(CSM) The Pakistani businessman braved the rugged Karakoram Highway, crossed the freezing Khunjerab Pass, and spent an hour undergoing security at China’s border to reach the city of Kashgar, in the frontier region of Xinjiang.
Eager to promote his adventure tourism company, the young entrepreneur set out in October in hopes of finding a travel agency to partner with. Instead, he ran up against China’s paramilitary surveillance state and its anti-Muslim policies.
It began with a simple transaction – trading US dollars for Chinese yuan. He passed through one of Kashgar’s ubiquitous airport-style security checks, entered a Bank of China branch, and waited to see a teller. “I went to the window at my turn, but when they saw my first name was Mohammad, they refused to change the money,” he says, asking that his last name be withheld. […]
“The Chinese state needs to be in complete control [in Xinjiang] and so they just keep hammering the nail harder,” says Sean Roberts, director of the international development studies program at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs. Dr. Roberts believes the government views the Uyghur population in Xinjiang as an obstacle to Beijing’s economic expansion plans, and so is pressing ahead with strong-armed cultural and ideological assimilation. […]
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