China's War in the West

Peter Parks / AFP / Getty Images

The crying game
Uighur women seeking arrested family members grappled with riot police on July 7

Xinjiang is China's most exotic region. A vast, remote landmass three times the size of Texas and studded with mountains and deserts, the province once stood at the crossroads of the ancient Silk Road. Its capital, Urumqi, is far closer to Kabul than it is to Beijing. Xinjiang's population of 20 million is one of China's most diverse, with Uighurs, Kazakhs, Mongols, Tajiks and ever growing numbers of Han Chinese. Beneath the desert sands, reserves of oil, minerals and natural gas abound.

Xinjiang is also China's most troubled region. The Uighurs, who...

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