Eurasian Crossroads : History and the present in Xinjiang
Ancient paintings suggest China invented skiing BEIJING, Jan. 25, 2006 Cliff paintings of hunters in rugged remote northwestern China appear to prove that Chinese were adept skiers as early as the Stone Age, Xinhua said Monday. The paintings in Altay, in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, "have been verified as humans hunting while skiing and, therefore, archaeologists can prove the Altay region to be a place of skiing some 100 to 200 centuries ago," the news agency said. Wang Bo, a noted researcher with the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Regional Museum, said he had seen a picture of four people chasing cattle and horses, three of them on a long rectangular board with poles in their hands. "Hence, he held these instruments are skis and ski poles," Xinhua said. "(Experts) held that cliff paintings in Altay were the earliest archaeological evidence to show how humans had skied in the early days and suggest skiing had originated in Altay." Skiing has become a popular pastime for China's burgeoning new middle class, with several slopes around the capital, Beijing, packed every winter weekend. China has claimed a number of firsts, including the inventions of gunpowder, the printing press, golf, football and even pasta.
Three themes 1. Role of geology and the environment 2. Xinjiangs broader linkages and betweenness 3. Modes of social and political identity are a key aspect of Xinjiang history
Periodization for discussion today: I. Up to 18 th c. II. 18 th c. to 1991 III. 1991 to present
I.The pattern of Xinjiangs past Continental drift mountains Asian monsoon Xinjiang aridity
100 mil ybp: India leaves Gondwanaland <60 mil ybp: India collides with Eurasia 22-15 mil ybp threshold mt. height reached: monsoon climate
Eriqdiki lay sudäk / ötüp ketidu yashliq (Like muddy water in the canal, youth is gone before you know it.)
I.The pattern of Xinjiangs past... Agriculture in southern oases, pastoralism in northern steppes and mountains Tarim basin ruled by northern horse nomads
The pattern of the Xinjiang past: linked to Chinese - Inner Asian interactions in North China and Mongolia
I.The pattern of Xinjiangs past ruling elite lends name to empire, masking great and continuing ethno- linguistic diversity Geography enhances E-W and N-S overland communication (Silk Roads)
I.The pattern of Xinjiangs past Episodes of involvement by China-based states: Han, Tang, (Yuan), Qing strategic, not economic goals occurred during cooler, wetter periods in Xinjiang
II: The Great Qing breaks the mold; Chinese republics follow up XJ conquest: joint Inner Asian / Chinese imperial enterprise Aided by military, bureaucratic innovations Qing comparable to other early modern empires in state capacity XJ administered as integral part of Qing empire
II: The Great Qing breaks the mold; Chinese republics follow up Intensive environmental exploitation: mining, rangeland agriculture, forest clearance Cooling climate 1770-1890 more runoff for state farms
II: The Great Qing breaks the mold; Chinese republics follow up 1780-1830 state encourages Han migration, homesteading to northern and eastern Xinjiang Post-1830 Han, Hui migration encouraged to southern Xinjiang Shift corresponds with rising nationalism and new notions of China
II: The Great Qing breaks the mold; Chinese republics follow up Xinjiang experiences rapid frontier style population increase: Pop. ca. 1800: –Han & Hui: 155,000 –Uyghur > 320,000 Pop. ca. 1947: –Han: 222,000 (5% total XJ population) –Uyghur > 3,000,000 (75%)
II: The Great Qing breaks the mold; Chinese republics follow up Nearly seven-fold population increase in Xinjiang from conquest (late 18 th c.) to 1947 China in same period (1790-1953) less than doubled (300 million to 583 million) China under whole pax Manchurica and Republic (1685-1953) only 6-fold increase
II: The Great Qing breaks the mold; Chinese republics follow up Enhanced E-W communications –No silk road decline; increase under Qing –Russian, Central Asian contacts; Chinese contacts –Sufism –Trade in industrial manufactures –Jadidism, Turkic nationalism, Chinese nationalism, communism
II: The Great Qing breaks the mold; Chinese republics follow up Seeds of new identity politics –Qing employed ethnic categories as administrative tool (compare British India) Ethno-nationalism Soviet nationality policies adopted from 1930s via Xinjiang; used in PRC post- 1950
III. Recent shifts: Xinjiangs new position in China and the world? XJ a cul-de-sac during Cold War: strategic buffer Post-Cold War improvements in communications infrastructure
III. Recent shifts: Xinjiangs new position in China and the world? Post-1991 return to usual crossroads mode (trade with Pakistan, Kazakstan up starting 1980s). China best positioned to take advantage of post-Soviet situation. frontier open cities and the three alongs (1992) Post-1992 rapid expansion of XJ foreign trade
XJ foreign trade (imports and exports) 1990 = 410 million (US$) 2000 = 2.3 billion 2004 = 5.7 billion Urumchi international trade fair inaugurated 1992
III. Recent shifts: Xinjiangs new position in China and the world? Xinjiang is a metropole for Central Asia (consumer goods, construction, energy development, financial services) Still dominated by SOEs; Relatively little but increasing FDI Some big regional and global exports: naturally colored (GM) cotton; and...
III. Recent shifts: Xinjiangs new position in China and the world? early fears of post-Soviet pan-Turkism; mass rebellion; radical Islam not realized. little organized separatist / terrorist movement; surprisingly (?) little open violence given observed levels of dissatisfaction and dissent State reconceptualization of XJ position, of identity politics: –Minzu no longer translated nationality but as ethnicity: = State Ethnic Affairs Commission –Downplaying the "Uyghur" and the "autonomy" of XUAR
III. Recent shifts: Xinjiangs new position in China and the world? Environmental aspects: – continued "frontier style" intense development, both as central govt. policy and private initiative. –degradation of river systems, forests, grasslands; sandstorms; floods; dropping water table; expansion of deserts
Some statistics: North XJ: conversion of pastures to farmland; shrinkage of lakes: Lake Ebinor in Bortala shrunk by half 1950s to 1977 as drainage area population grew from 67,800 to 550,500. Continues to shrink by 23 sq. km annually. 1960s high levels of airborne dust one day every 2-3 years; 1990s a month and a half of high dust days annually. Rangeland: loss of 240,000 hectares from 1960s to 2000. But over same periods, livestock population quadrupled from 10 to 42 million. Thinner grass over 75% of rangeland; 1000 sq. km desertified.
Forests: much loss due to cutting and falling water tables. 84% reduction in poplar forest in lower Tarim; 65-90% reduction of willow scrub in fringes of Taklimakan. Eastern Tianshan slopes denuded; treeline now up to 1700 meters from 1200-1400 meters elsewhere in the range. Zungharia's sacsaoul and poplar forests largely gone between 1950s and 1980s. Expansion of desert: 53/87 counties have suffered desertification. Econ. losses estimated in billions of yuan. Of 33,317 sq. km reclaimed through state and private efforts from 1960s though 2000, one fifth (size of Delaware) abandoned again due to soil exhaustion, loss of water supply, salinification, sand encroachment. Desert estimated in 2004 to be expanding at 400 sq. km / year. 47% of Xinjiang is defined as wasteland.
III. Recent shifts: Xinjiangs new position in China and the world? global warming growing deserts and shrinking glaciers. identity politics and international dimensions of water shortage
Conclusion: Frontier style development in a global setting The changing face of Xinjiang cities
Conclusion: Frontier style development in a global setting XJ Identity politics, too, more enmeshed in global discourses: – less stress on nationalism, self-determination than in 20th c. But greater world attention to XJ, Uyghur issues –GWOT / US-China relations –international human rights community involvement Role of environment in shaping Xinjiang history now also very much part of global story.