Why Xinjiang has been a touchy subject in China for centuries

For more than a decade, increasing international attention has been focused on China’s treatment of Xinjiang’s Uighur population.

While Beijing is wary of all forms of separatism – Hong Kong and Tibet being its other major concerns in this regard – maintaining an iron grip on Xinjiang is of utmost importance. The Xinjiang region’s  natural-resource deposits, strategic location in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which involves the creation of economic and trade corridors, and links to the physical defense of China are the most obvious reasons for Beijing to want to keep a stronghold in the region.

But the appeal of Islamic and Turkic nationalism in Xinjiang has also highlighted the difficulty China faces in managing internal stability without upsetting the wider Islamic and Turkic worlds.

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