Recently, China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region has become a News Focus among the Western media. There is a lot of news that criticizes the Chinese government for their inhumane oppression towards Uygur Muslims in Xinjiang. Taking a news report on December 7th, 2018 as an example, it uses “China’s Ningxia to ‘Learn From’ Xinjiang’s Anti-Terror Campaign” as the title. In this report, it mentions that “authorities in the northwestern Chinese region of Ningxia look set to import ‘anti-terrorism’ measures currently used in the mass incarceration of an estimated one million Muslim Uyghurs and other minorities in Xinjiang […] while Beijing initially denied the existence of re-education camps” (Feng). Regarding whether the camps really exist, why can the “mass incarceration” be seen as “anti-terrorism” measure? What does “terrorism” mean in this context? According to “How Chinese Think About Terrorism” by the Diplomat, the reports mentioned that “Religious factors […] are the root of the conflict […] Pan-Turkism and Pan-Islamism, ideologies based on supranational, religious and ethnic identities, arrived in Xinjiang in the early 20th century. Under the influence of the pan-Turkism and pan-Islamism, the Xinjiang separatists and religious extremists started a movement to overthrow the Chinese Communist Party” (Dingding Chen and Ding Xuejie). Actually, as early as in the 19th century, when China was still one of the most important imperial powers called the Great Qing, one of the Muslim leaders tried to take the ideology of pan-Islamism as the basis of an independent nation in Xinjiang. It is a short regime lasted about 15 years. I believe that learning this part of history would help me gain a more comprehensive idea about the issue in Xinjiang. In this blog for my history class 207, I try to argue that it is actually the Pan-Islamism mindset of the leader Yakub Beg leading to the fail of his nation.
Key Words: Xinjiang, China, Pan-Islamism, Yakub Beg, 19th century, Muslim