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China: Han's prejudices and discriminations towards Uyghur

The July 5 Xinjiang riot has passed over a month and the majority of Chinese netizens are still blaming the West and Rebiya Kadeer for promoting Xinjiang separatist movements. Nevertheless, there are some whispering voices popping up here and there in the Chinese Internet, like this one sentence comment at the BBS of people.com , which suggested that the unrest in Urumqi was a result of long term oppression:

一次一次的被欺压,却没地方说理,当然就要暴力!

There was no place to voice out after being bullied again and again, violence becomes ultimate answer!

The Han's ethnic discrimination towards Uyghurs has been a source of conflict in China long before the July unrest. Searching from the online discussions on Tianya forum, there are many stories about Han's prejudice against Uyghurs. Here is one of the stories:

先就我亲身经历来说说。我在乌鲁木齐上大学时,那时候中央电视台很出名的一档节目——非常6+1,有一期的电话幸运观众是个新疆人,主持人问他最大的梦想是什么?他的回答竟然是:希望到首都北京去住上几天旅馆。他的这个梦想把主持人都弄蒙了,问其原因才知道,原来90年代初的时候他带儿子去北京治病,结果就因为是新疆人,竟然没有一家旅馆敢收留他们的

Let me explain my personal experience. In my university years in Urumqi, there was a popular CCTV programme titled as “Special 6+1”. In one of the episode, the host interviewed a Xinjiang people (translator note: many Han Chinese called Uyghur Xinjiang people) about his wish. His answer was, surprisingly, his answer was simply that he wish to stay in a hostel in Beijing for a few days. The host was stunned and asked for the reason. The interviewee explained his experience back in early 1990s when he brought his son to Beijing for better hospital care. In the trip, they were rejected by all hostels in Beijing merely because they were Xinjiang people.

People's press also has similar experience back in 2006:

2006年圣诞夜,我正好在北京。北京任何一家酒吧都不必在门口挂出“不欢迎新疆人”的牌子。但无论我走到哪家都被门口保安拦下。

In 2006 Christmas Eve, I was in Beijing. Though none of the bars put on notice “No Uyghurs” on the doors, I was checked by the security guards all the time.

Apart from all the everyday life conflicts, many are frustrated by Hans people's misunderstandings and prejudices. Looking at cloud and water flow, yelled out loud on Tianya forum that he is a Xinjiang people to express his anger on such prejudices,

我要大声说我是新疆人…. 新疆是有小偷,可是哪里没有小偷?难道新疆有小偷,就说小偷都是来自新疆么?去做小偷的少数民族很容易被认出来。好么这就将小偷的帐全都算在了新疆人身上。我去过几次内地发现内地的治安远不如新疆。

I want to yell out loud that I am an Uyghur!…. There are thieves in Xinjiang, but thieves are everywhere. Can it be reasonably assumed that all thieves are from Xinjiang? It is of course easier to identify a thief with an ethnic minority outlook. Then you conclude that all thieves are Xinjiang people. In fact I have visited many other places in the mainland and I found that Xinjiang is much safer.

Even the government wants to adjust policy for preserving Uyghur's language and culture, many Han Chinese refuse to support. A recent example is the Central government's plan to invest double amount of funding (USD 121 million) on bilingual kindergartens education in Xinjiang. Again, there are many complaints on such kind of policy favoritism:

Liar without draft was angry about the policy:

为什么其他地方幼儿园严重不足,而政府却不予重视呢?

Neither do other regions have enough kindergartens, why doesn't our government act on that?

Shenqike replied:

会闹的孩子有奶吃啊!~~~其它地方没人闹啊!

Crying babies get the milk! No babies are crying in other regions!

Xwni added,

坏孩子有糖吃.

Bad kids get the candy.
  • FRED

    Ahh, Uighur thieves. I wouldn’t believe the stereotype either if not for that fact that it happened twice to me and my family while visiting Shanghai.

    If you google Uighur thieves you will plenty of people complaining about this issue. Some people even wrote books on this topic:
    http://books.google.com/books?id=yT8Yc994CuUC&pg=PA114&lpg=PA114&dq=Uighur+thieves&source=bl&ots=H2s2oGUzdd&sig=XOvIphDJkR1P8ZYnNVxe5CaQB8g&hl=en&ei=vhl7StSZMZOGMo231T8&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2#v=onepage&q=Uighur%20thieves&f=false

    I see plenty of Uighurs complain about this dubious reputation, but most of them actually think it’s justified to steal from hans. With this kind of mentality no wonder why there are so many Uighur thieves around.

    The strange thing is, if you talk to older Chinese people they will tell you it was not always like that. It was only recently that Uighurs began to gain reputation as petty thieves.

    There are prejudices everywhere. In China you get white expats looking down at asians, rich asians looking down at poor asians, poor asians looking down at blacks, etc. Sadly, these perceptions don’t change overnight. If Uighurs want to change their perception among the hans maybe they should teach their kids that stealing from Hans is just as bad as stealing from fellow Uighurs.

    • Winglok Hung

      Fred, thanks for the comments and book sharing.

  • Ranger_lost_in_Mordor

    It is a bit rash to jump to this conclusion
    with a few comments on the internet from a small
    portion of a country with such a huge population.
    I’m not saying you are trolling with this provocative topic for a flash of attention.Indeed , there are many occassions you may see in which couple of han chinese squatting down despising ethnic minority with hearsay stories, just like how people in other countries do to chinese. Prejudice and discrimination stem from ignorance and misunderstanding, and also from the quot of chinese comments you did and plenty of stories and comments i chanced upon in the internet , I’ve noticed that han chinese recognize the fact that prejudice and discrimination do exist but i think you fail to provide the possible reason causing this situation,such as how does the ethnic policy has been contributing to this mess, rather you start to pass the buck to ordinary chinese people, which i believe is prejudice out of ignorance.

    • tomy

      congrad my comrade you got your 50 cents.

      • Winglok Hung

        Yes, it is interesting and valuable to examine how the han chinese form their perceptions and does the ethnic policy really matters for that. There are also many discussions on the following link.
        http://tim.z.infzm.com/2009/08/02/too-late-to-talk-about-xinjiang/

        Thanks for the comments!

      • Ranger_lost_in_Mordor

        congrad, you can go back to your master waggingthe tail and beggingfor a splash of juicy luscious apple with this china-bashing mentality in your head

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  • bambam

    I Lived in China for a year and a half, both in the Eastern and in the Southwern regions. I befriended a number of Xinjiang people. They are generous, happy and funloving, and they make the best homemade noodles. I was shocked by the prejudice that Han Chinese have toward them. I would say that the vast majority view them as thieves. One time on a city bus in Kunming, the bus driver announced that a Xinjiang woman had gotten on the bus so that others could protect their valueables. On another occasion in Suzhou when my motorcycle was stolen, 12 of my Chinese colleagues argued with me adamantly about how it was definately a Xinjiang person who took it. Xinjiang people apparently committed all the crime in town.

    From first hand experience, the prejudice against Xinjiang people in China is rediculous.

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  • TJ

    With their pitchforks, metal pipes and nail studded wooden planks,did you catch some of the quotes of the han Chinese in xinjian running into the uighur neighborhoods?
    “We outnumber those uighurs…we can get them all…”
    Well – with 1.2 billion, they outnumber about everyone. Hmmmm…food for thought.

  • Figgie

    People are so quick to pin people of European descent as racist…using them as scapegoats. Meanwhile, Chinese people are the most racist in the entire world. Enough Said.

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