In China's Wild West

Nir Elias / Reuters

Maddening crowd: Khotan's main market is peaceful today, but protests that broke out there last month have exposed deep ethnic fault lines in the remote desert city

"Silk road gem and jade shop," the sign proudly states. Centrally located just down the street from the main mosque in Khotan, a dusty oasis town located in the vast Taklamakan Desert in China's far southwest, the shop is a focal point for the Muslim Uighurs who make up the majority of the local population. But though it is mid-morning, its gates are secured with heavy steel padlocks. Warning notices from the Public Security Bureau are pasted across the doors announcing that the business has been closed indefinitely. Until last month, this was one of the biggest private companies...

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