Translation: a Han Tourist in XinjiangMarch 01, 2019
There were two lines, one for tourists, the other one for people who need their IDs verified. I didn’t know the difference while lining up. I was getting ready to take out my ID until someone ushered me forward. Then I placed my backpack on the security machine . . . So, thanks to my Han face, I was able to start my trip as a typical, carefree tourist.
I stayed for two nights in wood cabins in the rural areas of northern Xinjiang. Almost all cabins have a security machine and a set of anti-riot armor. The cabin owner told me that they spent 10,000 RMB to set up [or install] the machine. Now it takes up so much space and seems to have quickly become a shelf for miscellaneous junk.
The entries and exits in the old town all had security equipment to check the IDs of ethnic minorities. There were restrictions as to when you may come and go.
The street in front of our hostel had a police officer standing in anti-riot armor every 10 meters or so . . . Some time during the day, I saw a group of locals in orange jackets walking on the street with long bats. Some locals told me that they were business owners in the neighborhood. They formed a security team and patrolled every day.
The atmosphere of control here is crystal clear. Although I didn’t know what impact it had on the locals, I could have imagined what it must feel like to have your ID checked every time when you try to enter or leave some place. What was more difficult to accept is using this method as protection for tourists, so that the Han tourists could freely enjoy the carefully renovated ethnic characteristics. I feel bad when I think about how I had fun taking pictures of the alleyways during the day.