Demand an end to Uyghur oppression
China first conquered the Uyghur homeland in the mid-18th century and ruled it as a dependency for a century, before being pushed back by local uprisings in the 1860s.
We only see the type of colonialism generally associated with European states at the end of the 19th century. The Qing Dynasty conquered the region again in the 1880s and began a “civilizing mission” which included the colonization of the Han. According to most accounts, this was a failure and the Qing Dynasty fell in 1911, followed by a fragile Republican government that inherited Qing territory. Throughout this period, the region was loosely controlled by Han governors who had tenuous relations with the central authorities and ruled it like their own small feudal empire.
After the Chinese Revolution of 1949, it was not known what would happen to the region. It could have ended up as the Mongolian People’s Republic, an independent Soviet satellite state. But eventually it was withdrawn into the People’s Republic of China [PRC].
Since 1949, the PRC has always sought to integrate this region, but there has not always been the capacity to do so. Initially, he tried the Soviet model of co-opting local elites and governing through them. It ended in failure in the late 1950s and then you had a series of chaotic mass social campaigns under Mao that did not allow the state to focus on that particular region.
It wasn’t until the early 1980s that the state really started to think, “How do we make this region part of China?” and “How do we define our nation? Is it a multicultural nation? A nation state?
There were a lot of very progressive ideas within the Chinese Communist Party in general and much of it positively affected the Uyghur region, including discussions on whether the region should have more substantial autonomy, a greater role for local people in government, etc. But it started to end with the Tiananmen Square massacre and, in particular, the fall of the Soviet Union.
From that moment on, the CCP began to look at what had happened to the Soviet Union and determine how to prevent it from happening in China. They mistakenly identified “ethnic self-determination” as one of the causes of the fall of the Soviet Union and began to target any sign of a desire for self-determination – what they have called throughout the years. 1990s “separatism”.
So the colonial process of the settlers didn’t really start until the 90s, which makes it a lot shorter than it seems if you are talking for the first time about this region becoming part of modern China in the mid-18th century. .