View Full Version : Cheqiliwatqan Qeshqer: Amerikaliqlar we bashqalarning NYTimes diki munaziriliri (2)

30-05-09, 15:52

76.May 28, 2009 11:14 am
To American tourists who came from modern, air-conditioned homes, this is historic and exotically beautiful. To those who actually live there, this is a dark, dusty, uninsulated, plumbing-less, depressing ghetto. I know. I lived in one before. It is just so arrogant and cruel to expect other people continue to subsist in such inadequate environments simply for our own travelling enjoyment. We should ask how to retain the characteristics of the old town while rebulidng, not whether it should be rebuilt. With the few exception of some elderly people, you won't find too many who aren't excited about moving to the new homes.
— Ham, LA

Recommend Recommended by 91 Readers 77.May 28, 2009 11:14 am
World should wake up, condemn the way it did when Bamiyan Buddhas were blasted by Talibans.

What else to expect from an authoritarian regime that destroyed much of their own during cultural revolution.
Imported Western ideologies like Communism done great damages to China, parts of SE Asia, Africa, pockets of India.
— Dipak Ghosh, NYC

Recommend Recommended by 1 Reader 78.May 28, 2009 11:14 am
"Where there were small courtyard enclosed houses without plumbing there are now giant housing complexes with modern facilities."

For those who view this as a lost of culture, I would ask themself to try to stay at a place without plumbing for a week. It's not a culture issue. It's rediculous that when your own city/country makes a law that says that no house without plumbing can be inhaibted and you are perfectly OK with it. Yet you expect those poor people to say in houses without plumbing forever just so that their culture can be perserved so that you can have something to observe.
Culture can be perserved in a lot of ways. Just remember those people are people. Just like you, they wanted and deserved a better material life. Obviously there is a tough balance here. But keeping them in the zoo is the most cruel way you can imagine.
— jc, FL

Recommend Recommended by 28 Readers 79.All Editors' Selections » EDITORS' SELECTIONS (what's this?) May 28, 2009 11:14 am
Excellent reportage. I have been in many old Chinese homes within the Hutongs of various cities in China. They are unbelievably beautiful and quaint from the outside. Within lies something less quaint. Primitive sewage [if any], dangerous wiring, ancient slippery steps and so on. Not a place we would want our families to live in. On the other hand these same Hutongs are a living, breathing neighborhood of people who live within a highly evolved and never changing community. Ideally it would be perfect to reinforce or carefully rebuild in order to maintain the exterior of these areas. However, alas, we have the Chinese government who are inclined to insensitive big brush strokes. It is not all bad. I have seen some examples where they have done it right. Unfortunately they are not located in areas frequented by foreign tourists. There are some people within China's world of urban planning who do have some success in preserving that which is the heart and soul of China's architecture. Hopefully, the young urban planners will come into positions of power soon enough to protect what is left, of what the old urban planners have not yet destroyed.
— dorr eddy, santa rosa, CA

Recommend Recommended by 36 Readers 80.May 28, 2009 11:14 am
I was fortunate to spend a week in Kashgar in 2002 and it was truely one of the most beautiful cities I had ever experienced. But even then it was evident that the Chinese government had other plans. Saw houses riped in half to make way for a 6 lane road (not very many cars there) and wide sidewalks with generic stones that were similar to what was happening in Beijing.
Also saw the little Uighur tombs that rose up like little ant hills, being destroyed to make room for appartment buildings.
I wish there was something that could be done to put pressure on government to let them know how disgusting this action is.
— iggydoo, ottawa

Recommend Recommended by 4 Readers 81.May 28, 2009 11:47 am
To #4, Ayesha
Maybe we can gather our memories, photos, information we culled from our travels, or for our theses or whatever and put it into a repository. So that people in the near future know that these people did, in fact, exist, that they did have a distinct language and culture that was worth preserving.
There's obvious interest in this board alone, perhaps we can put our heads together and do something.
— Elle K., Somewhere Else

Recommend Recommended by 2 Readers 82.May 28, 2009 11:47 am
China's actions only fuels even more hatred from the Uighur population who are powerless to stop what is part of a major campaign to turn Kashgar into a Han dominated city. The Uighurs will become a minority in their own homeland.
— Michael C, Pittsburgh, PA

Recommend Recommended by 3 Readers 83.May 28, 2009 11:47 am
Since when do "modern" Chinese building practices prevent catastrophic collapses during earthquakes? Tens of thousands of dead schoolchildren in Sichuan province would testify against the soundness of Chinese building practices. If anything their corrupt system of contracting with dubious builders will only further endanger the lives of those Uighurs living in Kashgar. Maybe that's what they want. If Urumqi is the example they will follow, a dispiriting mash of tasteless urban planning, then you can turn the lights out on Kashgar as a tourist destination. Wish i went when i had the chance.
— Barent G., New York City

Recommend Recommended by 4 Readers 84.May 28, 2009 11:47 am
And the new apartments? ...............

Concrete slabs with their reinforcing bar welded together at the corners. I've seen and lived in this pack of cards kind of construction. When it collapses killing thousands a few Uighur elders will be executed for having sold inferior cement for the project.
Currently the Uighurs will live 2,3 and even 4 generations to a house in the new "sanitised" mid-rise hutches there will only be TWO bedrooms at most; one for Mother and father and one (5 by 6ft)for the ONE child.When it collapses killing thousands a few MORE Uighur elders will be executed for having too many occupants in the buildings.
The Chinese government is committed to destroying all cultures that don't comply with the Stalinist-Han economic model.

For sure ALL the streets will be wide enough for a TANK.
— Esteban, Monterrey, Mexico

Recommend Recommended by 6 Readers 85.May 28, 2009 11:47 am
I am horrified.

The Old City is beautiful (and the photography is some of the best I've seen in years). That it has stood--in an area prone to earthquakes--for over 500 years certainly testifies to its structural integrity.

That some residents might prefer modern amenities is understandable. Surely those who wished to relocate to more modern housing could have done so already. And every city, town and village ought to have a plan for natural disasters, and do their best to mitigate and retrofit older structures to withstand natural hazards.

But this lovely city has endured for centuries in grace and beauty. This is an enormous loss to the world that, once done, cannot be undone.
— Geekette, New York City

Recommend Recommended by 5 Readers 86.May 28, 2009 11:47 am
This makes me very angry..and is very frustrating because of course we are powerless even to protest. I travelled from Kyrgyzstan to Kashgar and Urumqi and then across China to Lhasa and Everest in the fall of 2007 and it was only when i spent some time in Lhasa I realised what the Party were doing. They deliberately and forcibly dilute and will ultimately eliminate potentially 'dangerous' ethnic cultures by importing thousands of people, Han, from the East and 'fund' them to build shoddy apartment building, even shoddier stores and pull down and relocate ethnic peoples in inner cities on the grounds of 'safety' or giving them better housing. And accompanying this, all the jobs in the local administrations, including police, are given to the Han immigrants....and in most places this seemed to extend to include all white-collar jobs in banks and travel agencies, post offices, etc. Oh, and of course, none of the staff in these places speak any of the local dialects. It truly is appalling...and so much, including people's rights, will be destroyed in this fear-governed process. This is the real China..still.

— Richard Kelman, Bar Harbor, Maine

Recommend Recommended by 6 Readers 87.May 28, 2009 11:47 am
One Lesson: If there's someplace you want to visit, go do it now. Don't put it off for a tomorrow that may never arrive.

In the mid-90's I took the Karakoram Hwy to see Kashgar, since I wanted to get there before the railway arrived. Even then it was clear what would eventually happen. Sure glad I didn't wait.
— Ben, SF, CA

Recommend Recommended by 2 Readers 88.May 28, 2009 11:47 am
Why don't you folks live there for a month before you comment? I bet you can't last more than 3 days! These are not Tuscan villas or Amsterdam rowhouses! It is hypocritical to criticize others while you don’t preserve your own. When you visit the House of Seven Gables, did you notice how low the ceiling is? Why aren’t there others like that remaining?
— Ham, LA

Recommend Recommended by 30 Readers 89.May 28, 2009 11:47 am
This is so obviously ethnic-cleansing via destruction of culture and spirit, it makes me sick to read this.
— ellen, pa.

Recommend Recommended by 6 Readers 90.May 28, 2009 11:47 am
It's a shame. I wanted to see it .. but am not sure it will be there when I go.

— Satish Sharma, NJ, USA

Recommend Recommended by 3 Readers 91.May 28, 2009 11:47 am
It's just poor reporting to not even mention the real reason for the razing, the same reason that China razed traditional neighborhoods and houses in Lhasa, Tibet. The old-style narrow alleys are harder to police, ideal for guerrillas and resistance fighters. Beijing-style boulevards, on the other hand, can accommodate tanks.

China truly is about as evil as a country can get.

— Boldizar, New York

Recommend Recommended by 4 Readers 92.May 28, 2009 11:47 am
Touche, Andy Hain, #34.

China tore down most of old Beijing, by all reports. Lhasa is "redeveloped." Before I even went downstairs this morning to get the Times with this news about Kashgar I was reflecting on how we have more awareness about what's going on in Tibet, because of the active Tibetan diaspora, than we do about Xinjiang and the Uighurs. Of course, anti-Muslim prejudice is alive and well here as well as in China.

There are several Uighurs, now thought to be entirely innocent, languishing in Guantanamo Bay. For some reason we won't accept them into the U.S. but they can't go safely back to China. So there they sit in a world no man's land.

For more about Xinjiang read "Wild West China"
Christian Tyler, Rutgers Univ. Press, 2004. Also Peter Hessler's, "Oracle Bones." One of Hessler's friends and informants, and the only one for whom he says it was necessary to use a pseudonym, is a Uighur who lived in Beijing and subsequently moved to the U. S.
— CJGC, Cambridge, MA

Recommend Recommended by 4 Readers 93.May 28, 2009 11:47 am
Oh how governments like to destroy and deceive through pretense of good intentions. Like America wants to destroy Gitmo, the prison facilities (destroy a bad political building symbolically), and move the occupants elsewhere and thereby prolonging the justice issue of holding humans indefinitely without trials and no concern about the former torture used against them by Americans. China seems in the same deception mode. Must be a trend.
— David Beasley, Greenwood SC

Recommend Recommended by 2 Readers 94.May 28, 2009 11:59 am
This story summed up: Urban renewal set to destroy ancient neighborhood lacking in modern services but packed with Old World charm. Neighborhood's mansion-owners and business class unhappy. Wealthy tourists seeking vibrant markets and colorful locals outraged at the loss of a site they could have visited before their friends did. Widespread suspicion of government targeting of minority ethnic group. Voil*, c'est tout.
— Andrew, Amherst, Mass.

Recommend Recommended by 10 Readers 95.May 28, 2009 11:59 am
A tremendous loss!!!
— SimpleObserver, Seattle

Recommend Recommended by 2 Readers 96.May 28, 2009 11:59 am
Many of the buildings in Kashgar's Old City have survived for hundreds of years, despite being in an earthquake-prone area. However, many of China's new buildings, such as the schools in Chengdu, have crumbled in earthquakes. I don't buy the earthquake excuse. This is tragic.
— Kate D., Washington, DC

Recommend Recommended by 4 Readers 97.May 28, 2009 11:59 am
This is the classic struggle of any living city with a rich cultural heritage. It doesn't have to be completely one extreme or another - raze or preserve. If the government were truly concerned about safety and improving the lives of residents while retaining that heritage, there's a long list of cities around the world - successes and miserable failures - that they could learn lessons from including those mentioned above and others: Paris, Prague, Istanbul, Singapore. Kashgar is not an static museum piece that can be frozen in time, but I wish they'd studied options for upgrading utilities and other infrastructure while preserving parts of the old city (hard to tell from the article how much of this is being planned). Yes, more expensive than razing and rebuilding, but it's an investment not only for foreign tourists but future generations of Chinese who may lament this loss just as many today lament the losses of the Cultural Revolution.
— hp, alexandria va

Recommend Recommended by 5 Readers 98.May 28, 2009 11:59 am
Thanks for the NYT for this rather balanced report. I would like to comment on some readers comments. First, they use their ideology to make moral judgment without understanding the local circumstance. They made unsubstantiated, if not, false accusations and impugned the Chinese government’s motive. One even uses the word “final solution.” If Beijing were intended to suppress some Uhigurs resentment, how would building new houses do the trick? Any objective readers would recognize such logical and emotional mistakes.

Second, if what is reported is true, the news is unwelcome. It is always sad to see old and unique things vanquish. Probably Beijing made a rash and hash decision. Third, America has a short history. It is likely that a few buildings have been here for two centuries. But 99% of buildings cannot last that long. The traditions tend to have a very recent history.

Finally, a modicum of empathy is in order. If strong earthquakes already hit the area in the recent past, something should be done. Two of my personal experiences help me understand what is happening there. When I returned to my high school in China, I expected to see the simple and familiar bungalows. Instead I saw rather modern mid-rise buildings. Without any emotional attachment to them, I was disappointed and left almost immediately. But then I asked myself: would students prefer the old buildings? Or would I have preferred my old school, if I have had the choice? The answer is a resounding no. Another experience is current. I am looking for a house now. I liked those older houses, which tend to be cheaper, more spacious, and have more beautiful surroundings. But how long would these building last? Would I have enough time and money and mood to fix the problems? I opt for the new building, which will last longer and have more modern amenity. So my brain triumphs over my heart.

— sh, ny

Recommend Recommended by 21 Readers 99.May 28, 2009 11:59 am
This is ethnic cleansing, without the outright murder (so far). And again the US will not utter a peep about it because China has us by the economic short hairs. What is especially distressing is the number of comments above that defend this as "progress."
— ACW, New Jersey

Recommend Recommended by 1 Reader 100.May 28, 2009 11:59 am
The next stage of this cultural genocide will be the relocation of ethnic Han Chinese, just as in Tibet.
— skynet91, Raleigh, NC


101.May 28, 2009 11:59 am
In Brooklyn we have been struggling to fend off Bloomberg and Ratner in their massive intent to obliterate the cozy and diverse neighborhoods that surround the Atlantic Yards. The mayor and developers have been using "eminent domain" -- the arcane legal excuse for seizing private property for "public good." First they created empty lots by buying out property in the area, then they allowed those lots to stagnate, then they declare the neighborhood a "blight." For more of that - in better detail -- see:
But the point is the same. Whether on a small scale or on this horribly tragic and horrific scale -- private business can consume public interest in one big gulp. Rather than raze this wonderful and ancient town, the Chinese could restore and re-invigorate it. Hence, the name of Brooklyn's leading anti-destruction organization, "Develop -- Don't destroy" -- How dare the government do this to an entire people? It is very much a kind of cultural genocide -- by displacing these communities and forcing them into generic and "modern" compounds -- How different is this from what the early settlers did to the Native Americans? Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
— JC, Brooklyn

Recommend Recommended by 5 Readers 102.May 28, 2009 11:59 am
The Chinese government's goal is obvious, it is to destroy the Uighur minority so that the state can maintain complete control. This is just one part in a plan of re-education and ethnic cleansing. The Uighur people have had as much hardship in China as the Tibetans but have received little to no attention from the media. Historical and cultural preservation aside, the real tragedy is the way the Chinese treat the Uighurs based soley on their ethnicity.
— Jay P., Los Angeles, CA

Recommend Recommended by 4 Readers 103.May 28, 2009 11:59 am
What a tragedy. In the past 60 years the Han Chinese have been hell bent on destroying as much of their empire as they can get their hands on. More damage has been done since the communists came to power than in the preceding 1000 years. Theirs is a sick and dysfunctional society and I hope one day there is collective shame for this grotesque abuse of power.
I have zero faith in modern Chinese construction methods given the devastation from last year’s earthquake

— Ang, British Columbia, Canada

Recommend Recommended by 6 Readers 104.May 28, 2009 11:59 am
The Chinese government is ruthless and out of control. They are like robots on this earth, no feelings for anyone except the great machine
— prezel09, xenapanda

Recommend Recommended by 3 Readers 105.May 28, 2009 11:59 am
Four years ago when I first got to China I snooped around this city. Old buildings are great to look at, but by looking at suburbia no one is lining up to actually LIVE in them.

It was great for a while, things change. For better.
— Patrick T Ruszkowski, P.R. of China, Liaoning, Shenyang

Recommend Recommended by 13 Readers 106.May 28, 2009 11:59 am
To those "tourists" that fell in love with the ancient Kashgar and felt outrage with this news, I have one question for you. Why didn't you trade in your modern comfort houses in your own countries for a live in your "beloved" ancient Kashgar city? Easy for you to say that those people have to live in their "ancient" houses close to earthquake center. You're not the one who have to live there and risk your family's lives. You're just tourists.
— Joko, Indonesia

Recommend Recommended by 19 Readers 107.May 28, 2009 11:59 am
Ethnic cleansing and architectural insult gussied up by an Orwelling use of the term "preservation"
— Tom, New York NY

Recommend Recommended by 3 Readers 108.May 28, 2009 11:59 am
The fact that this architecture lasted centuries shows that it was far more durable than anything with which the Chinese could ever hope to replace it. Chinese infrastructure is synonymous with cheap, fragile, and dangerous. I doubt they will place the Uyghur population in anything better than what has been falling down all over China. What a shame.
— D.L., Atlanta, GA

Recommend Recommended by 4 Readers 109.May 28, 2009 11:59 am
Any home that has stood for over 500 years will certainly not fall down in an earthquake anytime soon. This seems to me to be just another case of trying to get rid of all ethnic minorities in China and make the Han the only group there.
— Kitty Lady, Salem, OR

Recommend Recommended by 2 Readers 110.May 28, 2009 12:18 pm
Having visited Kashgar some years ago I can attest to its cultural and architectural significance as a Muslim outpost in Chinese Turkestan. As much as I would despair of having that city's ambience torn apart for the sake of "modernization" (as has already occurred in Shanghai, Beijing and other Han Chinese metropolitan areas), it seems to me that we have no business lecturing a foreign government on how best to address the living conditions of its citizens. As visitors, we can marvel at "quaint" vernacular architecture that takes us out of our own world and delivers us, for a few hours or a few days, into a period of timeless antiquity. On the other hand, those who have to live in such conditions have to contend with the very real problems of vermin, congestion, lack of plumbing and sanitation, etc., etc. and should not be forced to do so for the benefit of gawking tourists. Some years ago, I had the privilege of visiting the magnificent citadel of Bam in southeastern Iran. I wouldn't have missed it for the world- especially considering how the whole place was leveled by an earthquake just a few years later. My memories and photos of the place are important to me but they're not nearly so valuable as the lives of those poor souls who perished by the hundreds in that temblor. Had that ruin been torn down and replaced by decent housing those people may still have been with us today. My own sense is that the Chinese should reinforce (not replace) as many of Kashgar's ancient structures as they possibly can but move their occupants to stronger, more quake-resistant buildings in other parts of town. In such manner, the lives and well-being of Kashgar's citizens need not be held hostage to our sentimental notions of preserving their cultural patrimony.
— Stu Freeman, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Recommend Recommended by 10 Readers 111.May 28, 2009 12:18 pm
Would Jason #50 and others here expressing similar sentiments apply it to Old Jerusalem?
— Banty, Upstate New York

Recommend Recommended by 3 Readers 112.May 28, 2009 12:18 pm
There is an insensitivity to cultural heritage that the
Chinese Government abides by. Of course culture is more defined by them as we have seen in large over the top
productions with hundreds of dancers , drummers as we saw in the Olympics. This is a continuation of what has been done in Lhasa and other areas, destroying the smaller old homes/village within an old city to bland apartment structures. It reminds one of what happened with urban planning in the 60's - look at those buildings now!
— cas, nyc

Recommend Recommended by 3 Readers 113.May 28, 2009 12:18 pm
It's laughable that the Chinese government claims to be razing this ancient city to make it safer from earthquakes. The Chinese have a reputation for shoddy, careless construction as evidenced by the tragic collapse of poorly constructed school buildings during the Sichuan earthquakes that killed so many children. The majority of the buildings that collapsed during that earthquake were schools, so they do know how to construct buildings that can resist collapse, they just didn't care enough to apply that know-how to protecting the most vulnerable in the city. So how much do you think they will really care about protecting a powerless ethnic minority that they have looked down upon for centuries and have accused of being "separatists"? Plus, if an earthquake struck, I would rather have some old mud walls falls on me than heavy modern concrete walls with the metal frames and pipes all collapsing with it.
— Janine, NY

Recommend Recommended by 1 Reader 114.May 28, 2009 12:18 pm
As someone that spent a month in Xinjiang (and a week in Kashgar) this just makes me angry. I have never been to a more amazing place in my life and the prospect of completing its transformation into another small Chinese city hits me hard. For all the talk about Tibet, Xinjiang is a far bigger issue in my opinion. The potential for ethnic conflict is quite real and the destruction of Kashgar will only intensify Uighur resistance to Chinese occupation. I am returning to China (a country I truly love) in a week to live and work, and it saddens me that I will be returning to a more homogenized country.
— ,

Recommend Recommended by 2 Readers 115.May 28, 2009 12:18 pm
To all the people complaining that an earthquake is just an excuse I suggest you google xinjiang earthquake to see how easily the buildings fall and the devastation it can bring.

I've worked with the Canadian DART team in earthquake affected areas of Xinjiang and I know first hand how crippling it can be in these poor areas. Rebuilding the homes to withstand an earthquake should be a TOP priority for the city.
— Frederick S., Toronto

Recommend Recommended by 21 Readers 116.May 28, 2009 12:18 pm
China had always had expansionist tendencies, culturally as well as geographically. Ask any neighboring countries or any of the minorities in China. The actual problem lies with international community as well as the UN bodies, who conveniently turn a blind eye.
— Ravi, NY

Recommend Recommended by 1 Reader 117.May 28, 2009 12:18 pm
This is not (intended to be) an ethnic problem.

The government lead by Chinese Communist Party demolished not only Uighur historical sites, but many more Han (the majority of Chinese population are Han, who are usually equalized to “the Chinese” and portrayed as the enemy to and the cause of problems for all other nationalities in China) historical and cultural heritages. A much larger number of tragic destructions to Han won’t appear on the news today, because Han is not the more underprivileged ethnic group, Han will not bring news-perfect stories of independence-seeking, and those Han destructions already happened – since 50 years ago.

In his era, Mao confirmed Qin Shi Huang’s efforts to unify standards at the sacrifice of all dissident customs, ordered the demolition of Beijing’s ancient city wall (“What’s wrong that I want to bomb some holes on the old city walls?”) and laid the foundation for “lawful” destruction of historic heritages. Blame it on his excessive study of Chinese history and egoistic ideology.

In today’s time, the new ideological basis for the destruction is called “GDP” or “get-rich-silently-and-the-world-will-respect-you-automatically”, especially with the in-trend safety concern over earthquake and help from the fashionable¥4 trillion economy stimulus package, a majority part of which is tied to new massive constructions “for people’s well-being”. It is breach of duty for China’s local government leaders if they cannot discover the local “necessity” of launching more (unnecessary) residential and industrial projects, and if they cannot magnify the construction-based stimulus effects by matching the central government funding with more local funding. So the 500-year-old, or even only 10-year-young architectures would very commonly evaporate overnight and give way to new projects, an additive to GDP, and a paved path to any involved political leaders’ bright future.

When Dalai Lama says, if you want to help or know how to help Tibet, go to Tibet and see with your eyes what the condition is over there and decide for yourself what to do, it is implied that Tibet is not in any near-good state. But on your journey to Tibet, travelling inside China may help you understand more of the whole issue. Look with your eyes how bad (and much worse) the situation is in the mainland compared to that in Tibet and Uighur Xinjiang – the problem in Xinjiang and Tibet is not the problem of the Chinese ruling over Uighur Xinjiang and Tibet, it is the problem of an authoritarianism’s wrongful ruling over the Chinese, Uighurs and Tibetans.

— Yining Zhan, Boston

Recommend Recommended by 10 Readers 118.May 28, 2009 12:18 pm
Ham>>To those who actually live there, this is a dark, dusty, uninsulated, plumbing-less, depressing ghetto. I know. I lived in one before. It is just so arrogant and cruel to expect other people continue to subsist in such inadequate environments simply for our own travelling enjoyment.

Did the Chinese authorities ask local people what they want? Can those who don't agree have legal rights and approach court? Can courts work freely?

Who says everything old is dark, dusty? Much of old quarters in Jerusalem, Varanasi.. would have to be destroyed if same logic is applied. Instead, fortunes are spent for preserving those. Are they fool?

Much of present mess in the world is due to so called 'efficiency'. This should have been handled with much care, deliberation which is non existant in China today under present regime. What a fall for a civilization that gave so many things to the world.
— Dipak Ghosh, NYC

Recommend Recommended by 5 Readers 119.May 28, 2009 12:18 pm
It's a real tragedy.. that they are doing this... and that we can not stop them... such an important part of history of an ethnic group is brutally destroyed.
Remember the Beijing Olympics and the Uighur crisis there too? Payback time for this ethnic minority...
— elizabrth dunn, NY

Recommend Recommended by 1 Reader 120.May 28, 2009 12:18 pm
How is this different from the destruction of the giant Buddhas by the Taliban?
— Freespirit, Chicago

Recommend Recommended by 0 Readers 121.May 28, 2009 12:18 pm
The Uighur lived in cob/earthen housing which has lasted for centuries as it is earthquake resistant. The move by the Chinese Government to intergrate these people into the mainstream culture is short-sighted and selfish. With Uighur living happily outside the mainstream with the ancient wisdom of a culture that values and supports a thriving environmentally harmonious community the Chinese had fewer customers for their building and other industries. Too bad they are just as short-sighted as the rest of humanity. Wisdom grows with trees, slowly and is vulnerable to violent attack by narcississtic fools in every nation.
— Louise, Vancouver, WA

Recommend Recommended by 2 Readers 122.May 28, 2009 12:18 pm
The same kind of destruction is happening every day EVERYWHERE in China, just look at the capital. Anyone, who actually has been to China, should knows that. The Uyghurs are not targeted specifically.

— Cis, NY

Recommend Recommended by 8 Readers 123.May 28, 2009 12:18 pm
I guess we shouldn't expect the US government to apply any pressure on China to halt its destruction of Uighur culture. After all, we're holding Uighur detainees in Gitmo, now, I think, at the behest of the Chinese government.
— vahana, las vegas, nv

Recommend Recommended by 1 Reader 124.May 28, 2009 12:18 pm
The Uighur people are under attack by the Chinese government. We visited there in 2004 and found that the government was moving large numbers of Han Chinese into the area and offering them better jobs, housing and schools than those available to the Uighurs. The resentment was palpable. The small area of the old city that was standing then is evidently being destroyed. The pictures of the high rise housing units are reminiscent of the failed Pruitt-Igoe project in St. Louis and housing blocks in Russia. They will not support the Uighur culture or lifestyle. So, after 1500 years in China, the vibrant Uighur culture will be destroyed. It is indeed sad and a "non-violent" form of genocide. How shortsighted that a country of 1.3 billion people will not allow the survival of a small minority.
— William Fogarty, St. Louis, MO

Recommend Recommended by 2 Readers 125.May 28, 2009 12:18 pm
Things always changed to the advantages of those who dominated, everywhere. The Native American plan was not that shaped present day America. The Natives are still around.
— Saroj Kesh, New York

Recommend Recommended by 3 Readers

126.May 28, 2009 12:18 pm
I oppose the rebuilding too. But I at the same time oppose some of you who consider that's a kind of genocide. It's indeed incredible the local government made such a decision to destroy a cultural city with a thousand years history. The central govenmment and high-level cultral departments should prevent their motions. Nonetheless, be careful not to provoke ethnic conflicts between Chiese Hans and the minorities.
— Bingospider, Xianyang, Shaanxi, China

Recommend Recommended by 3 Readers 127.May 28, 2009 12:18 pm
This is another shameful act done by the Han Chinese to grab other people's land. The policy of Chinese government is to make way for the Han Chinese to flood into ethnic minority regions. Anyone who traveled to Inner Mongolia (different from independent Outer Mongolia) can see that Inner Mongolia has hardly any Mongolian characteristic nowadays. All the Mongolian herders were shipped out to the cities in the name of modernization and Han Chinese now mine copper, gold and oil in their old herding pasture. There are 20 million Han Chinese among 4 million ethnic Mongolians and any criticism of its discriminative policy will land you in jail forever. Now the Chinese government is moving onto the Muslim region and doing the exact same thing as they did in Inner Mongolia. Shame on China!
— Robert O., Los Angeles, CA

Recommend Recommended by 4 Readers 128.May 28, 2009 12:18 pm
it's amazing that a country that still has country people going to the bathroom in drainage ditches is going to this expense. I guess the one thing in china that is disposable is it's people. Pity.
— no more marathon's for me, Minnesota

Recommend Recommended by 3 Readers 129.May 28, 2009 12:18 pm
So what? I dont see the outrage. And New Orleans? Protecting NO is not the Federal govt's job. It's the state of Louisiana and the City itself. It's fine if they want to live in a below sea level swamp, but dont call me when it floods.
— bolt28, bolt28

Recommend Recommended by 5 Readers 130.May 28, 2009 12:18 pm
UNESCO New Delhi just published a book of which I am the author on just this subject - but about Kashmir in India and Pakistan, where Srinagar, which is on the World Monuments Fund's Watch list, bears many of the same ancient characteristics as Kashgar, which is geographically not that far from it. The book, DON'T TEAR IT DOWN! PRESERVING THE EARTHQUAKE RESISTANT VERNACULAR ARCHITECTURE OF KASHMIR, shows the earthquake-resistant characteristics of the traditional construction that, in the 2005 earthquake significantly out performed modern reinforced concrete. The Kashmir construction may also be present in the older buildings of Kashgar, as the cultural influences extend through the whole region from Turkey eastward into Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and as is likely also: China.

The recent Sichuan earthquake in China and the one a month ago in L'Aquila, Italy should instead of fueling the cruel demolition of this ancient city, raise serious questions about the safety of new multi-story buildings constructed of reinforced concrete. Tens of thousands of people have died in such structures in recent earthquakes in China, as well as other countries.
— Randolph Langenbach, Oakland, California

Recommend Recommended by 5 Readers 131.May 28, 2009 12:18 pm
I though the NYTIME's readers would have know better than throwing slogans aimlessly, until I saw someone using "genocide". Do not abuse that word! It is disrespectful to every victim who was and is being killed in genocide.

Talking about how to treat racial and ethnic minorities, at least the Uighurs culture is not "protected" and "preserved" in reservations. (Yes, it is sarcasm.)
— Cis, NY

Recommend Recommended by 21 Readers 132.May 28, 2009 12:18 pm
Whether it is earthquakes, food safety, or dangers from pollution the Chinese government has shown a startling disregard for the life of it's own citizens, even the majority Hans.
To believe, even for a moment, that this project is being undertaken to protect the lives of the minority Uighur residents is naive at best and more likely disingenuous.

It is also relevant to mention that if some of these structures have stood for 500 years, then they are likely to fare far far better in an earthquake than the shoddy chinese construction that was the cause of tens of thousands of deaths in last year's earthquake in China.

This project is obviously being undertaken to silence and "integrate" (ie. further marginalize) the restless Uighurs. It is quite sad that such a cultural treasure must perish in the course of the continued party-driven oppression of dissenting opinions.

Lastly, if the majority of residents do not want it, and the government is using propaganda to push it, then any debate on motive or causes are moot. Anyone can see why it's being done, that it should not be done, and why the US must put pressure on china to open up it's one party oppressive system.
sad, sad, sad

— Nick(ecologist), Oakland, Ca

Recommend Recommended by 3 Readers 133.May 28, 2009 12:20 pm
dorr eddy pointed out some very good points. There are many issues that causes the situation can not be done “right”. One reason is the level of maturity of the people and government. Another reason is the level of affordablity the society can take. You will see that more developed region have more resource so they can do it better. It ultimiately comes down to money.

For people who asked "when will they do this to Han Chinese?", I would call them purely naive. Chinese government does this kind of projects all the time all over the country. A lot of conflicts occur during the process. But it is almost always a money issue --- you took down my home but you are not paying enough. Some of them are geniue. A lot of them are just driven by greed. Chaos start when somebody start to try to force a better deal out of the government, or ask questions like why my neighbor has been moved into a better community than me and such. They would not hesitate to take the street because neither the legal system is well established nor the concept of law and orders are well accepted on either side of the conflicts --- be the government or these affected people. All these adds that process itself is indeed a lot of time not well executed, adding that there are corrupted officials on allmost all levels. Those cause a lot of problems. Nevertheless, It has almost never been a culture issue. Those people who live in such places are too poor to care about culture. They do care about their place because that’s the only place they had, not because they view it’s a symbol of their culture or heritage. In another word, it has a great amount of utility value but almost zero culture value to them. It’s only to people from outside who does not feel the pain of these poor people daily life of living at such a place that their shelters’s culture values matter much more than anything else.
— jc, FL

Recommend Recommended by 17 Readers 134.May 28, 2009 12:20 pm
Murmillo, #40 -- Dresden has nearly completed rebuilding the old city as near as it was originally. The skyline rocks.
— mas, home

Recommend Recommended by 4 Readers 135.May 28, 2009 12:20 pm
Anybody who lives in China knows that this no more than SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) for the Chinese: why would the Han Chinese care about preserving Kashgar when they've only been too happy to utterly destroy everything that was unique and beautiful about their own major cities? (As heartbreakingly documented, for instance, by Michael Meyer in his book "The Last Days of Old Beijing.") The Uighur's misfortune is not that they're being singled out for mistreatment...it's that they're being treated like everyone else. Those who want to know what's in store for Kashgar need look no further than the soulless, antiseptic dead-zones that are the "redeveloped" Qianmen Dajie in Beijing or Guwenhua Jie in Tianjin, kitsch monuments to "Ye Olde Cathay" that would make even Walt Disney squirm with embarrassment. Off tomorrow to book my ticket to Xinjiang province, as it's obvious the clock's ticking and there's nothing to be done...
— laowai, Beijing

Recommend Recommended by 16 Readers 136.May 28, 2009 1:58 pm
It's quite simple, really.

They want to update the plumbing to make it a more attractive tourist destination. And I don't blame them.

As Chinese become more relatively wealthy, they naturally want to experience more variety. Modernizing the facilities in this far-flung city will benefit both locals and foreigners. If they're smart, they will, as the article mentions, make an effort to preserve the local flavor as much as possible.

— James, Brooklyn, NY

Recommend Recommended by 14 Readers 137.May 28, 2009 1:58 pm
Looks like another convenient excuse to erradicate vestages of China's multi-cultural past to pave the way for a "glorious" mono-cultural future. The sad part is that we are so economically tied to China that there is little that can be done to stop them.
— DB, Baltimore

Recommend Recommended by 2 Readers 138.May 28, 2009 1:58 pm
In 1976 the Chinese city of Tangshan was destroyed by a giant earthquake. The city was mostly built of unreinforced masonry. Between 250,000 and 650,000 people died in a city of 1,600,000. Nearly every family lost someone and many families were completely wiped out.

The city was rebuilt in reinforced concrete over the next ten years. Since that time, many beautiful unreinforced masonry neighborhoods in Han Chinese cities have been razed and replaced by ugly modern buildings.

Rebuilding, retrofitting and reinforcing the city of Kashgar in an earthquake-prone region is a responsible idea. But the plans and methods indicate another agenda as well--homogenization, Han-ification, modernization.

Several readers have suggested good means for providing safe and culturally resonant housing that reflects and fits the way the people live--not a "cultural" themepark, as #33 warns--for the Uighur people of Kashgar:
"providing providing sufficient money to people to rebuild it by themselves" (#17)
"other ways of imagining a community" (#24)
repair and preserve "numerous important, livable, fixable, useable historic structures" (#36)

Options exist for sensitive preservation and protection of the city and its people. The Chinese government, like most modern governments, lacks the vision and skill do go beyond "slum clearance" to responsive and responsible historic preservation.
— Rachel, California

Recommend Recommended by 2 Readers 139.May 28, 2009 1:58 pm
Nothing in the US compares in age and history. Perhaps the closest are Native American settlements, that became part of US territory with the Louisiana Purchase, among other things. Whoops. They're gone too. Or what was flooded by the TVA. Or even here, in San Francisco, a 21st c. self-supporting suspension bridge is replacing our old steel girder eastern span of the Bay Bridge for which no one has any sense of nostalgia. It's not as if foreign tourists are blogging us to preserve it for its 1940s architectural history. How many Pittburghers have tried to preserve abandoned steel mills and towns like Homestead and Duquesne from urban renewal? How different is this from white flight to the suburbs?

Would it be different if the Uighurs had a say in this whole modernization process? What if they all agreed too that it would be better to live in a modern apt. building with sewage, that was more earthquake safe?

— TWu, SF, CA

Recommend Recommended by 15 Readers 140.May 28, 2009 1:58 pm
If the old buildings are demolished to rebuild, it's not a bad thing anyway. Well the important is that you should plainly explain to the public why the old buildings were still there since 500 years ago without your earthquake concern. And can the residents be carmly settled down without their worrying about losing their culture memories and can they return to the new land without any commercial interests? Yes, the world is changing, but something should be taken into consideration that not all the old building are like the school buildings which were badly ruined in the Sichuan earthquake last year. What we should demolish is not the buildings in dranger, but the intentions of the power.
— Kevin Yu, Dalian, China

Recommend Recommended by 5 Readers 141.May 28, 2009 1:58 pm
This is a case of sticking our nose in other peoples business.
Now I love old buildings, they represent a real tie to the past. If you listen hard enough you can hear them whisper their stories.
Yet at some point the dangerous decaying must make way for new and safer. Otherwise we just plain run out of space.
Reproducing the look and feel of the old building is paying homage to the past while keeping the current residence safe.
— Canis Scot, Lost Angeles, People's Republic of California

Recommend Recommended by 13 Readers 142.May 28, 2009 1:58 pm
I am perplexed by the modern plumbing rebuttals; like the rest of China has modern plumbing everywhere? If a tourist such as myself ran into pits-as-toilets in Beijing and Shanghai, what must the "real" China be like? I saw an endless shanty town on my way by train from Shanghai to Beijing; why wasn't that being modernized? Certainly worse off than anything I saw in Kashgar's old town.If I lived in Kashgar, I would *want* to live in the old town.

The Uyghurs are not backwards. It is easy to paint them as such when no one knows anything about them. They have their own language and writing. The Chinese have forced them in recent years to adopt Arabic script instead of their own, or Roman script, leaving them half literate. Is this progress? Is this modernisation?
The oasis towns around the Taklamakan have borne crops thanks to the karraz system - a very old form agricultural technology. It works and it works very well. And it is Uyghur (well, almost) not Chinese.

No, it is obvious. Kashgar's character and magnetism has stood up to the Han Chinese invasion to date, unlike other cities in the area that have been blighted by the Chinese government, Kucha, Khotan, Yarkand. This is simply one of their ultimate solution's to doing away with Kashgar's decidedly un-Chinese character and demoralizing any hope the Uyghurs may have at self-determination. I am not surprised at the Chinese but I blame myself and the rest of the west for not lifting a finger to help.
— Elle K., Somewhere Else

Recommend Recommended by 2 Readers 143.May 28, 2009 1:58 pm
This is a most unfortunate decision on the part of the Chinese government. If this city has withstood earthquakes for centuries, it doesn't sound as if it is in any real danger. It is sad that these people are being disturbed and a cultural and historical asset will be destroyed. I hope this cruel and fool hardy project will be stopped.
It is as if they decided to knock down the Great Wall and move it to Beijing! That would never be tolerated. This is probably another way to destroy the Uighurs.
— Elephant lover, New Mexico

Recommend Recommended by 3 Readers 144.May 28, 2009 1:58 pm
Now that's what I call spending on Infrastructure..!

It's a shame we haven't chosen to address our infrastructure as we should have, with all those billions that went to corrupt bankers..!
— TJ Colatrella, Boiceville NY

Recommend Recommended by 5 Readers 145.May 28, 2009 1:58 pm
Kashgar Old City rubble for sale in aisle 11 at Wal-Mart.
— cceasyrider, pa.

Recommend Recommended by 1 Reader 146.May 28, 2009 1:58 pm
"As an artist I am stunned and saddened that anyone could destroy a place of such beauty, never mind historical and cultural significance.

Does anyone know what we as US citizens can do to help Kashgar? Contact our congressional representatives?

What can be done?
— Kate, D.C."

Easy. Invade China. Kill 99% Chinese and put the remaining 1% in a city like Kashgar, with no running water or sewage. Call it a reserve. Oh, don't forget to reserve the history relics you like to visit as a tourist once in, say, every twenty years.

— Doug, D.C.

Recommend Recommended by 20 Readers 147.May 28, 2009 1:58 pm
This is TERRIBLE !
Stop destroying your History.
And People !
That is what we come to see.
Your People and their Families, how they live.
No one will come to see your modern buildings.
Modern is the same everywhere.

— MarkA, Swansboro, NC

Recommend Recommended by 2 Readers 148.May 28, 2009 1:58 pm
In an earthquake, I'd rather take my chances in a two-story mud-and-straw building than in a highrise apartment block built in China. Due to corrupt construction practices, many of the buildings that came down in last year's quake were allegedly "up to code", but were actually flimsy & fraudulent.
— cch, tierra del fuego

Recommend Recommended by 4 Readers 149.May 28, 2009 1:58 pm
If the reasons being given by Beijing for the razing of the city is "befuddling" as stated in the article, it's b/c government officials are lying on top of lies and obfuscating the real reasons.
It is completely shortsighted and foolish for the Chinese government to contiually tear down its history only to replace it with generic, bland buildings that have no cultural, architectural or emotional significance.
With no history to speak of, China, as a result will soon have no future to look forward to.
— tony, New york city

Recommend Recommended by 2 Readers 150.May 28, 2009 1:58 pm
I agree with Banty. The government is paving the way for mass Han Chinese immigration. To the government, China is of and for the Han.
— Mark, San Francisco, CA

Recommend Recommended by 2 Readers

151.May 28, 2009 1:58 pm
#98- well, before you 'make judgements based on your ideology', perhaps you should ask what the inhabitants think about razing the old and moving into the high rises. Seems from this article they generally aren't in favor.
It would seem that Beijing would do well to learn from the lessons of the past two centuries of world history and ease up on pretending its still e.g. 111 B.C.
— AD, Chapel Hill

Recommend Recommended by 3 Readers 152.May 28, 2009 1:58 pm
Tragic indeed. China has been destroying and "renovating" its own cultural treasures for the last half a century, doing more damage than the Europeans, who did the destroying and plundering for a century before that.

However this article fails to mention that, since 9/11, the US government has been cooperating with the Chinese to crack down the Uighur/Muslim separatist movement, which was believed to have connections with Mideastern terrorism. It's nothing but hypocrisy for the US to point fingers at the Chinese for their racial policy, yet have no grumble participating in the same policy when it (presumably) serves its own interests.
— Jackie Tan, Los Angeles, CA

Recommend Recommended by 3 Readers 153.May 28, 2009 1:58 pm
It always annoys me when people decry the tearing down of "ancient" cities to be replaced with modern structure, simply because OMG it's so historic and such a beautiful tourist destination(even if they have zero intention to ever visit it).

Would any of you like to live in a non-earthquake proved riggety old building without modern plumbing in an earthquake zone? Try and live in these places please before you opine. These places do not exist simply for your viewing pleasure. People actually live there 365 days a year for their entire lives.

For all we know majority of the people in that town are probably happy that they're finally getting a comfortable modern home to live in. But of course the author of this article is so biased he would never allow us to know such people exist, and if they do, they just don't know any better.

China is not India or the West. They believe in assimilating minority cultures rather than allowing different minority groups to form their own separate cultures and countries within their country. It's smart nation building, pure and simple. Eventually modernity and economic prosperity trumps all. What good is "culture" if you live in eternal poverty compared to your next door neighbor, ride on donkeys when your neighbors drive by in cars? Sure it's nice for the tourists, but would you rather ride the donkey or the car, everyday for the rest of your life?

People who advocate every ethnic group holding on to their language and culture without assimilation should just look at how that is tearing apart India, and is slowly tearing apart the US and much of Europe. The US has a large minority group who would rather speak Spanish than English, leading to the chaos in our education system. The UK, Germany, and France are all struggling with large influx of muslim immigrants who refuse to assimilate into the mainstream Christian or secular culture. I applaud what China is doing. Instead of letting these minority groups holding on to their identity then discriminating against them like we do so hypocritically in the West, they encourage acculturation to deter discrimination. Chinese are very practical people. They have no time to be hypocrites like we do in the West, they're too busy trying to feed 1.3B people and avoid civil strives.

Above all, stop being so self-righteous and always telling other countries how to run their country! We can barely keep ours in one piece and running!
— GL, Seattle, WA

Recommend Recommended by 57 Readers 154.May 28, 2009 1:58 pm
Whether or not Kashgar should have not “rebuilt” is debatable, but I deplore all those comments about “Chinese ethnic cleansing of the Uyghurs.” First of all, the Uyghurs are Chinese, too. They are Chinese of Uyghur descent. Would you call Hispanic Americans and Japanese Americans Spaniards and Japanese rather than Americans?

Secondly, China has ruled Xinjiang on and off since the time of Christ. If the “Chinese” had really wanted to “cleanse” the Uyghurs, they had 2,000 years to do so. Ethnic minorities do not have to adhere to the one-child policy whereas the majority Han must, and bi-lingual education is available to many ethnic minorities in China, whereas it’s banned in public schools in the U.S.

Thirdly, China has always been a multi-ethnic country during its 5,000 year history. Before the founding of the first dynasty, Xia, China was but a collection of many city-states, many of which were founded by people of distinct ethnic and cultural origin. These diverse people eventually merged to become the “Chinese,” and new blood is continuing to be added to the current day, in a process parallel to the formation of an American identity. In fact, China was the world’s original melting pot; in fact, two of the greatest emperors in Chinese history, the First Emperor of China of Qin Dynasty, and Li Shimin of the Tang both have significant “foreign” blood and the “Han” Chinese is nothing but an amalgamation of numerous groups of Sino-Tibetan people, Altaic-Tungusic people, the Hmong-Yao groups, and Turkic-speaking people, among others. There are even a few Caucasoid elements – if you go to northern Shaanxi or Shaanxi, you will find “Han” Chinese who have distinct Caucasian features with light eyes and high-bridged nose.

Today there are at least 56 ethnic groups in China. It is utterly arrogant for Americans and Western media (and NYT in particular) to continue to cast China in the light of the evil “Han” majority vs. the ethnic minorities, and to describe the continuing formation of a new “Chinese” identify through the lenses of “ethnic conflicts,” while in the U.S. newcomers are encouraged to assimilate into the “mainstream” culture by adopting English as the “official” language.

— gg, sf

Recommend Recommended by 59 Readers 155.May 28, 2009 1:58 pm
Oh please. You people who use US dollars to go to visit a third-world country a few days out of a year have no right to say what is or is not right for that culture. Have you lived like a local? Lived in rooms without A/C during the summer or heat during the winter? A place where clean water is not a given, but a maybe? China's efforts to modernize a dilapidated city that is falling apart at its seams is the best thing that has happened to the Uighurs in centuries. Maybe the people in the northeast of the US can take cue and tear down and rebuild some of its hideous, old, inefficient buildings that are marked as 'historical.' Out with the old, in with the new!
— workerbee, Maryland

Recommend Recommended by 28 Readers 156.May 28, 2009 1:58 pm
Tearing down the old section Kashgar is an abomination! It should have been on the UN World Heritage Site. In any case, it is all too obvious why the Chinese want it destroyed. They see the Uighurs as a threat because they are a Turkic people with a strong sense of identity and heritage, and want their own homeland. I have been to China a few times and to Kashgar and the surrounding area once, and if the Chinese (Han) continue with their destruction of any structure that is not made of white tiles and blue windows, there will not be a reason in the world to go back. My heart goes out to the Uighurs, they are a warm and inviting people with a fascinating history. Kashgar is a unique window into life and traditions along the Silk Road centuries ago.
— Virginia, Aspen, Colorado

Recommend Recommended by 3 Readers 157.May 28, 2009 2:34 pm
What happened to celebrating our past and honoring our history and culture?
A tragedy!!!
— Saman, New York

Recommend Recommended by 2 Readers 158.May 28, 2009 2:34 pm
The biggest travesty here is that the government did not consult the Uyghurs regarding what THEY wanted to do (despite the proclamations of the official press, Uyghurs were clearly not given a voice in the demolition project). The only available indications of Uyghur opinions on this subject, online forums in Uyghur and Chinese, indicate an overwhelming opposition to the demolition of the Old City.

In terms of earthquake safety, there are many ways that safety could have been enhanced within the framework of maintaining most of the existing structures in the Old City. I really wonder just how earthquake-resistant the new apartment buildings will be. In addition, other modernization projects could also have been incorporated into the Old City, such as water, sewer and trash improvements.

This article neglects to mention that those who have been moved out of the Old City so far have been moved to the far outskirts of the city, approximately 8 to 9 kilometers away, near the airport. This has been reported in China's official press. It doesn't take a genius to really see that in addition to whatever financial motives the government may have in relocating Uyghurs there (cheap land far from the city center) it would also be a handy way to disperse Uyghurs and decentralize their community.

I have to take issue with one thing the author said in the article- "Chinese security officials consider it a breeding ground for a small but resilient movement of Uighur separatists who Beijing claims have ties to international jihadis." It may be true that the Chinese government is genuinely afraid of significant jihadi connections among Uyghurs, however unjustified their beliefs, but the Chinese government is also fundamentally afraid of any peaceful expression of dissent or peaceful assertions of distinctiveness among Uyghurs. The Chinese government considers Uyghur culture as something that must be eliminated in order to tighten its control over the population and the region.

The article's references to the unusually high level of official backing for this project, in addition to Beijing's omission of Kasghar from its UNESCO Silk Road application, are particularly telling. Whatever purely financial or purely modernistic motivations may also be driving the demolition of the Old City, it is clear that there is a political motivation as well, which is part of a broader policy to dilute Uyghur culture. In the Chinese media, the Old City project has been reported on the same article with government campaigns to remove the Uyghur language from schools and increase security in Kashgar and the nearby city of Hotan. These issues have been reported on together in Chinese in the state media as if they are part of one broader goal- while the official press of course touts it as a benevolent goal, one has to wonder. And the education issue can again be referred back to the issue of choice- are Uyghur children and their parents being given a CHOICE of which language to study in? While some parents DO want their children to be educated in Chinese, the issue was that previously they had a choice between a Uyghur-language education and a Chinese-language education. Now, that choice is being taken away, together with the Uyghur language, and millions of yuan are being spent just to transform preschools and elementary schools into Chinese-only institutions, in violation of China's own Ethnic Regional Autonomy Law. This law gives students the right to study in their own language, if they wish.

Meanwhile, intensive security campaigns are being implemented in Kashgar, Hotan, and other heavily-Uyghur cities, hundreds of thousands of people are moving into Xinjiang from other areas of the PRC as a result of both aggressive government encouragement and market forces, and thousands of Uyghur women and girls are being sent to eastern China by the government. It may all sound a bit conspiracy-theorist, but it's all documented.

— Weeger, Washington, DC

Recommend Recommended by 11 Readers 159.May 28, 2009 2:34 pm
So sad.
— Eric Samuels, New York, NY

Recommend Recommended by 4 Readers 160.May 28, 2009 2:34 pm
This is just a tiny example of the long range plans of China. The total control by a small oligarchy is most effective in stamping out a range of ideas and freedoms. I fear that the mind control of chinese citizens is effective. Ask anyone who grew up in mainland china. They will tell you that Tibet and the Uighurs are far better off living as homogeneous modern Han chinese. When relaxed, they will tell you this is true for Korea, Vietham, Japan, Australia, etc. - even parts of Russia.

— David E. Harrison, Bar Harbor, Maine

Recommend Recommended by 1 Reader 161.May 28, 2009 3:33 pm
My hometown in China is also an ancient city dating back to over 2000 years ago. My family had lived in a historic neighborhood before I was 14. The house was dilapidated, with no modern plumbing or sewage. And my standard for being “modern” is really low – I would have been thrilled if we had a toilet that flushed. In winter, my mother had to hand-wash our clothes in freezing water that my father carried back from the local well. No doubt we jumped on the first opportunity to move into a state-built, “Stalinistic,” apartment building. The whole city (which is in a Han area, by the way) has been turned upside down by “modernization” over the past 30 years. Except for a few “intellectuals,” no one complained.

I do think of our old neighborhood all the time since it is filled with memories of my childhood. So a couple of years ago, when I learned that the city government had preserved and restored part of the old city to maintain the city’s status as a “historically and culturally famous city” and to attract tourists, I flew back to visit our old neighborhood. However, to my unpleasant surprise, I didn’t enjoy it at all. Instead, I pitied the people who stayed in the neighborhood (as they do themselves). I even felt guilty for having wished that the neighborhood be preserved because I witnessed again how inconvenient it was to live there. So when I read that the Kashgar government is demolishing 85% of the run-down city, my reaction was “Why not the other 15%?”

Will my feelings change as I grow older? Maybe. But the point is, the issue in the article is not as simple as the article suggests. For those commenters who throw around terms like “genocide,” “authoritarian government,” “communism,” you are the reason why Americans get the reputation for being arrogant, gullible by the mass media and even plain stupid, which others don’t deserve. For those who have visited Kashgar (or any other historic town for that matter) and pity its demolition, I beg you to think for a second about the people who actually live there - the inconveniences, hardships and even health hazards they have to endure for your enjoyment of “history.” To ask some people to endure these “for the greater good” (assuming it is greater), now that’s Stalinistic.

— Jie, New York, NY

Recommend Recommended by 196 Readers 162.May 28, 2009 3:33 pm
Many commentators took religiously what is said by one 56-year-old, who claimed that his family built the mud house 500 years ago. Any person with common sense should treat such a statement with a grain of salt. I always enjoy the beauty of the precise number, but almost always such number is too precise to be true. Needless to say, if you are biased, feel free to use this fodder against the project. Do not get me wrong. I am not a fan of the project.
— sh, ny

Recommend Recommended by 18 Readers 163.May 28, 2009 3:33 pm
So far no one posing here has actually proven that the buildings being torn down have survived large earthquakes safely... I suspect that they didn't and were rebuilt roughly the same as before (interesting how many traditional vernaculars in earthquake zones are poorly adapted for them, such as Japan's roof heavy construction which has killed many throughout history).

I noticed someone critiquing modern high rise housing in Eastern Europe, apparently, when modernized, it's quite popular and being preserved, both there and in Western Europe as well.

I wonder how many of the pseudo-liberals here would want a Muslim Chinese neighbor (or any Chinese neighbor), especially new yorkers right after 9/11, who might harbor anti-infidel beliefs? Seems like it's a double-standard, defending them against the Chinese who are a 'racist' group (see Tibet arguments) yet probably don't recognize their own bigotry (i.e. silly anti-Chinese rants, or closet anti-black feelings here).
— FG, Chicago

Recommend Recommended by 27 Readers

30-05-09, 16:07

31-05-09, 00:14
Thursday, May 07, 2009
Ryan Pyle Blog: Kashgar is ALMOST GONE!


Well, if my first blog about the destruction of Kashgar didn't get your attention, this one well. It appears that the Chinese government has rapidly increased their speed of the destruction of Kashgar's old town. About 2/3 of Kashgar's old town has been destroyed in the last few weeks. Above, an old man limps through the old town.

Link to Kashgar Images: SEE IMAGES HERE