Thursday, July 30, 2009

A Poetry Friday Video: Two Poems for Jack

I have spent quite a bit of time in the past two weeks learning how to make videos with photographs that I have on my computer. It's been fun figuring out how to put a video together with pictures, text, music, effects, and transitions--via the trial and error method. I'm learning!

For Poetry Friday this week, I created a special "doggy" video with two poems for my daughter's dog Jack, a rascally yellow lab. He's a lot of fun to be around!

Here is my first Poetry Friday video: Two Poems for Jack

At Political Verses, I have another Sarah Palin post. It includes a link to William Shatner performing an excerpt from Palin’s farewell speech as poetry on the Conan O’Brien Show. Here’s the link to that post— Sarah Palin: A Farewell Speech and Poem.

At Blue Rose Girls, I have a poem by Paul Zimmer entitled Dog Music.

Sylvia Vardell is doing the Poetry Friday Roundup this week at Poetry for Children.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

At Political Verses: Another Post about Sarah Palin

I have a new post up at Political Verses. It's about one of my favorite subjects: Sarah Palin. The post includes a link to William Shatner performing an excerpt from Palin's farewell speech on the Conan O'Brien Show.

Here's the link: Sarah Palin: A Farewell Speech and Poem

arithmetic on Chinese GDP growth

Often we are perplexed by the China export growth number, and its GDP growth. While these statistics have their faults, the trends are indicative. But how do we reconcile between the various data? Are they at least internally consistent? Here is a good exercise.

From the Big picture

A guest author did some 'simple math' and concluded that Chinese non-export economy grew an incredulous 23% in June
  • Here is what we know: exports constitute about 35% of the Chinese economy and they dropped over 20% in June, while the Chinese economy (GDP) grew 8%. So the “X” is the growth rate of 65% of Chinese non-export economy.

    0.35 x (-20%) + 0.65 x (X%) = 8%. If you were to solve for X you get 23%.

Sounds good for amateurs who use GDP a lot without really knowing the GDP definition like us. A commentator slamian weighed in:
  • GDP = C + I + G + NET EXPORT
  • And NET EXPORT = Export minus Import
  • While the June export went down by 21.2%, the import also dropped by 13.2%.
  • 2009 June NET EXPORT = 95.41 – 87. 16 = $7.98 b
    2008 June NET EXPORT = 95.41 / (1-0.214) – 87.16 / (1-0.132) = $20.63 b
  • Therefore the decrease in NET EXPORT should be (7.98 – 20.63)/20.63 = - 60%!

  • NET EXPORT as a proportion of EXPORT 2009 = 7.98 / 95.41 = 8.36%
    Assuming the 35% quoted is correct, NET EXPORT as proportion of GDP = 35%*8.36% = 2.93%, say 3%
    Therefore (C+I+G) is growing at (8% + 3%*60%) / 97% = 10%

Saturday, July 25, 2009

A 40th Wedding Anniversary Slide Show

I thought I'd put together a little slide show in remembrance of my 40th wedding anniversary. My husband Mike and I met in high school. We started dating when we were just fifteen. We were married on July 19, 1969.

I had to use the pictures that were available in my computer. In addition to pictures of my husband and me, I've included pictures of our daughter Sara and many of our close friends who have enriched our lives. I've known some of these friends since first grade.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Poetry about City Life

Millions of American kids live in big cities. Certainly, there are picture books and fiction books aplenty that are set in urban areas. There are, however, few poetry books for children that celebrate city life. I thought it would be a good idea to review two such poetry books. The first is City I Love, a new collection by prolific anthologist and poet Lee Bennett Hopkins. The second is Sky Scrape/City Scape: Poems of City Life, an anthology compiled by Jane Yolen that was first published more than a decade ago. These are two fine poetry books that would be wonderful additions to classroom libraries—especially in schools situated in urban districts.

City I Love
Poems by Lee Bennett Hopkins
Illustrated by Marcellus Hall
Abrams Books, 2009

This collection fittingly opens with a poem called Sing a Song of Cities in which Hopkins explains that cities will sing back to us“in subway roars and rumbles/people-laughs, machine-loud rumbles.” The anthology contains other poems about city sounds, including one in which a mother pigeon requests that the city silence its sirens and quiet its rumbling traffic so her newborn babies can sleep. Another is about a man selling hot dogs and cold drinks who shouts out to people to “Get ‘em here!”

There are also poems about someone trying to hail a cab in the rain, subways filled with many different kinds of people, a sturdy bridge, a hydrant, a sultry city in summer, snow falling in a city in winter, a seal in the city zoo—and one about men and women building a skyscraper. This last poem ends by describing how the ongoing construction appears to onlookers:

it’s like watching
a razzle-dazzle
steel circus

Hopkins includes a poem about a kite in the city that flitters/twirls/tumbles/twitters/like/a/young bird."

And there’s a poem about city lights that begins with lots of great verbs:

Blazing lights


City I Love is a book of poems that truly conveys the sights, sounds, and awesomeness of the city as observed by someone who loves living in one.

The illustrations done by Marcellus Hall in watercolor and ink transport readers to cities in continents around the world—in North America, Europe, Asia, Africa, South America. Hall includes pictures of gondolas, buildings with onion domes, signs lettered in foreign languages, people of diverse cultures wearing a variety of clothing. He uses changing perspectives to capture the energy of city life. His illustrations complement and extend the poems in Hopkins's urban-themed collection.

NOTE: Children will have fun looking for the dog with a backpack in all of the book’s illustrations—beginning with the endpapers. The dog is on a world tour of cities by way of poetry and art in this excellent new book by Hopkins.

Sky Scrape/City Scape: Poems of City Life
Selected by Jane Yolen
Illustrated by Ken Condon
Wordsong, 1996

Jane Yolen did a superb job in selecting the twenty-five poems she included in Sky Scrape/City Scape. A good number of the poems are exceptional pieces originally published in collections that have been long out of print. In this anthology, you’ll find Judith Thurman’s Zebra and Oil Slick from Flashlight and Other Poems (1976); Lilian Moore’s Pigeons from I Thought I Heard the City (1969); Patricia Hubbell’s The Street Cleaner’s Lament from 8 A. M. Shadows (1969); Felice Holman’s The City Dump from At the Top of My Voice (1970); Myra Cohn Livingston’s 74th Street from The Malibu and Other Poems (1972); Leland B. Jacobs’s The Subway Train from Is Somewhere Always Far Away? (1967). These are poems that have stood the test of time—they are definitely not outdated.

Yolen opens her anthology with City, a poem by Langston Hughes. She selected four poems about skyscrapers—including Carl Sandburg’s Payers of Steel and Rachel Field’s Skyscrapers. The book also contains poems about commuters on subways, grownups rushing to work, graffiti, children playing, rumbling traffic, city parks, a fire escape, and a street cleaner.

Holman's The City Dump has been a favorite of mine for many years. Holman conjured up a lyrical poem about garbage in lilting language. Not the easiest thing to do! In it, she talks about the refuse that has been left at a dump—and about the gulls and mice that steal in and reap the remains of what people have discarded.

Here’s how Holman ends her poem:

The white eggshells
And the green-blue smells
And the gray gull’s cry
And the red dawn sky…
City asleep
City asleep
a carnival
on the garbage heap.

In Pigeons, Lilian Moore laments how these birds spend their lives on concrete and cement. She writes:

A pigeon never sings
of hill
and flowering hedge,
but busily commutes
from sidewalk
to his ledge

Oh pigeon, what a waste of wings!

In Eve Merriam’s A Lazy Thought, a poem about adults rushing about the city, the writer ponders why adults don’t “ grow up” any more:

No wonder
Don’t grow up
Any more.

It takes a lot
Of slow
To grow.

Yolen closes the collection with Norma Farber’s Manhattan Lullaby:

From Manhattan Lullaby

Lulled by rumble, babble, beep,
let these little children sleep;
let these city girls and boys
dream a music in the noise,
hear a tune the city plucks
up from buses, up from trucks…

Ken Condon’s colorful illustrations done in chalk and oil pastel have an impressionistic look that softens the hard edges and grittiness of some of the city scenes. Like Marcellus Hall, he also employs changing perspectives to capture the action and energy of urban life.

There are so many fine poems included in Sky Scrape/City Scape. They are gems that one is unlikely to find in most poetry anthologies for children that are still in print. They provide readers with a true “flavor” of the city. This book is definitely “a keeper.”


At Political Verses, I have Ramblin’ Prose, a song parody about Sarah Palin’s resignation speech.

At Blue Rose Girls, I have Otherwise, a poem by Jane Kenyon.

The Poetry Friday Roundup is at A Year of Reading.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Ramblin' Prose: Another Palinoem

I just posted another Palinoem inspired by Sarah Palin's resignation speech over at Political Verses. It's actually a parody of Ramblin' Rose, a song made famous by the late Nat King Cole. My parody is entitled Ramblin' Prose.

Here's an excerpt from my newest Palinoem:

Ramblin’ prose, ramblin’ prose
What you’re sayin’ no one knows.
Your speech is inchoate—needs more work.
It’s just a mishmash of ramblin’ prose.

Ramble on, ramble on
Your thoughts meander—hither…yon.

Here's the link to my song parody: Ramblin' Prose: A Song Parody about Sarah Palin's Resignation Speech

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Hello, Friends. I'm so, so, SO sorry I haven't been keeping up with my promise to keep The Show going through the summer. I've just so much on my plate lately, and the stress of it is really taking a toll on me.

I just have to make it through Friday - Baylee has an appointment to get his teeth cleaned and a few might have to come out, but even in the best of health, being put under anesthesia is hard on a body - and I think things will start to normalize around here again. I'm so worried about him that I get physically ill.

My Gram is another story, however. She's been getting sick after eating. Because of that, my Pap gets extremely upset so then my Mom has to try to deal with that, which in turn upsets me. Oh how I wish there was a magic potion to make things better. Honestly, at this point, a definitive "Yes, she'll eventually get better" or "No, this is going to be her new reality from now on" would even be better than all the damn "I don't know"s.

Watching someone you love get old, whether it is a pet or a relative, is hell.

At any rate, please forgive me for my absence. I haven't checked my email in a while, either. Please just know that I'm not ignoring any of you, I will eventually get back to all of you, and I currently have no plans to abandon TSCS - I just need to deal with some of this stuff before I can have the energy to resume posting regularly. I've still got a lot planned for the remainder of the summer break: I have all those Fan Photos to post, I've got a giveaway planned (thanks to good Friend of The Show and Sid drawer Jan M.), and of course, we'll have to catch up on the summer travels of Lord Stanley's Cup.

Thanks so much in advance for understanding.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Going Down Maine...Again

We're off this morning to spend a few days with friends up in "the wilds" of Maine. I'm not sure if I'll be able to post from there. Maybe...I'll be able to focus my attentions once more to working on some poetry manuscripts that need a little "tweaking" and to getting some serious reading done.

I hope the gorgeous weather we've been having here lately will follow us north.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Reading list Q2 2009

The Small Graces July Auction Is On!!!

This lovely Small Graces painting is on auction NOW!!!

Wouldn't you love to own an original painting by children's author and illustrator Grace Lin? All the proceeds from the Small Graces auctions will benefit The Foundation for Children's Books, a small non-profit organization in Boston that is making a big difference in the lives of young readers by bringing children's book authors and illustrators into under-served schools in the Greater Boston area for visits and residencies..

Click here to bid on the Small Graces painting that Grace Lin created for the July auction.

NOTE: Bidding closes July 17, 2009 at 14:21:45 PDT

Click here to learn more about the Small Graces auctions.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

ZT: 重新思考计划生育政策

DWNEWS.COM-- 2009年7月12日13:31:10(京港台时间) --多维新闻网

(see also 翻译:婴孩战论)










本来人们拿海外扩张的英国和大陆扩张的俄国对比,认为英国失去殖民地但俄国不会,结果苏联还是崩溃了。苏联不仅一分为十六,而且俄罗斯联邦还在继续分化中。现在俄国利用美国的反恐战争来打击车臣共和国的独立势力,不知道能维持多久,因为很明显,俄罗斯人口在持续下降,五百年的殖民扩张彻底损坏了它的民族精神,尤其俄国男人,酗酒成风,早夭,而且不生育。主要因为“区域小国——殖民大国”的游戏玩过头了。英国、法国也有这个问题,表现为殖民地居民的“内住 ”即逆向殖民。俄国最近驱逐中国移民,但是却不敢阻挡前加盟共和国也就是殖民地的移民。






谢选骏:但是现在的民族自治区域,如新疆、西藏、内蒙、宁夏、广西等,其内部汉人的比例已经不小了,许多地方已经超过了一半。如新疆一共1963.11万人口,其中维吾尔人口897.67万,汉人人口780.25万;内蒙人口2300多万,蒙古人只占14%,汉人占84%;宁夏人口595万人,汉族人口为 381万人,占64.02%;回族人口为210万人,占35.31%。广西汉人为2861万人,占61.46%,壮族人反而只有1518万人,虽然壮族的人数是少数民族中的第一,但汉化程度也是最高的。








苏联的瓦解就是基于各加盟共和国人口增长的差异巨大,例如俄罗斯、白俄罗斯、乌克兰三个斯拉夫民族,从1926年到2000年人口分别增加1.6、 2.1、1.7倍;而乌兹别克、土库曼、吉尔吉斯、塔吉克等中亚穆斯林民族,从1926年到2000年人口分别增加5.2、4.3、4.5、6.1倍。穆斯林的高生育率使得其人口增加快、年轻化程度高,不仅所占苏联人口比例越来越高,而且由于年轻人多而更具扩张性,其民族就更加具有分离倾向。现在中国强制执行的计划生育政策,对汉族更为严厉,长此以往,很可能重演苏联的瓦解。




公元1500年法国人口1600万,到1800年增加了1.7倍。1500年英国〔包括爱尔兰〕人口400万左右,到1800年却增加了4.1倍。结果在英法的长期角逐中,英国胜出,法国败退。英国胜出,连英国殖民地爱尔兰都顺带沾光,其人口从1672年的110万增加到1801年的520万,再到 1846年的830万。公元1500年,伦敦的人口不过5万,1600年人口增至20万,1700年增至70万。

从1800年到2000年,英国本土人口增加速度也比欧洲大陆要快,幷且英国外移人口也远比其他西欧强国如法国、德国、意大利要多。1800年美国530 万人口中19%是黑人,80%是白人,白人中80%是英伦三岛的,只有20%来自他欧洲国家,其中的法国人只占白人中的2%左右,因为法国人民增长缓慢,缺乏殖民动力,结果法国在世界各地的殖民战争中全部败给英国。




人口优势使得英语国家在产业革命中担当主角。据统计,1901年到2006年,美国共获得了228次诺贝尔奖,英国获得了75次,排在第三的德国只有65 次,而近年诺贝尔奖得主越来越集中到美国,美国囊括2006年的诺贝尔化学、物理、医学奖。如果欧洲人口继续萎缩而美国人口继续增长,今后欧洲与美国在科技上的差距可能日益扩大。


















Friday, July 10, 2009

Summer Acrostics

Here are two of my original acrostic poems about summer—both acrostics begin with the letter C.

Claw-handed critter

Races sideways, skitters

Across the sea-washed land…

Beachcombing in the sand.

Chirping in the dark, their song


In the still air. A

Chorus of summer night strummers in concert with


Entertaining warm evenings with


Symphony of wings.

For more summer acrostics, get a copy of Stephen Schnur’s Summer: An Alphabet Acrostic. The book is beautifully illustrated with hand-colored linoleum block prints by Leslie Evans. Art and text make a perfect pair in this poetry book that would be great to share with a child/children on a hot summer day--or a warm summer evening.

Summer: An Alphabet Acrostic
Written by Steven Schnur
Illustrated by
Leslie Evans
Clarion, 2001

Here is Schnur’s acrostic poem for the letter C:

Close by
A glittering
Blue lake, high
In the mountains,
Nestles a fishing lodge.

Other acrostics in this collection include the following: awning, beach, daisy, hike, idle, mosquitos, picnic, tide, vegetables, and zodiac.

Click here to view some of the book’s interior pages.


At Political Verses, I have a poem about the resignation speech of Alaska’s Governor entitled Sarah Palin’s Swan/Duck/Goose Song.

At Blue Rose Girls, I have a poem entitled Anniversary by Cecilia Woloch.

Jama Rattigan has the Poetry Friday Roundup this week.

Most American airlines break guitars

Story here.

He is probably right that United has designed a system to discourage claim, but also likely to be a result of an incompetent process system. More likely, both of the above.

Would this hurt United? In the short term, yes. But in reality, we know that all US-based airlines are the same. I had my lugguage broken and compensation/repair refused by American Airline a few times, flying F class as an Executive Platinum member.

Asian and European Airlines tend to deal with these situations a lot better. SQ was the best in my experience. This is a direct effect of American protectionism. Not just the lugguage handling, but general indifference and lack of accountability as happened when he first complained to the crew member.

This musician may trigger some short term response from the industry, but there is likely to be no long term impact for domestic US routes, because that is the industry norm -- unless foreign competition is allowed into this space.

p.s. some follow up and comments here.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

ZT: two research reports about the ethnic issues in Xinjiang

The Xinjiang Fact Sheets from websites such as WaPo, BBC are over-simplified and often misleading. While Chinese netizens complained that the accusations on the goverment policies that upset the Uyghur as quoted by western media are erroneous, many of them are to a certain extent true. The problem is that none of these are back up by facts, not to say "quantification". The following research reports provides some data which show us how true these accusations are, often with some quantification in data.
e.g. the widening of income gap of the Uyghur (kashgar area) over the years, the shift in demographic composition, that the problem of education is hindered by economic aids not affirmative issues, how the government's attention is making sure islam diet tradition is ensure had the unintended effect of promoting racial segregation, etc.

Source: FYJS

1) 关于新疆经济发展与民族关系的一些思考

2) 乌鲁木齐民族居住格局与民族关系
2008年06月30日 22:06:24  稿源: 《民族社会学通讯》 作者: 王建基

These are rather long articles, with a lot of great data. I will re-post (1) below. Please check the FYJS link above for (2).

1、关于民族关系的一些基本原则,2,新疆人口分布情况及特点及民族关系,3、新疆少数民族群体的资本积累能力,4、知识贫困和教育的不平等,5、 权能信息获取能力, 6、制度歧视,7、集团博弈的受害者


  新疆各地州人口密度差异悬殊(表1)单比较各地州伊犁州直属县人口密度最高,为44. 60人/平方公里,其次是喀什地区( 25. 1人/平方公里),最低的是巴州,仅为2. 4人/平方公里。如果将三个单列市(乌鲁木齐、石河子和克拉玛依)再考虑进来,那差异会更大。新疆又是一个多民族聚居的地区,共有54个民族,其民族人口分布呈现“大杂居,小聚居”的特点,其中汉族占约39. 87%少数民族占60. 137。
  1)少数民族人口中又以维吾尔族为主。其占少数民族人口的75. 88.占新疆总人口的45. 62%。维吾尔族主要居住在南疆,北疆的伊黎地区和东疆以及散居在北疆的昌吉州,塔城地区。
  ,有一定比重。北疆的汉族人口,占全疆汉族总人口的73. 29%,南疆的汉族人口只占26. 71%。从各个地州市来看,受到地区范围大小以及汉族人口木身分布状况的双重影响,乌鲁木齐市、伊犁州和昌吉州的汉族人口比重较大,占全疆汉族总人口的比例均在10%以上,占当地总人口的比例分别为72. 72%, 44. 71%和74. 88%,三地汉族人口合计占全疆汉族总人口的58. 22% ,其它如北疆的克拉玛依,石河子、和奎屯市,东疆的哈密地区内汉族人口,到75%甚至98%以上,在汉族总人口中的比重也在20%以上。
  哈萨克族作为新疆第二大少数民族.在人口分布上.与维吾尔族有相似之处.也是人口分布的集中化程度较高.不过不是主要分布在南疆.而是主要分布在北疆。北疆地区的哈萨克族人口,占全疆哈萨克族总人口的94. 27% , 南疆仅占5. 73% 。其中以伊犁地区为最集中.,全疆哈萨克族总人口的36. 76% ,占本地总人口的22. 88%。此外.阿尔泰地区和塔城地区的哈萨克族人口,占全疆哈萨克族总人口的比例也都在17%以上.,占本地总人口的比例分别是49.31%和24.63% o昌吉州、乌鲁木齐市、此外哈密和博州也都有零散分布。
   新疆回族人口有广域分布特点,全疆各地均有分布,但以北疆为主,占全疆回族总人口的83.27%,南疆占16.73%。从地区来看,昌吉州最多,占全疆回族总人口的21.45%;伊犁地区第二占20.86% ;乌鲁木齐第三,占18.71% ;以后依次是塔城(7.68%)、吐鲁番( 4.58%)、巴州(6. 69%)、阿尔泰(2. 57%)。
  (5)柯尔克孜族人口主要分布在南疆,占全疆柯尔克孜族总人口的88. 38%,其中76.98%的人口分布在克孜勒苏自治州境内.集中化程度非常高。其次.北疆的伊犁地区分布有9.54%的柯族人口,阿克苏有5.07%的柯族人口。
  ( 6)蒙古族人口的地区分布特点
  中在某几个地区内。蒙古族人口的地区分布以北疆,占全疆蒙古族总人口的68. 02%. 南疆占31.98%。蒙古族人口在北疆主要分布在伊犁地区、塔城地区和博尔塔拉蒙占自治州境内.比重均在10%以上.在南疆主要分布在巴州.,占全疆蒙古族总人口的27.88%。此外乌鲁木齐市和昌吉州也有少量分布。从1982年至1998年少数民族人口的年均增长率为2.02% , 而同期汉族的为1.53%。不过汉族人口90年代的年均增长率(2.12%)明显高于80年代(0.94%). 这主要是机械人口增长所致。在12个少数民族中满族和俄罗斯族人口的增长率大大高于其它民族。这主要源于80年代民族成分的更改.这不说明这两个民族人口的自然增长率或机械人口增长率奇高。从1982年到1990年满族和俄罗斯族人口的年均增长率竟分别高达9.21%和14.86%。 从1990年至1998年两个民族的年均增长率分别回落到了1.47%和1.74%的水平。90年代以后民族成分更改基本上得到了有效的遏制。人口最多的维吾尔族的人口年均增长率逐步走低.人口最少的塔塔尔族和乌孜别克族的人口年均增长率不到1%其它少数民族的人口年均增长率基本上高于全区少数民族的平均水平。表1新疆各民族人口数量及其增长
  (巾一位:万人 %)
  这半个世纪以来,新疆地区的人口迁移的规模是历史上前所未有的。新疆成了中国吸引移民最多的地区,人口增长最快的地区。为了新疆的稳定,促进经济建设。国家有计划地先后多次组织以内地青年、复转军人及其它人口稠密地区人员向新疆的移民活动。例如1949 -1953年进入新疆的部分中国人民解放军部队和起义部队陆续转业组建了生产建设兵团。之后,津,京,武汉、江苏、浙江、湖北、河南、山东等省市33万人各类人员来疆;1962 -1966年,上海共组织了15万青年进入新疆等。他们的艰苦劳动塑造了一些新的“移民城市”。如奎屯,石河子,阿拉尔,北屯等等。为发展经济和巩固国防发挥了重要作用。同时,除国家有计划地组织的人口迁移外还有国家实行鼓励东部地区广大农村人口向边疆民族地区的自发流动政策而迁移。以上人员中农民比重大,劳改,劳教,刑满人员的比重也不小。1949 -1984年国内其它省、市、区迁入新疆的人口统计数总计为306. 91万人。推算数为955. 65万人,约占新疆总人口数的1/ 4。大批移民的进入缓和了当时新疆劳动力不足的矛盾带来了内地先进技术和文化。 使新疆城市人口数量大增,不仅绝对改变了新疆的民族人口结构,而且改变了新疆发展的方向,也改变了新疆的城镇特征以及民族关系。新疆的多数城镇具有很强的移民特征。据统计资料显示1953 -1964年新疆城市人口净迁移量为84.63万人,占城市总人口的62.43% ;1964 -1982年间新疆城市人口净迁移数量为86. 06万人,占城市总人口的32. 91%。这正是前30年新疆成为城市化水平增加幅度较大的省区的原因,也是新疆城镇汉族人口占绝对优势的主要原因。新疆是中国经济不发达民族区域自治区,移入过多的人口必然加大人口压力。到2003年,新疆人口为1933.65, 占全国的1.05%,国土面积为1664897.17平方公里约占全国的1/6,人口密度为11. 62人/平方公里,为全国平均人口密度的8.6%。但是新疆区域人口分布主要受区域自然条件和地理环境的影响97%以上的人口集中分布在仅占新疆土地总面积3.5%的绿洲上。2002年,新疆劳动力资源总数达1309. 72万人,占总人口的68.74%;从业人员为701.49万人,占劳动力资源的53.56%.劳动力资源供大于求。这种状况势必使就业问题越来越来突出,继而影响居民生活水平的提高影响民族关系和社会稳定。其次人口的过快增长也会对资源环境造成巨人压力。据资料统计新疆的人均耕地面积已经从1990年的0. 20公顷/人减少到2003年的0. 17公顷/人部分落后地区甚至低于全国平均水平(0。11公顷/人),如和田和克州在1990年人均耕地面积分别是0. 17公顷/人和0. 16(公顷/人,2003年减少到0.10公顷/人和0. 07公顷/人。这种日益减少的趋势会随着人口的迅速增长速增长持续下去。绿洲人口密度为207人/平方公里.这种人口压迫生产力的地区转移可以说是增加了自治区就业工作的难度,只是在当时吃大锅饭的计划经济条件下引起的严重后果还不容易被察觉出来,其实新疆劳动力就业矛盾早就发生了,在少数民族尤其是维吾尔族聚居的城镇和乡村尤其严重。同时,国家在新疆兴建的一批批工业企业及新垦区,新城镇总伴随着东部大量人口的移入,而几乎没有吸收当地少数民族劳动人口。而与此同时没有能够或忽视少数民族聚居的老城镇和乡村的各项投入。在制定地区发展计划,预算分配方面和资源使用等方面,新疆少数民族处于被边缘化的极不平等的态势。根据中央和自治区政府的发展计划经济发展落后的新疆少数民族聚居的地区和城乡没被列入任何发展计划,工业化未给予任何考虑。在广大南疆少数民族聚居区未开办有一家有规模的企业。因此,拨给少数民族聚居地区的发展预算仅占预算总额的极小部分。某种意义上讲,新疆少数民族没有很好的分享新疆经济发展的果实。新疆实施的名目繁多的发展计划,实质上不是出于新疆经济发展的需要,而是索取资源更好地为全国经济发展服务,同时确保移民安置和大量的资源储备,以待日后大规模开发。
   在新疆民族人口的问题上政府的相关政策主要体现为移民政策。资料显示政府对城镇和农村移民的直接参与程度都很高。国家一直是实行移民的最重要动力。汉族人口的大量迁入改变了新疆的民族人口结构。汉族从1949年,占新疆总人口的6. 71% ,居第三位发展到1997年,占新疆总人口的38.41%,居第二位。中央政府进行大规模移民的目的主要是推动民族融合,边区开发和稳定。从目前看预期的目标基本达到。但是,汉族移民的大量迁入也给新疆其它民族造成就业,咨询,资源,教育,城市化以及使用公共机构和设施方面巨大的压力。
  即使是如此大规模的移民一一建国后新疆每四个新增人口中就有一个是从内地迁移来的。新疆的民族人口的分布格局仍是不均衡的。南疆喀什、阿克苏、和田仍然是维吾吾尔族的聚居地区;汉族人口主要居住在北疆的城乡和南疆的各个城镇。此外,超过三分之一的人(1997年占汉族人口的36. 11%)生活在相对隔离的兵团(占新疆总人口的13. 88% )。这种聚居带来的相对隔离的民族分布格局.过去,今天乃至将来都影响着新疆民族关系的发展。在新的形势下在区内外应该停止鼓励或支持移民活动;国家不应该阻碍新疆维吾尔族人或其他任何群体可能发展成为多数人群体。对于新疆的绝大多数少数民族人口来说,新疆的地区性质更可取的定义是“新疆是维吾尔族自治区和全体已经在新疆或将来在新疆定居的全国各族公民的地区”。
  1. 新疆少数民族获取收入能力
  先让我们审视一下新疆少数民族的收入的现状。我们主要看收入增幅和城乡收入差距两方面。根据一些报导和政府统计的资料,和学者的研究发现:⑴.九十年代中后期以来全国农民收入增幅连年下降,新疆一些地区甚至出现了负增长,收入为0的新疆少数民族的农牧民数量更进一步扩大,收入为0和负增长的农户数量居然也在增加,一些地区返贫现象严重。新疆的26个贫困县市都是少数民族高度聚居的⑵.北疆与南疆,兵团与地方,城市与乡村,汉族聚居与少数民族聚居的城市之间的发展差距进一步拉大;进而汉族与少数民族群众之间的收入差距不断扩大。据资料统计,新疆城镇居民家庭全年人均纯收入是9061. 72 元/人,位列全国第14位,而农村居民家庭全年人均纯收入只有2106. 19 元/人全国排名23位。可见新疆城乡经济发展水平差距显著。新中国成立以后,新疆的社会经济获得了前所未有的发展,但与内地许多省区,尤其是东南沿海一些发达省区相比,还是相对落后,居民的收入水平与生活水平都相对较低1999年,上海市城镇居民人均收入与农村居民的人均纯收入分别是新疆同类收入指标的2倍与3. 7倍尤其是新疆农村居民收入水平从1990年以后与全国平均水平的差距越来越大,由负的2.8元增至负的737.1 元,人均纯收入由1980年在全国排第13位降至 1999年的第25位。新疆共有16个地、州、市,各地经济发展水平极不平衡,各地居民收入的差距也越来越大以喀什地区为例,1990年喀什市城镇居民家庭人均可支配收入是乌兽木齐市的70%,1999年仅为57%; 1990年喀什地区农村居民家庭人均纯收入是昌吉回族自治州的72% ,1999年仅为33%.南疆的和田,喀什、克孜勒苏和阿克苏四地州是维吾尔族高度聚居区,也是全疆相对贫困的地区,全疆92.5 %的贫困人口分布在这里。据自治区农村调查队的抽样调查,1999年和田地区农民一年的纯收入仅够生活费支出,而喀什地区还远远不够,两地农民家庭的恩格尔系数(家庭用于食品的开支在家庭收入的比重)达到60%以上。(新疆史居主要少数民族2000年城镇人口比例:维吾尔族19.44哈萨克族15.25柯尔克孜族11.55,塔吉克族9.16,新疆为约35%)。现状如此,客观存在了的。我们的着眼点放在今后的增收能力上。
   对于前者,即在家务农的农民,他们收入的途径主要有:⑴ 规模经营;⑵ 农业产业化、产品结构调整;⑶ 融入“公司+农户”的所谓农业产业化之中;⑷ 农业技术创新;⑸ 农产品价格上升。对于⑴,理论上虽然讲得通,但仍需要两个条件的支持:一是农村剩余劳动力向外转移的力度要充分大;二是土地私有或是说农地有偿转让制度的形成。这两个条件对新疆少数民族来说由于制度和政策等多种原因两个条件同时达到的可能性是很小的。假定两个条件都能达到,少数民族农民由于资本积累能力弱,投资和经营能力不够等诸多原因,也只能在自己的原来的土地上当一个农民工的宿命。少数民族农牧民依靠规模经营增加收入并非理论上那么简单。当然我们能够想象其中极少数成功的典型。对于⑵,有一定的潜力是不可否认的,但是并非说要调整就能调整的,比如一些地区只适合种植某种作物,如果硬要种另外一种不适合当地气候条件的作物,无易于自讨苦吃。有一些地方就是这样做的。对于⑶,我们并不持过于乐观的态度。尽管在一些地方农业产业化搞的好,但这并不具有普遍意义。所谓的农业产业化实质上就是工商业资本投入到农业领域,在市场条件下,资本所有者是追求利润最大化的,他不可能盲目“搞派对”将资本投入到没有效益的地方去的。此外新中国成立以来国家在新疆投资开垦新的土地,新疆耕地面积大幅扩大。但主要作为兵团用地安置移民,但新疆少数民族聚居的绿洲耕地并未随着人口的增加而相应的增加人均可种耕地减少,人地矛盾很突出。所以农业产业化并不是有些人说的那样是解决新疆少数民族农村,农民增收问题的关键出路。对于⑷新疆不是没有好的农业技术,也不是广大少数民族群众排斥新的技术,而是难于推广。技术如何推广,政府有没有推广的意愿和决心,谁来推广是一个难题。再说,技术转让是要支付成本的,且不论单个农户能不能付的起这笔费用,有没有必要都成问题。有那么多劳动力有剩余,又转移不出去,何必用技术替代劳动。对于⑸,由于我国已加入WTO ,农产品,尤其是一些常见的,如玉米、小麦、水果、棉花等价格上升的空间几乎为零。因此,对于上述5点,我不是很乐观的。这并不是说新疆少数民族群众的人就不能致富了,少数民族就不前进了。我只是强调一点:他们收入的能力在现有的环境制约下是十分有限的。
  对于后者,收入途径只有打工一条,即工资收入。然而,这条路有是何等的崎岖。首先,户籍制度的障碍。这种“制度歧视”的弊端我向大家都很清楚。其次,行业进入壁垒,这里主要指的是学历或是说知识壁垒。新疆少数民族人口的整体素质差,文化水平低,这是事实。即使是户籍制度取消了,广大的少数民族农民工也只能从事一些服务业、建筑业、小商业。因为你知识积累不够,进不了报酬高的行业和部门。突破知识壁垒取决于新疆少数民族的知识获取能力。而这种能力又是很有限的。此外,有些职业和行业,少数民族群众哪怕学历和学识等各项条件都具备,甚至优秀的情况下也遭到不同程度的排斥。表现在诸多领域,例如,新疆少数民族很少招募入伍,在军队,警察,财政,银行等金融部门以及石油,天然气,党组织(书记),组织部,化工,通讯等诸多领域新疆少数民族担任高官要职收到政策的限制。另一方面,新疆少数民族的教育机构和语言都受到了与我国的法律和政策都不允许的,不应有的轻视。更有甚至卡车司机,清洁工,采棉农,都被当成援助新疆,开发新疆的专家从遥远的内地农村招聘。石油天然气,化工等劳动密集型产业企业几乎不用当地少数民族劳动力。这也在很大程度上在诸多方面影响了少数民族居民的包括收入获取能力。 少数民族缺乏取得收入的渠道就会丧失自我积累自我发展和融资的能力。市场条件下,资本是趋于收益高的领域或区域流动的。新疆的农村金融组织,如“农村基金会”、“信用合作社”面向少数民族农牧民的金融服务呈收缩趋势。农民的存款也纷纷向城市集中,而同时农民却告贷无门,“就是传统的生产和生活小额借贷,也与农民无缘”。银行等金融机构是嫌贫爱富的。由于农业生产效益低,甚至负效益;再加上面对的是高度分散、贫穷的农户,资本是不会进入农民手中的。当然农民有时又必须借款,不得以只好求助于高利贷了。很明显新疆少数民族农民通过正常渠道融资的能力几乎为零。如果仅仅靠农业剩余,新疆少数民族农民的原始资本积累什么时候才能完成?遥遥无期,天要下雨,娘要嫁人!但又能怎么样哪?
  中国农民的负担现在是非常重的,这个大家都清楚,我不打算在这里论述。我将用举例子的方式来表述对新疆少数民族农民负担问题。 一个典型例子就是农民负担越减越重的政策失败怪圈。这里我们不讨论少数民族农民究竟被拿去多少钱。大量的事实已经证明:新疆南疆少数民族农民快被那些负担压死了!问题在于造成这个怪圈后面的原因。体制是其中的一个重要原因。例如:通常任命毫无农村工作经验,不懂当地语言文化的人当乡里的第一把手。另外的原因主要有:农民知识的匮乏、基层政权和地方恶势力的相互勾结以及愈演愈烈的腐败,还有民族工作方法有问题。重视形式和宣传的效果:中央和地方派出民族访问团,慰问团,工作团,到民族地区,传达党中央和国务院和全国各族人民对少数民族的关怀,表达汉族人民对他们的兄弟情谊,宣传党的民族宗教政策,进行民族团结,爱国主义,国际主义教育,党和国家派出短期医疗队,工作队等等。更为严重地是近年来出现一种趋向,无论发生任何事情,解决任何问题与民族关系联动在一起,其结果少数民族同胞不敢反映情况,不敢提意见,更不敢批评,抨击政府的政策,怕遭到惩罚。把民族区域自治仅仅理解为政治制度的问题,着重于这一制度本身的政治因素的任务,而忽视了还有具有经济因素的方面。中央政府政治高度集权体制与民族区域自治思想冲突,虽然有民族区域自治法,从法律上对民族区域自治给予切实保证,但新疆维吾尔自治区执行民族区域自治法的自治条例至今还未出台,自治地方许多应有的权力仍集中在中央和地方一级政府,法律所规定的自治权利不能完全兑现。民族区域自治制度不能完全落实。相当程度上地方行政当局已经丧失了协调社会各阶层,各民族之间的利益关系的职能以及促进发展的政策优势。不改变这些作为原因的现状,新疆少数民族农民负担就不可能减下来。少数民族群众有些不知所措,困惑,有时冲动,茫然,感到失落。农民期望费改税。如果这一制度建立起来,有可能将农民负担减下来,但并非治本之策。这一制度在新疆具体执行中会不会走样呢?会不会达到应有的目的呢?。我们将拭目以待。
  案例:“在叶亦克乡我了解到.每户早己分得了15亩土地.但农民不能自主经营。在这里.计划经济体制依然存在.整个农业生产始终要按上级党政部门的指令来执行。后来到了和田的其他县属农村和喀什、阿克苏地区的一些农村后.我才知道这种政策在南疆的大部分地区都在执行。在农村有五个统一即统一耕地.统一播种.统一管理.统一灌溉和统一收割。而且像种子、化肥、塑料薄膜和农药等也必须县乡政府统一购进后.按乡里确定的价格统一销售给农民.农民不得自行购置。农民没有钱.可以从乡信用社贷款。夏收之后.农民所用的全部费用及贷款等一并扣除后.剩余的才是农民的实际收入。叶亦克乡的一位村干部给我算了这样一笔账:如果一户农民种10亩小麦.那么按当地的收成标准和粮食销售价格.可以有4500- 5000元的收入。但当年的耕地费、播种费、水费、施肥费、管理费、地税、乡和村基金、公益金等支出就将达到4000元左右。扣除这些费用后农民实际能得到的也只有500- 1000元”。{拜合提亚尔吐尔逊《新疆南疆地区社会经济发展面临的问题,对策及其意义》,《西北民族研究》,2003年第2期.
   根据,我国第四次和第五次人口普查有关新疆教育人口素质资料,我们不难发现新疆教育有了长足的进步,新疆少数民族同胞受教育年限普遍提高,(看表)。但问题是区域内教育资源和人才的分布极不平衡。存在着严重的民族和地区差异,南疆与北疆,城市与农村,汉族与少数民族之间存在着严重的差异。少数民族,尤其是广大的南疆地区的处于严重的知识贫乏状态。人口素质指人的智力,体力,知识与科技水平等,是制约一个地区经济社会发展水平的重要因素。人口素质又人口分文化素质和健康素质。健康素质方面,据全国第五次全国人口普查资料统计,新疆平均预期寿命只有67. 41,低于全国71.4的平均水平,位列全国倒数第五。文化素质方面,虽然新疆文盲和半文盲比例低于全国平均水平,从每万人大专及以上学历人数、每万人专业技术人员数等指标看,新疆都高于全国平均水平,但是新疆具有大专以上学历的居民中有80%以上是新疆本地院校培养的,少数民族中这个比例更高。而本地院校,其人才素质,教育水平远不能与内地院校相比。就受教育居民的实际素质而言,并不像数字所显示的那样乐观。新疆从事科研活动的人员不少,但成果极少。这又从另一个角度说明新疆。如2003年,新疆从事科研活动的人数为25246人,占全国从事科研活动总人数 328. 4万人的0. 77%,专利申请仪为1473件,占全国308487件的0. 48%,专利批准数仅为752件,占全国182226件的0. 41%。。总之,新疆人口文化素质总体不高的状况,势必影响新疆的国民经济发展水平。
   大多数新疆少数民族只能一辈子呆在农村,自生自灭了(当然我不否认少数有文化的农民的存在)。把目光转向少数民族农民子弟。他们接受知识的最主要的途径就是接受学校教育。首先看义务教育。状况并不乐观:由于学杂费高,学校乱收费,很多学生读完小学就辍学。读不起书的现象比比皆是。这里值得一提的是“普九”检查。很多地方的学校都是临时雇人当“学生”。所以,尽管表面上“普九”达标;其实学生流失严重!乡村的义务教育,是一种公共商品,理应有国家公共财政来支持,但却让农民集资来承担大部分费用。不出钱,有要乡村学校硬性达标,岂非怪事!城乡二元教育体制造成城乡教育的严重不平等。我们看一下1986年9月11日颁发的《关于实施〈义务教育法〉若干问题的意见》,其中第22条意见规定:"城镇,凡国家举办的中小学新建、扩建、改建校舍所需的投资,按学校隶属关系,列入主管部门基本建设投资计划,并予以照顾。农村中小学校舍建设投资,以乡、村自筹为主。地方人民政府对经济有困难的地方,酌情予以补助。"也就是说,城镇中小学属于由国家举办的学校,由国家和地方财政拨款建设,农村中小学则是农民自己的学校,由农民自筹资金兴办。制度设置造成的教育的起点的不公平是最大的不平等。当一个少数民族农民的子弟问我电视里的计算机是什么时。我不知怎样回答,只能说“等你上了大学就知道了。”他如果知道城市里的孩子已经在利用计算机上网玩游戏,学习文化知识时会作何感想呢?无论从校舍等基础设施的建设,还是师资的配备来说,农村的教育和城市的差距很大(同一个城市的民汉学校基础设施,人员配备,政策待遇上的差距更是不能理解)。差距主要在预算内经费上,而其余差距主要在预算外经费支出上。据有关统计资料和自己的长期观察,农村县与一般城市市区在初中预算内和预算外经费支出上都存在着明显差距,以预算外上的差距更突出。而市和直市县的生均预算内经费较低,但其预算外经费支出则显著高于农村县。 我国的《义务教育法》明确规定,义务教育事业由地方负责,分级管理。在实际操作中,县、区级政府具体负责义务教育的实施。但是在我国的贫困地区,县、乡级财力有限、赤字严重的情况十分普遍。新疆最贫困的广大少数民族高度聚居的南疆地区除极少数县市外,在财政上靠上级的转移支付来维持基本的行政职能的运转,经费大量用于人员开支,对教育的投入、开支少而又少。据报道,这些问题已经引起了中央政府的强烈关注,这两年自治区和中央每年都有专款资助贫困地区,而且过去几年中教育转移支付的力度由于“国家贫困地区义务教育工程”的实施得到加强。在转移支付的政策框架的设计上,一个重要的问题是各级政府的职责的分担。目前,在“义务教育工程”这样的大型项目上中央起着主导和决策的作用,而一般性的教育专款的设置省级政府也基本在中央的教育专款的框架之内操作。在这样的体制下,省级政府在平衡地区间教育不平等上的努力很大程度上受中央政府的影响。考察发现,自治区级对下级的转移支付项目中,资金量的一半是为了满足中央政府项目的配套资金要求的。当然,这样的安排是与我国整个的财税体制,以及当地政府的行政体制和能力分不开的。
   五. 权能信息获取能力
   户籍制度,兵团制度,资源开发体制像一堵无形的墙,将城乡分割开来,它带给新疆少数民族的最恶劣的影响莫过于发展机会的狭窄。新疆少数民族无法融入先进的社会生产力系统中排斥在新疆社会整体发展目标之外,始终难以融入新疆城市的发展系统,尤其是先进生产力系统中去。这固然有他们文化水平低等他们自身的因素,但不可否认少数民族有大量的发展机会被惯性的制度限制了。所以农民干得是“脏、苦、重”得活,职业选择范围的缩小,极大地影响新疆少数民族的发展机会。新疆少数民族也没有成为新疆石油天然气,化工工业等资源垄断性,劳动密集型产业和企业的招工对象因此更不能成为训练对象。因而他们很难转化为训练有素、有技术、具有现代化观念的工人队伍”。试想收入低不用说,最重要的是因此而失去了分享现代化发展成果(先进的文化、信息、技术、方法等)的机会 ,难以融入先进的生产力系统,意味着少数民族综合“素质”将难以提高,也只能充当“边缘人”的角色了。很多少数民族群体成员因此从中国社会经济边缘中寻找生存与发展的机会,只能唱着流浪者之歌,甚至走向犯罪。(看附1)素质低,无能,道德品质差,不可信任,脏,贫穷,犯罪,好斗,酗酒,吸毒,罪大恶极,无可救药。例如:我的坐出租车的亲身经历。“新疆人”身份先天性地低人一等。“新疆人”或“维族人”本是称呼,在我国却越来越具有“身份”的另一层含义。“新疆人”二字只和“小头,毒贩”相联结,人就是这样给“新疆人”定位的。因此,无论一个人干什么事,只要他(她)是一个“新疆人”“维吾尔族人”,就免不了要受歧视。被排斥感由此而生。天然地处于“身份”劣势的他,她想出人头地是非常困难的。这种后果无论从哪方面讲,都是灾难性的,影响是长久的。我的新疆同胞问:我们的民族会被抛弃吗?。其实新疆少数民族宽容的精神,吃苦耐劳的精神和创造力完全可以在新疆乃至中国现代化发展过程中发挥更大的作用。
  谈兵团体制:新疆生产建设兵团是党政军企合一的特殊组织。它的前身是中国人民解放军进疆部队的大部分.1954年 .10. 5万官兵就地转业.部分来自全国各地的大中专生、支边青年、复员军人组建兵团。它担负着中央赋子的屯垦戍边保卫边疆,巩固国防的历史使命,既是新疆的重要组成部分,又在国家实行计划中一列.是国内最大的特殊的农工商经济联合体。设有自己的法院,检察院,公安,银行,保险,大学…。它下设14个师、174个农牧团场以及517个独立核算工交建商企业和3215个社会事业单位。到2002年底,土地总面积7454. 21千公顷.其中耕地面积1057.08千公顷;总人口250.12万,其中汉族约占89%,兵团人口自然增长率4.17%,是历年来最低的。其中从业人员95.5万人;实现GDP 222.51元。兵团是强大的,在我国,新疆政治,经济,军事,社会文化,教育等领域具有强大的影响力,有绝对的发言权。而兵团的成长环境的封闭型和外生性以及又肩负着特殊的使命。因此他尽力维护,争取,发展自己的集团利益。近年来兵地之间争夺水土资源,矿产资源,资金分配,…行政管辖权等方面竞争加剧,纠纷不断,难以协调。
  据对新疆流浪儿童中心所作的问卷调查分析,去内地流浪的儿童人多是来自新疆南部城乡的维吾尔族男孩在97名新疆流浪儿童中,维吾尔族儿童占到85%,在内地流浪的儿童中,维吾尔族儿童更占到了98% ,83%来自南疆, (在新疆流浪儿童中心救助的915名新疆各族流浪儿童中,来自喀什、阿克苏两地区的也.占到45%) 54%的维吾尔族流浪儿童来自城镇,北京市收容遣送站在1998年和1999年分别收容维吾尔族流浪儿童达382人与515人分别占到当年收容16岁以下儿童的12%和11%
   当地社会和政府有关部门对遥远的异地、异族文化陌生,因此流浪儿童的个人行为,成为内地一些地方出现歧视与排斥新疆人现象的一个重要原因,甚至因此影响到新疆与内地、维吾尔族与汉族的关系。谈谈这方面的影响近几年在一些内地城市中,“新疆人”似乎突然成为避之不及者的代名词,在宾馆、商场、市场、火车、公共汽车等公共场所,人们对来自新疆的人或相貌类似新疆一些少数民族的人百般防范,甚至公然拒绝提供服务,令不少去内地的新疆人心寒新疆人的名声为什么如此了一些人认为,一是新疆人中贩毒、吸毒的多,一是新疆人中偷窃、抢劫的多 人们总是凭借社会记忆(或经验)来确定自己的行为,建构自己对周围的认识没有社会记忆,人们在互动上就找不到一致性,就缺乏行动的规则也正是因为不同的记忆,造成了不同群体之间交流和沟通的困难,因为这样的记忆影响着他们彼此的认同,他们很容易被当地人辨识,他们的行为进而被夸人许多内地人通过亲身经历或各种传媒,形成对新疆人的思维定势,将其定格为“偷、抢、毒”,从而造成广泛的社会影响,甚至形成为一种社会记忆,并因此而影响整个新疆人的声誉一些地方就干脆避而远之,采取怀疑、防范甚至是拒绝等过激态度对待新疆人并波及合法流动、合法经营的新疆人

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

ZT: My Han Relatives’ View From Xinjiang - Sun Yan

A Han-Chinese American Professor interviews her relatives in Xinjiang

My Han Relatives’ View From Xinjiang

Yan Sun

Yan Sun, a native of Sichuan, has lived in the United States since 1985 and been a professor of political science at the City University of New York since 1992.

After arriving at the home of my parents in Chongqing on July 7, I asked my mother how many relatives we still had in Xinjiang and how they were doing lately. Ten families of close relatives, she said, and several more distant ones. Some were born and raised in Xinjiang, but the majority migrated there in the 1960s and 1970s from the Sichuan countryside. The sole reason was to get out of the poor farmland and have a chance at becoming urban residents. They were introduced to Xinjiang by an aunt who was assigned there in the 1950s but had managed to bring her family back to Sichuan in the 1980s.

I scrambled to reach some of them by phone and talk to them candidly about the issues that are often cited in the Western media as responsible for growing ethnic divide and tensions between the Uighur and Han Chinese. Some of my cited reasons took them by surprise; others made them laugh. With their decades of life and work in an austere region, I have little reason to dispute them. As a social scientist, it is fascinating for me to learn about their perspective on the deeper roots of the recent riots. After all, they were supposed to be the very source and targets of local grievance.

Without any need to repeat government accounts to me, my relatives mostly see “outside forces” as the main reason for the latest as well as other riots in Xinjiang in recent years. Citing long-term good friendship with local Muslims, they are hard-pressed to think of divisions serious enough to cause deadly riots. Rather, they claim to have seen outside influences at work from their own experience, e.g., money for underground mosques where mullahs engage in inciting rhetoric, for “terrorist groups” that make explosives and bombs, or for restless Muslim youths who stage trouble on the streets. They also see a pattern of Uighur separatist forces imitating the tactics of Tibetan exiles, namely, phrasing issues in terms that appeal to Western sensibilities, such as religious freedom, cultural and linguistic preservation, ethnic equality or territorial autonomy.

But aren’t there problems in these areas? My relatives were unanimous in their view that state policies are already tilted in favor of local ethnics. Freedom of religion? My relatives see the state restrictions are justifiable: no mosques for those under 18 because they are not mature enough to have good judgment, and no mosque attendance for those holding government jobs. The state does send an (Uighur) official as a liaison with the mosques on a weekly basis, but again this is seen as justifiable since the state funds helped with their construction and to pay the mullahs’ salaries. Why not let them fund on their own? The answer is that outside religious forces would otherwise fund them. Having read about how foreign-financed madrassahs spring up and spread in western Pakistan, I am hard-pressed to pass judgment here.

How about the imposition of Chinese language instruction in schools? This was news to my relatives. They grew up attending separate schools from their Uighur peers, where different languages were used in instruction. Some Uighurs chose to attend Han Chinese schools for career benefits. Only since 2005 has bilingual education been introduced in public schools in Xinjiang. Most technical colleges use Chinese in instruction, because of available resources, while colleges for ethnic nationalities instruct in minority languages. Rather than seeing bilingual education as forced assimilation, my relatives see it as a good skill to have in the job market, because many modern-sector jobs will involve interaction with Han Chinese in and out of Xinjiang. For their part, my Xinjiang cousins speak enough Uighur to communicate with Uighurs on a daily basis, and tell me that they live more like Uighurs than Han Chinese, enjoying mutton more than pork.

What about widened income gaps between Han Chinese and Uighur Muslims in the market economy? My relatives cite different attitudes toward education, achievement and life. This is where some “racist” assessments may be found, if they may be so-called: nomadic traditions do not value sending kids to schools, but rather roaming around or bathing in the sun; nor do they prioritize professional and material pursuits like the Han Chinese, or hard work or long-term planning for this world, but rather satisfaction in the spiritual world, etc. These are the contrasts I have learned in Western social sciences — conflicts between pre-modern and modern values, religious and secular cultures, or an achievement and non-achievement ethic. So it is hard for me to pass judgment here as well except to urge Han Chinese to loosen up and enjoy life a little as our ethnic brothers do.

What about the squeezing of Uighurs in their own native land by growing Han presence? Is that occupation or colonialism? These lines usually shocked my relatives. One aunt, a college professor who spent three decades in Khotan of southern Xinjiang, gave me a history lesson about how Xinjiang came under Chinese control in the Han Dynasty in the 200s B.C. and remained so on and off till the Manchu Dynasty finally consolidated Chinese rule in the 1770s. Xinjiang was loose whenever China was weak internally and its rulers were preoccupied elsewhere.

But successive rulers always reasserted control and sovereignty. Another aunt who had lived in a Tibetan region called the Chinese nation a melting pot of different ethnic groups over millenniums. Citing our own ancestors who had migrated to Sichuan generations back, my mother recalls her grandmother as one with white skin and yellow hair, possible of Turkic origin herself from western China.

Are there government policies on minority regions responsible for increasing ethnic tensions? Surprisingly (or not so surprisingly for someone familiar with America’s ethnic politics), some of my relatives fault the government’s preferential policies for helping to enhance ethnic identity and entitlement for minorities. Uighurs with disciplinary problems or criminal offenses are treated leniently, they say. In matters of employment, appointment and promotion in the public sector, Uighurs may be preferred over (perceived) more qualified Han candidates. “Reverse discrimination” in college admissions and population policies are other areas of Han complaints. While Han Chinese can have only one child, Uighurs receive honorary and monetary rewards for stopping at three, along with yearly bonuses. Whether legitimate or not, such complaints make it difficult for Han Chinese to appreciate Uighur grievances.

Do they think the World Uighur Congress and its exiled leader, Rebiya Radeer, were behind the recent riots? My older relatives from Xinjiang recalled Soviet instigations of Uighur separatism in the 30s and during the cold war, so they said they would not be surprised by any outside support for the W.U.C. or Radeer. Younger relatives point to the U.S. — not the U.S. per se but to the exploitation of U.S. apprehension over anything Beijing does and of U.S. sympathies for any group that Beijing opposes. The real point of staging riots inside China, they assert, is that they enable the exiled groups to survive and thrive. So they expect such riots for years to come.

The Han/Uyghur demographic trend in Xinjiang

For the past 10-20 years, following the change in economic activities and the apparent political integration and first hand experiences, people from Hong Kong I know seem to be a lot more knowledgeable about things in mainland China. However, prejudice might have largely gone now, ignorance is still widespread.

One example is that certain writer (aka toilet tissue head) who made his career by indiscriminately bashing the mainland grabbing any remotely related issue (people called this "piggybacking"/抽水) still find wide audience here. Another example is the ignorance of even some (according to his resume) British educated HK commentator.

This is a piece from Ming Pao today, from a "scholar/commentator" from Hong Kong. The author made argument like this, by comparing Xinjiang with Palestine. His "reasoning" is like this
  • Palestine had been relatively peaceful between 1967 to 1987
  • Because Palestinians had jobs (benefited from the oil industry employment in the middle east) -- I am no expert in the middle east so I suppose he is right about the fact, except that I thought oil didn't bring that much money until 1973, and this seems to echo the CCP's economic development brings stability line
  • He then argued that Israel did something wrong in 1977 by colonizing the West Bank, which is the point of inflexion and triggered the Palestinian uprising
  • Then he blamed China's Han immigration into Xinjiang, drawing parallel with Israel 1977-1987 and then concluded that China should heed the Israeli lesson and change its policy in Xinjiang
I do think there are some many problems in China's "minority policy" in general, not just in Xinjiang, but Tibet and elsewhere, i.e., in general. I also agree with some of the suggestions the author made (eg more communication, learning their culture, etc. though these seem to have nothing to do with the Israel-Palestine lesson he brought out).

What surprised me is that both the Ming Pao editor and the author (presumably a postgraduate from SOAS London) failed to check the facts which are crucial to his argument, which is common knowledge for those who care to do a little web surfing or knows China's modern history a bit.

Since the Han immigration started (and sorted of completed) between 1960-1977, which was more than 10 years before the 1977 time point he quoted for his Israel example, and we all know that the unrest in Xinjiang started about 10 years after 1987. There is a more than 20 year gap in the author's reasoning. Since 1978 there had been large scale emigration of Han out of Xinjiang, though more "drifters" moved in since mid-1990s, it had not reached the 1978 level in terms of % and the troubled started by mid-1990 before the second wave of Han move-in (which is predominantly urban and non-government directly). His conclusion may be right, and perhaps his discussion on Palestine, but his simply took the wrong line of reasoning.

These facts are easy to check (e.g. a goolge search landed me here). But more importantly, anyone who is familiar with the modern history of China would know that everything in China changed in 1978, and would bother to check this if he is drawing comparison to whatever happened in China during these years.

Of course, I think many of their criticism on the mainland (and its government mainly) are valid and needed. But the line of argument they put forward are just laughable, and therefore, at best destructive.

Here is a chart for Han/Uyghur population as a % of total in Xinjiang from 1978-2006 (source), showing an initial decline (repatriation of the youth sent there during Mao era back to the cities such as Shanghai after 1978) and gradual rebound after 1990s (business opportunity pulled). I don't have the pre-1978 figures, but this should be enough to show that 1977-1978 was about the peak time since we know that people were sent there in the early to mid-1970s.

Han % in 1978: 41.6% , 1990: 37.6%, 2006: 39.3%.

p.s Yazouzhoukan (Asiaweek, as translated by ESWN) and Time probably have the most comprehensive chronological recount of the incident. The Time report also noted that the Han % in Urumqi is 70% today. But it should be noted that the Han immigration are mainly to new mining cities such as Karamai (oil) and new cotton farm such as Kuitun, etc. While the Urumqi Han population had also grew significantly, the Han % was already 62% before the communists took over around 1950. (the peak was 77% in 1980)

Urumqi was called Di-hua (迪化) by the Manchu Empire, literally meaning "To enlighetn/civilise (the barbarians)". ROC retained that name. After the communist took over, they changed it to Urumqi in 1954 -- a name refered to by the Mongolian/Dzungar meaning beautiful pasture. The Dzungar were slaughtered by the Manchu emperor and Han and Uyghur moved to fill the vacuum, which explained the high Han % before 1949

(2000 data added/tabulized by ESWN):

Year Total Uighur %Uighur Han %Han
1949 100,710 18,310 16.99 67,588 62.29
1950 121,746 21,074 17.30 77,554 63.70
1951 125,275 21,955 17.52 78,902 62.98
1955 171,897 31,769 18.48 109,842 63.89
1960 634,844 76,496 12.04 477,321 75.18
1965 615,189 62,439 10.14 463,804 75.39
1968 679,165 72,339 10.65 511,547 75.31
1972 765,788 73,265 9.56 587,813 76.75
1975 930,430 91,708 9.85 716,550 77.01
1980 1,060,502 108,239 10.20 812,557 76.62
1985 1,172,335 138,546 11.81 868,789 74.10
1990 1,384,300 173,200 12.51 1,007,355 73.30
1996 1,478,922 188,327 12.73 1,076,319 72.77
2000 2,081,834 266,475 12.80 1,567,621 75.30

p.s.2 a commentator from a globalvoice referral link seems to be unhappy about my chart, he nonetheless provided a link to a very good book, Xinjiang - China's Muslim Borderland, where via google book you can peep on a few pages with very good data.
As to his accusations, (1) you need to download the file in the link and it is winrar compressed, and source is in Chinese, (2) FYI the Han % in 1949 in XJ was 6.74% from various source, from the book above it said the Han % was about 5% in 1941 and 30% in early 1880s (pp. 244-245), noting the census was likely to be less accurate back then.
The "borderland" book also discussed the history and other aspects of XJ, highly recommended based on the preview.