Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Situation and cultural heritage in Kashgar

Delivered in Plenary - 10th March 2011

Mr President

The EU’s motto is ‘Unity in diversity’. Sadly, such a sentiment does not resonate in the People’s Republic of China, whose Communist rulers are obsessed with unity, but not much thought is given to celebrating diversity.

Undoubtedly the attempt to impose Han Chinese majority culture on tiny minorities in the world’s most populous country is causing much tension and resentment. We already know about the suppression of the ancient Buddhist Tibetan culture over the last 60 years; now we see the same threat looming over the city of Kashgar in the restive province of Xinjiang.

For 2000 years Kashgar has been a thriving city on the Silk Road with a rich, unique and flourishing central Asian culture, but now it is facing wholesale demolition and rebuilding. It is hard to escape the idea that this is Beijing’s attempt to break the will of the Uyghur separatists.

I personally have no brief or sympathy for the separatist cause, some of whose supporters, I am afraid, have links to al-Qa’ida, but I urge the Chinese Government to think again. The destruction of an ancient city like Kashgar would simply strengthen the resolve of all of those who would wish to foment violence against the state.