Dragon Fighter: One Woman's Epic Struggle for Peace With China

In This Review

Dragon Fighter: One Woman's Epic Struggle for Peace With China
By Rebiya Kadeer with Alexandra Cavelius
Kales Press, 2009
400 pp. $28.95
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Beijing has developed the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region economically and provides some space for the practice of Islam. But the oppression, corruption, and discrimination associated with government officials and Han immigrants there -- along with the emergence of independent states in Central Asia -- have strengthened the Uighurs' sense of a separate identity. Kadeer was thrust into the spotlight when the Chinese government implausibly accused her of instigating the July 2009 riots in Xinjiang. Her moving autobiography helps explain why many Uighurs resent Chinese rule. Kadeer and her family suffered horribly under Mao and after, yet she became a successful entrepreneur and then a political leader. After having been imprisoned, tortured, and sent into exile, she became the chief international spokesperson for the Uighur cause. Kadeer expresses a mythic sense of self-confidence and believes she was fated from birth to be the leader, even the savior, of her people. The peace with China that her subtitle says she wants would be that of an independent people in possession of their own state -- a tall order considering that Xinjiang makes up one-sixth of China's territory, is strategically located, and holds crucial economic resources.