The Urumqi demonstrations of July 5th 2009: Separatism and economic and social change in Xinjiang

Speaker: Michael Dillon

18.Nov.2009 17.00 - 18.30
Room G.03, 20 Cromer Terrace - Leeds


The violence that erupted in Urumqi in July 2009 is not solely a contemporary phenomenon and neither is it purely the result of conflict between the Uyghurs and the CCP. Its root cause is ethnic tension between the Turkic Muslim Uyghurs and the Han Chinese which has existed for decades and can be traced as far back as the conquest of what is now called Xinjiang by the Manchu Qing dynasty in the 18th Century. The conflict has been exacerbated by the changing international situation since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and by economic and social changes in Xinjiang, notably the development of industry as part of the Great Western Development Project and by the migration of Han workers into Xinjiang and Uyghur workers to other parts of China.

The paper presented at the seminar is available here

Michael Dillon

Michael Dillon is a China specialist with expertise in Chinese language and the history and society of the Chinese world and is currently Visiting Professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing. He was founding Director of the Centre for Contemporary Chinese Studies at the University of Durham, where he taught courses on modern China in the Department of East Asian Studies. He has a BA and PhD in Chinese Studies from Leeds University and is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and the Royal Asiatic Society.

His publications include:

China’s Muslims Oxford University Press, 1996

China’s Muslim Hui Community: Migrations, Settlements and Sects Curzon, 1999

Religious Minorities in China Minority Rights Group, 2001

“Islam in China” Encyclopaedia of Religion (2nd edition) New York: Macmillan, December 2004

Xinjiang: China’s Muslim Far Northwest RoutledgeCurzon, 2004/2009

“Separatist Movements in Xinjiang” in Terrorism, Conflict and the Media in Asia edited by Benjamin Cole, London: Routledge, 2006 p 98-116

Islam in China - Key Papers (editor) Global Oriental, 2009

“Towards a Chinese Tafsir: the social history of Chinese translations of the Qur’an” in Suha Taji-Farouki and Andreas Christmann (ed) Reading the Qur’an: Language, Culture and Interpretation in 20th Century Tafsir Oxford University Press/Institute for Ismaili Studies (IIS) Qur'anic Studies Series (forthcoming 2009)

China: a Historical and Cultural Dictionary (editor) Curzon, 1998

Contemporary China: an Introduction Routledge, 2008

China: a Modern History I.B.Tauris, 2009 forthcoming.

Chinese Economic History to 1949 - Key Papers (editor) Global Oriental 2008

Chinese Economic History since 1949 - Key Papers (editor) Global Oriental, 2009 in preparation

His research expertise includes historical and contemporary Xinjiang; Hui Muslims; ethnic minorities in China; China’s relations with Central Asia; Chinese border issues; and modern Chinese history. He has carried out fieldwork in Xinjiang, Gansu and Ningxia (the major Muslim regions of north-western China) and in neighbouring territories, and has travelled extensively in China for over twenty-five years.

Current projects include a history of twentieth-century Kashghar, a study of Islam across China’s Inner Asian Frontiers and a book on China’s social, political economic development. He is a frequent commentator on Chinese and Asian affairs for the BBC and other international broadcasters.