Who are the Uyghurs, and Why is China so Afraid of them? (Updated 2024)

The conflict that is happening in China for the past centuries is likely related to the Uyghur minority. If you know anything regarding the country’s social policies in recent years, it has been largely connected to the serious problem of mistreating these people. China receives criticism from governments and activists worldwide for its racism and persecution of Uyghurs.

New York Times and the International Consortium of Investigate Journalists exposed China’s government for their aggressive media campaign, where million or members of large Muslim minority “Uyghurs” are detained.

According to the reports that used leaked documents, China has been making coercive workings of the camps in the northwestern region of Xinjiang. That event has sharpened criticism of China’s ruling Communist Party.

The criticism on China has been continuously escalating for the past year as the United States House Representative overwhelmingly supported a bill that could impose sanctions on Chinese officials overseeing the internment drive.

But who are the Uyghurs? Why is China so afraid of these people?




In history, Uyghurs are Turkic-speaking Muslims. They came from the Central Asian region, and they are known as the largest settlers in China’s autonomous Xinjian region northwest. The Uyghurs are just one of the Muslim minorities that have been persecuted in Xinjiang. The others are the Kazakhs, Uzbeks, Tajiks, Hui, and Kyrgyz.

As the region’s name suggests, Uyghurs have their own governance and autonomy. However, just like Tibet, Xinjiang is a tightly controlled region of China.

Uyghurs can also be found in other countries, including Uzbekistan, Kyrgystan, and Kazakhstan. There are also Uyghurs who live in Australia, with an estimated 3,000 Uyghurs.

The conflict has long begun in China as their president, Xi Jinping, had a hard time approaching Muslim minorities living in Xinjiang. Xi Jinping has his issues approaching Muslim minorities, especially the Uyghurs. In recent years, China’s government forcibly installed sophisticated surveillance technology in the Xinjian region, and there has been much police surging across the region.

Muslim minorities in Xinjiang are arbitrarily arrested and imprisoned. The reports say an estimated one million Muslim Uyghurs have been detained in China’s government called “Vocational training centers.”

These detention centers are purposely built by China’s government, one of those that resemble high-security jails. According to the reports, the ABC investigation reportedly found 28 detention camps. The camps had expanded and built across Xinjiang for the purpose of China’s program of subjugation.

There is solid evidence that China has been performing human rights violations over the past years. Inside the built centers, people were forced to do labor, and there are reports of deaths in custody.

The Uyghur movement members have been consistently requesting “proof of life” from Beijing over disappeared family members in Xinjiang. According to the Guardian, an estimated 80 percent of Uyghurs in Australia have a relative that disappeared from the camps.

The Uyghurs – Facts

  • Ancient people that live in both China and Turkey
  • These Muslim minorities don’t look like traditional Chinese, but they have Asian biological roots
  • Uyghurs live in Xinjiang, a massive province consuming about half of the northwest quadrant of China
  • Estimated 12 million Muslim Minorities “Uyghurs” lives in China
  • Chinese Government’s perspective, Uyghurs are mostly Muslims

Reasons why China is so afraid of the Uyghurs

  • Brutality happened in the early summer of 2009 where there are about 200 people in Ürümqi Province were killed in riots by primarily young Uyghur men.
  • Domestic military police above the local police, known as the “Peoples Military Police,” responded to the event. They killed an unknown number of Uyghurs in that region. This is the trigger point of having persecution and an escalating cycle of violence towards China’s government and the Uyghurs.
  • In the year 2014, knife-wielding Uyghur separatists have murdered 31 people in the city of Ürümqi train station.
  • The newly-elected Chinese president, “President Xi Jinping,” was starting to consolidate his power, and he publicly announced that the Muslim minorities, especially Uyghurs, are China’s enemies. Xi Jinping describes that the Uyghurs are “infection” and a “cancer” by Chinese politicians, media, and Han Chinese.

What is the Chinese Government doing to the Uyghurs?

  • By the power of their president Xi Jinping, the Chinese government forcibly put about 10 percent of the Uyghurs into detention camps. The Chinese government called the detention centers “reeducation facilities,” but it looks like prisons for the Uyghurs. People who enter the center are mostly young and worldly, such as businessmen, professors, etc. The Chinese government has seen a threat from these people who have western world democratic freedoms. They see it as a risk of their dictatorships.
  • The Chinese government often decides what Uyghur’s jobs and where they live. The Uyghurs have recently no freedom in choosing where they want to live or what they want for a job.
  • Since 2009, people living outside their native Xianxang province have experience cruelty, violence, and persecution. Many of them are forced to return to their province. The Chinese government is making this persecution so that the Uyghurs are forced to return to Xianxang, where the Uyghurs can be easily managed for surveillance and observation.
  • The Chinese government has recently installed one of the most controlling features, semi-permeable ‘real Chines’ citizens in Uyghur homes. It is strange how the Chinese government wants to have surveillance from these people. ‘Real Chinese’ are those people that come from the majority of ‘Han ethnicity’ that the Chines government considered. They are known to be loyal to President Xi Jinping. This is to inform that they conform to ‘real Chinese’ models of behavior.


The persecution, rapid and forced assimilation, discrimination, violation, and other acts that oppress human rights in the world, not just in China, should be stopped and addressed immediately. The world government should impose its power to help people who are screaming for justice.

A fair living that anyone should have must be achieved, and it can only be done if high authorities around the world would help those who are persecuted.

The conflict between the Chinese government and the Uyghurs should be addressed immediately!

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