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Xinjiang: China's forgotten occupation
1st September, 2003
Isolated by the surrounding desert, Kashgar was once
The railway has brought modern China across the desert to Kashgar. For those arriving in China’s westernmost city, the station clock tells the time in Beijing two time zones away. This is the official time in China, and is used by the trains that facilitate a state-supported migration of millions of Han Chinese. China’s dominant ethnic group, the Han account for 93 per cent of the country’s population. Until recently they were a minority in Kashgar, but in a few years their numbers have increased from seven per cent to 43 per cent of the city’s population. The migration has been driven by the discovery of estimated reserves of a trillion cubic metres of natural gas and 20 billion tonnes of oil.
an oasis on the old Silk Road. Now the city is being overwhelmed in the rush to open up the region’s oil and gas reserves. By Dan Box.
Before the railway’s construction, to get from Kashgar to Beijing it was four days by road to the nearest city of Urumchi and from there another four days by rail to the capital. Now, it takes just 24 hours.
Surrounded on all sides by desert, Kashgar is a heat-scorched oasis. The last outpost before the border with Pakistan, the city grew rich on the silk trade from Beijing to Europe. The trade’s influence can still be seen in the old town. Bazaars spill across narrow streets...
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