- Xinjiang lies in the north-west of China and is the country's biggest region.
- Like Tibet, it is autonomous, meaning - in theory - it has some powers of self-governance. But in practice, both face major restrictions by the central government.
- It is a mostly desert region, producing about a fifth of the world's cotton.
- It is also rich in oil and natural gas and because of its proximity to Central Asia and Europe is seen by Beijing as an important trade link.
- In the early 20th Century, the Uighurs briefly declared independence, but the region was brought under the complete control of China's new Communist government in 1949.