On February 25, 1997, the Memorial Ceremony for Deng Xiao-ping (鄧小平), the great "Red Emperor" of China, was held in Beijing. On the same day, bomb explosions by the Uyghur terrorists happened in Urumchi [Urumqi] (烏魯木斉), the capital of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, 2,400km (1,500mi) away from Beijing. The reason why the Uyghurs resist against the Beijing Government is nothing else from their strong grudge against Beijing, namely, the Han Chinese (漢族).
The Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in the west edge of China — as its name indicates, this area was originally the land of the Turkic tribes such as the Uyghur. When you hear the name of Turkey, you are probably reminded of Istanbul, the Mount Ararat where the Noah's Ark was drifted ashore, or Mozart's "Turkish March." The country Turkey is located today on the border of Asia and Europe but ancestors of the Turkish (the Göktürks or Kokturks) used to live in a broad area across Mongolia to Central Asia. The area is called Turkestan that means "The land of Turkic peoples." One of the Turkish tribes, the Uyghur used to have a country in the area.
The first time the Uyghur appears in the history is in 744 when there was established the Uyghur Empire (九姓回鶻帝国).[*1] The Uyghur defeated the former suzerain Göktürks Empire (突厥帝国) in 745 and left an immense power in a broad area from Mongolia to Turkestan. When the Tang Dynasty of China (唐) requested to send troops to suppress the Anshi Rebellion (安史之亂), the Uyghur Empire and Tubo [Tufan] (吐蕃) (Tibet) advanced troops into the capital of Tang, Ch`iang-an (長安; curt. Xi'an 西安). Since then, the Uyghurs gained the military influence to China that was a double-edged sword. The decline of the Tang Dynasty, the great power of East Asia, affected tribes around China of their ethnic consciousness and soon many countries became independent. (This is the similar situation that Central Asian countries such as Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Tadzhikistan and Uzbekistan became independent after the Soviet Union collapsed.) Uyghur was subsequently ruled by new powers such as Western Hsia (西夏) and the Mongolians.
In 840, the Uyghur Empire collapsed by an internal war of the imperial members, and the Mongolian tribe Kyrgyz attacking from the north. After the fall of the Empire, it resulted that the Uyghurs were scattered. Among the Uyghur refugees, over 100,000 people became civil servants in the Tang Dynasty, or a new power, the Khitan Empire (契丹) (907-1125).
Meanwhile, a tribal group led by the Ediz, the second khaganate lineage of the Uyghur Empire, restored the kingdom in the Turfan Depression, a strategic point in Turkestan, with Bishbalik as its capital. This kingdom is called the Hsichou Uyghur [Western State of Uyghur] (西州回鶻, also called Kaoch`ang Uyghur 高昌回鶻, T`ienshan Uyghur 天山回鶻 or West Uyghur 西回鶻). Another tribe led by the Yaghlakar, the first khaganate lineage of the Uyghur Empire, fled to Ichou [Yizhou] (伊州), the western frontier area of China and then occupied Kanchou [Ganzhou] (甘州) and Shachou [Shazhou] (沙州) to establish the Kanshachou Uyghur (甘沙州回鶻, also called River West Uyghur 河西回鶻 or New Uyghur 新回鶻). The Uyghur was split into two kingdoms on the west and the east.
In the 11th century, a new threat for the Uyghur, the Tangut (黨項), a Ch`iangic (羌)-Tibet daring nomad tribe, gained its power in the confusion of the fall of the Tang Dynasty. The Tangut became independent from the Sung Dynasty (宋) that reunited China after the Tang, and established the Western Hsia (西夏)  in 1002. The new power, the Tangut Empire defeated the Kanshachou Uyghur in 1026.
Moreover, the rise of the Mongol Empire established by Genghis (Chinggis) Khan drove the Uyghurs into a corner by its overwhelming power. Another Uyghur kingdom, the Western Uyghur had to surrender to become civil servants in the Mongol Empire in order not to be annihilated. The decision seems right since Ginghis Khan was open-minded to the Uyghurs. Contrary, the Tangut Empire Western Hsia that resisted against the Mongol Empire was trampled down, the capital was conquered and the Tangut was annihilated.
After the fall of the Mongol Empire, East Turkestan was ruled by Mongol kingdoms one after another such as the Oröt (衛拉特) that later became the Dzungar Empire (準噶爾) and the Khoshot (和碩特). In such circumstances, the Uyghurs lived a nomad life in East Turkestan called Huangt`ou Uyghur [Yellow Head Uyghur] (黄頭回鶻) until the beginning of the Ch`ing Dynasty (淸) (1644-1912). East Turkestan was conquered by the Ch`ing Army during the reign of the Emperor Ch`ianlung [Qianlong] (乾隆帝) (1711-99) and it was named Hsinchien [Xinjian] [the new territory] (新疆) by the Manchus as the Uyghurs became subjects of the Manchu Ch`ing Dynasty.
In the late 19th century, the Uyghurs became disobedient to the ruler as the power of the Ch`ing Dynasty declined. After the fall of the Manchu Dynasty by the Hsinhai Revolution (辛亥革命) in 1912, the Uyghurs (Muslims) in the New Territory rose up for independence again and successively established the Turkish Islamic Republic of East Turkestan (1933-34), and the Eastern Turkestan Republic (1944-49). However, when the Chinese Communist Party established the People's Republic of China, it annexed Manchuria, Inner Mongolia, Tibet and the New Territory Hsinchien where the Uyghurs live, to attempt recapturing all the territories which the Ch`ing Dynasty used to conquer, and established the "Hsinchien Uyghur Autonomous Region" in East Turkestan. The Uyghurs who were released from the Manchus now became under the Han Chinese.
Currently, the situation of Uyghurs is very critical. After being annexed to the new China, a mass emigration of the Han Chinese are taking over Uyghur's jobs. Moreover, the pure blood of the Uyghur has gradually been lost by intermarriages with the Han and now the ethnic group Uyghur is getting disappeared. In such a situation, the Uyghur radicals and the refugee Uyghur organizations are groping for the appropriate time to have a showdown with Beijing.
The Uyghur, the Turkish and the Kazakhs speak close languages and can easily communicate each other that is one of threats for Beijing. There is a huge amount of oil existing underground in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. China has an underground nuclear test site at the Lop Nur. This area is economically and militarily a strategic point for China so it is consequential that Beijing will never give up to rule this region.
If the Uyghur forms alliances with Central Asian countries such as Turkey and Kazakhstan, the situation will be critical for China that is the same as being threatened by a knife in the back. If Beijing takes a wrong way, it may trigger China's explosives warehouse to be blasted. Russia shelved its military solution for its own explosives warehouse Chechen. Meanwhile, China is still associated with the hard-line policy of military suppression of the Uyghurs. The destiny of the Uyghurs seems depending on how deliberate Beijing deals with this issue.
Appendix: The Uyghur Empire
The Uyghur Empire (回鶻帝国) (744-840) is the country that the Uyghur, one of the Turkic tribes established that subjugated Mongolia and Turkestan after the fall of the Göktürks Empire. Since it consisted of nine tribes, it is also called Toquz Oghuz Uyghur [Nine tribe Uyghur] (九姓回鶻), orToquz Oguz [Nine tribes] (九姓鐵勒). The empire itself lasted only for less than 100 years but the lineage still continued. It was called Tughuzghuz among Muslims. Currently, the name "Uyghur" itself is still used such as China's Xinjian Uyghur Autonomous Region.
List of Uyghur Qaghans (Emperors) 1. Yaghlakar Dynasty # Year In Chinese In Uyghur 1 744-747 懐仁可汗 Qutlugh bilgä köl qaghan 2 747-759 英武威遠可汗
Tengride bulmïsh el-etmish bilgä qaghan (Bayan Chor), son of 1 3 759-779 英義建功可汗
Tengride qut bulmïsh el-tutmïsh alp külüg bilgä qaghan (Tengri Bögü), son of 2 4 780-789 武義成功可汗
Alp qutlugh bilgä qaghan (Tun bagha tarkhan), son of 1 5 789-790 忠貞可汗
Tengride bulmïsh külüg bilgä qaghan, son of 4 6 790-795 奉誠可汗 (骨咄禄毘伽可汗) Qutlugh bilgä qaghan, son of 5 2. Ediz Dynasty 7 795-805 懐信可汗
Tengride ülüg bulmïsh alp qutlugh külüg bilgä qaghan (Qutlugh)
(A General became a new ruler after the previous Qaghan died)
8 805-821 保義可汗 Ai tengride qut bulmïsh alp bilgä qaghan 9 821-823 崇徳可汗 Kün tengride ülüg bulmïsh küchlüg bilgä qaghan, son of 7 10 823-832 昭礼可汗
Ai tengride qut bulmïsh alp bilgä qaghan, son of 9 11 832-839 彰信可汗
Ai tengride qut bulmïsh alp külüg bilgä qaghan (Qasar), son of 9 12 839-840 馺特勤可汗 Ai tengride qut bulmïsh alp külüg bilgä qaghan (Hu) (The last Qaghan), son of 10
Terms and related information (Wikipedia Links)
- Deng Xiao-ping (鄧小平), 1904-97.
- Han Chinese (漢族)
- Turkic Peoples
- Uyghur-Toquz Oghuz Empire (九姓回鶻帝國), 744-840.
- Göktürks Empire (突厥帝國), 552-745.
- Tang Dynasty (唐), 618-907.
- Anshi Rebellion (安史之亂), 756-763.
- Khitan Empire (契丹)/Liao Dynasty (遼), 907-1125.
- Turfan Depression (吐魯番盆地)
- Tangut (黨項)
- Sung [Song] Dynasty (宋), 960-1127.
- Western Hsia [Xi-xia] (西夏) (1032-1227)
- Dzungar Empire (準噶爾)
- Ch`ing Dynasty (淸), 1644-1912.
- Emperor Chianlung [Qianlong] (乾隆帝), 1711-99. r. 1735-96.
- Hsinhai [Xinhai] Revolution (辛亥革命), 1912.
- Turkish Islamic Republic of East Turkestan (First Republic), 1933-34.
- Eastern Turkestan Republic (Second Republic), 1944-49.
- Turkic languages
- Lop Nur