All posts filed under: sports

Who are the Guang Hui Flying Tigers?

The Xinjiang Guang Hui Flying Tigers are back in the Chinese Basketball Association finals. Riding the phenomenal success of their imported stars, Americans Lester Hudson and James Singleton, a Taiwanese player named Yang Jinmin, and the support of national team players such as the Uyghur point guard Shiralijan (Xi-re-li-jiang – pictured above) and the Han center Tang Zhengdong, the team has hit its stride. They are playing on a level that rivals the intensity that Quicy Douby’s brought to the league.  There are many reasons for the quality of Xinjiang’s team, but oil and gas money (and the depth which it buys) are the main drivers of Xinjiang’s success. Where the Flying Tigers’ money comes from  The story of the Flying Tigers begins back in the 1990s with the beginning of large-scale oil and coal development during the glory days of “Uncle” Wang Lequan and Xinjiang oil man turned black-listed thug Zhou Yongkong. During those years Xinjiang became a lucrative place for China’s burgeoning caste of venture capitalists to jump into the ocean of market …

Climbing the Father of Ice Mountains

In his book The Gift the Russian-American novelist Vladimir Nabokov describes the mountains of Northwest China as a “transparent and changeable setting” where “the dryness of the air produced an amazing contrast between light and shadow: in the light there were such flashes, such a wealth of brilliance, that at times it became impossible to look at a rock, at a stream; and in the shadow a darkness that absorbed all detail.” Since the nineteenth century the mountains of Xinjiang have drawn adventurers with their remote and quiet brilliance high above the desert oases of the Uyghurs. The people who live in those mountains – Kyrgyz, Tajiks, and Kazakhs – seem to reflect this quiet dignity; they move with grace, speak in low tones, and act as though trained by survival. Those who come to test their mettle often find themselves deeply impressed by the strong women and men who help them through this atmosphere of rock and sky. A few months ago it was the allure of these bare mountains, and their great height, …

Uyghur Soccer, Äskär And Wild Bodies

In the summer of 2012, 46,000 (some estimate up to 60,000) Uyghurs gathered regularly for three hours of interethnic struggle. They came from hundreds of miles away, old bearded men, rotund mothers, young men and women clad in sky blue. They came to engage in identity politics, but even more important, they came because for 90 minutes in that southern Ürümchi stadium, they were free to be proud of their social positions.In this arena they were free to say what they wanted; to let off some steam. For three hours these fans could scream the old battle cry “VURRAAA” or “CHARGE!” as one voice while the armed police who provided security could only stand uncomfortably in their riot gear, ready to dive into armored vehicles at a moment’s notice. As one fan told me, it felt like that thing where you “slap someone while pretending that you are trying to kill a fly.” Soccer was providing an important release for people who felt blocked in their daily encounters with surveillance and voicelessness. Finally, in the atmosphere of the stadium, …