In an opinion piece titled “How does China handle its Kashmir?” in the latest issue of Organiser, S Gurumurthy writes: “That China too has its Kashmir and problem with Islamist separatists identical to India’s Kashmir is not widely known. Xinjiang is China’s Kashmir. Xinjiang actually shares borders with Ladakh in India’s Kashmir. China’s Kashmir is physically 100 times bigger than India’s and therefore its problem too is that bigger. Yet many do not know about it. The reason is that China prevented Xinjiang, its Kashmir, from becoming an international issue like India’s Kashmir. Xinjiang, which had a majority Turkish Mulims [known as Uyghurs] in 1949, had a short lived state of East Turkestan. China invaded it, crushed it, won back its territory. The name Xinjiang literally means ‘old frontier returns to China’! See the contrast. A year earlier, in 1948, India almost won back most of the Kashmir from Pakistan which had invaded it, but, voluntarily offered and turned it into an international issue. It was India, not Pakistan, which went to the United Nations; made it an international issue. It is struggling to say it is a bilateral one! Now, on to how China handled Xinjiang, its Kashmir, and integrated it with mainland China.”
He adds: “Xinjiang has a population of 20 million plus. The Uyghur Muslims constitute 45 per cent; other Muslims 12 per cent and Hans 41 per cent. What was the population of Han Chinese in Xinjiang in 1949? Just 6 per cent; in six decades it has risen by seven times. This change did not occur on its own. China did not just trust army or administrative control of its territory in Xinjiang. It trusted only its people. It ensured that the Han Chinese slowly began populating Xinjiang. The result is self-evident. But the 41 per cent Han Chinese population does not include Chinese defence personnel and families, and unregistered migrant Chinese workers”.
He concludes: “Yes China do have problem with Islamist separatists, extremists and terrorists. But it has, by diplomacy and action, kept that an internal problem of China unlike India which has on its own made the Kashmir an international issue. China has changed the religious and political demography of Xinjiang by ensuring that 41 per cent of the province’s population is non-Muslim. Instead of working to change the demography in favour of India like China has done, the Indian government, in contrast, could not even prevent the expulsion of the Hindus from the Valley. While Xinjiang is half filled by Han Chinese, Kashmir is cleansed of the Hindus. With the result, India has to defend Kashmir by the army instead of by the people. Had India followed the policy which Chinese had adopted in Xinjiang, conquering back Kashmir instead of contracting under Article 370 which prevented rest of Indians from migrating to Kashmir, today Kashmir would have demographically integrated with India. India would be dealing with internal riots occasionally like China does; and not face or fight wars with Pakistan and with terrorists everyday. The lesson for India is: demography — religious demographic balance that is in tune with the national mainstream — is the guarantee for the nation”.