One example is that certain writer (aka toilet tissue head) who made his career by indiscriminately bashing the mainland grabbing any remotely related issue (people called this "piggybacking"/抽水) still find wide audience here. Another example is the ignorance of even some (according to his resume) British educated HK commentator.
This is a piece from Ming Pao today, from a "scholar/commentator" from Hong Kong. The author made argument like this, by comparing Xinjiang with Palestine. His "reasoning" is like this
- Palestine had been relatively peaceful between 1967 to 1987
- Because Palestinians had jobs (benefited from the oil industry employment in the middle east) -- I am no expert in the middle east so I suppose he is right about the fact, except that I thought oil didn't bring that much money until 1973, and this seems to echo the CCP's economic development brings stability line
- He then argued that Israel did something wrong in 1977 by colonizing the West Bank, which is the point of inflexion and triggered the Palestinian uprising
- Then he blamed China's Han immigration into Xinjiang, drawing parallel with Israel 1977-1987 and then concluded that China should heed the Israeli lesson and change its policy in Xinjiang
What surprised me is that both the Ming Pao editor and the author (presumably a postgraduate from SOAS London) failed to check the facts which are crucial to his argument, which is common knowledge for those who care to do a little web surfing or knows China's modern history a bit.
Since the Han immigration started (and sorted of completed) between 1960-1977, which was more than 10 years before the 1977 time point he quoted for his Israel example, and we all know that the unrest in Xinjiang started about 10 years after 1987. There is a more than 20 year gap in the author's reasoning. Since 1978 there had been large scale emigration of Han out of Xinjiang, though more "drifters" moved in since mid-1990s, it had not reached the 1978 level in terms of % and the troubled started by mid-1990 before the second wave of Han move-in (which is predominantly urban and non-government directly). His conclusion may be right, and perhaps his discussion on Palestine, but his simply took the wrong line of reasoning.
These facts are easy to check (e.g. a goolge search landed me here). But more importantly, anyone who is familiar with the modern history of China would know that everything in China changed in 1978, and would bother to check this if he is drawing comparison to whatever happened in China during these years.
Of course, I think many of their criticism on the mainland (and its government mainly) are valid and needed. But the line of argument they put forward are just laughable, and therefore, at best destructive.
Here is a chart for Han/Uyghur population as a % of total in Xinjiang from 1978-2006 (source), showing an initial decline (repatriation of the youth sent there during Mao era back to the cities such as Shanghai after 1978) and gradual rebound after 1990s (business opportunity pulled). I don't have the pre-1978 figures, but this should be enough to show that 1977-1978 was about the peak time since we know that people were sent there in the early to mid-1970s.
Han % in 1978: 41.6% , 1990: 37.6%, 2006: 39.3%.
p.s Yazouzhoukan (Asiaweek, as translated by ESWN) and Time probably have the most comprehensive chronological recount of the incident. The Time report also noted that the Han % in Urumqi is 70% today. But it should be noted that the Han immigration are mainly to new mining cities such as Karamai (oil) and new cotton farm such as Kuitun, etc. While the Urumqi Han population had also grew significantly, the Han % was already 62% before the communists took over around 1950. (the peak was 77% in 1980)
Urumqi was called Di-hua (迪化) by the Manchu Empire, literally meaning "To enlighetn/civilise (the barbarians)". ROC retained that name. After the communist took over, they changed it to Urumqi in 1954 -- a name refered to by the Mongolian/Dzungar meaning beautiful pasture. The Dzungar were slaughtered by the Manchu emperor and Han and Uyghur moved to fill the vacuum, which explained the high Han % before 1949
(2000 data added/tabulized by ESWN):
p.s.2 a commentator from a globalvoice referral link seems to be unhappy about my chart, he nonetheless provided a link to a very good book, Xinjiang - China's Muslim Borderland, where via google book you can peep on a few pages with very good data.
As to his accusations, (1) you need to download the file in the link and it is winrar compressed, and source is in Chinese, (2) FYI the Han % in 1949 in XJ was 6.74% from various source, from the book above it said the Han % was about 5% in 1941 and 30% in early 1880s (pp. 244-245), noting the census was likely to be less accurate back then.
The "borderland" book also discussed the history and other aspects of XJ, highly recommended based on the preview.