I was struck by the headline on the Radio Free Asia main page that said "Uyghurs Pressed into Field Work"
When I think of fieldwork, I think of research. For me that means talking to performers, scholars, and government officials, practicing performing arts, and observing rehearsals and performances. I love fieldwork. In fact fieldwork is much more fun than writing up the results of the fieldwork and polishing it for publication.
Yet for Uyghur people (and not only activists and such) it means being forced to do manual labor outdoors. The article explained that "Local officials make the Uyghur farmers who do not perform their free “labor duty” pay a fee, which they then use to pay Han Chinese migrant laborers for the same work."
Reading articles like this I cannot avoid getting angry. What is wrong with the Chinese government that they cannot see how they perpetuate the poor inter-ethnic-group relations in their country by treating certain ethnic groups (and residents of regions high in ethnic groups) poorly. How can they not understand the protests in ethnic regions (the Uyghur and Tibetan regions are the most "restive") when locals are treated so poorly? Obviously much of this is due to the enduring issues of governmental corruption when local governmental officers choose to press people into labor and pocket government funds allocated to projects. But it is also tied to the government's disempowering hiring practices that see a disproportionately large number of Han Chinese in positions of authority even in regions with a Han population of under 15%.