About Uighurs by Peter Yeo Toon Joo, retired Singaporean journalist living in Canada..


The anecdotal nature of this observation is obvious.

For context and larger issues:


Posted as received (via WhatsApp)…


About Uighurs by retired Singaporean journalist living in Canada

Yeo Toon Joo, Peter

Date: 20 March 2021 at 5:02:05 PM GMT-7

Subject: Uighurs

Here’s an article about Uighurs which is very different from what you have been reading in other media sources.  A friend of mine living in Canada has given this to me, based on his personal studies and experience.

———- Forwarded message ———

And- as to the many countries who have on US provocation and encouragement / or insistence expressed their views on the suppression of its Uighurs people who are citizens of China,  I should share with this with you

After my first retirement when I assisted a friend who runs a large landholding and property development firm here, Edmonton.

One of my office mates was a Uighur girl from Urumqi, Xinjiang Province, China.

At first I could not tell she was Uighur, she looked so Chinese.

It was over lunch one day when she casually said that she came from a family of 9 children.

I then asked how this was possible during the One Child policy?

It was then that she told me that this one child policy law NEVER included China’s Ethnic minorities and only then did I know she was Uighur. There are about 66 minority groups in China.

If the CPC (Communist Party of China) was onto Genocide of its over 60 ethnic minorities – why would these minorities have been excluded from the One Child Policy during Mao’s era?

She then told us that parents could not speak or read & write Chinese, they were born abt the time when Mao reunited China (1948 or soon after). Her parents were unable to get jobs bec. they were totally illiterate in Chinese.

Xinjiang in 1949, was then still a very remote and very under-developed and among the poorest, if not the poorest of all of the  Provinces and China itself was then among the poorest countries in the world and still suffering from the ravages of the war against the Japanese, WW2, and the Chinese Civil War.

Her parents were poor and had a tough time raising the family of 9 kids.

She remembers that her parents were assisted in the 70’s or 80’s (Deng’s time)  and given some  land and a home and

Chinese lessons for free.

But her parents put all their kids into the Chinese School system, and there the kids had a chance to better themselves.

She (Cathy) also learnt English as well and later married a Han Chinese and they now live in Vancouver. She is an Accountant.

Remember also  that Mao’s China was literally bankrupt when Mao declared China a Republic on Oct 1 1949

The KMT under Chiang Kai Shek had emptied the entire Chinese treasury and reserves of gold and silver and also many, many historical art works, antiques and other valuables and taken these to Taiwan as the KMT retreated to Taiwan

The Colonialists had raped China of its resources and the wars against them, the Japanese and the long Civil War had also cost China dearly in lives and treasure. This is a big reason why Mao did not immediately proceed to ‘liberate’ Taiwan and chose instead to consolidate his gains on the mainland. The Taiwan issue can be attended to later.

At my Bank in Riverbend, Edmonton,  there is a Teller who is from Urumqi, (she has since been transferred) but she tells me that many Uighurs are now attending Chinese Schools and /or taught various trades, given land to farm assisted in starting a business and nobody is forced to do anything by the Govt, but realistically,  they have no choice – the force, if any  is the force of necessity..

If they want to succeed in life and earn a living they have to be educated in Chinese and come into mainstream Han (Chinese) society. If there is any ‘force’ it is the force of circumstance.

It is true that as part of their learning a trade the Uighurs learn their trades and work in factories. Women sew, make embroideries, learn the silk trade, men are more into mechanics, maintenance, carpentry, metal works etc. Private enterprise is encouraged.    

Uighurs are into the restaurant & service business 

Agriculture and animal husbandry are also taught, families are given enough land and assisted in growing enough for their own needs. And as families are formed into collectives, then there are fruit farms, tea plantations, desert reclamation projects etc which is part of China’s absolute poverty eradication programme. Many factories are encouraged to open up in Xinjiang as costs are cheaper and Xinjiang is on the Silk Road to Europe.

There is no restriction on the practice of their religion – the largest (and oldest)  mosques in China are in Xinjiang.

But mostly it is the older generation that attends services at the Mosques. — This is not unlike our own Churches, mostly the older generation attend, the young are conspicuous by their absence.

These 2 Uighurs women that I met, are no longer living in China, they do not have to be politically correct when they speak here.

They can speak their mind. One married a Han Chinese and I think the one in the bank is still single.

There is a concerted effort by the CPC (Communist Party of China)  to lift the Uighars out of poverty.

There are about 30M Chinese Muslims in Xinjiang. About 15M are true Uighurs, the others are Tajiks, Kazaks, Turkmenistan, Samarkands, and other ethnics whose ancestors lived along the original Silk Road in central Asia and whose ancestors over the eons lived in Xinjiang and yet never assimilated into Han society. These are  loosely included with and are called Uighurs. 

Why these peoples did not assimilate with the Han is because there were so few Han.

Granted until the last 20 or 25 years ago there were not many Han Chinese living in Xinjiang. There are  now more Han living in Xinjiang as the central Govt is encouraging more Han to migrate there and also there is a concerted effort to open up Xinjiang – Historically it is part of the  Silk Road. The Han are still in the minority in Xinjiang.

But Uighur culture and traditions are still allowed and encouraged & their Mosques are still open and festivals & traditions are still observed. Of course there will be some Uighurs that will resist that can be expected in any society, and some have to be de-radicalized. The BBC reports that 1M Uighurs are being persecuted, 1M out of 30 M is just 3%  – but this 3% can cause a lot of trouble by being domestic terrorists. Even within Democratic societies there are domestic terrorists –  and all leading democracies have their own ways of controlling domestic terrorists

But the  vast majority are aware that it is for their betterment and have no problem and are supportive.

Just last week CGTN reported that between 1950 to 2020 the Uighur population more than doubled.

This is also true of many other ethnic minorities in China, most are in Yunan and there are also Manchu and Mongol minoritiesthere is a big effort to get them into the mainstream and out of poverty. Most of China’s other minorities are literate in Chinese,

China has over 60 ethnic minority groups, the Uighurs and the Manchus are the largest (and the Mongols have become so Chinese-zied (to coin a word) they are hard to tell apart from Han Chinese, but many still practice Mongol traditions.

One of our tour guides (Sara) in Beijing was a Mongol.

I even kidded with the US tourists in our group that building a Wall does not work – look Sara made it into China and is still here – the truth is that Sara’s Mongol ancestors invaded and conquered China. in the 1100’s and ruled it till the 1400’s.

Other minorities inc. the Miao, Shan, Hmong, Yi, Hujias, Hui, Yao, Tibetians, etc… 

Just look at our own (Canada’s) first nations people who are still marginalized because through the generations no concerted effort has been made to get them into the mainstream of society by any of our Governments and lift them out of poverty. To try and European-ize a First nations child in residential schools as was tried just 60 years ago or so, just  does not work. A similar comment can be made about how Australia treated its aboriginals but the Chinese way seems to be working. 

NO one nation is more righteous than another and politicizing such things as the above does nothing toward making a more peaceful world.

How many of its own citizens have these nations who are so quick to criticize other nations, how many have lifted its own poorer citizens and minorities within it out of poverty?

The US  certainly has had Administrations after Administrations that make the rich, richer and the poor,  poorer.  Has the US ever had any plans to lift its poor out of poverty?

I have to mention here that as I see it; The US eradicates poverty  by upping the minimum wage    

The Chinese eradicates absolute poverty not only by teaching the people how to fish, but also how to farm fish, or fruit or tea and how to get the produce from the remote villages and into the markets in the cities. Roads now connect most remote areas of Xinjiang and 5G and wi-fi just about everywhere.    

China has lifted over 850 M out of poverty – and along the way has also created many that became Billionaires, it has the most Billionaires (in US$) of any country in the world.


Since China began to open up and reform its economy in 1978, GDP growth has averaged almost 10 percent a year, and more than 850 million people have been lifted out of poverty. Today, China is an upper-middle-income country and the world’s second largest economy.

China Overview – World Bank Group

In China today, poverty refers mainly to the rural poor, as decades of economic growth have largely eradicated urban poverty.[1][2][3] The dramatic progress in reducing poverty over the past three decades in China is well known. According to the World Bank, more than 850 million Chinese people have been lifted out of extreme poverty; China’s poverty rate fell from 88 percent in 1981 to 0.7 percent in 2015, as measured by the percentage of people living on the equivalent of US$1.90 or less per day in 2011 purchasing price parity terms.[4][5]

Apart from absolute poverty, 

As I see it there are at least 2 other kinds of poverty – personal and societal

Personal – well some people will always lack the incentive or the opportunities or the will or health to succeed.

“The poor you shall always have with  you”

Societal –  There are groups that are oppressed by the dominant group (Colonialism, Segregation laws, arpathied, 

and this cannot change without a regime  change of the dominant group. barring dictators, and corruption from within

when this does happen, see how quickly most of these societies can rebound, Singapore eg, Malaysia, Vietnam   and yet not most of Africa.

Oops I better stop, I am too long winded.


This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to About Uighurs by Peter Yeo Toon Joo, retired Singaporean journalist living in Canada..

  1. Yeo Toon Joo says:

    The good article on the Uighurs was not written by me.I had merely forwarded it and someone added the comment that I was the author.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s