Xinjiang embraces diversity, showcases multi-ethnic harmony

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By Liu Xin, Cao Siqi
& Yu Jincui

Xinjiang has been a multi-ethnic region since ancient times. Many different ethnic groups have entered Xinjiang over different periods, bringing technology, cultures and ideas, folk customs, and other aspects of their lives into the region. The region’s history is one of economic and social development through exchanges and integration.
Currently inhabited by 56 ethnic groups, Xinjiang is one of the provincial-level administrative regions with the most ethnic groups in China. The Uygur, Han, Kazakh and Hui groups have populations of 1 million and above, and the Kirgiz and Mongol have populations of over 100,000. Today, Xinjiang, home to various ethnic groups, is an integral part of the Chinese nation.
The ethnic groups live together alongside each other. They are members of the same big family. In this family of the Chinese nation, the ethnic groups in Xinjiang are like brothers and sisters who work and live together and help each other out. They have guarded against foreign aggression, opposed separatist activities, and safeguarded national unification.
While busy cutting grapes and putting them into baskets, Zhang Xinbao and Memet Hanbdu chatted happily about this year’s harvest. Other members of their two families were also working in the same vineyard, as it has become a ritual for them to help each other harvest and transfer grapes almost every year.
Born and raised in Qiaoketamu village of Turpan city in Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, 53-year-old Zhang and 56-year-old Memet are “relatives,” or to use their words, “brothers” two people without kinship but with close ties. They have known each other since childhood, played together and even attended each other’s weddings.
“We have known each other for decades and every year when festivals come, including the Spring Festival and Eid al-Fitr, we go to either his or my house to celebrate. Xiaobao is good at making dumplings,” Memet said with a smile and calling Zhang by his childhood nickname. “We all planted grapes this year, 14 mu (0.93 hectares) for me and nine mu for my brother Memet. If the market is good, we can earn more than 200,000 yuan ($29,291) this year!” Zhang said with a smile on his face.
“All ethnic groups must embrace each other tightly like seeds of a pomegranate.” These are the words on a particularly eye-catching slogan at the highway toll station entering Hoxud county, Bayingolin Mongol Autonomous Prefecture in the southeast of Xinjiang.
The county has a total population of approximately 66,200 people, of whom 24,000 are from ethnic groups including the Uygur, Mongolian, Hui and others. The county was recommended by Bayingolin as a demonstration county of national unity and progress in 2020. “We have always taken strengthening the unity of people of all ethnic groups as strategic and fundamental work,” said Zhang Feng, secretary of the Party committee of Hoxud county.
Villagers in Tewulike town, Hoxud county, held an ethnic unity party on September 8, the first after the latest wave of the epidemic outbreak in Xinjiang ended. A group of people from the Mongolian ethnic group sang My Country and Me, a popular song among the Chinese public that expresses patriotism. They sang it in the Mongolian language, drawing warm applause. He Dong, secretary of the Party committee of Tewulike town, told the Global Times that these kinds of parties are usually organized once a month. “Villagers who perform and watch both like it very much. Everyone enjoys it together,” He said.
In Tewulike town, people from different ethnic groups live and work together, and have established deep bonds through helping each other. Some 31 years ago when Hu Shounian, an ethnic Han from Sichuan Province, migrated to Xinjiang with his daughter and grandson, he lived in a shabby tent in front of Hetiram Eli’s house. Although Hetiram’s family was not rich at that time, she and her husband let Hu’s daughter and grandson live in their house and use their kitchen for cooking. Since then, the two families from different ethnicities have developed a close friendship, supported each other in difficult times, and maintained close relations to this day.
Hetiram, now retired, told the Global Times that when she was working, her colleagues would take care of her children if she got ill. “We help each other when there are difficulties, regardless of ethnicity,” Hetiram said. Shalkjan Yiming, a 74-year-old Uygur, raises the Chinese national flag during every major festival in his small courtyard.
His neighbors from various ethnic groups gather there, saluting the flag and singing the national anthem. On September 13, Shalkjan shared his story with a visiting Global Times reporter. On October 1, 2009, he made an important decision: he would raise the Chinese national flag in his courtyard to fight against secessionists.
-The Daily Mail-Global Times News Exchange Item