The Uighur history spans centuries, from it's essential nomadic inception in 300 BC, through the Mongol Empire to it's foundation of independence from Manchurian rule in the 19th century, under Great Game pawn (however unwitting) Yakub Beg. This independence was short lived and ended a mere decade later when Manchu rule was restored.
The Uighur culture survived another near century that saw the fall of Manchu rule, the rise of Nationalist rule and it's subsequent demise at the hands of a communist surge, all culminating in the Cultural Revolution which established the foundations of the Chinese state we have come to know today.
And today there remains some 8 million Uighurs scattered about in the Xinjiang province, and into Uzbekistan. Unsurprisingly the Chinese have supplied the Xinjiang province with a Han influx designed to tone down the native ethnic presence. The result, of course, is a resistance to the rubbing out of ones culture. Tibet isn't the only ethic front of the Chinese struggle:
Chinese paramilitary police sealed off a market town in central China last month and detained dozens of ethnic Uighurs, said local residents and a government official, in the latest sign of increasing tension with the country's ethnic minorities.I'd wondered before on just how China could fracture were it to succumb to the same fate the Soviet Empire did a decade and a half ago. I'd imagined a fractious event in which China's political presence was cleaved and an assortment of ethnic conglomerates fought again and rose again to a semblance of independence.
The arrests, which occurred in late March in Henan province but weren't reported at the time, appear to be part of an expanding Chinese government effort to prevent dissatisfaction among Turkic Uighurs from exploding into the kind of unrest that has swept Tibetan areas of the country.
Witnesses said hundreds of armed police descended on the Henan town of Shifosi, where there is a significant population of Uighur jade traders. "About 50 Uighurs were arrested," said a local government official.
As Han affluence grows so will China's reign over various subjects shrink. I'd present a question of China's stability in the forthcoming years. Ethnic haves and ethnic havenots only exist in a semblance of peace for so long. China may see interesting times, perhaps.
Map from PBS.