"No Uighurs Need Apply"

From Shannon Kirwin of Beijing, this photo of a "Help Wanted" sign outside the Postal Hotel (邮政宾馆) in Kashgar in China's Xinjiang region a few days ago. Click for larger.

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Here's the significance of the sign: It's an advertisement for restaurant staff at the hotel, in roles from cooks to supervisors. Kashgar, of course, is a historic trading town on the extreme western frontier of China, much closer to Lahore, Kabul, and New Delhi than to Beijing. The original population there would be of Uighur or other Turkic ethnicity, rather than Han Chinese. But the last line of the advertisement says, "This offer is for Han Chinese (汉族) only, ages 18-30."

Shannon Kirwin writes,

"I completely agreed with Glenn Mott's analysis of the riots as a variation of the same race riots we have experienced in the US.  In large part the frustration with the Chinese regime that many Uighurs expressed to us throughout our travels in Xinjiang seemed to stem from everyday insults and degradations such as the one pictured here.  We were also told by people in several different cities that there is an unofficial policy of denying ethnic Uighurs passports until they reach retirement age, particularly if they are applying to visit Mecca. 

"Just to describe the scene a little more, the hotel, the 邮政宾馆, is located on a major street corner that is a neighborhood gathering spot for fruit peddlers, motorcycle taxi drivers, and residents.  The sign is enormous and impossible to miss."
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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.

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