Tuesday 16 January 2007
Source: Malaysia Star.
By LI EE KEE
Xinjiang has much to offer and top on the list would be rich cultural dances which you will get to enjoy in Mystical Steppes: Along the Silk Road.
Xinjiang Uyghur was set up as an autonomous region on Oct 1, 1955.
Xinjiang or Ice Jecen in Manchu, which literally means New Frontier, is a name given during the Manchu Qing dynasty in China. It is also called Chinese Turkistan or Eastern Turkistan.
Situated in the border area of northwest China and the hinterland of the Eurasian Continent, it occupies an area of 1.6 million km², approximately one sixth of Chinese territory. It is said to be larger than any other province or autonomous region.
It has a land border of 5,600km bounded by Tibet Autonomous Region and India to the south, Qinghai and Gansu provinces to the southeast, Mongolia to the east, Russia to the north, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan-India controlled parts of Kashmir to the west.
Because of its location at the heart of Asia, Xinjiang has, since the Bronze Age, played a central role in the social, cultural, and political development of the continent and the world.
Xinjiang was once the hub of the Silk Road and the conduit through which Buddhism, Christianity and Islam entered China. It was also the crossroads at which Chinese, Turkic, Tibetan, and Mongol empires communicated and struggled with each other.
Due to its strategic position, it is no wonder that Xinjiang, whose capital is Urumqi, is a melting pot of ethnicities and cultures, whose influences can be seen in the Mystical Steppes: Along the Silk Road dance performances from Jan 26 till 28.
It is home to a number of Turkic ethnic groups, the largest of which are the Uyghurs.
As of 2000, Xinjiang has a population of 19.3 million, including 11 million people of other ethnic groups, besides the Han, which is China’s majority ethnic group.
There are 47 ethnic groups in Xinjiang, mainly the Uyghur, Han, Kazak, Hui, Mongolian, Kirgiz, Xibe, Tajik, Ozbek, Manchu,Daur, Tatar and Russian. It is one of China’s five autonomous regions for ethnic minorities.
Surrounded by mountains, Xinjiang is known as the home of fruits and melons. Its main agricultural produces include wheat, corn, cotton and fruits such as Hami melon, grape, fig and Illi apple.
Hence, you can enjoy one of the dances called The Maidens of the Vineyard, in which the orchard becomes a hive of activities, in Mystical Steppes: Along the Silk Road. Being one of China’s five major pastoral areas, it has advanced livestock breeding.
The country is also bestowed with rich resources like petroleum, gold and nonferrous metals.
Apart from its rich natural resources, Xinjiang is renowned for its natural wonders. Many of China’s “most” are found here — the driest, hottest and coldest places, the longest inland river, lowest land and greatest desert.
It’s also a tourist hotspot with its 236 ancient cultural sites, tombs, architectures, Buddhist caves, stone sculptures and modern commemorative monuments of historical, artistic and scientific value.
There are also a number of ancient city ruins such as Gaochang Ancient City, City Site in the State of Loulan and the Site of Niya. The region has 22 nature reserves.