Graham Adams shares his personal observations, experiences, and conversations from around Xinjiang. For earlier articles in the series, please see Part I, Part II, and Part III.
Following the 2009 riots in Xinjiang (East Turkestan), the government of the People's Republic of China is "striking hard" against perceived separatist and terrorist activities. Critics argue that the government is actually using the specter of ethnic and religious instability to crack down on the local Central Asian populace and dramatically increase the security presence.
A sign in Urumqi reads: "The military loves the people, the people embrace the military, the military and people are united as one family."
Ever since its "peaceful liberation" of Xinjiang and Tibet, the Chinese People's Liberation Army has endeavored to present itself as a benevolent protector of ethnic minorities. Local propaganda in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) features members of the military linked arm-in-arm with colorfully dressed minorities, all of whom are unified as one family, one nation. However, beneath the official veneer of ethnic solidarity, local Central Asian ethnic groups tend to remain extremely distrustful of the military and Public Security Bureau.