The Uighurs of Xinjiang are one of 55 minorities in China, but they are ethnically and historically closer to the Muslim Turkic groups of Central Asia. The Chinese government is trying to cement its hold on the resource rich Xinjiang by suppressing cultural and religious differences in schools and workplaces and by resettling millions of eastern Chinese into the wild western region.
Racism, language requirements and lack of education prevents many young Uighurs from getting contemporary jobs while their traditional roles as traders and farmers have become unprofitable. As Chinese influence increases, Uighurs must adapt to the Chinese way or be left behind economically.
I arrived in Xinjiang about 5 months before the Olympics and spent that time learning the area and making contacts. There has been a longstanding separatist movement consisting of attacks on police and government buildings. My plan was to be in Xinjiang during the Olympics in case something broke out. A few weeks before the Olympics started I was in a rural area near Kazakhstan looking into reports of a torched police station. While in the small town of San Gong the police picked me and revoked my Visa, kicking me out into Kazakhstan.