The Truth about Uyghur demographics and Han immigration in Xinjiang

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The same accusation that Han people are demographically swamping Uyghurs has been repeated around over 1,000 times already and is widespread in the western and other media hostile to China (India etc.)

Xinjiang is made out of two distinct regions which were not culturally or politically linked until China put them together in one province. They are Dzungharia (mostly Ili) and the Tarim Basin. Dzungharia is steppe and was traditionally home to nomads and nomadic empires. The Tarim Basin is made out of Oases and home to sedentary people.

Han Chinese have almost entirely migrated to Dzungharia and not the Tarim Basin. Nearly the entire Han population in Xinjiang lives in Dzungharia. The Uyghurs are not natives to Dzungharia but immigrants from the Tarim so both Han and Uyghurs in Dzungharia are immigrants.

The Uyghurs are native to the Tarim Basin, which is in southern Xinjiang only. It is the former territory of the Chagatai Khanate. The Uyghurs were sedentary Turkic speaking farmers in the Oaseses of the Tarim. Before the Soviets gave them the name “Uyghur” in 1921 they were not known as Uyghurs but as Turkis in the west. They called themselves Sart, which meant a sedentary Turkic speaking Muslim, or by the Oases they came from. If they came from Turpan they would be Turpanlk. Their language was called Eastern Turki or Chagatai. The Tarim Basin was also known as Moghulistan (Mongol land) since the Chagatais were descendants of Genghis Khan.

Dzungharia is in northern Xinjiang. It was home to the Dzunghar Oirat Mongols who were a nomadic, Lamaist Buddhist people. Their state was the Zunghar Khanate. The name of Xinjiang’s capital Urumqi is from the Dzunghar, not the Uyghur language.

In the Chagatai Khanate, the Chagataid Khan and princes were the secular rulers. The religious leaders were the Sayyid Naqshbandi Khojas. There were two factions of Khojas, the Qarataghliks and Aqtaghliks. The Qarataghliks and the Chagatai Khan expelled the Aqtaghliks from power. The Aqtaghliks sought aid from the Buddhist Zunghar Khanate, which then attacked the Chagatai Khanate, installed the Aqtaghliks as puppets and forced the turkic population into submission and paying tribute.

The Chagataid Turks and Qarataghlik Khojas then turned to China for aid. China and the Turkic muslims (Uyghur ancestors) launched a massive campaign the Dzunghars in 1758-1759 and nearly exterminated the entire Zunghar population. Only tens of thousands are still left in Xinjiang.

The Zunghar Khanate was then absorbed into China, and the Chagatai prince, the Qarataghlik Khojas and the Turkic Khans and Begs then submitted to Chinese rule and the Tarim Basin also became part of China. The Aqtaghlik Khojas were bitter about their loss and tried to forment rebellion but were defeated.

China then settled in the place of the decimated Dzunghar population, thousands of Han, Hui, Manchus, Xibo, and Turkic Muslims from the Tarim Basin (uyghurs ancestors). Those turkic muslims became known as the Taranchi and the Uyghurs in modern Dzungharia are their descendants. Very few Han migrated into the Uyghurs native Tarim basin.

Urumqi was originally a Han and Hui (Tungan) city with few Uyghurs. Its the Uyghurs who are the immigrants.

Beyond the Pass: Economy, Ethnicity, and Empire in Qing Central Asia, 1759-1864 – James A. Millward – Google Books

Beyond the Pass: Economy, Ethnicity, and Empire in Qing Central Asia, 1759-1864 – James A. Millward – Google Books

The Qing administed the Dzungharia and the Tarim basin as separate regions. The north (dzungharia) used to be called 天山北路 tianshan beilu and the south (Tarim Basin) was 天山南路 tianshan nanlu. 

Those two distinct areas, Dzungharia (tianshan beilu) and Tarim Basin (tianshan nanlu) were combined to form Xinjiang province in 1884 by the Chinese government. Ever since then its been regarded as a single province,

This is an old book from 200 years ago. Soungaria is Dzungharia and Turkestan refers to the Tarim Basin only

China ; Political, Commercial, and Social: In an Official Report to Her … – Robert Montgomery Martin – Google Books


The book of the world – Richard Swainson Fisher – Google Books

That part of the empire called Hi is a vast region, lying on each side of the Tien-shan, or Celestial Mountains, and including a tract nearly as large as Mongolia, and not much more susceptible of cultivation. The limits extend from 36° to 49° N , and from longitude 71° to 96° E. It is divided by the Tien-shan into two parts called ” lu,” or circuits, viz.: Tien-shanpeh-lu and Tien-shan-nan-lu, or north and south of the Celestial Mountains. The former is commonly denominated Songaria, from the Songares its former rulers, and the latter is known as Little Bokara, or Eastern Turkestan. Hi, taken as a whole, may be regarded as an inland isthmus, extending south-west from the south of Siberia, off between the Gobi and Caspian deserts, till it reaches the Hindoo-Kush, leading down to the valley of the Indus. The former of these deserts encloses it on the east and south, and the other on the west and north-west, separated from each other by the Belur-tag and the Muz-tag ranges, which join with the Celestial Mountains that divide the isthmus itself into two parts. These deserts united are equal to the extent of Sahara, but are not as arid and tenantless. Little is known of the topography, productions, or civilization of the tribes, but the efforts of the Chinese have been systematically directed to developing the agricultural resources of the country, by stationing troops in every part, who cultivate the soil, and by banishing criminals thereto, who are obliged to work for, and assist the soldiers. The productions are numerous. Wheat, barley, rice, and millet are the chief grains; tobacco, cotton, and fruits are grown; herds of horses, camels, cattle and sheep, afford means of locomotion and food for the people, while the mountains and lakes supply game and fish. The inhabitants are composed mostly of Eleuths, Mongols, Manchus, Chinese, and several native tribes. The government is under the control of the Manchu military officers residing at Hi.

Here are souces on how the Qing dynasty colonized Dzungharia with BOTH Han and Taranchis (Uyghur ancestors) from Tarim oases like Aksu and other peoples like Manchus, Xibe and others. Both Han and Uyghurs are not native and are immigrants.

Beyond the Pass: Economy, Ethnicity, and Empire in Qing Central Asia, 1759-1864 – James A. Millward – Google Books

China Marches West: The Qing Conquest of Central Eurasia – Peter C Perdue – Google Books

State Capitalism, Contentious Politics and Large-Scale Social Change – Google Books

Now in modern times since 1950, China has directed most Han immigration into Dzungharia (and alot of development as well). The majority of Han in Xinjiang a NOT on Uyghur native land and both Han and Uyghurs in Dzungharia are immigrants. The Dzunghars are the natives and they are almost extinct. The Uyghurs are the majority in their native tarim basin.

At the start of the 19th century, 40 years after the Qing reconquest, there were around 155,000 Han and Hui Chinese in northern Xinjiang and somewhat more than twice that number of Uyghurs in southern Xinjiang.[79] A census of the time tabulated ethnic shares of the population as 60% Turkic and 30% Han.[80] Before 1831 only a few hundred Chinese merchants lived in southern Xinjiang oases (Tarim Basin), and only a few Uyghurs lived in northern Xinjiang (Dzungaria).[81] After 1831 the Qing permitted and encouraged Han Chinese migration into the Tarim basin in southern Xinjiang, although with very little success, and stationed permanent troops on the land there as well.[82] Political killings and expulsions of non Uyghur populations in the uprisings of the 1860s[82] and 1930s saw them experience a sharp decline as a percentage of the total population[83] though they rose once again in the periods of stability following 1880 (which saw Xinjiang increase its population from 1.2 million)[84][85] and 1949. From a low of 7% in 1953, the Han began to return to Xinjiang between then and 1964, where they comprised 33% of the population (54% Uyghur), similarly to Qing times. A decade later, at the beginning of the Chinese economic reform in 1978, the demographic balance was 46% Uyghur and 40% Han;[80] this has not changed drastically until the last census in 2000, with the Uyghur population reduced to 42%.[86] Military personnel are not counted and national minorities are undercounted in the Chinese census, as in most censuses.[87] While some of the shift has be attributed to an increased Han presence,[88] Uyghurs have also emigrated to other parts of China, where their numbers have increased steadily. Uyghur independence activists express concern over the Han population changing the Uyghur character of the region,though the Han and Hui Chinese mostly live in northern Xinjiang Dzungaria, and are separated from areas of historical Uyghur dominance south of the Tian Shan mountains (southwestern Xinjiang), where Uyghurs account for about 90% of the population.[89]

Red is Dzungharia and Blue is the Tarim Basin.

Tarim Basin – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Chagatai Khanate
[​IMG]Here are maps on qing Xinjiang which was divided into Tianshan beilu (dzungharia) and tianshan nanlu (tarim basin, also called eastern turkestan)
[​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]Before the Qing dynasty conquered the Ming dynasty, Dzungharia was part of the Zunghar Oirat Khanate and Tarim was part of the Chagatai Khanate