Blogger: Xinjiang People – Sorry and Thank You

The following blog post was written by a Han Chinese resident of Bayingolin Mongol Autonomous Prefecture of Xinjiang. It was written before the outbreak of violence in Urumqi , but has made a reappearance in the Chinese blogosphere since then. Translated by CDT:

Xinjiang People, Sorry but Thank You

Xinjiang’s oil was transported away
Xinjiang’s gas was transported away
Xinjiang’s cotton was transported away
Xinjiang’s kali salt was transported away
Xinjiang’s gold was transported away
Xinjiang’s Hotan jade was transported away…
But the atomic bomb lands in Xinjiang…

Xinjiang, a land of 160 million square kilometers and 19 million people from various ethnic groups. We have been living on that land from generation to generation. We are proud, and we feel our glory. For no reason, just because that land is called Xinjiang.

What is this land that comprises one-sixth of our country’s territory carrying? What meaning does it contain? There are children of 47 ethnic groups on this land, either farming, or herding, or trading, or mining. Millennia of foul wind and bloody rain have all already been cleaned up by qanats’ crystal clear flowing water. Thousands of years of history and vicissitudes of life have all already been made fragrant by Tian Shan’s snow lotuses (saussurea). Xinjiang people, regardless of their ethnicity or religion, all long for their homeland to have equal opportunities and space to develop.

“Open Up the West,” a slogan that once endlessly inspired us. For a while, even on the eternal-barren mountains over the edge of Taklamakan, we lined up rocks in an array of characters: “The Great Development of the West. Xinjiang Is the Focus. Bazhou Needs to Work Hard.” Once we were told that the greatest opportunity for development in the history of the world was descending upon us; once we were told to overcome temporary loss and difficulty, for the long-term fortune belongs to us; once we were told that resources can never become money if buried underground; once we were told that mass infrastructure development would drive up Xinjiang people’s employment; once we were told that long tubes and long tubes of pipelines transport gas and oil to the inland, and long tubes and long tubes of pipelines would also deliver piles and piles of taxes to Xinjiang people’s hands…

Once…

What kind of place is Xinjiang? Sluggish trickles would deliver melted water from Tian Shan and the Kunlun Mountains to pastoral areas and farms. Endless grasslands, covered with buffalo and sheep… Xinjiang is just such a place, oasis agriculture, by which we do not eat at the mercy of the forces of nature, with harvest guaranteed regardless of drought or waterlog, and highland animal husbandry, by which we do not need to worry about barren fields after a month of no rain. Xinjiang has never had famine. During Three Years of Natural Disaster, an inlander would even cling to the bottom of a train to come to Xinjiang. Even if blocked as vagrants at Xingxing Gorge and sent back home, he would still jump off his train midway and come into Xinjiang on foot. Xinjiang, just here, there is land, there is water, and there is hope.

We felt that we lived very well.

But suddenly one day, they told us that they were here to help us, and our life would become better and better! At this moment, we were thankful, and we were also aroused from that kind of tranquil life and inspired because as we were told, we were to have greater hope!

… Eight years have passed in a flash.

Those who once envisioned our brilliant plans, who are you now?

Please have a look at our Xinjiang.

The Great Development of the West, what is it exactly?

Resources, including those strategic energy resources, are transported through those long tubes and long tubes to the coastal area. This, we don’t care. But what do we also gain? Employment opportunities? Take a look at those energy resource developing enterprises in Xinjiang. Aren’t they all big enterprises from the inland? And, when have our Xinjiang kids ever enjoyed those employment opportunities? It is even twice as difficult for Xinjiang kids graduating from Xi’an Shiyou University to get into Xinjiang’s oil companies because those well-paid working positions are all occupied by inland enterprises’ own employees. You can randomly go ask an oil or petrochemical company. There will be Beijing accents, Dongbei (Northeastern) accents, and Shandong accents, all over the place, but just no Xinjiang accent. Then, would our Xinjiang kids be able to find jobs in oil companies? It’s not impossible, and they have the most basic professional experience: pumping gas in a gas station. Has the development driven up industries in relevant fields? You should know that the tubes used in the West-East Gas Pipeline are made in Baoji. How about high living standards? Do you want to know how much one cubic meter of gas costs in Shanghai? 1.2 Yuan. Do you know how much one cubic meter of gas costs in Xinjiang? 1.25 Yuan. And also, do you know Xinjiang people’s wage level? The monthly salary of a middle school senior teacher who has taught for thirty years is just 2500 Yuan, and this salary is only adjusted after a salary raise in 2006; a fifty-year old department level official’s monthly salary plus his allowance is just 3000 Yuan. How about ordinary people? Workers,farmers, ordinary civil servants? We are digesting a huge price disparity, and we are silently paying for the great development of the East.

Urumqi and Korla, one city in the north and one in the south are northern and southern Xinjiang’s leading cities. Let’s hear these two city’s people’s stories. Urumqi, though a city of two million, has one problem troubling people there for a long time: the difficulty of finding a taxi. In peak hours, people usually stand in severe coldness of -20°C and could not find a taxi for half an hour. Should you ask where all the cabs are, 99 of 100 taxi drivers would tell you: waiting in line at a gas station! Cabs in Urumqi consume liquid gas, but Xinjiang is an oil producing area. How could it not have liquid gas? Comrades in Dushanzi branch of China Petrochemical Corporation would patiently tell you: “Dear Xinjiang compatriots, let’s have a little more forbearance. Xinjiang’s oil and natural gas is needed to ensure the supply of the West-East Gas Pipeline and inland big cities’ oil need. … When Beijing’s taxi cabs are all changed to high-emission Elentras and when ovens in Shanghai kitchens all come up with purely blue fire, please consider that Xinjiang people, who produce oil and natural gas, are still waiting in the cold wind, and Xinjiang’s drivers are still waiting anxiously in long lines with no end in sight. And, these drivers also need to make their living, buy apartments, and feed their kids. But their working time is wasted in waiting…

Korla, a newly rising oil city, the bridgehead of southern Xinjiang’s economy, and the headquarters of Tarim Oilfield. Oil developers come. We present Khata to welcome you! The headquarters need land for construction. Sure! Do you know what the current headquarters of Tarim Oilfield used to be? It was thousands of acres of fertile farmland, the fertile farmland that Korla people of different ethnic groups had cultivated for generations and generations. Our mother country needs it, oil developers need it, while we have no complaints and no regrets to present this fertile ground. However, until today, Tarim headquarters’ high buildings and large mansions have been built up, five-star apartments have been built up, Tarim Oilfield’s oil wells have spewed oil one after another, Tarim gas field’s natural gas is transported to the East, but who has considered what those farmers who lost their land are now doing? Please go to Korla’s street corners and have a look. Street cleaning sanitation workers are uniformly workers from minority ethnic groups. If you ask them what they used to do, they will look into the distance toward the flourishing Tarim Oilfield headquarters and tell you: “That used to be my home.” Those are the ones who still have jobs. What about those thousands of farmers who have lost their land? They do not have skills or knowledge, and Korla’s sanitation field also cannot arrange jobs for that many people. Please go to the side of Quihua Bridge over Korla’s Konqi River and have a look. Every morning, there will be a dark mass of able-bodied laborers, concentrating there, being picked and chosen by employers who need temporary workers. If one is lucky and gets picked, he will work for a day as a temporary worker, earn some cash, and go back there again to try his luck the next morning; If he is unlucky and does not get picked till the afternoon, he then has to go back home hungry and pray to Allah to give him an opportunity for a temporary job tomorrow…

These are just energy resources. What about other resources? What about gold? What about kali salt? What about jade?

With mass development, who really gets rich?

After eight years of the Great Development of the West, why do we only see resource projects coming up one after another but rarely see any support or investment in areas or human resources of science, education, culture, and public health? To develop a region, (exploring) the resources is one way; but what happens after the resources are all exploited? What will we have left? With no accumulation of science education and human resources, how much space for development is still there?

Have you ever had a chance to know that a student in the history department of the superb Xinjiang University cannot even find a copy of 1587, A Year of No Significance, such a common book, in the university library? Do you know that China’s No.1 largest prefecture—Bayingolin Mongol Autonomous Prefecture—does not even have a regular library or museum? Big cities are like this. How could small cities and the countryside be? The Great Development of the West, why do we rarely see any such projects or investment?

Xinjiang people, the honest and frank Xinjiang people, the Xinjiang people, who are easily called barbarians by inlanders, and … just suffer all of this silently… Think about it from another perspective. If Beijing’s taxi drivers wait in line all day and can not fill their tanks with gas, what will happen? If Shandong’s farmers lose their land group by group, just like Korla’s farmers, will they still bear all of this silently?

A few days ago, the American pilot who dropped the atomic bomb on the Japanese territory died. It again brought about a mass discussion of nuclear weapons. In discussions time after time, have you ever thought that in the faraway Lop Nur, there has been an atmospheric atomic bomb explosion? And that in the beautiful Konqi River—Tarim River basin, there have been countless underground nuclear tests? After seeing news about sand storms blowing from Xinjiang, what you first think about must be that Xinjiang is a desolate area. … Who has ever thought about what the sand storms blowing from Lop Nur will bring about to people who have lived there for generations and generations?

Friends and relatives around fall one after another. … If you inquire about the cause, it would either be lung cancer or esophageal cancer. Xinjiang is noted for being a country of longevity. People living in the vast countryside for generations breathe fresh air and eat whole grains, and there is also not any trace of modern industry around. How could they get cancer one after another? Have you ever had a change to know that Lop Nur area’s Bayingolin Mongol Autonomous Prefecture has become a hard-hit area of cancer after the 80s and 90s? General Secretary Hu went to visit AIDS patients, and Premier Wen went to Henan’s AIDS villages. This marks the progress of the age, and the party and government’s concern. However, why has a region that has long suffered nuclear radiation and become a hard-hit area of cancer never been reported? Why hasn’t there been anybody officially answering these questions?

After one nuclear test, Chinese people have stood up and are no longer threatened by paper tigers; but thousands and tens of thousands of innocent and ignorant Xinjiang people fall. The tragedy is that even they themselves do not know what all this is for. How could others?

Xinjiang’s oil was transported away
Xinjiang’s gas was transported away
Xinjiang’s cotton was transported away
Xinjiang’s kali salt was transported away
Xinjiang’s gold was transported away
Xinjiang’s Hotan jade was transported away…
But the atomic bomb lands in Xinjiang…

Xinjiang is an inalienable part of our country; Xinjiang people are part of the 1.3 billion Chinese. We long for our country’s prosperity and power; we bless brother provinces and urban dwellers’ wellness; but we are also human, and we also have a simple demand: Xinjiang and Xinjiang people will get fair and equal development opportunities, will be able to gain some tangible benefits from the treasures this land endows upon us, and will be able to have a brighter tomorrow, as other people of our country have, to still keep hope alive after all the resources are exhausted.

Friends, no matter where you are in our country, when you are enjoying peace beneath sunshine, please have a thought about those innocent Xinjiang people who are suffering nuclear radiation for our country’s peace, and say a word to them: Sorry… Friends, no matter where you are in our country, when you are enjoying sufficient energy supply and benefits from the rapidly developing economy, please have a thought about those Xinjiang people who are silently suffering labor pains for some other people to get rich first. Call back the discrimination and contempt once expressed toward Xinjiang people; call back “Help Xinjiang,” “Support Xinjiang,” those grandiloquence showing off your cleverness after getting the real benefit, and say a word to them: thank you!

Our demand is not high. Nineteen million Xinjiang people, while unable to change their current situation and the overall situation, while still having a long time to sacrifice for the development of the East, only need to receive others’ sincere respect and only want to hear one word from your heart: Xinjiang people, sorry but thank you.

[We just noticed that New Dominion blog had also translated this post last year.]

July 19, 2009 10:45 PM
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