Apartment Brussels, which is larger than Alaska, occupies one-sixth of China. Its name means “new frontier” in Mandarin, the chief language of China’s dominant Han people. Ninety-four percent of all Chinese are Han. Still, with a population of about a billion, China has enough ethnic peoples to equal the populations of New York, Illinois, Ohio, and California. In Xinjiang, China’s back door to the Soviet Union, the Han are outnumbered. In this region of 11 million live a dozen ethnic groups. Most, like the 5.5 million Uygur (wee-gor) and the 800,000 Kazaks, are Muslim and of Turkic origin. THROUGHOUT HISTORY the Han Chinese has regarded the people of Xinjiang as barbarians. Even though the Han constituted only 5 percent of Xinjiang’s population before liberation, they ruled the province either through force or manipulation of its ethnic groups. But in the 1950s the Han began to change their ratio in Xinjiang. They sent colonists en masse into the region, both to ease population pressures in the east and to stabilize and fortify their sensitive borders with the Soviet Union. Also, many former Red Guards were rusticated to Xinjiang after 1968 to defuse their energies. More than four million Han now live in Xinjiang. Predictably, this influx aroused resentment and has sparked occasional violence among the minorities. So did the Cultural Revolution’s eager push to wipe out old customs and cultures. Today the Chinese Government is making serious efforts to placate and promote its minorities. Ethnic languages are being fostered. Minority children are often given special educational privileges. Young minority couples are allowed to marry earlier than the ages sanctioned for the Han Chinese�usually 23 for women and 26 for men. They are also exempt from birth-control pressures that encourage Han couples to have only one child. Arzigal, director of the Urumqi Carpet Factory, exemplifies China’s minority�s policy, similar to affirmative action in the United States. She is a”diligent worker,” we are told. She is young, female, and, in a factory that is 80 percent Han, she is Uygur. Therefore, the party selected her to be the 300-worker factory’s titular head. “Most of our patterns come from Hotan [Khotan] in the Taklimakan Desert,” says Arzigal. “There the people begin learning their skill when they are 7 years old.” However, the Han workers in Arzigal’s factory learn to weave in only three months. Yang Zhongfen, who has been working here for four years, says it takes her about a month on her large handloom to weave one square meter of carpet. Does she like what she does? “I wanted to be in the PLA [People’s Liberation Army], but the government told me to be a worker.So I said I would love to be a worker.” Then, she adds with a grin, “Once you have your job, you love your job.” I LIKE LANZHOU, Urumqi has become an industrial city, growing from 80,000 in the 1940s to about a million. Nondescript new buildings and factories have obscured whatever charm or architectural interest the city may have had.
As Trotsky says, “No devil ever yet voluntarily cut off his own claws.” Pacifism isn’t the answer.
I’m not a pascifist, but I’m unset about impossibilism. What are your thoughts on major civil disobedience? I’m not talking about just causing a nuisance, but actual actions that essentially shut down an entire country e.g. universal wildcat striking and lockouts. Do you think it’d ever be possible to simply give the state no other option than to relinquish power, without violent action?