‘This Is No Longer the Xinjiang of My Memories’

There are more than 1,000 police stations in Urumqi.

by Li Benbo

As the CCP government intensified “stability maintenance” measures in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, its residents lost almost all their privacy and freedom. More and more ethnic Han people living outside the region come to realize that Xinjiang has become a giant prison. Zhang Li (we use a pseudonym) is one of them. Because of his business, Zhang Li lived for a while more than a year ago in Urumqi, the region’s capital and a major city on the Silk Road. He was shocked to see how the place has changed over the years.

“The streets are totally different from what they used to be,” Zhang Li remembered. When he arrived at Urumqi, he could hardly match what he saw now with the city in his memory. “Streets were desolate, only a few people and many police cars everywhere, officers in protective vests inspecting here and there,” the man continued. “Five or six officers could be seen in larger bus stations, while two or three in smaller ones. This made me anxious.”