“We are fine with them, but they are not very nice to us,” the hospital worker said. “It seems like they just look down on us, not that they are afraid.”
Police vehicles roamed the city streets and armed guards wearing camouflage stood watch at Unity Square, road intersections, a bank and a school.
Several Uighurs complained about police abuse, while the Han felt the patrols made them safer.
“The police have to be tough, but when they beat people and raid their homes for no reason, this makes us angry,” a Uighur woman said. “They punish those who don’t deserve it and don’t punish those who do.”
In parts, the two ethnic groups do mingle, with a Uighur cook serving steaming lamb skewers to Han families at a street stand at dusk.
Some said newly arrived Han were more distrustful.
“The Han who came recently don’t like Uighurs and Uighurs don’t like them, but those who came a long time ago — up to the 1980s and 1990s — they think Uighurs are great,” said a Uighur driver working for a Han neighbor he has known since childhood.
At a Uighur bazaar outside town, shoppers streamed past donkey-drawn carts and stalls piled with fabric, boots and watermelon, while sheep traders chatted wedged between their flocks.
The few Han browsing were old-timers in the region.
“Things happen everywhere, even in the neidi,” a middle-aged woman born in the city said. “Han people, wherever we live, we adapt.”