American 'Chinese' food us not at all what Chinese people actually eat

My mouth is completely on fire. It feels like someone's holding a torch in my mouth.

"This is the mild kind," barbs Tianran He, who sits opposite me. He is a Chinese-British travel presenter and an expert on Chinese culture. He's brought me here, to a popular restaurant in Beijing, to experience the core of real Chinese food: spice.

"Everyone in China eats spicy stuff," He says. 

While I'm admittedly a wuss with spicy food, this is hardly what I expected from an introduction to true Chinese cuisine, and it has me thinking: What do Americans know about Chinese food? Not takeout. Not Kung Pao chicken. Real Chinese food.

Related: Lunar New Year celebrations 

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Lunar New Year
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Lunar New Year
LIUZHOU, CHINA - FEBRUARY 15: Folk artists perform waist drums to welcome Lunar New Year at Rongan County on February 16, 2018 in Liuzhou, Guangxi Province of China. The year of the dog is celebrated from the first day of the first month of the lunar year and ends with Lantern Festival on the fifteenth day. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
MOUNT EMEI, CHINA - FEBRUARY 16: Citizens burn incense sticks to celebrate the Lunar New Year, marking the Year of the Dog, on February 16, 2018 in Mount Emei, Sichuan Province of China. The Lunar New Year falls on February 16 this year. (Photo by Liu Zhongjun/China News Service/VCG via Getty Images)
MOUNT EMEI, CHINA - FEBRUARY 16: Citizens burn incense sticks to celebrate the Lunar New Year, marking the Year of the Dog, on February 16, 2018 in Mount Emei, Sichuan Province of China. The Lunar New Year falls on February 16 this year. (Photo by Liu Zhongjun/China News Service/VCG via Getty Images)
MIANYANG, CHINA - FEBRUARY 16: Local residents in festive costumes perform dragon dances together to welcome Lunar New Year on February 16, 2018 in Mianyang, Sichuan Province of China. The year of the dog is celebrated from the first day of the first month of the lunar year and ends with Lantern Festival on the fifteenth day. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
MIANYANG, CHINA - FEBRUARY 16: Local residents in festive costumes perform dragon dances together to welcome Lunar New Year on February 16, 2018 in Mianyang, Sichuan Province of China. The year of the dog is celebrated from the first day of the first month of the lunar year and ends with Lantern Festival on the fifteenth day. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
MIANYANG, CHINA - FEBRUARY 16: Local residents in festive costumes perform dragon dances together to welcome Lunar New Year on February 16, 2018 in Mianyang, Sichuan Province of China. The year of the dog is celebrated from the first day of the first month of the lunar year and ends with Lantern Festival on the fifteenth day. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 16: A general view of the eight-metre, multi-coloured, illuminated dog lantern at the Sydney Opera House on February 16, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. The giant lantern, created by Chinese-Australian artist Song Ling, will usher in the Year of the Dog as part of the Lunar Lanterns exhibition for the Chinese New Year Festival. (Photo by James D. Morgan/Getty Images)
JAKARTA, INDONESIA - FEBRUARY 16: Residents pray at the Petak Sembilan temple, as they welcome the Chinese Lunar New Year, on February 16, 2017 in Jakarta, Indonesia. Chinese New Year is an occasion for families to gather and celebrate. 2018 is the Year of the Dog according to Chinese zodiac. (Solo Imaji) (Photo credit should read Solo Imaji / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
JAKARTA, INDONESIA - FEBRUARY 16: Residents pray at the Petak Sembilan temple, as they welcome the Chinese Lunar New Year, on February 16, 2017 in Jakarta, Indonesia. Chinese New Year is an occasion for families to gather and celebrate. 2018 is the Year of the Dog according to Chinese zodiac. (Solo Imaji) (Photo credit should read Solo Imaji / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
Chinese-Filipinos venerate the Medicine Buddha at the buddhist Seng Guan Temple in Manila, Philippines during Chinese New Year celebrations on Friday, February 16, 2018. Chinese around the world are celebrating this year's Year of the Dog, according to the Chinese lunar calendar. (Photo by Richard James Mendoza/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
JINAN, CHINA - FEBRUARY 16: Students wearing Han costumes read classics to welcome Lunar New Year at a temple on February 16, 2018 in Jinan, Shandong Province of China. The year of the dog is celebrated from the first day of the first month of the lunar year and ends with Lantern Festival on the fifteenth day. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
FUYANG, CHINA - FEBRUARY 16: Folk artists perform dragon dance to welcome Lunar New Year on February 16, 2018 in Fuyang, Anhui Province of China. The year of the dog is celebrated from the first day of the first month of the lunar year and ends with Lantern Festival on the fifteenth day. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
JINAN, CHINA - FEBRUARY 16: Students wearing Han costumes read classics to welcome Lunar New Year at a temple on February 16, 2018 in Jinan, Shandong Province of China. The year of the dog is celebrated from the first day of the first month of the lunar year and ends with Lantern Festival on the fifteenth day. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - Children fly kites during Lunar New Year festivities on Kim Il Sung square in Pyongyang on February 16, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / KIM Won-Jin (Photo credit should read KIM WON-JIN/AFP/Getty Images)
Young women in traditional Chinese costumes hold lanterns as they take part in celebrations marking the first day of the Lunar New Year in Yangon's Chinatown district on February 16, 2018. The 2018 Lunar New Year fell on February 16 across much of Asia, marking the start of the Year of the Dog. / AFP PHOTO / YE AUNG THU (Photo credit should read YE AUNG THU/AFP/Getty Images)
A fire breather blows flames as a troupe performs a traditional dragon dance during celebrations marking the first day of the Lunar New Year in Yangon's Chinatown district on February 16, 2018. The 2018 Lunar New Year fell on February 16 across much of Asia, marking the start of the Year of the Dog. / AFP PHOTO / YE AUNG THU (Photo credit should read YE AUNG THU/AFP/Getty Images)
A fire breather blows flames as a troupe performs a traditional dragon dance during celebrations marking the first day of the Lunar New Year in Yangon's Chinatown district on February 16, 2018. The 2018 Lunar New Year fell on February 16 across much of Asia, marking the start of the Year of the Dog. / AFP PHOTO / YE AUNG THU (Photo credit should read YE AUNG THU/AFP/Getty Images)
Members of a dragon dance troupe wait to perform in celebrations marking the first day of the Lunar New Year in Yangon's Chinatown district on February 16, 2018. The 2018 Lunar New Year fell on February 16 across much of Asia, marking the start of the Year of the Dog. / AFP PHOTO / YE AUNG THU (Photo credit should read YE AUNG THU/AFP/Getty Images)
People take part in celebrations marking the first day of the Lunar New Year in Yangon's Chinatown district on February 16, 2018. The 2018 Lunar New Year fell on February 16 across much of Asia, marking the start of the Year of the Dog. / AFP PHOTO / YE AUNG THU (Photo credit should read YE AUNG THU/AFP/Getty Images)
A young Exiled Tibetan looks on during celebrations marking the Lunar New Year or 'Lhosar' in Kathmandu on February 16, 2018. Lhosar is the New Year of the Tibetans which falls in February or March, and is marked with feasts, family gatherings and the exchanging of gifts. / AFP PHOTO / PRAKASH MATHEMA (Photo credit should read PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/Getty Images)
Cambodian-Chinese pray at a temple to mark the start of the Lunar New Year in Kandal on February 16, 2018. While not a holiday in Cambodia, the Lunar New Year, the most important holiday in China and a number of countries in east and southeast Asia, began on February 16 welcoming in the 'Year of the Dog'. / AFP PHOTO / TANG CHHIN Sothy (Photo credit should read TANG CHHIN SOTHY/AFP/Getty Images)
Cambodian-Chinese burn incense sticks and make offerings at a temple to mark the start of the Lunar New Year in Kandal on February 16, 2018. While not a holiday in Cambodia, the Lunar New Year, the most important holiday in China and a number of countries in east and southeast Asia, began on February 16 welcoming in the 'Year of the Dog'. / AFP PHOTO / TANG CHHIN Sothy (Photo credit should read TANG CHHIN SOTHY/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - Members of the Chinese community perform a lion dance as they welcome the Lunar New Year of the dog at the China town area in Kolkata on February 16, 2018. The Lunar New Year marks the start of the Year of the dog on February 16. / AFP PHOTO / Dibyangshu SARKAR (Photo credit should read DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - Cambodian-Chinese place various sizes of incense sticks into an urn at a temple to mark the start of the Lunar New Year in Kandal on February 16, 2018. While not a holiday in Cambodia, the Lunar New Year, the most important holiday in China and a number of countries in east and southeast Asia, began on February 16 welcoming in the 'Year of the Dog'. / AFP PHOTO / TANG CHHIN Sothy (Photo credit should read TANG CHHIN SOTHY/AFP/Getty Images)
Cambodian-Chinese burn incense sticks and pray at a temple to mark the start of the Lunar New Year in Kandal on February 16, 2018. While not a holiday in Cambodia, the Lunar New Year, the most important holiday in China and a number of countries in east and southeast Asia, began on February 16 welcoming in the 'Year of the Dog'. / AFP PHOTO / TANG CHHIN Sothy (Photo credit should read TANG CHHIN SOTHY/AFP/Getty Images)
A member of the Chinese community prays a the community temple as they welcome the Lunar New Year of the dog at the China town area in Kolkata on February 16, 2018. The Lunar New Year marks the start of the Year of the dog on February 16. / AFP PHOTO / Dibyangshu SARKAR (Photo credit should read DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/Getty Images)
People walk past a kiosk selling Chinese-style decorations and T-shirts for the Lunar New Year in Jakarta on February 16, 2018. The 2018 Lunar New Year fell on February 16 across much of Asia, marking the start of the Year of the Dog. / AFP PHOTO / BAY ISMOYO (Photo credit should read BAY ISMOYO/AFP/Getty Images)
People pray at a Chinese temple to mark the start of the Lunar New Year in Kuta near Denpasar on Indonesia's Bali island on February 16, 2018. The Lunar New Year is celebrated in many parts of the predominantly Muslim country of 250 million people where Chinese heritage took roots through ancient transmigration. The 2018 Lunar New Year fell on February 16 across much of Asia, marking the start of the Year of the Dog. / AFP PHOTO / SONNY TUMBELAKA (Photo credit should read SONNY TUMBELAKA/AFP/Getty Images)
ZHOUKOU, CHINA - FEBRUARY 16: Citizens pray with incense sticks to celebrate the Lunar New Year, marking the Year of the Dog, at the Taihao Temple on February 16, 2018 in Zhoukou, Henan Province of China. The Lunar New Year falls on February 16 this year. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
ZHOUKOU, CHINA - FEBRUARY 16: A man with his daughter burns incense sticks to celebrate the Lunar New Year, marking the Year of the Dog, at the Taihao Temple on February 16, 2018 in Zhoukou, Henan Province of China. The Lunar New Year falls on February 16 this year. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
QIQIHAR, CHINA - FEBRUARY 16: A Chinese worshipper takes flower to pray happiness and good health at the Dacheng Temple on February 16, 2018 in Qiqihar,China. Chinese New Year is being celebrated around the world, marking the beginning of the Fire Rooster.The New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, is celebrated from the first day of the first month of the Chinese lunar calendar and ends with the traditional Lantern Festival on the Fifteenth day. (Photo by Tao Zhang/Getty Images)
QIQIHAR, CHINA - FEBRUARY 16: Chinese worshippers light incense to pray happiness and good health at the Dacheng Temple on February 16, 2018 in Qiqihar,China. Chinese New Year is being celebrated around the world, marking the beginning of the Fire Rooster.The New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, is celebrated from the first day of the first month of the Chinese lunar calendar and ends with the traditional Lantern Festival on the Fifteenth day. (Photo by Tao Zhang/Getty Images)
QIQIHAR, CHINA - FEBRUARY 16: Worshippers light incense to pray for happiness and good health at the Dacheng Temple on February 16, 2018 in Qiqihar,China. Chinese New Year is being celebrated around the world, marking the beginning of the Fire Rooster.The New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, is celebrated from the first day of the first month of the Chinese lunar calendar and ends with the traditional Lantern Festival on the Fifteenth day. (Photo by Tao Zhang/Getty Images)
This photo taken on February 16, 2018 shows a Chinese-Indonesian man praying on the eve of the Lunar New Year in Surabaya, East Java province. Chinese-Indonesians are celebrating the Lunar New Year, the most important holiday for a number of countries in east and southeast Asia, as they mark the first day of the Year of the Dog. / AFP PHOTO / JUNI KRISWANTO (Photo credit should read JUNI KRISWANTO/AFP/Getty Images)
HANOI, VIETNAM - FEBRUARY 16: A shop owner burns ghost money to mark the start of the Lunar New Year at the Old Quarter on February 16, 2018 in Hanoi, Vietnam. The Chinese Lunar New Year also known as the Spring Festival, which is based on the Lunisolar Chinese calendar, is celebrated from the first day of the first month of the lunar year and ends with Lantern Festival on the fifteenth day. (Photo by Linh Pham/Getty Images)
HANOI, VIETNAM - FEBRUARY 16: People watch a firework display to mark the Lunar New Year celebrations of the Year of the Dog at the Old Quarter on February 16, 2018 in Hanoi, Vietnam. The Chinese Lunar New Year also known as the Spring Festival, which is based on the Lunisolar Chinese calendar, is celebrated from the first day of the first month of the lunar year and ends with Lantern Festival on the fifteenth day. (Photo by Linh Pham/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - South Korean athletes and team officials attend a traditional ceremony marking the Lunar New Year, at the South Korea house in the Gangneung Olympic Park on February 16, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Ed JONES (Photo credit should read ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images)
Indonesians of Chinese descent prays with incense and joss sticks for good fortune to mark the Chinese Lunar New Year at Amurva Bhumi Temple in Jakarta, Indonesia on Thursday midnight, 15 February 2018. The Chinese Lunar New Year, also called the Spring Festival, falls on 16 February 2018, the first day of the Year of the Dog. (Photo by Afriadi Hikmal/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
over 20,000 light and lanterns decoration for Chinese New Year at kek lok si temple, Georgetown Penang on February 15, 2018, in Balik Pulau, Malaysia. The Chinese lunar New Year will welcome the year of dog tomorrow. (Photo by Shaiful Azre/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Residents of Chinese descent worship during the Chinese New Year at Amurva Bhumi Temple, Jakarta, on February, 16.2016. Chinese people celebrate the Lunar New Year 2567 by performing prayers as a form of gratitude for all fortune and expecting a better life in the year of the land dog. (Photo by Dasril Roszandi/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
GUANGZHOU, CHINA - FEBRUARY 15: Illuminated decors are seen during the Spring Festival on February 15,2018 in Guangzhou, China. The Chinese Lunar New Year also known as the Spring Festival, which is based on the Lunisolar Chinese calendar, is celebrated from the first day of the first month of the lunar year and ends with Lantern Festival on the fifteenth day.� (Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
GUANGZHOU, CHINA - FEBRUARY 15: Canton tower displays colorful lighting during the Spring Festival on February 15,2018 in Guangzhou, China. The Chinese Lunar New Year also known as the Spring Festival, which is based on the Lunisolar Chinese calendar, is celebrated from the first day of the first month of the lunar year and ends with Lantern Festival on the fifteenth day.� (Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
GUANGZHOU, CHINA - FEBRUARY 15: People enjoy the Spring Festival on February 15,2018 in Guangzhou, China. The Chinese Lunar New Year also known as the Spring Festival, which is based on the Lunisolar Chinese calendar, is celebrated from the first day of the first month of the lunar year and ends with Lantern Festival on the fifteenth day.� (Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
GUANGZHOU, CHINA - FEBRUARY 15: People enjoy the Spring Festival on February 15,2018 in Guangzhou, China. The Chinese Lunar New Year also known as the Spring Festival, which is based on the Lunisolar Chinese calendar, is celebrated from the first day of the first month of the lunar year and ends with Lantern Festival on the fifteenth day.� (Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
GUANGZHOU, CHINA - FEBRUARY 15: People enjoy the Spring Festival on February 15,2018 in Guangzhou, China. The Chinese Lunar New Year also known as the Spring Festival, which is based on the Lunisolar Chinese calendar, is celebrated from the first day of the first month of the lunar year and ends with Lantern Festival on the fifteenth day.� (Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A woman holds a bunch of balloons for sale at Lungshan Temple as people visit to mark the start of the Lunar New Year in Taipei on February 16, 2018. The Lunar New Year fell on February 16 across much of Asia, and marks the start of the Year of the Dog. / AFP PHOTO / SAM YEH (Photo credit should read SAM YEH/AFP/Getty Images)
Local residents gather at Lungshan Temple to mark the start of the Lunar New Year in Taipei on February 16, 2018. The Lunar New Year fell on February 16 across much of Asia, and marks the start of the Year of the Dog. / AFP PHOTO / SAM YEH (Photo credit should read SAM YEH/AFP/Getty Images)
HEFEI, CHINA - FEBRUARY 15: A citizen prays with incense sticks to celebrate the Lunar New Year, marking the Year of the Dog, at a temple on February 15, 2018 in Hefei, Anhui Province of China. The Lunar New Year falls on February 16 this year. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
QIQIHAR, CHINA - FEBRUARY 16: A Chinese worshipper takes flower to pray happiness and good health at the Dacheng Temple on February 16, 2018 in Qiqihar,China. Chinese New Year is being celebrated around the world, marking the beginning of the Fire Rooster.The New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, is celebrated from the first day of the first month of the Chinese lunar calendar and ends with the traditional Lantern Festival on the Fifteenth day. (Photo by Tao Zhang/Getty Images)
QIQIHAR, CHINA - FEBRUARY 16: Worshippers light incense to pray for happiness and good health at the Dacheng Temple on February 16, 2018 in Qiqihar,China. Chinese New Year is being celebrated around the world, marking the beginning of the Fire Rooster.The New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, is celebrated from the first day of the first month of the Chinese lunar calendar and ends with the traditional Lantern Festival on the Fifteenth day. (Photo by Tao Zhang/Getty Images)
MEDAN, INDONESIA - FEBRUARY 15: The Chinese burn incense and see firework at the Lunar New Year celebration at Pak Pie Hut Cou temple on February 15, 2018 in Medan, Indonesia. The Chinese celebrate the Lunar New Year, in the world's largest Muslim country. Lunar New Year falls on Feb 16 this year, marking the Year of Dog. PHOTOGRAPH BY Lana Priatna / Barcroft Images (Photo credit should read Lana Priatna / Barcroft Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
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The dishes on a Chinese menu are likely alien to most Americans: spicy bullfrog, spicy crawfish, pig brain, octopus, cicadas. Basically: not General Tso's anything.

"For Chinese people, if you don't have fiddly food it's kind of not worth it," He says, twisting the head off a cooked crawfish. "People eat this thing, not because they want large amounts of meat, but they wanted to eat the flavor of the sauce. They think — a lot of Chinese people think steaks are boring, it's just a big slab of meat."

In China, people tend to eat four meals, not three. There's breakfast, lunch, dinner and yexiao: nightsnack. 

"All sorts of stuff on skewers," He says. He's in the midst of a kind of delicate dance, weaving his way through a crowded alley in Beijing's Houhai district. This place has a rubbery stench, something you'd expect from an escargot stand. But you won't find snails here. You will, however, find scorpions and grasshoppers.

SEE MORE: China's Culture Is Perfectly Encapsulated In This Park

Houhai is nightsnack central. It's a colorful reflection of Chinese nightlife, which largely revolves around food. It's a massive maze of small footpaths, all lined in shops, restaurants, bars, food stands, and booths offering light-up knick knacks that keep the throngs of people looking like the Las Vegas strip. 

And, yes, there's a lot of drinking happening here.

"Drinking culture's a bit different in China," He says. "You go to one of the rooftop bars and you get a crate of beer. And instead of sipping the beer, you down it because that proves how manly you are."

That's where nightsnack comes in — something to soak up all the alcohol.

He slips into a quiet restaurant, several hundred yards off the main drag of Houhai, and orders us some drinks and nightsnack.

"We'll get some Baijiu," He says, carefully selecting a variety of the sorghum liquor. This is not for casual drinkers. With alcohol content ranging from 40 to 70 percent, this stuff is serious.

RELATED: Incredible Chinese art 

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Hand-colored portraits from 1875 China
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Hand-colored portraits from 1875 China

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"If you want to do business in China, you've got to firstly be able to drink. You've got to be able to drink at least one of these," He says, holding up a liter of 86-proof liquor. A liter.

"But that's a process, right?" I respond. "I mean, you spend a night drinking through that."

"Sure, I mean, two, three hours," he retorts.

He downs a glass of Baijiu in about six gulps, though claiming he could do it in one if he wanted. 

"I have to get up tomorrow," he quips with a smile.

SEE MORE: Could China Be The New Global Leader On Climate Change Reform?

He's ordered us lamb offal soup: intestine, stomach, liver, kidney. It's stewing in a mouthwatering broth with onions, chili and other spices.

As we sit over our soup, meat skewers, greens, and Baijiu (served in "oversized shot glasses," according to He, vats, according to me), He launches into a lesson on drinking etiquette. 

"Say if I'm hosting you and you're cheersing me, then my cup would be higher than your cup," He says, demonstrating with our glasses. "But if you're the host and I'm trying to curry favor with you, I'll go lower."

It's a finesse that's indicative of how seriously Chinese people take their food and drink. Eating isn't just a necessity of survival in China, it's an artful experience. It's diverse, it's particular, it's creative.

And it's nothing like what you'd expect.

SEE MORE: Diverse community of Uyghur 

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Uyghur community in China
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Uyghur community in China

An ethnic Uighur girl poses for photo in front of a red curtain at her home in Hetian, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region August 20, 2012. 

(REUTERS/Stringer)

An ethnic Uighur child pulls a donkey near Mount Tianshan in Aksu, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region July 28, 2012.

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A facial mask made from pitch and egg white, which is believed to minimize pores, is removed from the face of an ethnic Uighur man during a treatment session at a beauty salon in Aksu, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region August 5, 2012.

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An ethnic Uighur resident puts a sheep into the boot of a bus at a bus station in Aksu, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region July 31, 2012.

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An ethnic Uighur migrant worker is reflected in a mirror at her rented apartment in Aksu, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, September 11, 2012.

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An ethnic Uighur woman (C) hugs her son as she stands outside her house with her daughter (R) and neighbours at an old residential area of Kashgar, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region July 22, 2012.

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Ethnic Uighur children fetch water from an underground water pipe at an old residential area of Kashgar, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region July 22, 2012.

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An ethnic Uighur child squats among a row of sheep at a livestock trading market in Aksu, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region June 24, 2012.

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A boy from the Uighur ethnic group sits in front of a wall, with an Islamic cap hung on it, in Aksu, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region June 10, 2012.

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An elderly Uighur man is reflected in a mirror placed on a fire hose box as he takes a routine eye test during his cataract surgery recovery period at a hospital in Aksu, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region June 6, 2012.

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An ethnic Uighur woman (R) collecting bricks talks with a man as they work at a demolition site which will make way for a residential complex in Akqi county of Kizilsu Kirgiz Autonomous Prefecture, in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region June 5, 2012. Investors counting on China to repeat its huge 2008-09 stimulus to backstop global economic growth are failing to recognize Beijing's limited scope to deliver another major spending surge. The 4 trillion yuan ($628 billion) stimulus package launched to counter the post-Lehman global crisis won worldwide applause but left a stellar bill - a 10.7 trillion yuan ($1.7 trillion) mountain of local government debt, the risk of sour loans as growth slows and a super-heated property market.

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An ethnic Uighur woman is put on a drip as her child lies on the bed next to her at a hospital in Shaya county of Aksu, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, June 3, 2012.

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An ethnic Uighur man lies on a bed at a store in Shaya county of Aksu, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, June 3, 2012. Picture taken June 3, 2012.

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An ethnic Uighur vendor counts money as he sits at his stall selling cloth in Shaya county of Aksu, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, June 3, 2012. Picture taken June 3, 2012.

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An ethnic minority student plays with a hula hoop as his schoolmates look on during a physical exercise class at a primary school in Aksu, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region May 30, 2012. Picture taken May 30, 2012.

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Ethnic Uighur children pose as they ride on a motorized tricycle in Aksu, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region May 21, 2012. (REUTERS/Stringer)

Ethnic Uighur laborers work at a demolition site in Aksu, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region May 21, 2012. China's premier reiterated calls on Sunday for the country to maintain its campaign to cool down its property market, a series of controls on credit and purchases that have begun to drive down housing prices.

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An ethnic Uighur man takes a nap on a board as his goat, which is tied to the board, stands next to him at a demolition site in Aksu, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region August 13, 2012.

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An ethnic Uighur man shows a painting of China's former leaders (from L to R) Zhu De, Zhou Enlai, Mao Zedong and Liu Shaoqi meeting at an airport, at his home in Aksu, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region August 14, 2012.

(REUTERS/Stringer)

Ethnic Uighur men work at a farming area near Lukqun town, in Xinjiang province October 30, 2013.

(REUTERS/Carlos Barria)

A suspected Uighur from China's troubled far-western region of Xinjiang, rests on a ground inside a temporary shelter after being detained at the immigration regional headquarters near the Thailand-Malaysia border in Hat Yai, Songkla March 14, 2014. About 200 people rescued by police from a human smuggling camp in southern Thailand on Wednesday are suspected Uighur Muslims from China's troubled far-western region of Xinjiang, say Thai police.

(REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha)

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