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Bakery in the streets of the old town. Much of the old city economy is based on small shops. *** General Caption *** The ancient Silk Road trading hub of Kashgar, in China's northwest Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, is being threatened by a government redevelopment plan that some say has a hidden political agenda. Kashgar's old city has survived the centuries, and remains an important Islamic cultural center for the Uyghurs, the Turkic ethnic group living in Xinjiang. Two-thirds of Kashgar's Old City will be bulldozed in the next few weeks under a government plan to "modernize" the area. According to the nongovernmental Beijing Cultural Protection Center, the densely packed houses and narrow lanes of old Kashgar are the best-preserved examples of a traditional Islamic city in all of China and "From a cultural and historical perspective, this plan of theirs is stupid," said Wu Lili, the managing director of the BCPC, "From the perspective of the locals, it's cruel." City officials have been moving a number of families out of Kashgar's city center, saying they need to rebuild old, dangerous houses and improve infrastructure. In total, the government says it plans to renovate or reconstruct more than 5 million square meters of old homes and resettle some 45,000 households. Some Uighurs argue the demolition is part of an orchestrated campaign by the Chinese government to destroy Uighur culture. "The Kashgar project appears to be a tool to assimilate Uyghurs and to actually stifle peaceful dissent by putting old city residents from an organic living arrangement into a regimented, government-organized living arrangement. The Chinese authorities are able to monitor the activity of any peaceful dissent among Uyghurs," they say. There are also concerns about how people will earn a living once they are moved far from the centre of tourism - the government plan apparently does not include any mention of job creation. Disappearing the old city, tourism will disappear.