millisphere: A discrete region inhabited by roughly 1000th of the world population.

The millisphere of Uyghurstan (population 8 million) is in the south of China's far western Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and sits in the Tarim Basin (below sea level).
Uyghurstan is where China tested nuclear weapons from 1959 to 1996, and cancer rates there are one third higher than the Chinese average.

Mao Tse Tung's brother, Mao Zemin, was executed in XUAR when "East Turkestan" was invaded by the Chinese People's Liberation Army in 1949. At the time three-quarters of the population were Uyghur; now they are a minority and treated as such by the Han invaders.

In 2018, it was estimated as many as 1 million Uyghurs were being detained in "political education camps".


China fears an East Turkestan independence movement fuelled by religion and ethnicity — the Uyghurs are Sunni Muslim and speak a Turkic language rather than the Mandarin spoken by the Han.

Since 2000 there have been attacks by Uyghurs on Han in XUAR and there is a small Uyghur diaspora living in Turkey.

The 2015 attacks on the Chinese embassy and consulate in Turkey were attributed to Uyghurs and it is estimated that 1500 Uyghurs fought for Isis in the Middle East.
XUAR has one fifth of China's coal, oil and natural gas reserves, and the east/west pipeline from central Asia passes through on its way to Shanghai.

Faced with Islamic nationalism, China engaged with its central Asian neighbours to the west, and the Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure (RATS) meets regularly to discuss the "three evil forces" — separatism, extremism and terrorism.

Chinese "economic diplomacy" is wielded with loans from the Chinese government-funded Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank.

In the new millennium, China has been turning XUAR into one of the most surveillanced places on Earth and Uyghurstan into an open-air prison.

XUAR Communist Party secretary Chen Quanguo arrived in 2016 and, in one year, rolled out a network of "convenience police stations", a grid-style social management system pioneered when Chen was party secretary in the Tibetan Autonomous Region from 2011 to 2016.

Grid management was first trialled by the Chinese in Beijing in 2004, but had its inception in policing in Los Angeles in the United States.


"Convenience police stations" segment urban communities into geometric zones so security staff can monitor all activities with the aid of new technologies. The system relies on big data analytics, connecting a grid of CCTV cameras to the police database to achieve enhanced automated surveillance.

Where you go, who you talk to and what you read online is monitored. Since 2017, all XUAR citizens are ranked from trustworthy through average to untrustworthy, with the "untrustworthy" rounded up for re-education.

New methods of policing include collecting DNA samples from the entire population and requiring all phone owners to download an app called "the web cleaning soldier" which monitors all phone use, including "illegal" social media use like Facebook and WhatsApp.

Phone contents are regularly downloaded for monitoring at the pervasive checkpoints. Iris scanners, facial recognition cameras and ID cards are in use at petrol stations, and only the registered owner is allowed to drive a car.

Under the "Becoming Kin" programme, 1.1 million (mostly Han) officials are teamed with 1.6m Uyghur families. The "adopted kin" visit or live in, teach Mandarin and verify household information. Half of all Uyghur households have a spy/indoctrinator assigned to them.

The Fanghuiju programme of "researching people's conditions, improving people's lives and winning people's hearts" includes demolition of traditional homes (for health and safety reasons) and shifting Uyghurs into modern apartments.

The creation of a police state in Uyghurstan by the Chinese Communist Party has led to mass human rights violations for the Uyghurs, and growing resentment.

Fred Frederikse is a self-directed student of human geography. Mapping the Millisphere, "a new millennium travel story", can be found at