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Dragon Fighter
Dragon Fighter

The People’s Republic of China has 56 recognized ethnicities; still, the Han majority makes up 92 percent of the population.  Most of the remaining 55 groups are relatively unknown to the West.  Some are even little known in China, as they are small and live on the margins of China-proper.  Groups such as the ethnic Koreans and Manchu are highly integrated into the Chinese mainstream; however, the best known internationally, the Tibetans, are recognized mainly due to their protracted struggle for greater autonomy from the oppressive Han dominated national government.

In fact, the level of international awareness Tibetans receive is astonishing, considering Tibetans make up less than half of one percent of China’s population.  This makes them only the ninth largest minority group.  The “Tibetan Issue” is well known due to a superior global marketing campaign, which includes the venerable Dalai Lama and a host of celebrity Western activists.  However, the 10 million Uighurs (also Uyghur) in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region are more numerous, have struggled just as long against the Han Chinese, and their homeland is larger.  Still, they have never enjoyed the same international regard.  Perhaps, Turkic Muslims are not as appealing to the hearts and minds of the West as bald monks in flowing robes.  Cultural biases aside, the Uighurs have failed at marketing, largely because they have no central leadership, no figurehead – until now.

Enter the Dragon Fighter: Rebiya Kadeer, the self declared “Mother Of All Uighurs”.  Once, one of the wealthiest women in China, this slight mother of 11 children, divorcee, non-secondary school graduate, is one of China’s most wanted fugitives.  The government has accused her of working with foreign interests to mastermind the July 5th Uighur protest that turned into a violent race riot.  Over 200 people are believed to have died, most of whom were ethnic Han, who many Uighurs view as colonists.

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