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Xinjiang, multi-ethnic region since ancient times: white paper

The Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, a multi-ethnic and multi-religious region since ancient times, has been an inalienable part of China for more than 2,000 years, says a white paper issued by the Information Office of the State Council Monday.

Xinjiang, with an area accounting for one-sixth of China's total territory, has 47 ethnic groups, whose population totals 19.25 million.

The white paper, which is titled History and Development of Xinjiang, says that in ancient times many tribes and ethnic groupslived in Xinjiang, which is situated in the border area of northwest China and the hinterland of the Eurasian Continent.

The ethnic origins of the residents of Xinjiang began to be clearly recorded in the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220), the main onesbeing the Sai (Sak), Rouzhi (or Yueh-chih), Wusun (Usun), Qiang, Xiongnu (Hun) and Han, the white paper says.

The Han was one of the earliest peoples to settle in Xinjiang. In 101 BC, the Han Empire began to station garrison troops to openup wasteland for cultivation of farm crops in Luntai (Bugur), Quliand some other places. Later, it sent troops to all other parts ofXinjiang for the same purpose.

The white paper says the garrison reclamation points became theearly settlements of the Han people after they entered Xinjiang. Since the Western Regions Frontier Command was established in 60 BC, the inflow of the Han people to Xinjiang, including officials, soldiers and merchants, had never stopped.

The period of the Wei, Jin and Southern and Northern dynasties (220-589) was a period of the large-scale merging of ethnic groupsin China. This period witnessed frequent ethnic migration across the land of China, including the entry into Xinjiang by many ancient ethnic groups, such as the Rouran (Jorjan), Gaoche, Yeda and Tuyuhun.

In the Sui (581-618) and Tang (618-907) dynasties, the ancient Turk and Tubo peoples exerted important influences on the course of Xinjiang's history.

The Turks were ancient nomads active on the northwestern and northern grasslands of China from the sixth to the eighth centuries. A state centered in Mobei (the area north of the vast deserts on the Mongolian Plateau) was set up by the Turk in 552.

The Turki realm later split into the eastern and western sides which fought ceaselessly in their scramble for the khanate. In themiddle of the eighth century, both the Eastern and Western Turki khanates went under, their descendants being absorbed by other ethnic groups.

The Tubo were the ancestors of the Tibetans, rising to notice on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in the late sixth century. The Tubo had ever occupied southern Xinjiang and part of northern Xinjiang in the middle of the eighth century.

In 840, large numbers of Uighurs (an ancient name for modern Uygurs) entered Xinjiang. The Uighur, originally called Ouigour, sprang from the ancient tribe Teli. In 744, the Uighur founded a khanate in Mobei. The Uighur Khanate collapsed in 840 and consequently most of the Uighur migrated westward.

One of the sub-groups of the Uighur moved to the modern Jimsar and Turpan regions, where they founded the Gaochang Uighur Kingdom,says the white paper. Another sub-group moved to the Central Asian grasslands, scattered in areas from Central Asia to Kashi, and joined the Karluk and Yagma peoples in founding the Karahan Kingdom.

After that, the Tarim Basin and its surrounding areas were under the rule of the Gaochang Uighur Kingdom and the Karahan Kingdom. The local residents were merged with the Uighurs that had moved west, thus laying the foundation for the subsequent formation of the Uygur ethnic group.

In 1124, Yollig Taxin, a member of the ruling house of the LiaoDynasty (916-1125), led his people, the Khitan tribe, westward andconquered Xinjiang, according to the white paper.

In the early 13th century, Genghis Khan led an expeditionary army to Xinjiang, where he granted the territories he had conquered to his children and grandchildren.

The Uighurs further assimilated a portion of the Khitans and Mongolians since the conquers by Yollig Taxin and Genghis Khan.

The early 17th century saw the rise of the Junggar, Dorbt, Huxut and Turgut tribes, which were in all called Oyrat, among theMongolians in Moxi (the area west of the vast deserts on the Mongolian Plateau). In the 1670s, the Junggar occupied the Ili River basin, becoming leader of the four tribes, and put southern Xinjiang under their control.

From the 1760s on, the government of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) sent Manchu, Xibe and Suolun (Daur) troops from northeast China to Xinjiang in order to strengthen the frontier defense of the region. This added to the ethnic mix there. Afterwards, Russians and Tatars migrated into Xinjiang.

The white paper says that by the end of the 19th century, Xinjiang had 13 ethnic groups, namely, Uygur, Han, Kazak, Mongolian, Hui, Kirgiz, Manchu, Xibe, Tajik, Daur, Ozbek, Tatar and Russian. The Uygurs formed the majority, as they do today.

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