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Notes on the Geography of China: Urumqi

Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, is now more Han than Uighur. It's not just demographics; it's also physical, with the city built by Han to Han notions of what a city should be. The pictures here all come from early 2009, before the troubles that erupted a few months later.

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China: Urumqi picture 1

The Tian Shan on the approach to Urumqi.

China: Urumqi picture 2

Cityscape: the concrete by itself tells you that this city is like a hundred others farther east.

China: Urumqi picture 3

Street scene.

China: Urumqi picture 4

A breezy day.

China: Urumqi picture 5

Very traditional? Not quite. The city's grand bazaar was cleared and an ersatz version put in its place. Most of the vendors are Han. The tower is like those farther west, for example in Bukhara, but the gray band of bas-reliefs would not be tolerated there.

China: Urumqi picture 6

Here it is; figurative sculpture on a make-believe minaret. The musicians are having a party, but who is responsible for it?

China: Urumqi picture 7

Answer: the Grand Bazaar Development Company.

China: Urumqi picture 8

Inside the new grand bazaar.

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Downstairs there's a Carrefour.

China: Urumqi picture 10

Another attempt to celebrate Xinjiang's Uighurs.

China: Urumqi picture 11

Uighurs are busy outside, here with a variety of breads.

China: Urumqi picture 12

Hot from the oven.

China: Urumqi picture 13

A metalshop.

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