uyghurs made up 90% of the population of south Xinjiang (Nanjiang, historical Tarim). In 1980, the liberal reformist Hu Yaobang announced the expulsion of ethnic Han cadres in Xinjiang to eastern China. Hu was purged in 1987 for a series of demonstrations that he is said to have provoked in other areas of China. The prominent Xinjiang and national official Wang Zhen criticized Hu for destroying Xinjiang Han cadres' "sense of security", and for exacerbating ethnic tensions.
In the 1990s, there was a net inflow of Han people to Xinjiang, many of whom were previously prevented from moving because of the declining number of social services tied to hukou (residency permits). As of 1996, 13.6% of Xinjiang's population was employed by the publicly traded Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (Bingtuan) corporation. 90% of the Bingtuan's activities relate to agriculture, and 88% of Bingtuan employees are Han, although the percentage of Hans with ties to the Bingtuan has decreased. Han emigration from Xinjiang has also resulted in an increase of minority-identified agricultural workers as a total percentage of Xinjiang's farmers, from 69.4% in 1982 to 76.7% in 1990. During the 1990s, about 1.2 million temporary migrants entered Xinjiang every year to stay for the cotton-picking season. Many Uyghur trading communities exist outside of Xinjiang; the largest in Beijing is one village of a few thousand.
In 2000, Uyghurs were 45 per cent of Xinjiang's population, but only 12.8 per cent of Urumqi. Despite having 9% of Xinjiang's population, Urumqi accounts for 25% of the region's GDP, and many rural Uyghurs have been migrating to that city to seek work in the dominant light, heavy, and petrochemical industries. Hans in Xinjiang are demographically older, better-educated, and work in higher-paying professions than their Uyghur cohabitants. Hans are more likely to cite business reasons for moving to Urumqi, while some Uyghurs also cite trouble with the law back home and family reasons for their moving to Urumqi. Hans and Uyghurs are equally represented in Urumqi's floating population that works mostly in commerce. Self-segregation within the city is widespread, in terms of residential concentration, employment relationships, and a social norm of endogamy. As of 2010, Uyghurs constitute a majority in the Tarim Basin, and a mere plurality in Xinjiang as a whole.
Han and Hui mostly live in northern Xinjiang (Dzungaria), and are separated from areas of historical Uyghur dominance south of the Tian Shan mountains (southwestern Xinjiang), where Uyghurs account for about 90% of the population.
After the declarations of independence of the constituent republics of the area of Central Asia(Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) from the Soviet Union in 1991, calls for the liberation of East Turkestan from China began to surface again from many in the Turkic population.
Those that use the term Uyghurstan tend to envision a state for the Uyghur people. Those groups that adopt this terminology tended to be allied with the Soviet Union while it still existed (Indeed, Russia incited and aided the rebellion in attempt to annex these regions in the future). Since then some of the leaders of these groups have remained in Russia, Kazakhstan or Kyrgyzstan, or have emigrated to Europe and North America. It is worth noting that none of these identities are exclusive. Some groups support more than one such orientation. It is common to support both an Islamic and Turkic orientation for Xinjiang, for example, the founders of independent Republic in Kashgar in 1933 used the names "Turkic Islamic Republic of East Turkestan" and "Eastern Turkestan Republic at the same time.
Uyghur Muslim opposition to a Buddhist Aspara statue in Ürümqi in Xinjiang was cited as a possible reason for its destruction in 2012. A Muslim Kazakh viewed a giant Buddha statue near Ürümqi as "alien cultural symbols".
Uyghur views by oasis
Uyghur views vary by the oasis they live in. China has historically favored Turpan and Hami. Uyghurs in Turpan and Hami and their leaders like Emin Khoja allied with the Qing against Uyghurs in Altishahr. During the Qing dynasty, China enfeoffed the rulers of Turpan and Hami (Kumul) as autonomous princes, while the rest of the Uyghurs in Altishahr (the Tarim Basin) were ruled by Begs. Uyghurs from Turpan and Hami were appointed by China as officials to rule over Uyghurs in the Tarim Basin. Turpan is more economically prosperous and views China more positively than Kashgar, which is the most anti-Chinese region. Uyghurs in Turpan are treated leniently and favourably by China with regards to religious policies, while Kashgar is subjected to controls by the government. In Turpan and Hami, religion is viewed more positively by China than in Kashgar and Khotan in southern Xinjiang. Both Uyghur and Han Communist officials in Turpan soften the law and allow religious Islamic education for Uyghur children. Celebrating at religious functions and going on Hajj to Mecca are encouraged by the Chinese government for Uyghur members of the Communist party. From 1979 to 1989, 350 mosques were built in Turpan. Han, Hui, and the Chinese government are viewed much more positively by Uyghurs specifically in Turpan, with the government providing better economic, religious, and political treatment for them. There were 20,000 mosques representing an increase of 5.8 times in total in Xinjiang in 1989.:236ff. Until separatist disturbances flared in 1996, China was lenient and allowed people to ignore the rule prohibiting government officials from observing religion.:237ff. Newer, bigger mosques have been financially assisted in being built by the Chinese government in Urumqi.:238ff. While in southern Xinjiang China implements strong rules regarding religion, in Urumqi, China treats the Uyghurs and religion less harshly.:240ff.
In Xinjiang, Communist Party members and civil servants who are employees of the government are not allowed to participate in religious activities while ordinary private citizens are allowed to practice religion and fast in Ramadan, students in public government directed schools are discouraged from participating in religious activities but not banned from doing so, the policy pertains to all religions- members of the Communist party are not allowed to carry out Daoist practices like Feng Shui.
The Diplomat reported that although Uyghur's religious activities are curtailed, Hui Muslims are granted widespread religious freedom and that therefore the policy of the Chinese government towards Uyghurs in Xinjiang likely reflects "not a distaste for Islam as such, but it is an absolute neurosis towards the threat – serious or not – of territory loss, and with no small degree of xenophobia thrown in there as well." China banned a book titled Xing Fengsu (Sexual Customs) which insulted Islam and placed its authors under arrest in 1989 after protests in Lanzhou and Beijing by Chinese Hui Muslims, during which the Chinese police provided protection to the Hui Muslim protestors, and the Chinese government organized public burnings of the book. The Chinese government assisted them and gave into their demands because Hui do not have a separatist movement, unlike the Uyghurs, Hui Muslim protestors who violently rioted by vandalizing property during the protests against the book were let off by the Chinese government and went unpunished while Uyghur protestors were imprisoned.
In 2007, anticipating the coming "Year of the Pig" in the Chinese calendar, depictions of pigs were banned from CCTV "to avoid conflicts with ethnic minorities". This is believed to refer to China's population of 20 million Muslims as pigs are considered unclean in Islam.
Although religious education for children is officially forbidden by law in China, the Communist party allows Hui Muslims to violate this law and have their children educated in religion and attend mosques while the law is enforced on Uyghurs. After secondary education is completed, China then allows Hui students who are willing to embark on religious studies under an Imam. China does not enforce the law against children attending mosques on non-Uyghurs in areas outside of Xinjiang. Since the 1980s Islamic private schools have been supported and permitted by the Chinese government among Muslim areas, only specifically excluding Xinjiang from allowing these schools because of separatist sentiment there.[note 1]
Hui Muslims who are employed by the state are allowed to fast during Ramadan unlike Uyghurs in the same positions, the amount of Hui going on Hajj is expanding, and Hui women are allowed to wear veils, while Uyghur women are discouraged from wearing them.
Different Muslim ethnic groups in different regions are treated differently by the Chinese government in regards to religious freedom. Religious freedom is present for Hui Muslims, who can practice their religion, build mosques, and have their children attend mosques, while more controls are placed specifically on Uyghurs in Xinjiang.
Hui religious schools are allowed and a massive autonomous network of mosques and schools run by a Hui Sufi leader Hong Yan was formed with the approval of the Chinese government even as he admitted to attending an event where Osama bin Laden spoke and also came into contact with other fundamentalist clerics while studying about Islam for 5 years in Pakistan.
The Uyghur terrorist organization East Turkestan Islamic Movement's magazine Islamic Turkistan has accused the Chinese "Muslim Brotherhood" (the Yihewani) of being responsible for the moderation of Hui Muslims and the lack of Hui joining terrorist jihadist groups in addition to blaming other things for the lack of Hui Jihadists, such as the fact that for more than 300 years Hui and Uyghurs have been enemies of each other, no separatist Islamist organizations among the Hui, the fact that the Hui view China as their home, and the fact that the "infidel Chinese" language is the language of the Hui.
Even among Hui Salafis and Uyghur Salafis, there is little coordination or cooperation and the two take totally different political agendas, with the Hui Salafists content to carry out their own teachings and remain politically neutral.
Support for East Turkestan independence
The Soviet Union supported the Uyghur Second East Turkestan Republic in the Ili Rebellion against the Republic of China. According to her autobiography, Dragon Fighter: One Woman's Epic Struggle for Peace with China, Rebiya Kadeer's father served with pro-Soviet Uyghur rebels under the Second East Turkestan Republic in the Ili Rebellion (Three Province Rebellion) in 1944–1946, using Soviet assistance and aid to fight the Republic of China government under Chiang Kai-shek. Kadeer and her family were close friends with White Russian exiles living in Xinjiang and Kadeer recalled that many Uyghurs thought Russian culture was "more advanced" than that of the Uyghurs and they "respected" the Russians a lot.
Many of the Turkic peoples of the Ili region of Xinjiang had close cultural, political, and economic ties with Russia and then the Soviet Union. Many of them were educated in the Soviet Union and a community of Russian settlers lived in the region. As a result, many of the Turkic rebels fled to the Soviet Union and obtained Soviet assistance in creating the Sinkiang Turkic People's Liberation Committee (STPNLC) in 1943 to revolt against Kuomintang rule during the Ili Rebellion. The pro-Soviet Uyghur who later became leader of the revolt and the Second East Turkestan Republic, Ehmetjan Qasim, was Soviet educated and described as "Stalin's man".
The Soviet Union incited separatist activities in Xinjiang through propaganda, encouraging Kazakhs to flee to the Soviet Union and attacking China. China responded by reinforcing the Xinjiang-Soviet border area specifically with Han Bingtuan militia and farmers. The Soviets massively intensified their broadcasts inciting Uyghurs to revolt against the Chinese via Radio Tashkent since 1967 and directly harbored and supported separatist guerilla fighters to attack the Chinese border, in 1966 the amount of Soviet sponsored separatist attacks on China numbered 5,000. The Soviets transmitted a radio broadcast from Radio Tashkent into Xinjiang on 14 May 1967, boasting of the fact that the Soviets had supported the Second East Turkestan Republic against China. In addition to Radio Tashkent, other Soviet media outlets aimed at disseminating propaganda towards Uyghurs urging that they proclaim independence and revolt against China included Radio Alma-Ata and the Alma-Ata published Sherki Türkistan Evazi ("The Voice of Eastern Turkestan") (شەرقىي تۈركىستان ئاۋازى) newspaper. After the Sino-Soviet split in 1962, over 60,000 Uyghurs and Kazakhs defected from Xinjiang to the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic, in response to Soviet propaganda which promised Xinjiang independence. Uyghur exiles later threatened China with rumors of a Uyghur "liberation army" in the thousands that were supposedly recruited from Sovietized emigres.
The Soviet Union was involved in funding and support to the East Turkestan People's Revolutionary Party (ETPRP), the largest militant Uyghur separatist organization in its time, to start a violent uprising against China in 1968. In the 1970s, the Soviets also supported the United Revolutionary Front of East Turkestan (URFET) to fight against the Chinese.
"Bloody incidents" in 1966–67 flared up as Chinese and Soviet forces clashed along the border as the Soviets trained anti-Chinese guerillas and urged Uyghurs to revolt against China, hailing their "national liberation struggle". In 1969, Chinese and Soviet forces directly fought each other along the Xinjiang-Soviet border.
The Soviet Union supported Uyghur nationalist propaganda and Uyghur separatist movements against China. The Soviet historians claimed that the Uyghur native land was Xinjiang and Uyghur nationalism was promoted by Soviet versions of history on turcology. Soviet turcologists like D.I. Tikhonov wrote pro-independence works on Uyghur history and the Soviet supported Uyghur historian Tursun Rakhimov wrote more historical works supporting Uyghur independence and attacking the Chinese government, claiming that Xinjiang was an entity created by China made out of the different parts of East Turkestan and Zungharia. These Soviet Uyghur historians were waging an "ideological war" against China, emphasizing the "national liberation movement" of Uyghurs throughout history. The Soviet Communist Party supported the publication of works which glorified the Second East Turkestan Republic and the Ili Rebellion against China in its anti-China propaganda war. Soviet propaganda writers wrote works claiming that Uyghurs lived better lives and were able to practice their culture only in Soviet Central Asia and not in Xinjiang. In 1979 Soviet KGB agent Victor Louis wrote a thesis claiming that the Soviets should support a "war of liberation" against the "imperial" China to support Uighur, Tibetan, Mongol, and Manchu independence. The Soviet KGB itself supported Uyghur separatists against China. Among some Uyghurs, the Soviet Union was viewed extremely favorably and several of them believed that people of Turkic origin ruled the Soviet Union, claiming that one of these Turkic Soviet leaders was Mikhail Gorbachev.
Uyghur nationalist historian Turghun Almas and his book Uyghurlar (The Uyghurs) and Uyghur nationalist accounts of history were galvanized by Soviet stances on history, "firmly grounded" in Soviet Turcological works, and both heavily influenced and partially created by Soviet historians and Soviet works on Turkic peoples. Soviet historiography spawned the rendering of Uyghur history found in Uyghurlar. Almas claimed that Central Asia was "the motherland of the Uyghurs" and also the "ancient golden cradle of world culture".
Xinjiang's importance to China increased after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, leading to China's perception of being encircled by the Soviets. The China supported the Afghan mujahideen during the Soviet invasion, and broadcast reports of Soviet atrocities on Afghan Muslims to Uyghurs in order to counter Soviet propaganda broadcasts into Xinjiang, which boasted that Soviet minorities lived better and incited Muslims to revolt. Chinese radio beamed anti-Soviet broadcasts to Central Asian ethnic minorities like the Kazakhs. The Soviets feared disloyalty among the non-Russian Kazakh, Uzbek, and Kyrgyz in the event of Chinese troops attacking the Soviet Union and entering Central Asia. Russians were goaded with the taunt "Just wait till the Chinese get here, they'll show you what's what!" by Central Asians when they had altercations. The Chinese authorities viewed the Han migrants in Xinjiang as vital to defending the area against the Soviet Union. China opened up camps to train the Afghan Mujahideen near Kashgar and Khotan and supplied them with hundreds of millions of dollars worth of small arms, rockets, mines, and anti-tank weapons.
A chain of aggressive and belligerent press releases in the 1990s making false claims about violent insurrections in Xinjiang, and exaggerating both the number of Chinese migrants and the total number of Uyghurs in Xinjiang were made by the former Soviet supported URFET leader Yusupbek Mukhlisi.
After the establishment of the Soviet Union, many Uyghurs who studied in Soviet Central Asia added Russian suffixes to Russify their surnames and make them look Russian. Urban Uyghurs sometimes select Russian names when naming their children, in cities such as Qaramay and Urumqi.
The East Turkestan Islamic Movement (Turkistan Islamic Party) is allied with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan along with the Pakistani Taliban (Tehreek i Taliban Pakistan) and Al-Qaeda.
The organization renamed itself the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) and abandoned usage of the name ETIM, although China still calls it by the name ETIM and refuses to acknowledge it as TIP. The Turkistan Islamic Party was originally subordinated to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) but then split off and declared its name as TIP and started making itself known by promoting itself with its Islamic Turkistan magazine and Voice of Islam media in Chinese, Arabic, Russian, and Turkish in order to reach out to global jihadists.
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
The Islamic fundamentalist-Salafist-based movement, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant released a video featuring an 80 year old Uyghur man who came to join ISIS in Syria along with his grandchildren, wife, and daughter after he was inspired by his son who died in combat in Syria. The video featured Uyghur children singing about martyrdom and a 10 year old Uyghur child threatening China, saying : "O Chinese kuffar (non-believers), know that we are preparing in the land of the khilafah (caliphate) and we will come to you and raise this flag in Turkestan with the permission of Allah." The elderly Uyghur man said "'I made hijrah accompanied by my four grandsons, my daughter and my wife".
After Thailand deported Uyghurs back to China whom China suspected to have "been on their way to Turkey, Syria or Iraq to join jihad" , John Kirby, a United States State Department spokesman, slammed the move and said Thailand should "allow those remaining ethnic Uighurs to depart voluntarily to a country of their choice". TIP's "Islamic Turkistan" Twitter account condemned the deportation and called China and Thailand as "polytheist enemies of Allah" (أعداء الله المشركين).
The Turkish newspaper Today's Zaman Anakara Bureau Chief Abdullah Bozkurt said that the Islamist Erdoğan government in Turkey allowed Uyghur fighters to cross into Syria via Turkey and this was causing major problems in China-Turkey relations.[failed verification]
Attempts at independence
The Ush rebellion in 1765 by Uyghur Muslims against the Manchus of the Qing dynasty occurred after Uyghur women were gang raped by the servants and son of Manchu official Su-cheng. It was said that Ush Muslims had long wanted to sleep on [Sucheng and son's] hides and eat their flesh. because of the rape of Uyghur Muslim women for months by the Manchu official Sucheng and his son. The Manchu Emperor ordered that the Uyghur rebel town be massacred, the Qing forces enslaved all the Uyghur children and women and slaughtered the Uyghur men.  Manchu soldiers and Manchu officials regularly having sex with or raping Uyghur women caused massive hatred and anger by Uyghur Muslims to Manchu rule. The invasion by Jahangir Khoja was preceded by another Manchu official, Binjing who raped a Muslim daughter of the Kokan aqsaqal from 1818-1820. The Qing sought to cover up the rape of Uyghur women by Manchus to prevent anger against their rule from spreading among the Uyghurs.
Yaqub Beg establishment of Kashgaria
Also during the Dungan revolt, the Taranchi Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang initially cooperated with the Dungans (Chinese Muslims) when they rose in revolt, but turned on them, because the Dungans, mindful of their Chinese heritage attempted to subject the entire region to their rule. The Taranchi massacred the Dungans at Kuldja and drove the rest through Talk pass to the Ili valley.
First East Turkestan Republic
The first republic established by the Uighurs was short lived, the Uighur army was defeated by the Chinese Muslim 36th Division (National Revolutionary Army), which destroyed the Republic at the Battle of Kashgar (1934).
Second East Turkestan Republic
A Soviet backed state was created by Uighur rebels in northern Xinjiang. It was absorbed into the newly founded People's Republic of China in 1950.
Official Chinese position on the movement
People's Republic of China
Republic of China (Taiwan)
Chinese Muslim General Ma Bufang, the Republic of China's (Taiwan) ambassador to Saudi Arabia between 1957 and 1961,[when?] in response to a request by a former Uyghur Mufti living in Saudi Arabia, Abdul Ahad Hamed for accommodations to be granted to Uyghurs living outside of China who held Republic of China passports, sent the following letter, which rejected Abdul Ahad Hamed's demands and his usage of the term "East Turkestan", upholding the official position of the Republic of China (Taiwan) that Xinjiang was a part of China and that it did not recognize the East Turkestan Independence Movement.
With all due respect to your previous position in the Government of Sinkiang and to the confidence placed in you by His Excellency the President of the Republic of China, I hope that you will refrain from using expressions which should not be used by one who occupied the position of a mufti. We are all serving our beloved country trying to do our best for our countrymen. I also hope that you will refrain from using the expression "The Turkestani Nation" which was the creation of one Abdul Qayyum Khan while he was living in Germany. We are working for the welfare of the true people of Sinkiang not for the Turkestanis living outside Sinkiang or the followers of Abdul Qayyum Khan.
Ambassador of Nationalist China in Saudi Arabia
The Eastern Turkistan Islamic Party, Organization for Freeing Eastern Turkistan, and the Islamic Party of Turkistan were outlawed by Kyrgyzstan's Lenin District Court and its Supreme Court in November 2003. Several Uyghur militants were shot dead by Kyrgyzstan's security forces in January 2014.
Arab countries politically supported China in the OIC with especially Saudi Arabia and Egypt helping China end any potential anti-Chinese motion by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation on the Uyghurs, as Egypt viewed its own internal sectarian problems like China's and Sudan was also concerned about external interference in its internal problems as well, while Indonesia had to deal with its own internal Islamists and emphasized that there was no religious conflict but instead ethnic based disturbances in Xinjiang to calm the situation down. Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt helped China kill off a statement on the Xinjiang situation in the OIC. There has been no public reaction by the Arab League, Saudi Arabia and Iran on the situation and China has built stronger relations with Iran and Saudi Arabia due to their influence in the Islamic world.
Rebiya Kadeer claimed that Turkey is hampered from interfering with Uyghurs because it recognizes that the Kurdish-Turkish conflict may receive interference from China in retaliation. An appeal for Chinese products to be boycotted by Nihat Ergun failed in 2009.
Infighting between Uyghur separatists
During the First East Turkestan Republic, the Turkic nationalist ideology of the Republic led to hostility between different Muslim ethnic groups. The Uyghurs and Kirghiz, who were both Turkic Muslim peoples, fought against the Chinese Muslims of southern Xinjiang and sought to expel them with the Han Chinese. This led several Chinese Muslim Generals like Ma Zhancang, Ma Fuyuan, and Ma Hushan to fight against the Uyghur attempts and independence.
Argument for East Turkestan independence
The Uyghur American Association claims that Many Uyghurs face religious persecution and discrimination at the hands of the government authorities. Uyghurs who choose to practice their faith can use only a state-approved version of the Koran; They also claims that many nationalists are killed or tortured or jailed for their independence efforts, and even non-violent protesters have said to have been facing human rights abuses. They claim dress, language, and culture are slowly being eroded away as more and more ethnic Han are moving there in the Migration to Xinjiang. They claim religion and way of life are misunderstood and the government cracks down on any sign of resistance. The "Uyghur Human Rights Project" alleges that children under the age of 18 were banned from a mosque in southern Xinjiang.
Uyghur nationalists condemn Xinjiang reeducation camps operated by the Xinjiang local government for their unethical treatment of detainees since 2014 and unprecedentedly intensified since a hardline party leader, Chen Quanguo, took charge of the region in August 2016. These camps are operated secretly and outside of the legal system; people can be locked up without any trial. Local authorities are reportedly holding hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs and Muslims from other ethnic minorities in these camps, claiming the detentions are a bid to counter extremism and terrorism.
It is estimated that Chinese authorities may have detained hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other ethnic Muslims, Christians and also foreign, especially Kazakhstani, citizens to be kept in these shrouded internment camps throughout the region.
Uyghur is the dominant language in southern Xinjiang while Mandarin is the dominant language in northern Xinjiang.
Argument against East Turkestan independence
China claims to have a historic claim on modern-day Xinjiang dating back two thousand years. East Asian migrants arrived in the eastern portions of the Tarim Basin about 3,000 years ago, while the Uighur people arrived after the collapse of the Orkon Uighur Kingdom, based in modern-day Mongolia, around the year 842. It fears that independence movements are largely funded and led by outside forces that seek to weaken China. China claims that despite such movements, Xinjiang has made great economic strides, building up its infrastructure, improving its education system and increasing the average life expectancy.
Uyghur independence activists express concern over the Han population changing the Uyghur character of the region, yet the historical native land of the Uyghurs is not the whole land of Xinjiang, but Tarim basin. Professor James A. Millward pointed out that the capital of Xinjiang Urumqi was even originally a Han and Hui (Tungan) city with few Uyghur people before recent Uyghur migration to the city, but foreigners mistakenly think that Urumqi was originally a Uyghur city and that the Chinese destroyed its Uyghur character and culture. Moreover, the Han and Hui mostly live in northern Xinjiang Dzungaria, and are separated from areas of historical Uyghur dominance south of the Tian Shan mountains (southwestern Xinjiang), where Uyghurs account for about 90% of the population. While a few people try to give a misportrayal of the historical Qing situation in light of the contemporary situation in Xinjiang with Han migration, and claim that the Qing settlements and state farms were an anti-Uyghur plot to replace them in their land, Professor James A. Millward pointed out that the Qing agricultural colonies in reality had nothing to do with Uyghur and their land, since the Qing banned settlement of Han in the Uyghur Tarim Basin and in fact directed the Han settlers instead to settle in the non-Uyghur Dzungaria and the new city of Urumqi, so that the state farms which were settled with 155,000 Han Chinese from 1760–1830 were all in Dzungaria and Urumqi, where there was only an insignificant amount of Uyghurs, instead of the Tarim Basin oases.
Uyghur nationalist historians such as Turghun Almas claim that Uyghurs were distinct and independent from Chinese for 6000 years, and that all non-Uyghur peoples are non-indigenous immigrants to Xinjiang. However, the Han Dynasty (206 BCE–220 CE) established military colonies (tuntian) and commanderies (duhufu) to control Xinjiang from 120 BCE, while the Tang Dynasty (618–907) also controlled much of Xinjiang until the An Lushan rebellion. Chinese historians refute Uyghur nationalist claims by pointing out the 2000-year history of Han settlement in Xinjiang, documenting the history of Mongol, Kazakh, Uzbek, Manchu, Hui, Xibo indigenes in Xinjiang, and by emphasizing the relatively late "westward migration" of the Huigu (equated with "Uyghur" by the PRC government) people from Mongolia the 9th century. The name "Uyghur" was associated with a Buddhist people in the Tarim Basin in the 9th century, but completely disappeared by the 15th century, until it was revived by the Soviet Union in the 20th century.
Uyghur nationalists often incorrectly claim that 5% of Xinjiang's population in 1949 was Han, and that the other 95% was Uyghur, erasing the presence of Kazakhs, Xibes, and others, and ignoring the fact that Hans were around one third of Xinjiang's population at 1800, during the time of the Qing Dynasty. At the start of the 19th century, 40 years after the Qing reconquest, there were around 155,000 Han and Hui Chinese in northern Xinjiang and somewhat more than twice that number of Uyghurs in southern Xinjiang. A census of Xinjiang under Qing rule in the early 19th century tabulated ethnic shares of the population as 30% Han and 60% Turkic, while it dramatically shifted to 6% Han and 75% Uyghur in the 1953 census, however a situation similar to the Qing era-demographics with a large number of Han has been restored as of 2000 with 40.57% Han and 45.21% Uyghur. Professor Stanley W. Toops noted that today's demographic situation is similar to that of the early Qing period in Xinjiang. In northern Xinjiang, the Qing brought in Han, Hui, Uyghur, Xibe, and Kazakh colonists after they exterminated the Zunghar Oirat Mongols in the region, with one third of Xinjiang's total population consisting of Hui and Han in the northern are, while around two thirds were Uyghurs in southern Xinjiang's Tarim Basin.
In general, the wide variety of groups who seek independence can be distinguished by the type of government they advocate and the role they believe an independent East Turkestan should play in international affairs. Groups who use the term East Turkestan tend to have an orientation towards western Asia, the Islamic world, and Russia. These groups can be further subdivided into those who desire secularism, and identify with the struggle of secular Kemal Atatürk in Turkey, versus those who want an Islamic theocracy and identify with Saudi Arabia, the former Taliban government in Afghanistan, or Iran. In many cases the latter diminish the importance or deny the existence of a separate Uyghur ethnicity and claim a larger Islamic identity. These groups tend to see an independent East Turkestan in which non-Turkic, and especially non-Islamic minorities, such as the Han Chinese would play no significant role.
Some of the groups that support independence for East Turkestan have been labeled terrorist organizations by both the People's Republic of China, the United Nations and/or the United States. Pro-independence organizations overseas include the East Turkistan National Freedom Center, the East Turkistan Government in Exile, and the East Turkestan Liberation Organization (Transnational Hizb ut-Tahrir). The most noticeable event towards the East Turkistan Independence Movement was the establishment of the East Turkistan Government in Exile by a group of East Turkistani immigrants led by Anwar Yusuf Turani in Washington D.C. on 14 September 2004. The target audience of these organizations is generally the Western governments and public, as almost none of the websites are in Chinese or Uyghur, and most Uyghurs in China and Central Asia have never heard of them. The East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM, also East Turkestan Islamic Party), which has claimed responsibility for attacks in Xinjiang, has been identified as a terrorist organization by the governments of China, Kazakhstan, Pakistan and the United States, as well as the United Nations.
Uyghur separatist leader Isa Alptekin met with the ultra-nationalist Pan-Turkic fascist leader Alparslan Türkeş. Alptekin used anti-Armenian language while in Turkey and claimed that innocent Turkish Muslims were massacred by Armenians.
There continues to be concern over tensions in the region, centering upon Uyghur cultural aspirations to independence, and resentment towards what Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch describe as repression of non-Han Chinese culture.
Conversely, many Han Chinese perceive PRC policies of ethnic autonomy as discriminatory against them (see autonomous entities of China). Independence advocates view Chinese rule in Xinjiang, and policies like the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps as Chinese imperialism. The US and the UN have labelled the East Turkestan Islamic Movement a terrorist group.
The tensions have occasionally resulted in major incidents and violent clashes during the PRC period. For example, in 1962, 60,000 Uyghur and Kazakh refugees fled northern Xinjiang into the Soviet Union to escape the famine and political purges of the Great Leap Forward era; in the 1980s there was a smattering of student demonstrations and riots against police action that took on an ethnic aspect; and the Baren Township riot in April 1990, an abortive uprising resulted in more than 50 deaths.
A police roundup of suspected separatists during Ramadan resulted in large demonstrations that turned violent in February 1997 in an episode known as the Ghulja Incident that led to at least 9 deaths. The Urumqi bus bombs of 25 February 1997, perhaps a response to the crackdown that followed the Ghulja Incident, killed 9 and injured 68. Speaking on separatist violence, Erkin Alptekin, a former East Turkestan National Congress chairman and prominent Uyghur activist, said "We must emphasise dialogue and warn our youth against the use of violence because it de-legitimises our movement". Despite much talk of separatism and terrorism in Xinjiang, especially after the 9-11 attacks in the United States and the US invasion of Afghanistan, the situation in Xinjiang was quiet from the late nineties through mid-2006. In 2005, Uighur author Nurmemet Yasin was sentenced to ten years' imprisonment for inciting separatism following his publication of an allegorical short story, "The Blue Pigeon".
On 5 January 2007 the Chinese Public Security Bureau raided a suspected terrorist training camp in the mountains near the Pamir Plateau in southern Xinjiang. According to the reports, 18 terrorists were killed and another 17 captured in a gun battle between the East Turkestan Independence Movement and PRC forces. One police officer was killed and "over 1,500 hand grenades... were seized."
Many Islamic Mujahideen have come and committed terrorism in the Xinjiang autonomous region. It is feared by the National Government that radicalization of Chinese Uighurs by the Uighur Diaspora will occur. 2014,''China has jailed almost two dozen people including "wild imams" who preach illegally in the western region of Xinjiang where the government says Islamists are waging a violent campaign for a separate state.'' Supporters of the Uighur movement, criticized by China and her allies as supporters of international terrorism include Turkey.
In 2008, the Chinese government announced that several terrorist plots by Uyghur separatists to disrupt the 2008 Olympic Games involving kidnapping athletes, journalists and tourists were foiled. The security ministry said 35 arrests were made in recent weeks and explosives had been seized in Xinjiang province. It said 10 others were held when police smashed another plot based in Xinjiang back in January to disrupt the Games. However, Uyghur activists accused the Chinese of fabricating terror plots to crack down on the people of the region and prevent them airing legitimate grievances. Some foreign observers were also skeptical, questioning if China was inflating a terror threat to justify a clampdown on dissidents before the Olympics.
In the run-up to the Summer Olympics in Beijing, during which world attention was drawn by pro-Tibet protests along the Olympic torch relay, Uyghur separatist groups staged protests in several countries. According to the Chinese government, a suicide bombing attempt on a China Southern Airlines flight in Xinjiang was thwarted in March 2008.
Four days before the Beijing Olympics, 16 Chinese police officers were killed and 16 injured in an attack in Kashgar by local merchants. Chinese police injured and damaged the equipment of two Japanese journalists sent to cover the story. Four days later a bombing in Kuqa killed at least two people.
On 27 August, two Chinese police officers were killed and seven more wounded near the city of Kashgar when their patrol was ambushed by at least seven militants, including one woman, wielding knives and automatic weapons. Apparently the patrol was lain upon in a corn field while acting on an erroneous tip from another woman that had been suspected of assisting militants. According to Uighur sources Chinese officials have been "cracking down" on ethnic Uighurs, detaining large numbers in recent weeks and view the incident as Uighurs resisting arrest. Reportedly, 33 people died in Xinjiang because of clashes in the month of August.
On 5 July 2009, riots broke out in Ürümqi, the capital of Xinjiang. The state media reported close to 150 people dead. While the riots occurred after a demonstration protesting the deaths of two Uyghurs in the June 2009 Shaoguan incident, the central government claimed that the riot had been masterminded by separatists abroad, particularly exiled leader Rebiya Kadeer.
2015 Bangkok bombing
The 2015 Bangkok bombing is suspected to have been carried out by the Pan-Turkic neo-fascist Turkish ultra-nationalist organization Grey Wolves due to Thailand's deportation of Uyghur terrorist suspects back to China instead of allowing them to travel to Turkey for asylum, a Turkish man named Adem Karadag was arrested by the Thai police in connection to the bombing with Turkish passports and bomb making materials found in his apartment, the Grey Wolves are described by the media as a terrorist group and became famous for their assassinations and killings of journalists, liberals, and leftists in Turkey, their member Mehmet Ali Ağca's assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II, and their involvement in the Nagorno-Karabakh War and the Chechen war due to the Muslim and Turkic populations of those areas since their aim is the unification of all Muslim Turkic peoples into one state spanning from Central Asia to the Balkans.
Due to risk of terrorism and the manufacture of counterfeit passports, Uyghur foreigners in Thailand were placed under watch by Thailand Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon. Due to suspicion of terrorism, the Thai police were put on alert after the arrival of 2 Turkey based Uyghurs.
- List of active separatist movements in Asia
- Islamization and Turkification of Xinjiang
- East Turkistan Government in Exile
- East Turkestan Liberation Organization
- East Turkestan Islamic Movement
- Separatist movements of China
- Hong Kong independence movement
- Inner Mongolian independence movement
- Taiwan independence movement
- Tibetan independence movement
- World Uyghur Congress
- 2008 Uyghur unrest
- 2013 Xinjiang unrest
- Xinjiang conflict
- Xinjiang re-education camps
- Affirmative action in China
- Human rights of ethnic minorities in China
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