Dateline Xinjiang: Notes from Uighur Country – Howard French

From Japan Times, via A Glimpse of the World:

Our plane looked new and well maintained, but as we headed off into the void on the atlas far, far to the northwest of Shanghai, I still wondered if I had made a mistake by not buying some of the “Air Unexpected Insurance” on offer at the airport.

A Uighur shepherd

There was plenty of time for me to rue my oversight, because our departure was delayed for nearly two hours as the airforce hogged available airspace. But then, five hours after takeoff, and after we had flown over the Gobi Desert and along the edge of the snowcapped Tian Shan mountain range, a pink sunset welcomed us to Urumchi’s gleaming and expansive air terminal ” built, a small plaque noted, with Japanese financial assistance.

That little plaque was a poignant reminder that there is a lot more to bilateral relations than Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s ill-considered visits to Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, and his devotions there to (among others) a squad of convicted Class A war criminals.

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