URUMQI, China, Aug. 21 (UPI) -- The first wave of migrant workers since last month's deadly riots journeyed to Xinjiang region of China to pick cotton, a state news agency said.
Most of the workers are ethnic Han, the dominant Chinese ethnic group, Xinhua reported.
But the western region of Xinjiang is predominantly Uighur, a Turkic-speaking Sunni Muslim group.
In July, the Uighurs rioted in the streets of the Xinjiang capital of Urumqi in the deadliest ethnic violence in China in years. Nearly 200 people reportedly died, and 1,721 were injured in clashes between the majority Han Chinese and Muslim Uighurs. Most of the victims were civilian Han, state news organizations reported.
Uighurs questioned why companies in Xinjiang, including large, government-run farms, employ many Han migrants when there is high unemployment among Uighurs.
Han have been moving into the area, though the Uighur are still the largest ethnic group.
The Xinhua report of the workers' return may bolster the government's claim that they feel safe enough to come back because harmony has been restored, The New York Times reported.
Ethnic tensions have simmered for years in the Xinjiang region, which is near Afghanistan and Pakistan.
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