High Noon in China’s Far West – Wieland Wagner
China is sending more troops to the mostly Muslim province of Xinjiang in the far west of the country. Concerns are rising in Beijing of ethnic unrest in the border region. Its plans for economic development there may be in trouble.
Mao Tse Tung defies the icy wind blowing from the Pamir Mountains across the city of Kashgar. Beijing is worlds away from this spot on the historic Silk Road, not far from Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Which is perhaps why the Chairman Mao needs such a tall base for his statue, perched 24 meters (79 feet) above the “Square of the People.” But Mao is strikingly alone — the square is practically devoid of people.
It is time for prayer. A few blocks away, locals are streaming into the Id-Kah Mosque, the largest Muslim house of worship in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region, home to the Uighur minority in northwestern China.
The faithful wear their fur turbans pulled down over their faces. It’s bitterly cold, but it is also to disguise their identities. Many are afraid of being recognized. [Full Text]