Forum: Borderlands

When Not to Respect Your Elders

by Tom Cliff

IN MARCH 2017, a Uyghur cadre in Hetian prefecture, south Xinjiang, was demoted and publicly reprimanded for failing to smoke in front of a Uyghur elder. The Global Times described the rationale thus: According to local religion (sic) customs, smoking is not allowed in front of older people or among religious people… In a sense, whether officials ‘dare to’ smoke in front of religious people reflects their commitment to secularization.1

Shangri-la and the Curse of Xi Jinping

by Ben Hillman

IN 2002, the remote Yunnan province county of Zhongdian 中甸 became instantly famous when it officially changed its name to Shangri-la 香格里拉.7 The name change was the centrepiece of a new economic development strategy based on domestic tourism. The largest county in the Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Shangri-la was home to several ethnic groups, Tibetans, Naxi, Yi, Bai, and Han, living side by side in valleys surrounded by snow-capped mountains — a natural and cultural landscape straight out of the pages of James Hilton’s Lost Horizon. Allured by the exotic promise of a mythical paradise, and aided by new road and air links, Chinese tourists began flocking to the rural backwater.

Kangbashi: The Richest ‘Ghost Town’ in China?

by Uchralt Otede

IN 2010, Time Magazine sardonically reported that Kangbashi, in Ordos, Inner Mongolia, is ‘a new Chinese city that, apart from people, has everything’.13 Seven years later, Kangbashi is still working hard to attract residents. On 20 April 2017, a reporter for the Inner Mongolia Daily 内蒙古日报, Hao Xuelian 郝雪莲, wrote that as a gift to Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region on its seventieth anniversary, the local government of Ordos has commenced a Steppe Silk Road Cultural Scenic Area project 草原丝路文化景区项目 in Kangbashi district. This two-billion yuan project will occupy 335 hectares of what is now a green park, and will promote the development of tourism in the Kangbashi district.