A Chinese government-funded study has recommended a second capital in the country’s far-western Xinjiang region bordering Central and South Asia to rebalance China’s economy, address ethnic tensions and strengthen ties with Eurasian nations, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported on May 4.
The report was published in the Chinese-language journal Social Sciences in Xinjiang on April 21. It reportedly proposes that the purpose-built capital be close to Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, or to Xinjiang’s city of Kashgar, one of the westernmost cities of China, which is located near the border with Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Pakistan.
The study does not provide details on how the central government would distribute its functions between Beijing and the potential second capital, according to a South China Morning Post report.
Xinjiang is home to more than 11mn predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and other Turkic minorities, who have been repressed by Beijing in recent years, partly through mass detention in “re-education” camps.
Erkin Ekrem, vice president of the World Uyghur Congress and an associate professor of history at Hacettepe University in Turkey, was quoted by RFA as saying: “The Uyghur region is critical for China to achieve its dream [of being a global power by 2049, the year that will make the 100th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China]. It is a gateway to Central Asia, Western Asia, Turkey and Europe. Therefore, establishing a secondary capital in the Uyghur region has strategic importance for China.”
Ekrem also cautioned: “For China to establish a secondary capital in East Turkestan [a loosely defined wider region covering western provinces of China], it must first Sinicize the region.”
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