Demographics have always been a tactical element of the campaign to pacify the region. In 1949, when the Communists declared the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, there were just 300,000 Han Chinese in Xinjiang. Today, the number of Han has grown to 7.5 million, just over 40 percent of the region’s population. The percentage of Uighurs has fallen to 45 percent, or about 8.3 million.
But any sense of bitterness has faded. “We were serving the motherland,” he said, waving off the adulation of a visitor. “The glory belongs to the party. I’m just one drop of water in the ocean.”
I know it can be interpreted as successful brainwashing by government propaganda, but when such words are from a 94-years old, who fought the war, left his hometown, and have helped built an oasis out of nothing, it is more than just reiteration of what the government has instilled. The soul has been tested and the words make a resounding voice in me. The kind of dedication and submission of oneself to a higher good is something my generation can hardly understand. Everyone lives for a purpose, and for him, the party is the higher purpose. He certainly fulfilled that purpose well.