Founded six decades ago, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region is one of China's five autonomous regions designated for ethnic minorities, inhabited by 47 ethnic groups including Han, Uygur, Kazak, Hui, Mongolian, Kirgiz, Uzbek and Russian populations. The region boasts a treasure trove of ethnic cultures. People of all ethnic groups are able to uphold their cultural practices and live together in harmony.
In ancient times, Xinjiang was one of the hubs connecting the West and the East, with the famed Silk Road passing through it. It's geographic location which has made Xinjiang so accommodating of a diverse range of traditions.
In early 2003, China launched a program to protect and preserve ethnic cultures and folkways. At various levels of government, a lot of work has since been done to protect the traditions and cultures of Xinjiang. Samples of local heritage have been collected, sorted through, and in cases of samples containing the written word, translated and published. Places of interest related to various ethnic groups, valuable cultural traditions as well as other historical and cultural relics are covered by the protection program, so that cultural heritage can be passed down from one generation to the next.
Before the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, only two or three elderly artists were capable of mastering the time-honored Uygur art form of Muqam. Now we have the Xinjiang Muqam Troupe and the Muqam Research Office, with a view to preserving and developing this traditional cultural form. Muqam was listed as a "masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity" by UNESCO in 2005. Kashgar, an important town along the ancient Silk Road, lies in a region vulnerable to earthquakes. In February 2009, the state launched plans to renovate dilapidated structures in the city's old town with an initial investment of 3 billion yuan ($483.3 million).
Additionally, in order to ensure that ethnic languages keep pace with the times, the state has established the Working Committee of Minorities' Language and Writing of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in addition to research institutes designed to study and standardize these languages. With the government's support, typing software has been developed for various ethnic languages to accommodate computer and smartphone users.
Thanks to the Chinese Government's unremitting efforts in protecting and developing the manifold cultures and traditions of Xinjiang, the rest of the world is now privy to the heritage of the region's various ethnic groups. Meanwhile, these achievements deal a strong blow to lies and slanders propagated by separatist elements concerning the lives of ethnic minorities in the region.