One of the biggest "wet dreams" of the US imperialists for decades, especially after the Communist victory in 1949, was to break-up China. Xinjiang was among Chinese territories in which the US and the Western imperialism saw an opportunity to grow internal tensions and create serious destabilization against the Asian giant.
As The Grayzone revealed in March, 2020, through an extended report:
In recent years, few stories have generated as much outrage in the West as the condition of Uyghur Muslims in China. Reporting on the issue is typically represented through seemingly spontaneous leaks of information and expressions of resistance by Uyghur human rights activists struggling to be heard against a tyrannical Chinese government.
True or not, nearly everything that appears in Western media accounts of China’s Uyghur Muslims is the product of a carefully conceived media campaign generated by an apparatus of right-wing, anti-communist Uyghur separatists funded and trained by the US government.
A central gear in Washington’s new Cold War against China, this network has a long history of relationships with the US national security state and far-right ultra-nationalists.
At the heart of this movement is the World Uyghur Congress (WUC), an international Uyghur organization that claims to be engaged in a “peaceful, nonviolent, and democratic” struggle for “human rights.” The WUC considers China’s northwestern Xinjiang region to be East Turkestan, and sees its Uyghur Muslim inhabitants not as Chinese citizens but instead as members of a pan-Turkic nation stretching from Central Asia to Turkey.
As this investigation establishes, the WUC is not a grassroots movement, but a US government-backed umbrella for several Washington-based outfits that also rely heavily on US funding and direction. Today, it is the main face and voice of a separatist operation dedicated to destabilizing the Xinjiang region of China and ultimately toppling the Chinese government.
While seeking to orchestrate a color revolution with the aim of regime change in Beijing, the WUC and its offshoots have forged ties with the Grey Wolves, a far-right Turkish organization that has been actively engaged in sectarian violence from Syria to East Asia.
None of these links seem to have troubled the WUC’s sponsors in Washington. If anything, they have added to the network’s appeal, consolidating it as one of the most potent political weapons the US wields in its new Cold War against China.
The strong and longtime connections of Uyghur separatists with Turkish ultra-nationalists (backed by the Turkish state), revealed by Grayzone's report, explain to a great extent why Washington is playing soft with Erdogan, although it would certainly prefer a much more maneuverable secular puppet in power.
Yet, there are deeper reasons behind US imperialists' over-focusing on Xinjiang beyond the opportunity to use Uyghur separatists against the central government, to achieve their main goal, which is the general destabilization of China.
A WikiLeaks paper from 2010 reveals that the US imperialists were closely monitoring Xinjiang's upgrade as a strategically important region for China through the rapid growth of the energy sector. In the summary of the cable, coming from the US Embassy in Beijing, we read:
While Xinjiang remains an important resource base for traditional energy sources--including oil, natural gas, refined petroleum products, and coal--the region has in recent years emerged as a clean energy leader, according to local officials and business contacts. Locally-grown clean energy firms have expanded quickly in China and are eying overseas opportunities. The opening of the China-Central Asia natural gas pipeline last December (reftel) was a significant step forward in enhancing China's energy security and will bring much needed natural gas supplies to eastern China.
And inside the cable we read:
According to Zhu Zian, Deputy Director of the Xinjiang Development and Reform Commission's (XJDRC) Foreign Investment Department, Xinjiang accounts for 30 percent of China's onshore petroleum resources and 34 percent of the country's onshore natural gas reserves. In 2009, Xinjiang produced 25.18 million tons of crude oil (roughly 505,600 barrels per day) and 24.5 billion cubic meters of natural gas.
In 2014, the alarm of the US imperialist apparatus - about Xinjiang's rapid development as a strategic energy hub for China - was activated by the NY Times, accompanied by the typically hypocritical human-rights prelude supposedly in defense of Uighur minority:
... China is ramping up energy production here, turning the northwestern Xinjiang region into a national hub for oil, gas and coal, while the increasingly marginalized Uighur people are memorialized in what appears to be a bronze homage to a romantic past. China is investing more than ever in the vast, resource-rich Xinjiang region with the aim of bolstering oil extraction and refining, coal production, power generation, and natural gas production and transport. That is happening despite soaring ethnic violence. In deserts once traversed by Silk Road camel caravans, sands are now crisscrossed with pipelines and high-voltage wires.
Yet, there are some significant reserves, discovered quite recently, that would make US imperialists boost their efforts to destabilize China through Xinjiang.
As has been reported in December, 2020:
Chinese oil and gas company PetroChina has discovered a large gas reservoir in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. According to an initial estimate, the discovery hosts more than 100 billion cubic metres of gas over an area of around 156 million square metres at the southern rim of the Junggar Basin. State news agency Xinhua reported that the reservoir is expected to produce around 610,000m³ of natural gas and 106.3m³ of crude oil a day. [...] Earlier this month, China Oil & Gas Piping Network (PipeChina) opened the middle section of the natural gas pipeline from Russia to boost supplies. The 100km-long pipeline section stretches from Changling, Jilin, to Yongqing, Hebei, and will enable supplies to the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region in northern China.
And as Reuters reported in August, 2021:
China's state-run energy major Sinopec said on Wednesday it had discovered a new 100-million-tonne oil and gas field in the Shunbei area of the Tarim Basin in the country's Xinjiang region. [...] Annual oil output from Sinopec's Shunbei field in Xinjiang, which was discovered in 2016, rose by nearly 30% in 2020 to about 1 million tonnes, while gas production was up 32% to 350 million cubic metres.
Add to that the geographic proximity of Xinjiang to Russia (which is now diverting a lot of cheap oil and gas to Asian markets, including China and India, due to Western sanctions), and you will find one more reason for the significant strategic importance of Xinjiang for China.
So, due to the continuous discoveries of oil and gas reserves, (as well as, plenty of cheap oil and gas coming from Russia), China has suddenly gained much more flexibility in covering its huge needs for energy. And Xinjiang is playing the central role in this development.
The US imperialists and their Western pets will probably accelerate plans of full autonomy for Xinjiang through typical dirty tactics (instigation of violent riots, false flag operations, etc.) in their effort to achieve now three main goals:
First, halt and reverse China's rapid course towards full energy autonomy, which will result to a decisive strike on Chinese economy. Combined with such a huge land loss, the Asian giant may never recover.
Second, create a puppet state at the heart of the Sino-Russian alliance, therefore, encircle Russia further from the east and threat further the national security of both Russia and China.
Third, disrupt the main corridor of India's energy supply from Russia, force India to make energy deals with the West-controlled Xinjiang and also seek alternatives to cover its rapidly increased energy needs.
The Chinese are now very well aware of these plans. As Global Times reported two days ago:
The Xinjiang regional government held a press conference on Friday in which analysts noted the US National Endowment for Democracy (NED) has been the main supporter of anti-China forces and organizations that aim to split the Xinjiang region from China and had made series of lies and political farces to hype genocide allegation and "human rights violations" of the region.
NED has been found behind a series of farces on China's Xinjiang region, Liu Weidong, a research fellow at the Institute of American Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said at Friday's press conference that from 2004 to 2020, NED offered separatist organizations on Xinjiang with more than $8.75 million, making itself the largest financier of the notorious World Uyghur Congress and other organizations that aim to split the Xinjiang region from China.
Dubbed as the "second CIA," NED has been so generous for not only feeding a small group of notorious individuals, but also to infiltrate other countries to incite so-called democratic activities and to serve US interests.
Then NED President Carl Gershman openly claimed that to solve the problems in Xinjiang, a color revolution must be held in China and that regime change can turn the country into a federal republic, Liu noted.
NED's programs on China's Xinjiang have very clear purposes - to hype a so-called human rights crisis to help the US and the West to contain China, Liu said.
Therefore, it would not be a surprise to see the US imperialists intensify efforts to provoke tensions in Xinjiang and make China bleed heavily.