Xinjiang: Both a happy and idyllic land of dancing minorities, but also a region plagued by terrorists, according to Chinese media

(Photo: Flickr / DPerstin)Karakoram Highway, Karakul Lake, Xinjiang, China.

It is common for modern society's growing penchant for violence and riots that governments and official state media would put a nation, place, or region on its "blacklist," which designates the area as dangerous and should not be entered. Not quite as common is to portray the same place as both a place to visit and a place to run away from.

Xinjiang is one such place in China, a large and vast area that has been the attention of the international media in the past for repeated violent events. The nation's officials have labeled these events as "terrorism" by the region's "separatist forces," which is actually code for the region's largest ethnic group, radical and extremist Islamic Ulghurs, MSN reported.

These Ulghurs have been blamed by the capital of Beijing for terrorism attacks such as an attack at a railway station by people armed with machetes, an event that resulted in 29 people killed and 143 injured.

But while the nation's media paints the inhabitants in a bad light, propaganda also tells a story of Xinjiang as a nicer place of immense natural beauty and splendor, one that is filled with beautiful artistic tapestry, colorful costumes, festivities filled with dancing and other customs.

"Minority people here are good at singing and dancing."

"They turn this part of the world into a happy and harmonious world."

"Xinjiang is a sea of song and dance."

Those are just some of the lines that state-sanctioned media say about the region while calling the inhabitants terrorists and extremists.

This two-faced portrayal is due to the intention of showing that the region is "dangerous and violent" while at the same time "helpless" and in need of the government to run the show for them

"This is the typical Han orientalism towards Uighurs and other ethnic minorities," said U.S. Frostburg State University Xijiang expert Haiyun Ma.

The concept of "Orientalism" has been discussed in the 1978 book of the same name by Edward Said.

According to Said, "Orientalism can be discussed ... as the corporate institution for dealing with the Orient — dealing with it by making statements about it, authorizing views of it, describing it, teaching it, settling it, ruling over it: in short, Orientalism is a Western style for dominating, restructuring, and having authority for the Orient."

This is apparently what the state is doing to the Xinjiang region, with Ma saying that what the stat is saying is that "[the Xinjiang minorities] are socially, culturally, politically backward, that's why you need all these so-called laodage (big brother) Han Chinese to help them."

At the same time, the nation's scholarship on the region has become industrialized to focus anti-terrorism studies and creating projects that solely depend on the state for funding.

"There is an ideological campaign against Xinjiang," said Ma.

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