Full Text: Historical Witness to Ethnic Equality, Unity and Development in Xinjiang
September 24,2015   By:Xinhua
I. Implementing the System of Ethnic Regional Autonomy
Located in China's northwest, Xinjiang was documented as forming part of China's territories as early as 60 BC, and went on to become an integral part of the unified and multiethnic country. In light of the actual local conditions, the central governments in successive dynastic periods adopted various different forms of governance in this region. During the process of creating and developing a unified and multiethnic country, all the ethnic peoples of Xinjiang developed close ties and became integrated as one.
Known for their hard working, wisdom and bravery, the ethnic groups of Xinjiang created a distinctive multiethnic culture, which became an important part of overall Chinese culture. Xinjiang also became a key gateway connecting China with the rest of the world and disseminating diverse cultures.
After the First Opium War (1840-1842), China was gradually reduced to a semi-colonial and semi-feudal society, and the ethnic peoples of Xinjiang suffered oppression under the foreign aggressors, feudal forces and exploiting classes, falling to the bottom of society.
By the late 1940s, most of the arable land in the farming areas of southern Xinjiang, Ili and Urumqi had been seized by a handful of landlords, leaving very little to the majority of peasants. In the remote villages inhabited by Uygur peasants in southern Xinjiang, a small number of serf owners' estates existed in relatively complete form. The overlords of these estates owned their serfs from head to toe, and the serfs were forced to work their masters' lands without payment and to perform all kinds of domestic chores. In the pastoral areas of northern Xinjiang, remnants of the feudal clan system were evident in that the nobility and the clan chiefs not only held large herds of livestock, but also enjoyed all kinds of feudal privileges.
Before the founding of the People's Republic of China, Xinjiang lagged far behind the rest of the country in economic and social development, and the ethnic peoples there lived in dire poverty and were deprived of basic human rights.
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