Gustaf Mannerheim rested for a month in Urumqi in the summer of 1907. He stayed at the Russian consulate in the south of the city, and visited with local mandarins and Duke Lan, the exiled Manchu nobleman who helped to instigate the anti-foreign uprising and attack on the Peking Legations in 1900.
I arrived in Urumqi in September 2006 just in time for the International Symposium for the Study of Mannerheim’s Journey to Xinjiang co-hosted by Helsinki University, the Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences and Research Centre for China’s Borderland History and Geography. The symposium was held at a three-star hotel in a well-to-do Chinese district in the northwest. For two days, some eight Finnish and fifty Chinese researchers crowded into a small conference room on the hotel’s ground floor. “Mannerheim is a household name in Finland,” Li Sheng, the new director of the Borderland Research Centre said in his introductory remarks, “but is getting better known by Chinese scholars, and the public in Xinjiang.” Indeed, in 2000, the Chinese began an intensive research project on Mannerheim’s expedition to Xinjiang.
Click on the icons to view photos of my stay in Urumqi and the International Symposium for the Study of Mannerheim’s Journey to Xinjiang co-hosted by Helsinki University, the Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences and Research Centre for China’s Borderland History and Geography.
Here are several videos on the 2009 riots in Urumqi, where Uyghur protesters killed Han Chinese residents and state security forces retaliated against the Uyghurs. The riots are evidence of growing ethnic tensions in China’s Far West.
For more information about Urumqi, the centennial conference and the 2009 Uyghur riots, check out these links:
Mannerheim Centennial Banquet in Helsinki
Urumqi on Wikipedia
The New Dominion Blog
Far West China Blog
Uyghur Human Rights Project