The Washington Post’s Maureen Fan reports from Kashgar:
Now, this labyrinth of ancient courtyard homes and narrow, winding streets is endangered by the latest government plan to modernize a way of life that officials consider dangerous and backward.
Left behind are piles of brick and rubble, houses without roofs and hurt feelings. It is the most recent fault line to develop between Chinese rulers and Xinjiang province’s majority ethnic Uighur population, a Turkic-speaking people who have long chafed under Beijing’s rule and who worry that their culture is slowly disappearing.
Like Tibetans, Uighurs resent the influx of Han Chinese immigrants who dominate government and economic positions and have pushed for more autonomy and economic opportunity. Some Uighurs have waged an occasionally violent campaign calling for independence. Beijing has cracked down hard during periods of unrest and its tough line against suspected separatists has made many Uighurs reluctant to speak on the record about their objections to government policy.