Archive for the ‘Chinese Ethnic Minorities’ Category


In July, 20 Muslim Uyghurs escaped China. Citing threats of torture, they hoped to attain asylum in Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital. Beijing deemed them “criminals.”

On Monday, Cambodian officials sent the Uyghurs home. China incentivized this arrangement with 1.2 billion dollars of aid and loans. This figure seems especially large when considering China assistance to Cambodia over the last 18 years totals almost 9.5 million dollars.

This decision concerns foreign leaders. It violates international refugee laws. The refugees entered Cambodia legally with visas. Rebiya Kadeer, a significant Uyghur leader, added, “Governments of countries neighboring China are reluctant to take any action that would displease Chinese authorities, leaving Uyghurs nowhere to flee.” UN refugee experts are currently exploring potential solutions.

Discontent with Chinese governmental control is intensifying, particularly in Xinjiang. Uyghur riots this past summer and a subsequent communication breakdown represent an extreme, but social unrest is generally increasing throughout China. A rise in crime has accompanied their massive economic expansion. In the first ten months of 2009, China saw a 15% climb in crime compared to last year, or four million cases. While many citizens choose to challenge governmental rule, a growing population hopes to flee their country.


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Photographer Chen Haiwen and a group of colleagues spent a year journey to virtually every region of China. They hoped to paint, or rather “sketch” a picture of minority life. Their product, “Harmonious China: A Sketch of China’s 56 Ethnicities,” contains just a few of the 5.7 million images they captured on camera. It covers all 56 government-recognized Chinese ethnic minorities.

Click here to see an example for each minority group:

English Website


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