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September 25, 2008

AIR in Beijing

UPDATE Photos from last night's show:




I was up front by the left side of the stage, so I was only really able to see Nicolas Godin well. Jean-Benoît Dunckel was often hiding behind his piano and keyboards. Also, the security were being real dicks about not allowing photography, so I had to sneak these shots. The last one was just a trippy fluke, but it's my favorite.

The show was pretty good, in my opinion... about as good as you could expect AIR to be live. I don't really know what I was expecting. They played a set consisting of most of the fan favorites, with "Alone in Kyoto" and "Sexy Boy" as encores.

It's tough to be standing up, staring at the stage, and rocking out to slow, dreamy soundscapes. Anyway, I'm glad I went. The general consensus after the show seemed to be that AIR could never match the sonic excellence of their recordings in a live situation.

But still, how could anyone ever get tired of them saying "xie xie" into a vocoder? I'd say their first ever show in China was a success, if not mind-blowing.
••••

Click here if you want a pair of tickets to tonight's sold-out show!

Well, my monthly stipend from the CIA for authoring this blog has come in, and I've decided to treat myself to something nice. I've been a fan of AIR for almost ten years now, but have never had a chance to see them live... until now.

How cool is it that AIR is playing in Beijing? And not at the Worker's Stadium or Star Live, but at little ol' (new) Yugong Yishan. Sure, the tickets are expensive (Y550 in the pre-sale), but I'm considering this a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Anyone else going? I'll try to take some photos and post them on Saturday along with a review of the show.

••••
P.S. Check out this RFA article on a topic near and dear to my heart... the rumor about free lunches for Muslims in Xinjiang during Ramadan. I guess it's not a rumor anymore.

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posted September 25, 2008 at 07:40 PM unofficial Xinjiang time | HaoHao This!

Comments

Awesome. That should be a really good show. I just found out about Air myself pretty recently through Last.fm. If I were in Beijing, I would definitely be there :)

The comment above was posted by Keith at September 25, 2008 10:17 PM unofficial Xinjiang time.

Here is your CIA-sponsored RFE - Radio Free Asia news:

No Free Ramadan Lunches in China Yet
2008-09-24

Free Lunches in China?! No yet! You might get free lunches when you join the "Free Tibet" demonstrations in Washington DC, Boston or San Francisco, but no free lunches in China yet, a senior U.S. State Department official who asked for anonymity said today in Washington, DC.

WASHINGTON — Washington authorities have planned for years to supply the free lunches to all the muslin population in China during the Ramadan period. An unidentified State Department official disclosed the plan August, last year. The plan is targeting at the areas that have concentrated Muslim population such as in Northwestern part of China, especially in the areas with Uyghur population. The total costs will be in the million dollars range. The official has refused to disclose how these “Free Lunches” will be delivered, but he has insisted that it is to the national interests of the United States to supply these “Free Lunches” even it is not realized this year.

After the plan has leaked to the press, it has immediately objected by the African American Association (AAA) and United Hispanic American Front on the reason that most African and Mexican Americans do not have food to eat. According to the data released by the United States Census Bureau that the number of African Americans living below poverty in the nation have increased dramatically in the past five years. Now about 67.5% of African Americans live below the property as defined by the guideline issued from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

The same senior State Department official who asked for anonymity added “There would ne any free lunch for this year, but we are actively in the planning stage for the next year.”


Posted by: Heverci at September 25, 2008 06:35 AM

The comment above was posted by tctdh at September 26, 2008 02:25 AM unofficial Xinjiang time.

Mr. Michael Manning. We understand you have the problem to convince anyone here that an English school teacher pay in Xinjiang or anywhere in China could cover not just your basic living expanses, but also the living expanses in between jobs and, the costs for extensive across-Pacific traveling. BUT WE STILL EXPECT YOU TO EXPLAIN IT!

No one is accusing you having the connections with American CIA or CIA front NGOs because you have not disclosed anything about what kind of the associations you have. WE HAVE JUST HOLDING OUR BREATH AND WAITING FOR YOU TO TELL US!

We also understand that you have difficulty to convince anyone here that you are so concerned about the Uyghur minority in China but you don’t have any compassion toward the grievances of YOUR OWN FELLOW COUNTRYMEN such as African and Hispanic Americans back home. BUT, WE WILL TRY TO UNDERSTAND YOU IF YOU CAN TELL US WHY!


It is well known in the intelligence community that this kind of blog is the “most efficient way” to collect/exchange intelligence and pass the directions. The secondary functions are; creating or recycling rumors, spreading the propaganda, and inciting the hatred.


Examples are plenty; following are just a few that we have seen in the past month or so:

"UPDATE 3am: Other details... Alright, I'm really going bed this time, but ..." (August 04 & 10, 2008)

"I've heard rumors ... free lunches and alcohol for Muslims during Ramadan, ..." (Sept 08, 2008)

"it seems that the effort to weaken Uyghur religious identity is stronger this year and better coordinated" (Sept 08, 2008)

"If the Uyghur Islamist groups currently consist of three guys in a bedroom in Pakistan, you can bet that by next year the ranks will swell as rumors spread about the Chinese effort to crush Ramadan." (Sept 08, 2008)

"I never said that I believe the report 100%. This is information that's been put out there in public, and I'm bringing it to your attention for amusement and entertainment!" (Sept 03, 2008)

"I'm not saying all of that's true, because I don't really know for sure. But that's what people think."

"I'll share them with you here to get your creative juices flowing." (July 28, 2008)

Are all these what you have wrote on this blog in the past month or so, Michael Manning?! I guess you should get all the credits you deserved even you have not disclosed anything behind you.

Please, Mr. Michael, at least you should give us an answer, or you can have your associates spec or jimba to answer it for you

The comment above was posted by tctdh at September 26, 2008 02:30 AM unofficial Xinjiang time.

@tctdh: What is that, some sort of spoof article via Heverci? I don't really get that one. Can you tell us more about yourself? Your views? Something detailed and thoughtful perhaps, rather than just posting the same stuff over and over?

The comment above was posted by michael at September 26, 2008 07:34 AM unofficial Xinjiang time.

I wish I could come, unfortunately, my CIA stipent has not come in yet...

The comment above was posted by Jimba at September 26, 2008 07:58 AM unofficial Xinjiang time.

@michael: Where are my posts on "Republic of New Afrika"? Do you want me to repost it?! I will! So your Chinese friends know that all the Afriacn Americans want the independence from the U.S.

click my name to the republic of New Afrika website

For Black Panther website: http://www.newblackpanther.com/


The comment above was posted by BlackPanther at September 26, 2008 08:21 AM unofficial Xinjiang time.

@michael: Heverci?! Who is that?! Do you know him? Or he is you?! Has he posted the same news release from the CIA-sponsored RFA before, just like you have done this earlier morning or late last night?

Gee! No matter who is who, that must be pretty fast. Good job, Michael! I didn't know you have already passed the rumor to RFA to make that rumor "official", did you?! Did RFA report your rumor wrong?! Whether it is right or wrong, what is the difference it makes?! It is RFA, isn’t it?! So, why not report the same rumor both way, so let people to make their own judgments.

You created that rumor on Sept 8. ("I've heard rumors ... free lunches and alcohol for Muslims during Ramadan, ..."). Did sogdia challenge you just couple of days ago?! Did you respond back to him?! You don’t need to take any responsibility when you created the rumor, do you?! So you just passed it to RFA to make the rumor official.

My point of view?! Did I say that before?! That’s fine, I can say it again. So you'd better listen carefully this time:

Don't create and recycle rumors. Don’t incite hatred. Don't quote the news sources that are obviously questionable (such as RFA, VOA, WUC, Reporters Without Borders, Washington Times, ...), Don’t ever think you are on the “no-man’s land” so you can do whatever you wanted.

Why “don’t”?! Because people can easily do exactly the same things back to you. In that case, you probably will delete the things on this blog all day alone because the posts they posted are even more convincing than yours.

Do not take the advantage of the “Freedom of Speech” that you are enjoying inside China. Do not take the advantage of naivety of Chinese people who adore the American Hollywood movies so much. Don’t spoil their “American Dream” even both of us what kind of shit it is.

Have some basic ethnics and morality. Be honest, and don’t do evil things, especially don’t instigate hatred! I just hate people to do that. That is my political belief – if there is one.

BTW, “same stuff over and over”? Listen, and listen it carefully this time, kid! Of course it will be same ol stuff “over and over”! Just like exactly what you have been doing! I just make up my time to catch up what you have done in the past three and half years.

The comment above was posted by tctdh at September 26, 2008 09:13 AM unofficial Xinjiang time.

tct, shut the fuck up... you broken record...

The comment above was posted by Jimba at September 26, 2008 09:45 AM unofficial Xinjiang time.

Michael, do you have a URL link for that unemployed bumb, tct?

The comment above was posted by jimba at September 26, 2008 10:35 AM unofficial Xinjiang time.

@jimba: I am not talking to you. The above comment is for michael, not for you.

@sogdia: What's up?! I watched a video on YouTube yesterday. You have to watch it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKFYJm0DlZU

The Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai made a speech that “The war in Afghanistan and the war against terrorism in Afghanistan is not the right place to fight. The war against terrorism can not be fought in the Afghanistan villages.”

You are absolutely right about all the people in Central Asia hate these American pigs. Now Pakistani open fire at these American pigs, Afghanistan wants them out.

I hope that Mr. Michael Manning will realize this is what happens if American pigs are inciting hatred no matter where they go.

watch the video just click my name below


The comment above was posted by tctdh at September 26, 2008 11:09 AM unofficial Xinjiang time.

tctdh: you said:

Please, Mr. Michael, at least you should give us an answer, or you can have your associates spec or jimba to answer it for you

I think I spoke on behalf of Micheal when I said tct, shut the fuck up... you broken record...

So, tct, Michael has answered.


The comment above was posted by Jimba at September 26, 2008 11:19 AM unofficial Xinjiang time.

@michael: WHERE ARE MY COMMERNTS?! WHY YOU DELETE IT?! So you don't have any compassion toward your own fellow Indian Americans?! WHY?!

Not just Lakota tribe or Republic of Lakota, all the Indian tribes want the FREEDOM and INDEPENDANCE from United States

For "We are a Sovereign Nation - A Declaration of Independence from the USA" By LAKOTA FREEDOM DELEGATION, click the following URL:

http://www.republicoflakotah.com/links.html

STOP INDIAN CULTURE GENOCIDE
STOP MASS IMMIGRATION TO AMERICA
DEMOCRACY and FREEDOM for INDIAN PEOPLE IN AMERICA

For "American Indian Movement" clcik my name below:

The comment above was posted by AIM at September 26, 2008 11:31 AM unofficial Xinjiang time.

@jimba:

"broken record"?! What you mean?! You must be kidding!

Have you ever heard all these freedom and independence that Michael fellow countrymen demanded on Michael's blog here for the past three and half years?! NEVER! SO THIS IS NOT A BROKEN RECORD TO ANYONE!

I believe Michael should have the compassion toward his own fellow countrymen even he is white. What do you think?! I bet you should have the same answer as I do.

Before Mr. Michael Manning came to China to incite the hatred among Chinese minorities, he should be more concerned about hatred between American whites (as he is) and American minorities. I bet you certainly agree with this!

The comment above was posted by tctdh at September 26, 2008 11:42 AM unofficial Xinjiang time.

Michael, where do you find this music? I've never heard of AIR and the description sounds a bit odd. Maybe I'll check it out when I'm home and have sound on my computer.

As for the lunches, there's no mention if they're offered only during Ramadan or at other times of the year as well (almost sounds like it's offered at other times of year too).

The comment above was posted by Chinamatt at September 26, 2008 11:52 AM unofficial Xinjiang time.

Muslim American Society (MAS) and American Society for muslim Advancement (ASMA) certainly don't want to hear this news today

Muslim Americans Oppressing Continues in the U.S.

US court: Monitoring Muslims was constitutional

By LARRY NEUMEISTER, Associated Press Writer
Wed Sep 24, 2:02 PM ET

NEW YORK - A federal appeals court says it was constitutional for the United States to require visitors from two dozen Arab and Muslim countries and North Korea to register with immigration authorities.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan issued its ruling Wednesday in cases brought by several men who claimed their constitutional rights were violated.

The program was put in place after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. It required males from 24 Arab and predominantly Muslim countries and North Korea to register.

The requirement has since been phased out, but the database of information still exists.

The men involved in the court cases had been ordered deported because they did not have proper immigration status.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080924/ap_on_re_us/monitoring_muslims

Praise to Allah if you are a Muslim but not live in the U.S.

The comment above was posted by muslim at September 26, 2008 11:53 AM unofficial Xinjiang time.

Fuck. Fuck fuck fuck fuck! Fuckers.

The comment above was posted by michael at September 26, 2008 04:18 PM unofficial Xinjiang time.

Really want to go to the show, but RMB550 in the presale or 700 at the door is just insane...I'm still holding out hope that Kanye's really coming and that's going to be a big hit to the wallet.

The comment above was posted by judge_panda at September 26, 2008 04:32 PM unofficial Xinjiang time.

Michael, thanks for writing again.

I know that you can't delete tctdh's posts, since that would be a fulltime job.

But rest assured, I have learned to skip and ignore tctdh's posts and any other posts with the same ad-nauseum style. I suspect other regulars in your blog have learned the same.

The comment above was posted by An Indonesian Muslim at September 26, 2008 05:18 PM unofficial Xinjiang time.

Is this blog about CIA or about China? just read that there will be considered some 'layoffs' not only in american big Banks but also in CIA ...

The comment above was posted by Ejnare Ekstroem at September 26, 2008 06:04 PM unofficial Xinjiang time.

No matter how many "fuck's" are there, we are still facing the same old question on this blog:

Before Mr. Michael Manning came to a foreign country to instigate the hatred among somebody else minorities, WHY he was not concerned about hatreds between American whites (as he is) and American minorities (Hawaiians, Indians, Blacks and Hispanics,...)?! WHY he did show his compassion toward the grievances of his own fellow country minorities?

If he really want to masturbate himself by playing the "white righteous knight", then he should go back home to play it instead of going to a foreign land that he doesn't know the languages and the cultures.

The comment above was posted by oldwiseman at September 26, 2008 09:11 PM unofficial Xinjiang time.

@ Michael:

You probably aware that the 2nd post on "free Ramadan Lunch". i.e., "No Free Ramadan Lunches in China Yet", was posted by someone else using my name.

Here is another news related to Uyghurs:
============================================

China warns against Peace Prize to one of its dissidents

Chinese authorities have been quick to issue warnings that awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to a Chinese dissident will hurt relations between China and Norway.

China wasted no time two years ago in formally warning a visiting delegation of Norwegian politicians that the Norwegian Nobel Committee should not award the Peace Prize to human rights activist Rebiya Kadeer of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Kadeer had won the Rafto Prize, also awarded in Norway, in 2004 and that wasn't well-received in Beijing.

Kadeer has also long been a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize, and the Chinese government told the delegation from the Norwegian Parliament that relations would be damaged if the prize went to Kadeer. The Norwegian delegation responded that although the parliament appoints the members of the Nobel Committee from parties represented in parliament, the committee itself is independent. The Norwegian government has no control over who is considered for prize or named as the annual winner.

That hasn't stopped the Chinese authorities from once again issuing a warning, after speculation over this year's winner tipped human rights activist Hu Jia as a possible winner. Hu Jia has been harassed and imprisoned for years by the Chinese authorities, for his ongoing efforts to further democracy, human rights, environmental protection and AIDS/HIV programs in China.

A spokesman for the Chinese foreign office told Reuters this week that if the prize goes to Hu Jia, Beijing won't like it. The spokesman said the Chinese authorities hoped the Norwegian Nobel Committee will make a "correct" choice and not one that would "hurt the feelings" of the Chinese people.

Government authorities in Vietnam also have warned earlier about an award of the Peace Prize to another perennial candidate, the Buddhist monk Thich Quang Do of Vietnam. He also won the Rafto Prize, in 2006, and the same delegation from the Norwegian parliament -- which visited Vietnam after visiting China -- was warned against awarding the Peace Prize to the Vietnamese champion of religion freedom.

They received the same message that the Norwegians delivered in Beijing -- that the Norwegian Nobel Committee operates independently of the Norwegian government, and makes it own choices, free of any government control.

http://www.aftenposten.no/english/local/article2677080.ece

The comment above was posted by Heverci at September 26, 2008 10:27 PM unofficial Xinjiang time.

Heverci, I believe it would be wonderful if Hu Jia wins the peace prize. He has given so much, including his health, for his country and his people. I just hope that one day the Chinese people will realise the true,unselfish sacrifice this great man has endured for them.

The comment above was posted by jimba at September 27, 2008 08:05 AM unofficial Xinjiang time.

As for Chinese Communist Party wanting Norway to pander to their demands... it's about time the world stands up to this regime..

The comment above was posted by jimba at September 27, 2008 08:09 AM unofficial Xinjiang time.

Police in China shoot dead 6 suspects in Xinjiang

The Associated Press
Sunday, August 31, 2008

BEIJING: Chinese police shot dead six people suspected of involvement in a wave of violence in the far western region of Xinjiang as an exile group claimed they were killed after surrendering.

Police launched an operation to arrest nine people late Friday after a series of attacks in August killed 33 people and threatened to overshadow the Olympic Games.

Xinjiang — an isolated region that borders Afghanistan, Pakistan and six Central Asian nations — is home to China's ethnic minority Uighurs, who say they are repressed by the Chinese government. China has long said that insurgents are leading an Islamic separatist movement in Xinjiang.

Police encountered nine suspects in a corn field near the city of Kashgar on Friday night, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. The suspects had knives and tried to resist arrest, putting up a "desperate struggle" and wounding one policeman. Three wounded suspects were arrested, it said.

One of the three captured suspects later died in a hospital as did a local militia man who was wounded, the People's Daily newspaper said on its Web site Sunday.

But an Uighur exile group accused police Saturday of gunning down the suspects, members of the Muslim Uighur ethnic minority, after they surrendered.

Dilxat Raxit, spokesman for the Germany-based World Uighur Congress, said armed police surrounded the corn field and asked the Uighur men through a loudspeaker to surrender themselves, promising to provide them with lawyers.

The suspects did not resist arrest, but police with submachine guns opened fire after they had surrendered, Raxit said in a statement Saturday, citing accounts by local Uighurs.

An official from the Xinjiang government — speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media — confirmed six suspects were shot dead. But he denied the men were killed after surrendering and called the allegations "nonsense."

Human rights groups say China has a history of using security threats in Xinjiang as an excuse for much broader crackdowns on human rights in the region.

The comment above was posted by jimba at September 27, 2008 08:22 AM unofficial Xinjiang time.

Sorry about the above post, it's a bit dated.

Could one of our little red dragons try and explain this little peice of Chinese media away?

China's propoganda machine launches 'taikonauts' before liftoff

China's state news agency has published a despatch from the country's three latest astronauts describing their first night in space - before they even left Earth. The Xinhua agency, which is sometimes accused of carrying state propoganda, blamed the mistake on a "technical error".

Oh yes, that's right... the war in Iraq....


The comment above was posted by jimba at September 27, 2008 08:43 AM unofficial Xinjiang time.

air - what a breeze of fresh air

tctdh's comments are now signed 'pakistani fighter' instead of the usual 'CIA,' 'amnesty international,' 'AIM,' 'hawaai,' etc, when in reality all he is a screwed up little government paid CCP propagandist living as a traitor in Taiwan who gives absolutely no attention to the thoughtful replies his idiotic and dare I say schizo posts evoke, and thus continues to waste good CCP money on posting the same monotonous crap.

Michael as others have said here, any one with any sense just skips this stuff and stays with the true thread. Keep posting and, love your expletives. Good stuff!!!! and oh breathe in the good air of the concert!

The comment above was posted by roebuck at September 27, 2008 09:52 AM unofficial Xinjiang time.

@michael and others:

No matter how many "fuck's" are there, we are still facing the same old question on this blog:

Before Mr. Michael Manning came to a foreign country to instigate the hatred among somebody else minorities, WHY he was not concerned about hatreds between American whites (as he is) and American minorities (Hawaiians, Indians, Blacks and Hispanics,...)?! WHY he did show his compassion toward the grievances of his own fellow country minorities?

If he really want to masturbate himself by playing the "white righteous knight", then he should go back home to play it instead of going to a foreign land that he doesn't know the languages and the cultures.

We are waiting for him to answer the above questions.

The comment above was posted by oldwiseman at September 27, 2008 10:50 AM unofficial Xinjiang time.

Michael, if you need a moderator, allow me to deal with moron up here. I have both the patience and the desire to block everyone of his stupid posts.

The comment above was posted by jimba at September 27, 2008 02:27 PM unofficial Xinjiang time.

@ tctdh

in an earlier post I suggested that your arguments and support of Lakota, Hawaiian independence etc., rationally means you must also support Tibetan and Uyghur independence on the same basis. You have failed to address this question and the issue of the glaring inconsistencies in all of your posts. Answer or be designated our official hypocrite.

and btw knucklehead this is not a blog about hispanic, black panther, hawwain etc grievances are you really that bloody stupid? What Michel feels about those issues is not relevant on this blog and for all you know he may contribute elsewhere about those issues, so dont assume you know everything like you always do and paint yourself time and again as a total unhinged fool! Amusing and Entertining I must say but really so very childish and self-incriminating!

This blog is about western China, your arguments are facile and full of holes and absurd retorts and twists of reason and perverted meaning that any sensible, educated people/person wouldn't give the time of day.

Now seeing you are such a symapathizer with the downcast of the U.S. do you on the same basis, I ask, do you or do you not support independence for China's minorities and if not, why then do you harp on about the needs of other minorities elsewhere? A topic which has nothing to do with this blog at any time, period, may i again remind you. Answer please?

The comment above was posted by roebuck at September 28, 2008 11:29 AM unofficial Xinjiang time.

Michael, are you a Buddhist?
You have too much patient and mercy to tctdhs.

The comment above was posted by miloservic at September 28, 2008 09:17 PM unofficial Xinjiang time.

jimba, I vote you for the moderator

The comment above was posted by miloservic at September 28, 2008 09:21 PM unofficial Xinjiang time.

China's Muslims say Ramadan a time of repression

By WILLIAM FOREMAN

KUQA, China (AP) — All that was left on the chin of the Muslim man praying at the huge brownstone mosque was a small patch of stubble. He said officials had forced young men in China's far western Xinjiang region to cut off their beards at the start of the holy month of Ramadan.

"If I didn't shave, they would do this to me," said the man, who put his wrists together as if handcuffed, his eyes bulging with anger. "If I say more, I could be arrested."

He gave only part of his name, Arem, and stomped away.

For Muslims, Ramadan is a time of fasting and prayer. But for China's Muslim ethnic Uighurs, the holy month is also full of fear and seething resentment about increasingly tight restrictions on how they practice their moderate form of Islam, influenced by the Sunni and Sufi sects.

Managing the restive Turkic people is developing into one of China's biggest challenges. Like the Tibetans, the Uighurs have been unwilling to buy into the government's plan: greater economic prosperity instead of greater religious freedom or autonomy.

This year has been especially jittery in Xinjiang, a sprawling territory three times the size of France that is home to 9 million Uighurs (pronounced WEE-GURS). Despite ramped-up security in the region before the Beijing Olympics, a string of bombings and deadly attacks — the worst wave of violence in a decade — deeply embarrassed China under the global spotlight.

China blamed terrorists, but has yet to release evidence that links terror groups to attacks that killed 33 people in Kuqa and Kashgar in western Xinjiang.

With the Olympics over and the world's focus elsewhere, it seems to be payback time for Xinjiang. Overseas Uighur rights groups have accused the government of mass arrests, which police deny. Uighurs interviewed by The Associated Press in Kuqa and Kashgar complained of sweeping detentions but would not say more. In Kuqa, security officials followed an AP journalist for most of his visit.

The most obvious signs of tension are the tight restrictions on Ramadan, which ends this week.

Several local governments have posted lists of warnings on their Web sites, including a detailed one by the township of Yingmaili in Xayar county, near Kuqa. Government employees, teachers and students can't fast during Ramadan. Mosques can't host out-of-town visitors or play video and sound recordings. Proselytizing in public is prohibited. Surveillance of mosques must be increased. Restaurants must stay open during the daylight fasting period.

"All effective means must be used to make sure that men shave their beards and that women remove veils that cover their faces," adds the notice.

A slogan painted on a wall in the area warns Muslims it is illegal to make the annual pilgrimage to Mecca except with a government-sanctioned tour group.

Such restrictions have long been on the books but were selectively enforced, said Dru Gladney, an expert on Uighurs at the Pacific Basin Institute at Pomona College in California.

"The government has really been enforcing these restrictions in Xinjiang more than in the past," Gladney said. "In other Muslim areas in China, you certainly don't see these similar kinds of restrictions."

In many ways, Xinjiang is China's Siberia. This harsh land of snowcapped mountains and scorching deserts is broken up by oil fields and oasis cities surrounded by lush fields of cotton, melons and grapes. The territory has been China's nuclear test ground and home to an extensive "laogai," a gulag-like prison system.

Xinjiang also shares borders with Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan and other Central Asian nations — a volatile neighborhood that makes Beijing nervous.

In a recent 14-page speech, regional Communist Party leader Nuer Baikeli accused "hostile Western forces" of trying to foment Uighur discontent, politicize religion and split Xinjiang from the motherland. He also warned that crazed Islamic extremists in neighboring countries were training Uighurs to carry out terrorist attacks in China.

Military and security forces frequently restrict access to Xinjiang. An AP journalist was stopped at a police checkpoint and detained for a half hour until county officials arrived.

When shown Yingmaili's Ramadan restrictions, Ablmit Ahmet, a senior official responsible for religious issues, quietly scanned the document for a minute.

A junior official said, "Things really aren't this restrictive. Some local governments are just being a bit overzealous," and Ahmet nodded his head and handed back the list to the reporter.

Ahmet referred the issue to a Muslim cleric, or imam.

With officials at his side, Amudula Rehemutula stood amid a patchwork of ornate rugs in the high-ceilinged Ake Mosque, the county's biggest. The young imam said he agreed with the government that children should not be allowed to worship in the mosque until they are 18 — old enough to decide whether they believe in religion. He added that teachers and students should not fast during Ramadan because they need to be energetic in the classroom.

"I am extremely pleased with the religious policy of the (Communist) Party and the government," Rehemutula said in a monotone voice and unfocused gaze, before ending the five-minute meeting to go to pray. During the brief interview, he glanced at his wristwatch several times.

Imams must study at state-sanctioned schools and answer to government officials, who have sacked those deemed unreliable or too outspoken.

"The imams get paid by the government and they help inform on us. We don't trust them," said Mamat, a recent college graduate looking for work in the ancient Silk Road city of Kashgar in western Xinjiang. Like others quoted in this story, Mamat asked that his full name not be printed for fear of being detained for speaking to a journalist.

Fear pervades Xinjiang. Two Uighur college students on a sidewalk in Kashgar worried their images were captured by surveillance cameras. A taxi driver in Kuqa was concerned that a black car behind him was recording his conversations with eavesdropping equipment. Even some foreign scholars worried China might blacklist them if they made remarks deemed too critical of the government.

Mutual contempt is common between Uighurs and the Han Chinese majority.

"This is a beautiful ancient Silk Road city surrounded by mountains and deserts," said Li, a Han Chinese taxi driver. "The only problem is that there are too many Uighurs." The driver claimed Uighurs are uneducated and rude.

Many Uighurs, in turn, are ignorant of Han Chinese holidays and speak only their language instead of Mandarin, China's official language.

One Uighur businessman named Mattursun praying at a mosque in Yarkent said he despised the Han Chinese. "They no longer really believe in Marxism or communism," the man said. "All they believe in is money. Money is their god."

The government insists most Uighurs are happy because, like the rest of the country, Xinjiang is becoming more prosperous. In recent years, highways, airports and rail lines, schools, hospitals and even mosques have been built. The government has high hopes for deposits of oil, natural gas and minerals. Slogans on billboards and walls across Xinjiang tell people that social harmony and unity equal prosperity.

But many Uighurs aren't biting. They think the region is being colonized by Han Chinese, who have flooded into the territory in recent years.

"Sure, they're building roads and bridges. But that's just so that more Han Chinese will move to Xinjiang and take the place away from us," said Haji, a 34-year-old Uighur businessman in Kashgar.

Haji has a college degree and a successful enterprise that benefits from improved infrastructure and security, but he is fed up with the government's religious policy. In school he was allowed to observe Ramadan, but now his children cannot.

Haji said he doubted China would ever give Xinjiang independence, but hoped Beijing would eventually heed the words of the late leader Mao Zedong.

"Mao said that if there is more pressure, there are more problems," Haji said. "I believe someday the government will realize this and relax."

The comment above was posted by Heverci at September 29, 2008 08:36 AM unofficial Xinjiang time.