An excerpt from Bloodline ,
a novel by Uyghur author Patigül set in Xinjiang
Translated from the Chinese
by Natascha Bruce
Aku Wuwu (阿库乌雾), a bilingual poet who writes and
performs in both Mandarin and Nuoso (a language of the Yi people), advocates a new-fangled form of Chinese that more fully expresses his people’s non-Han culture. This
For the full interview in Chinese, click here.
Can Literary Imports Change Chinese Perceptions of Africa? : My piece on AfroLit in Chinese is up now at Sixth Tone:
Since the founding of the modern Chinese state in 1949, there have been three waves of African literary imports. The first, which emerged in the 1980s, was ideologically driven. Empowered by
Beijing’s policy of promoting solidarity with the Third World and newly independent nations, state-run imprints like the Foreign Literature Publishing House translated and published a substantial number of African works such as those by the Nigerian writer Wole Soyinka, the Kenyan novelist Ngugi wa Thiong’o, the Senegalese poet (and former president) Léopold Sédar Senghor, and the Algerian writer Mouloud Mammeri. Anthologies of translated African folktales for children even appeared.
To learn about the 2ndand now the 3rd— most recent wave — click here.
In Navigating Xinjiang’s Security Checkpoints, Darren Byler, anthropology PhD candidate at the University of Washington, relates his recent experiences in northwest China:
Over the course of a week in cities across Xinjiang, I went through dozens and dozens of checkpoints. I saw young Uighur officers berate elderly Uighurs for not showing their IDs. I saw numerous checkpoints at the sides of roads, where officers appeared to target young Uighur men and women. During my entire trip, I did not see a Han individual produce his or her ID, or even pause for a moment to wonder if they should.
At some checkpoints, officers also asked young Uighurs to give them the passwords to open their smartphones. At these checkpoints, the officers looked at the spyware app Clean Net Guard (Jingwang Weishi) that all Uighurs are now required to install on their phones. The officers matched the registration of the phone to the ID of the person, and they also checked if any alerts had been issued by the app. The app scans the content on the phone and content sent from the phone for any material deemed “extremist” or “separatist.” These types of checkpoints are particularly harrowing for young Uighurs. Evidence from these scans can be used to detain them indefinitely in the reeducation camps.
In China: Big Data Fuels Crackdown in Minority Region, Human Rights Watch reports on how hi-tech is being used to systematically monitor citizens’ behavior in Xinjiang, one of the PRC’s most multiethnic regions:
Since August 2016, the Xinjiang Bureau of Public Security has posted procurement notices confirming the establishment of the “Integrated Joint Operations Platform” (IJOP, 一体化联合作战平台), a system that receives data on individuals from many different sources. Kashgar Prefecture appears to be one of the first areas where the system is complete and in regular use.
These notices reveal that the IJOP gathers information from multiple sources or “sensors.” One source is CCTV cameras, some of which have facial recognition or infrared capabilities (giving them “night vision”). Some cameras are positioned in locations police consider sensitive: entertainment venues, supermarkets, schools, and homes of religious figures. Another source is “wifi sniffers,” which collect the unique identifying addresses of computers, smartphones, and other networked devices. The IJOP also receives information such as license plate numbers and citizen ID card numbers from some of the region’s countless security checkpoints and from “visitors’ management systems” in access-controlled communities. The vehicle checkpoints transmit information to IJOP, and “receive, in real time, predictive warnings pushed by the IJOP” so they can “identify targets… for checks and control.”
The IJOP also draws on existing information, such as one’s vehicle ownership, health, family planning, banking, and legal records, according to official reports. Police and local officials are also required to submit to IJOP information on any activity they deem “unusual” and anything “related to stability” they have spotted during home visits and policing. One interviewee said that possession of many books, for example, would be reported to IJOP, if there is no ready explanation, such as having teaching as one’s profession.
In Off the Plateau, Lowell Cook reviews a new collection of 21 short stories penned in Tibetan, Chinese and English by Tibetan writers inside and outside the inauspiciously dubbed “TAR” — the Tibetan Administrative Region in the PRC.
Some of the stories “evoke how Tibet is not bound by a single language or region, and also exists abroad in exile,” notes Cook. “In Pema Bhum’s story ‘Tips,’ three Tibetan friends who have resettled in the United States reflect on their lives and on Tibetan issues over a smoke one sunny afternoon”:
We lost our country to the Chinese. Even here, even in America, we work our asses off for the Chinese. And the wages that we get for that, we spend on Chinese ass. We just can’t get away from the Chinese, can we?
A recent study by Sun Yat-Sen University’s School of Communication found that the number of China’s investigative journalists has declined by more than half since 2011, and that a majority of those who remain say they intend to change careers. Researchers found that the number of investigative journalists in China plummeted by 57.5 percent over the last six years. The reasons cited: low pay and poor chances for promotion. Add to that widespread censorship and official interference with news media, and it’s not hard to understand the difficult plight of China’s investigative journalists.
Over at The Diplomat, Mercy Kuo interviews Darren Byler, an anthropology doctoral candidate at the University of Washington, about how the PRC government is building a database on ethnic Muslim peoples in Xinjiang (Uyghur Biodata Collection in China):
Briefly explain why China is collecting Uyghur DNA data, according to a recent report.
The state is collecting biometric data from the Uyghur population as part of a new
identification card system. Along with DNA collection, they are creating a registry of fingerprints, blood types, voice patterns, facial imagery – all of which will be correlated to ethnicity, employment, gender, age, foreign travel history, household registration, individual and family criminal history, and religious practice.
Since the beginning of the “People’s War on Terror” in the spring of 2014, the Uyghur population in southern Xinjiang has been subject to a number of experiments in policing. The first passbook ID system that was implemented in Xinjiang was called a People’s Convenience Card (bianminka) system. The vast majority of Uyghurs, particularly the more than 80 percent that are classified as rural, were not permitted to get this “good citizen” card and thus were prevented from leaving their home counties by militarized checkpoints. The state discontinued this passbook system in 2016 and has since installed ID checkpoints throughout every town and county in southern Xinjiang. The new ID system will track the movement and communication of Uyghurs throughout every aspect of daily life. In effect, the Chinese state is weaponizing biomedicine to target and control a population of 11 million Uyghurs.
First enfeoffed by Qing Emperor Qianlong in 1758, this Uyghur dynasty in northeastern Xinjiang eventually boasted a line of eleven monarchs, popularly known as the “King of Kuqa” (库车王). Kuqa was an ancient Buddhist kingdom located on the branch of the Silk Road that ran along the northern edge of the Taklamakan Desert, but to most Chinese today, the term signifies the city of Kuche. The last in the line, Dawut Makosuti (达吾提·麦合苏提), passed away in 2014.
Over the centuries, the various sovereigns met with different fates depending upon palace
intrigue and politics of the era. According to Chinese-language Wikipedia (庫車回部多羅郡王), for instance, the 9th sovereign (買甫思) reportedly died in prison in 1941.
Dawut Makosuti himself, a member of the government during the 1940s, was officially dethroned in 1949 with the establishment of the People’s Republic, and demoted to the more humble position of “translator.” Things got worse during most of the fifties, when he was posted to Aksu and underwent “Reform through Labor” (劳改). His fate in the Cultural Revolution is not annotated in Wikipedia — hopefully Patigül’s novel will shed some light on those years! — but in 1984 he was rehabilitated, and designated Deputy Chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. In 2004, his palace (库车王府) was refurbished by the government, and he lived there briefly before his death.
A seminar to promote discussion of the soon-to-be published novel (柯卡之恋) will be held in Yuyao, Zhejiang (浙江余姚) on September 11. It was previously partially published in Jiangnan magazine (江南) under the title, 最后的王. In attendance will be the female author, Patigül (帕蒂古丽), who was raised in a multiethnic Xinjiang village by her Hui mother and Uyghur father, and speaks fluent Uyghur, Kazakh and Mandarin. Her tumultuous, semi-autobiographical family saga, portrayed in moving detail in One Hundred Year Bloodline (百年血脉), has been translated into English by Natascha Bruce, and should be published within 2017 by Chinese Translation & Publishing House.
Patigül’s piece on leaving Xinjiang for life in Zhejiang, Life of a Mimic, also touches boldly on sensitive interethnic issues in China today in a way that simply cannot be matched by mainstream Han authors.