Kashgar’s old city: landscape of loss

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March 24, 2010 | openDemocary | By Henryk Szadziewski

The dust that now rises in Kashgar’s old city comes no longer from the sands of the Taklamakan desert, but from the debris of centuries-old houses demolished in a “residents’-resettlement” project. This historic urban heartland of Uyghur society was once given its character by the lively trade in the bazaars, the vibrant alleyway communities, and the cool refuge of shaded courtyards; today, its defining feature is the gap-toothed and pockmarked landscape of flattened houses razed by Chinese bulldozers (see “Kashgar’s old city: the politics of demolition“, 3 April 2009). 

The Chinese authorities in the far-west Xinjiang region of the people’s republic declared in early 2009 that 65,000 homes in Kashgar’s old city – an area that encompasses nearly eight square kilometres –  were unfit for habitation due to poor drainage and concerns over potential collapse in the event of an earthquake. It is unclear exactly how much of the old city has been demolished since then; but it is known that a significant number of Uyghurs have been relocated to new apartment-blocks eight-to-nine kilometres from Kashgar’s centre, and find their new residencies conveniently fitted with the trappings of modern surveillance such as CCTV cameras.

Read the full op-ed: https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/kashgars-old-city-landscape-of-loss/