By Taylor Butch
April 30, 2015
Although Chinese President Xi Jinping’s first official visit to Pakistan was ‘postponed’ last year, Xi successfully completed a two-day tour April 21-22, 2015 that focused on further strengthening bilateral relations between the visiting nation and Pakistan on a number of essential political, security and infrastructure issues. One topic of prime focus was the Chinese western province Xinjiang, an incredibly strategic, culturally rich area, and home to millions of Muslims.
Significance of Xinjiang
What is the significance of Xinjiang to China? The simple answer is the tremendous strategic importance the western territory plays in Beijing’s political, geographic, economic and cultural landscape. By holding this area that accounts for about one-sixth of China’s land, China can influence internal political unrest and maintain rule. Xinjiang is also a vital part of Beijing’s energy strategy. Much talk has been made of the secessionist movement in China about Tibet and Taiwan, but far less discussion is given to the secessionist movement of Xinjiang made by the predominately Muslim, ethnic Uyghur population. During the past 1,300 years, the Muslim population in China has rebelled against ruling authority and Beijing has seen spikes in violence during the late 1990s, 2000s and present. Fully aware of the implications that such conflict could inspire others from within its borders if it was to grant Xinjiang independence, China has opted for another path.