Well, after too much time between posts, I am finally back to the blog. Since the last update I spent several weeks on vacation in India, where I saw the same Chinese goods in open air markets that are sold in the pedestrian underpasses in Bishkek. (What I would give to find out who is importing them and how!)
The ever-kind Amy E. from the Penn museum (who set me up with this blog platform) was kind enough to point me towards a wonderful article in the New York Times that outlines that ways that Kashgar is changing in light of the Chinese government’s efforts to push forward internal development (or same might say colonialism). Unlike some of the Time’s reporting on Xinjiang(the officially Uighur Autonomous Region), this piece adeptly characterizes the relationship between ethnic, political, and economic tension in the region.
The economic aid being provided to Kashgar is meant to stimulate the economy and bring Xinjiang up to speed with Eastern China’s boom times. When asked about the prospects for Kashgar’s development, a local economist quoted by the Times states “The region’s best hope… is to turn Kashgar into a transit hub for Chinese goods heading to Central Asia and a manufacturing zone using raw goods coming the other way.”
Kashgar is where I plan on being based from August through December of this year. In preparation for my research there, I have started working everyday with a tutor in Mandarin. I am already proficient in Uighur, but if I want to be able to easily navigate Xinjiiang’s bureaucracy, a command of Chinese will be essential.
(Special thanks to A. in Munich for compelling me to get back to posting.)