Note: This post is a selective and partial translation of an article written by a second generation Han “settler” born and raised in Xinjiang. That article is titled “一个兵团二代的网文：告诉你真实的乌鲁木齐” (A net article by a 2nd generation Bingtuan kid: let me tell you the real Urumqi). It is a long and detailed account of the author’s memory of growth of and growing up in Urumqi as well as his perspectives on when and how race relationship between Uighur and Han deteriorated. It is a highly recommended read.
Update: Tian, via a comment at Telegraph, provided a short summary of the article referred above. That summary is appended at the end of this post.
Background: As already noted by berlinf earlier, there is a ridiculous but official policy announced by the CCP in 1984. Commonly referred as 二少一宽 (two restraints and one leniency), it basically orders officials to go easy on minority criminals by being restrained in pursuing and prosecuting crimes committed by minorities and treating them leniently.
One more note: As obvious as it may be, I perhaps should nevertheless state a disclaimer explicitly: This post only looks at one writer’s aspect of a particular issue among many contributing factors causing the ongoing tragedy in China. I am focusing on this matter at this moment only because I was asking myself a question: what exactly caused the Han workers in the deadly Shaoguan brawl to believe the rumors of rapes committed by the Uighur workers and subsequent inaction by factory and local officials.
[The changes in race relationship] mainly started in the 80s. The government initiated comprehensive preferential policies towards minorities, from job quotas, bonus points for college entrance exam, to two restraints and one leniency (TROL). While these policies might be beneficial to some individuals, they are damaging to minority races as a whole. It is particularly true regarding the TROL policy. It should be noted that there are bad apples in any race. A people can develop as a whole only if there is some mechanism to help purge the bad apples. But if such a purging mechanism is artificially reduced or exempted based on race considerations, it would only benefit the bad apples and damage that race as a whole. While in debates it is commonly expressed that such a policy is unfair to Han people, there is another angle to look at it. If you go to Xinjiang and look around, you will see how, after many years of enforcement, this policy has completely taken away Uighurs’ ability to function socially.
In Xinjiang, there is something about holidays. The Uighurs would take days off for both Han and Uighur oriented holidays but Han people would not enjoy Uighur holidays. One could say it is unfair to Han. But this reveals something particularly shocking: Han people can continue work and function without Uighurs. That is, the presence of Uighurs are not needed in their jobs.
In fact, [the preferential job placement and quota system or Uighurs] while supposedly benefiting the individuals, marginalized them collectively. I think such affirmative actions are counter productive in many countries that practice them. Such preferential policies in essence emphasizes a people’s (perceived) weakness and causes the social majority to associate the (perceived) weakness with that people instead of treating them as individuals. This is true in Xinjiang. As an enterprise takes in new employees, the race issue is considered first and foremost. However, all enterprises would only hire [minorities] up to the quota point but no more. Say, if the policy calls for 15%, then 15% of all positions will be allocated accordingly and treated as overhead. Back in the days of planned economy, this policy at least works as intended. The problem is that now the economy and jobs are dominated by private enterprises. These private companies wouldn’t heed such official policies unless there are something in exchange from the government. [The hiring of 800 Uighur workers by that toy factory in Shaoguan] is a case in point. However, after that deadly brawl two weeks ago between Han and Uighur workers in Shaoguan, I doubt any enterprise would ever considering recruiting from Xinjiang again. After all, companies are in the business of making money instead of looking for trouble.
The TROL policy created strong impressions among Han people of forced sales by Uighur vendors [because those offending vendors have no consequence to worry about]. In turn, such impressions cause Han people to avoid doing any business with Uighurs.
A law is evil if it gives people incentive to act evil. … And TROL is exactly one such evil law.
The following is a short summary of the original article by Tian.
1. As official policy, Han soldiers and engineering corps were dispatched to XinJiang for defense and development. Many decided to stay after end of tour of duty. As a result, some districts in Urumqi are still named something like “Engineering Corp 2″.
2. After the 60’s (1966 to be exact), official encouragement of Han migration to XinJiang ended. However some trickles still come, but most of the Chinese there now are descendants the original soldiers and engineers.
3. Han economies of scale, (and business networks) decimated many of the traditional Uighur handicraft and trading business.
4. Government’s preferential employment (15% quota – including management positions in state owned enterprises), educational, family planning policies caused resentments amongst the Hans. Uighers need not show up for work for paycheck.
5. Government also has issued guideline as part of the 1980 reform for “two-less-one-least” towards Uighurs: less arrests, less executions, least penalty. This encouraged the Uighurs to treat Hans more roughly.
Conclusion: it is the bad policies the government which worsen the relationship between the two ethnicities. Uighurs suffered deminished livelihood opportunities increasingly took their frustrations out on the Hans, culminating in the recent tragedies.
1. Government needs to thoroughly reform its policies to equalize treatment for everyone.
2. Providing more programs to help Uighurs with cope with a changing environment as a result of changing socio-economic dynamics.