[UPDATE] Chinshanlo and Maneza are from China! So what?

Post image for [UPDATE] Chinshanlo and Maneza are from China! So what?

by Matthew Kupfer on 7/31/2012 · 42 comments

On July 29 at the London Olympics, Zulfiya Chinshanlo lifted 131 kgs in “clean and jerk” women’s weightlifting, setting a new world record in the 53 kg category and winning a gold medal for Kazakhstan.  It was a major victory for Kazakhstan and its athletics program.

Or was it? Soon Xinhua, the state-run Chinese news agency, was claiming Chinshanlo for China, asserting that, contrary to her Olympic biography, she had been born in Yongzhou, Hunan Province under the Chinese name Zhao Changling and transferred to Kazakhstan in 2008 with permission to compete for its team in all international competitions. In Kazakhstan, she allegedly adopted the name Zulfiya Chinshanlo.

I must admit, I was truly skeptical of these accusations. It sounded like sour grapes on China’s part. Chinshanlo is, after all, a Dungan, an ethnic group in Central Asia that is closely related to the Chinese Hui Muslims. Wouldn’t it be easy to claim an ethnic Dungan—whose native language is a dialect of Chinese—as a Chinese citizen?

But then I got curious, and I decided to find a video of Chinshanlo speaking Russian. According to her Olympic biography, she speaks Chinese (which could mean Dungan), Kazakh, and Russian. I thought that, if her Russian was quite good, it would rule out the possibility of her having grown up in China. In Russian-speaking countries, Chinese students have a reputation for having horrible Russian. The generalization is unfairly broad, but there is a kernel of truth to it: Chinese is a language of short syllables and tones, and Russian is a language of long consonant clusters. It’s not an easy language for Chinese speakers to learn. I hoped to find a video of Chinshanlo speaking voluble Russian with no accent. Instead, I found that Chinshanlo’s Russian wasn’t that good and she did, indeed, seem to have a Chinese accent. It wasn’t necessarily proof that she had come from China, but it seemed to suggest that, if she truly was from Kazakhstan, she had grown up speaking only Dungan.

Today, Kazakhstan won another gold medal and set another record in women’s weightlifting when Maiya Maneza, another ethnic Dungan, lifted a combined 245 kgs in the “snatch” and “clean and jerk” events. Out of curiousity, I decided to see if I could find a video of Maneza speaking Russian to see what her Russian was like.

While doing a Youtube search for Maneza, I stumbled upon what I think is the smoking gun in the story, the proof that both Chinshanlo and Maneza are actually from China and that this isn’t a big secret in Kazakhstan.

It’s a Russian language newsreel from Kazakhstan in which weightlifting coach Aleksey Ni explains how he and other members of the Kazakhstan Weightlifting Federation went to China, the country most known for women’s weightlifting, to recruit female weightlifters to train in and compete for Kazakhstan. He talks about how they sought out talented female lifters who were not champions in China but had potential, and how they specifically looked for ethnic Dungans, who they felt were “indigenous” to Kazakhstan.  In the end, they chose Chinshanlo and Maneza. This information was corroborated by an earlier RFE/RL article.

I’m not an expert on the bylaws of the Olympics, but, from what I understand, an athlete must be a citizen of the country he or she represents.

Provided that Chinshanlo and Maneza have received Kazakhstani citizenship (as the RFE/RL article indicates), my attitude toward this whole story is “so what?”

Granted, if Kazakhstan fabricated the weightlifters’ country of origin in their Olympic biographies, that’s dishonest. But it doesn’t change what they have accomplished. Chinshanlo and Maneza were not champions in China. Kazakhstan apparently found them, trained them, and made them champions. Yes, they were recruited in a conscious effort by Kazakhstan to build up a women’s weightlifting team. But just being recruited doesn’t make you a champion. It was their efforts and the efforts of their trainers that allowed them to take the gold. Isn’t that what the Olympics are all about?


Wow! I never expected to get so much feedback on this post. Because more information has come out since I published yesterday, I wanted to add a brief update to address some questions surrounding Chinshanlo and Maneza’s uncertain origins and direct attention to a few underlying issues in Kazakhstan’s presentation of the two female weightlifters.

First, I want to thank the commenter “Dungan” for pointing out that Maiya Maneza was, according to her official Olympic biography, born in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. I wasn’t able to access the bio yesterday because of an internet issue. Zulfiya Chinshanlo’s place of birth, on the other hand, is officially listed as Almaty, Kazakhstan. However, given the high level of obfuscation in Kazakhstan’s presentation of the weightlifters, I don’t think we can entirely accept this as truthful.

Second, yesterday EurasiaNet published an interesting article by Richard Orange, who visited Kazakhstan’s Olympic weightlifting training camp in July 2o11. Orange notes that Chinshanlo and Maneza were generally shy and seemed unwilling to say more than a few phrases in Russian when he met them. Their trainer, Aleksey Ni, claimed that they were both Dungans from Bishkek, before conceding that they had some relatives in China. I think this suggests pretty strongly that Kazakhstan is trying to hide their origins, at least when the foreign press is involved. The seemingly obvious question is “why?”

This brings me to my final point, what I think is the most interesting issue in this whole “scandal”: the question of Chinshanlo and Maneza’s “Kazakhstan-ness”/”Central Asian-ness.” As I mentioned earlier in the post, I’m not convinced that Chinshanlo and Maneza’s origins are a huge secret in Kazakhstan. Why would Aleksey Ni talk openly about recruiting them in China in a recent Kazakhstani newsreel? And wouldn’t any local who heard them speak (either on TV or in person) realize that they were not from Kazakhstan? Rather, I think that Kazakhstan and their trainers placed the emphasis on presenting them as having familial, cultural, and historic ties to Kazakhstan and Central Asia to minimize their “foreignness.”

Ni states this openly in the newsreel, explaining that they sought out ethnic Dungans in China, who were “indigenous” to Kazakhstan. Furthermore, the weightlifters’ places of birth are listed as Almaty and Bishkek. Though Bishkek is not in Kazakhstan, it is located in culturally-similar Kyrgyzstan, not too far from southern Kazakhstan. Of course, the Chinese media is claiming that Chinshalo was not born in Kazakhstan and isn’t even Dungan, but, even if this is true, it doesn’t change what Kazakhstan is doing.

I think that, in recruiting Chinshanlo and Maneza, Kazakhstan wasn’t simply looking to win gold medals, but also to develop the sport of women’s weightlifting on its territory and create champions who the people of Kazakhstan could get behind. Though China is Kazakhstan’s largest trade partner, attitudes towards the country are not overwhelmingly positive. Many in Kazakhstan are a afraid of a mass Chinese influx, and a 2009 plan to lease 1 million hectares of farmland to China sparked protests in Almaty. One of the key themes of this protest was the fear that the lease could potentially bring millions of Chinese workers to Kazakhstan.

Therefore, recruiting ethnically Han athletes from China to compete for Kazakhstan probably wouldn’t thrill a lot of people. But, in recruiting Chinese athletes of Dungan ethnicity, a Muslim group already present in Kazakhstan, the athletics program could present the Chinshanlo and Maneza’s move to Kazakhstan as less of an athletic contract and as more of a homecoming. If they were actually born in Kazakhstan or another part of Central Asia, the better. They would possess enough “Kazakhstan-ness” or Central Asian-ness” to be accepted as athletic heroes by the people of Kazakhstan.

In spite of this unusual ethnic “public relations” factor in the recruitment and presentation of Chinshanlo and Maneza, I still maintain that their accomplishments are worthy and legitimate. The issue of Olympic athletes switching countries does raise some ethical questions, but let’s not forget good sportsmanship here. Kazakhstan bet on Chinshanlo and Maneza when China wouldn’t, and it proved to be a good bet. These two young women are consummate athletes, and they won the gold fair and square. The time for China to complain was before the Olympics, not after Kazakhstan won.

Photo by Vesti.kz

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This post was written by...

– author of 13 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Matthew Kupfer is a writer focused on Russia, Ukraine, and Central Asia and a graduate student at Harvard University's Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies. A witness to the 2010 interethnic unrest in southern Kyrgyzstan, he is particularly interested in conflicts and interethnic relations in the former Soviet Union. Matthew's research and writing has covered topics as diverse as the interethnic violence in Kyrgyzstan, women's rights in Central Asia, the history of genocide accusations in the former Soviet Union, and the Ukraine Crisis. His work has been published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the Moscow Times, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, EurasiaNet.org, and Muftah.org. Follow him on Twitter at @Matthew_Kupfer.

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Dana July 31, 2012 at 1:19 pm

И что? Футболистов покупают. А в Казахстане их воспитали как спортсменов! Казахстан многонацианальная страна, в ней проживает множество национальностей.

Matthew Kupfer July 31, 2012 at 1:39 pm

Dana, я думаю, что вы не поняли мой пост: я писал именно то, что вы здесь сказали: Да, они из Китая. А что? Они стали чемпионами именно благодаря своей способности к тяжелой атлетике и помощи своих казахстанских тренеров.

Arno August 1, 2012 at 11:46 pm

Рождение казаха от соблазнения монголом кипчачки или что от вас скрывает официальная Астана ?

Современные генетические исследования показывают, что у казахов преобладает отцовская гаплогруппа Y-ДНК С3, который в основном встречается у монголов и манчжуров. и не встречаются у других тюркских народов. У кыргызов преобладает отцовская гаплогруппа Y-ДНК R1a1, которая показывает, что кыргызы народ скифского происхождения.

Как же так получилось, ведь казахи говорят на кипчакском диалекте тюркского языка и считаются вроде братским народом кыргызов?

Ларчик открывается просто. Целый ряд казахских племен возник именно в эпоху монгольского нашествия и носит монгольские названия. В частности, поэтому средневековая история монголов, наполненная сплошь знаковыми для казахского сознания именами найманов, коныратов, уйсунов, жалаиров, аргынов, кереитов, кажется более родной, нежели домонгольская история Казахстана, из которой в современной казахской родоплеменной структуре сохранились имена, пожалуй, лишь кипчаков и канглов. Прямая связь казахских уйсунов и дулатов с монгольскими хушинами и дуклатами подтверждается и историческими данными. Перекочевавшие в кипчакскую степь монгольские воины заводили огромные гаремы из тюрчанок и не редко становились отцами- основателями новых родов и племен, передавая своим многочисленным отпрыскам названия собственной родовой принадлежности. При этом уже дети и внуки завоевателей говорили на местных тюркских языках и диалектах. Может быть, поэтому у казахов родной язык принято называть «ана тілі» («материнский язык»).
Китайский путешественник Сюй Тин в 1236 г. пишет: «[Я, Сюй] Тин, наблюдал их [татар т.е. монгол] обычаи – один муж имеет несколько десятков жен или более сотни жен… Чингис установил как закон, что необходимо их [татар] породе преумножать свое потомство» (Пэн Да-я, Сюй Тин 1940, с. 23а). Монгольские военачальники, которые часто подвергались призыву на военную службу вероятно не смогли контролировать вес процесс воспитания своих отпрысков, причем их жены и естественно и дети были многочисленными. А их жены основном это тюрчанки не выучили монгольский, для монголов тюркский был второй язык обихода и эти тюрчанки пели колыбельную песню на тюркском, убаюкивали и воспитали своих детей от монголов в тюркоязычной среде и эти процессы, уже были необратимыми, и постепенно монголы тюркизировались.
Нашествие монголов причинило огромные беды племенам кипчаков. Плано Карпини, описывая свою поездку через территорию современного Казахстана, счел нужным сообщить, что видел “многочисленные головы и кости мертвых людей, лежащие на земле подобно навозу…”. Карпини таким образом говорит об истреблении монголами кипчаков, а равно и канглийцев. Как вам известно, до нашествия монголов под предводительством Чингисхана в степи Дешт-и Кипчака здесь на территории современного Казахстана проживали в основном кипчаки, поэтому и земля называлась кипчакская (до кипчаков здесь проживали огузы, которых кипчаки вытеснили на запад и юг). Монголы Чингисхана жестоко воевали с кипчаками, так как видели в них угрозу своему существованию. Не зря историки говорят о кипчакской цивилизации. Кипчаки были для монголов заклятыми врагами и монголы гнались за кипчаками до Венгрии и Чехии (все знают о хане Котяне и его кипчаках) и до Среднего Востока с единственной целью, чтобы их уничтожить. Если взять современное процентное соотношение кипчаков (а каждый казах знает к какому роду по отцовской линии он принадлежит) среди казахов, то их примерно 10%-15% . Низкий удельный вес кипчаков, имеющих великую историю, и в то же время большой удельный вес других казахских племен говорит о том, что кипчаки действительно были истреблены, в основном мужчины. Не следует забывать, что пришлые завоеватели – монголы Чингисхана брали в жены местных кипчакских женщин в качестве трофеев и постепенно ассимилировались. Дети, рожденные от отца – монгола и матери – кипчачки перенимали язык матери, а не язык отца. Переселившиеся в степи Казахстана монгольские племена Чингисхана сыграли свою значимую роль в этногенезе казахов

Konvict August 10, 2012 at 4:42 am

С этим что ты хочешь сказать далбан? Қазақи великий народ! То что ты написал полный бред. Қазақи жили до Чингисхана. У нас огромная история.

Dungan July 31, 2012 at 1:28 pm

Good post. Aleksey Ni is a legend. Also some credit should be given to Turkeleri, a turkish coach.

Kazakhstan weren’t dishonest in providing their biography though…

Maneza is an ethnic dungan, but she was born in Kyrgyzstan and then moved to China with her parents.
http://www.london2012.com/athlete/maneza-maiya-1136191/ it says that she was born in Bishkek.

Chinshanlo is an ethnic dungan who was born in Kazakhstan and then moved to China.

Matthew Kupfer July 31, 2012 at 1:41 pm

Dungan, thanks for this information. I saw Chinshanlo’s official Olympics page, but was unable to find anything about her moving to China as a child. For some reason, I couldn’t get Maneza’s page to load (the Olympics site is a little finicky).

Arman July 31, 2012 at 11:03 pm

But it is written on their pages in wikipedia 🙂

M July 31, 2012 at 11:55 pm

Wikipedia pages written by one or few people are not exactly trustworthy.

Debbie July 31, 2012 at 2:23 pm

They were both born in China and trained in Hunan China in their earlier time. There were too many talents there so they were recruited 5 years ago for better chances to compete in Olympic. They ultimately beat the kids who were seen “more potentials”, it might prove their new country have good coach while the their original country have more corruption. I heard a couple of weightlift Champions during qualification process were not given the chance to go to London. – A Chinese lives in America

David July 31, 2012 at 4:23 pm

Debbie is right. If you read Chinese papers, you would know both of these ladies were born and trained in china in the early stage of their careers. Similarly, ping pong players from some European countries and Singapore actually came from China. But these countries are more straightforward in listing their birth place as China.

David July 31, 2012 at 4:41 pm

See this repot in Chinese including an interview with Zulfiya Chinshanlo’s family in Hunan, China. Her Chinese name is 趙常玲
She is a Chinese.

Matthew Kupfer August 3, 2012 at 9:15 pm

David, I tried to read this with Google Translate, but the translation was so bad, I couldn’t make much sense of it. However, I’m not saying that the Chinese press’s claims about Chinshanlo and Maneza are wrong. Simply that I haven’t seen any proof that they’re right. My conclusion is that I don’t know for certain where these weightlifters were born, what their ethnicity is, and what their real names are. What I’m interested in is why Kazakhstan has chosen to cover up their “foreign-ness” despite recruiting them abroad.

Kazakhstani July 31, 2012 at 4:41 pm

Chinshanlo, Maneza, Ilyin, Vinokurov . . . etc.
The long list of kazakhstanians who are not kazakhs actually.
Look the list of our athletes on official site of Olympics:

So, if they are “kazakhi” enough to eat kazakhstani bread,
then hell why wouldn’t they be “kazakhi” enough
to bring a benefit for Kazakhstan?
And opposite, if they win for Kazahstan the honour and glory,
why wouldn’t they be “kazakhi” enough to be paid by us?

And what about US team in London?
Do you know all of them are not native indians,
but originate from Europe, Africa and Asia!
So what?

And iron twice-governor of Ca actually came from Austria.
And what? Who care about? IDGAF.
IMHO . . .

Kazakhstani July 31, 2012 at 5:14 pm

Btw, belated Happy B-day, Arnie.
Long live the Governator!

David July 31, 2012 at 6:17 pm

Kazakhstan should have listed Zulfiya Chinshanlo’s birth place truthfully on the official Olympics web site. You can adopt a new name and a new citizenship, but your birth place remains the same.

hk August 2, 2012 at 6:22 am

So what? That means the current Americans people murdered, enslaved, tortured the native american people, and took their land.

The Chinese news media never says Chinshanlo or Maneza’s medal belongs to China. The media just want to let its people know the little connections. It is for just information purpose.

David July 31, 2012 at 7:31 pm

Well, the big question for me is whether or not these women are Hui, or whether they’re just Han. If they’re Hui, it’s not such a stretch to claim them as Dungan, though it’s still deceptive to give them new names, and pretend that they were born in Central Asia. If they’re Han, then it’s a total fraud, as they’re lying about their ethnicity, and their religion too, since stating that they’re Dungan implies that they’re Muslim. I don’t have any problem with people switching countries – who’d want to go through the Chinese olympic training program anyway? – but Kazakhstan is risking getting exposed here.

Nazerke July 31, 2012 at 9:40 pm

Dungans aren’t necessarily muslim.

Albert July 31, 2012 at 8:01 pm

A noticeable thing is that Olympic council limits the number of Chinese female weightlifting players to prevent this sport from being monopolised by China. China can just send 4 female weightlifting players for each Olympic game. Plenty of outstanding players have no chance to attend this game. That is the biggest reason why they joined another country. A better training environment? forget that….

Will August 1, 2012 at 9:21 am

My thoughts exactly. The only thing that bothers me is why they decided to change their birth country? Their last names are not typical for someone born in former USSR.

Matthew Kupfer August 3, 2012 at 8:57 pm

Will, although their names are not “typical” for people born in the former USSR, that doesn’t say much. First and foremost, there were always people in USSR who had last names that were unusual. Furthermore, since the collapse of the Soviet Union, some people in Central Asia have chosen to drop the Russian suffix (-ov/-ed) from their last names. If Emomali Rakhmon (formerly Rakhmonov) weren’t president of Tajikistan, would you think that he wasn’t from the former-USSR?

Finally, I looked on VKontakte (a kind of Russian Facebook) and found a group dedicated to Dungans. Of its members, there were many with more “traditional,” Russified last names from. But there were also several people whose last names ended in “-anlo.”

Will August 9, 2012 at 8:08 pm

I am familiar that not everyone in ex-USSR had a Russified last name (Germans, Jews, Koreans, etc.). The point is even the non-Russified last names sound familiar for someone who grew up there if you hear that name every once in a while. That being said, you are correct that it doesn’t prove anything as I might have never encountered every unusual last name.

P.S. I would have easily guessed Emomali Rakhmon’s ethnicity though. Outside Tajikistan and Uzbekistan it is unlikely for someone to have that spelling, you may see EmAmali, RakhmAn and other variations without “O”).

Konvict July 31, 2012 at 8:42 pm

Good article! Thanks! In fact Zulfia have come to Kazakhstan in 2007. So, she came at age 15. Realise? At age 15 knowing future champion? I think its unbelievable.

P.S. Michel Phelps is type of person who born only in century

M August 1, 2012 at 12:00 am

Assuming what we ‘know’ to be accurate, I agree. Who cares? Russia’s star female guard for their basketball team is from South Dakota. She plays for Russia because she couldn’t make the US team, and she had played for Russian pro teams at some times. Is this ‘worse’?

Azerbaijan’s bronze-medal weightlifter is from Bulgaria, a fact that everyone admits. He was congratulated by Aliev himself (in Russian, I guess?).

Peter Rankin July 31, 2012 at 11:42 pm

“clean and jerk” women’s weightlifting.

Hope they don’t do that in the men’s.

Guy Fawkes August 6, 2012 at 7:44 am

You mean “Jerk and clean” routine…a part of men’s games since ancient times, I am sure…

David August 1, 2012 at 12:57 pm

Zulfiya Chinshanlo (趙常玲)is a Han Chinese from Hunan province in southern China. She is not a Hui or Dungan.
It’s perfectly fine to get another country’s citizenship and participate in the Olympics. But for Kazakhstan to fake her birth place to Almaty, Kazakhstan, on official Olympics web site, it’s distasteful, deceiving, and unethical.

lulu August 1, 2012 at 8:29 pm

i think she is a dungan muslim.

Ulan August 1, 2012 at 3:54 pm

Exactly..sooo what?many Kyrgyzstani sportsman compete for Kazakhstan as well because Kazakhstan supports its athletes and pays them handsomely.Also Dungans were opressed by Chinese hans so Dungans are very common through central asia.Its same as Ukranian wrestler woman competes for UK so what?
Alga Kazakstan!!!!!! Po tablitse na 8m meste.Gord i podderjivagu!!!

lulu August 1, 2012 at 8:39 pm

exactly, i am a chinese and i was confused by chinese media as well.but honestly Han doesn’t opress any other race ,anyway ,congratulations!
good for zulfiya chinshanlo! we still love her!

lulu August 1, 2012 at 8:26 pm

right ,born in China, so what ?
you won and you make your country proud!
its none of we chineses people ‘s business!
congratulations from China !

toxqan August 2, 2012 at 12:18 am

The controversy stems from their identities and not their accomplishments. From what I have read in chinese they clearly are not dungan/Hui. Their Kazakh names also bear no relation to their Chinese names. It seems as though someone in Kazakhstan created the identities to avoid offending local sensibilities and has been caught with their pants down. Are average Kazakhs really this wary of China?

Yerzhan August 3, 2012 at 10:44 am

Thanks for interesting research and analysis. 🙂
I think, that all this controversy about their place of birth is a secondary matter. Maneza and Chinshanlo are human beings, not race horces and are able to make decisions themself. I don’t know where they were born, and what were the reasons behind it, but they decided to compete for Kazakhstan and seem to be happy with it.

Matthew Kupfer August 3, 2012 at 9:03 pm

I agree. My interest in this matter is what it can tell us about attitudes in Kazakhstan. Why did Kazakhstan seek female weightlifters abroad and then try to hide that they weren’t from Kazakhstan? And why were the ethnicity and places of birth of the athletes important? I think this tells us something about conceptions of the “Kazakhstani” (i.e. multiethnic) nation and who can be included in it. I think it also represents a desire to be able to take pride in things that are “truly” Kazakhstani, and reflects common attitudes towards China in Kazakhstan.

Nurike August 3, 2012 at 8:15 pm

I think the point being given here is not that it’s bad that these girls changed their citizenship or the country they represented. The point is why (if) their original place of birth or ethnicity are reported different than they really are. But most of the people writing here either ignore this point or they don’t understand. Maneze and Chinshanlo chose to represent Kazakhstan, it’s their decision and nobody’s business. But why (if) the valse information is given about their place of birth or which ethnical group they belong too? And is it really a secondary matter that the information is not true about them? But again, how do we know the information reported by Kazakhstan is not true? And how do we know that they are Chinees and not Dungans or that they are not born in almaty or in bishkek and later moved to China and that’s why they don’t speak Russian well? Who can prove the true information? And how do we know which information is true?

Nurike August 3, 2012 at 8:26 pm

And when i asked if it was really a secondary matter that the information was not true about them, i didn’t mean the importance of their true origin or place of birth . I meant the importance of the fact that our sportauthorities were replacing the true facts with lies. Then again, IF they were replacing the info.

J August 6, 2012 at 1:09 am

Like others, I also think it’s no big deal for Chinese athletes representing for other countries as it is seen in ping pong, badminton etc. However, I think it is a joke for the Kazakh officials to make up Chinshanlo and Maneza’s personal info and pretend they are natives. The Kazakhs can take the credit for training the champions but please don’t forget their origin and I doubt that Chinshanlo would even stay in Kazakhstan after retirement since her family are still in China.

Sam August 6, 2012 at 2:10 am

Dungan nationality is originated from Arab and Persian merchants and preachers of 7th-10th centuries who came to China and were given the best women of the ruling dynasty of those days for their bravery and wise advices they gave to the Emperor. Later, they have formed a dungan people community which was very traditionally Islamic. By the way, Dungans are still very conservative. The language is close to the Chinese Mandarin dialect with the great influence of Arabic, Persian and Turkic and Russian words. The name of the nationality, both in Turkic (dungan) and Chinese (hui) has a meaning of “A nation that will sooner or later go back to their roots…”.

Lots of Dungans are living in ex-Soviet countries. Their surnames can differentiate from the culture they are living in. In post Soviat countries, their language is written both in Russian and Arabic scripts… The culture is a mix of Muslim with chinese influence… Though Dungan people like to emulate to the Arabic culture and Sunna of Prophet Muhammed (Salaalahu Aleihi Wa Salam). Thus, Prophet (pbuh) said: “Seek for knowledge even if you need to go as far as to China”.

Izza August 7, 2012 at 4:34 pm
izza August 7, 2012 at 4:36 pm

You can read some infor about dungans and uigurs from this site, i just found it.

oldschool boy August 22, 2012 at 12:38 pm

I can think of one reason why their place of origin was “forged” on the official website (there is no secret in Kazakhstan that these two girls came from China). There is one example with boxer Kanat Slam (or Islam).
Kanat Slam is a native Kazakh born and raised in China. He got a bronze medal during Bejing Olympic Games in 2008, then he decided to move to Kazakhstan and assume Kazakhstan citizenship. However, Chinese officials protested against him representing Kazakhstan in international competitions. That is why he can’t compete in World or Asian championships or Olympic games but instead fights for the Kazakh semi-professional boxing team (WSB format) Astana Arlans.
May be Kanat Slam’s biography and potential Chinese protests were considered when misrepresenting place of birth for Chinshanlo and Maneza on the website. Although, who knows, may be they were born in Bishkek and then moved to China.

Q August 22, 2012 at 9:23 pm

In hindsight, yes, Kazakhstan should’ve been forthright about the places of birth. Nevertheless, I hope we can all agree that the Kazakh team seeking young talet from a neighboring country that begins developing talent very early on and has a LOT of lifters to spare is totally fair and good in the realm of sport. Ni, Turkeleri, and the Kazakh Weightlifting Federation deserve credit for further developing these two into the amazing lifters they are.

Let’s not forget some famous examples from the history of weightlifting:

1) Suleymanoglu defecting from Bulgaria to compete for Turkey
2) Halil Mutlu doing the same — although I’m not sure if he was initially developed by Bulgaria before going to Turkey
3) The most famous example ever: Qatar purchasing 8 of Bulgaria’s B-team lifters in 1998 for $1 million. Qatar provided passports, citizenship, official name changes, and a significant pay increase for the lifters.

Again, Kazakhstan shouldn’t have tried to conceal anything, but I understand what they were trying to accomplish — nationalism and pride in one’s country.

In any event, Maneza and Chinshanlo (as well as Podobedova, Ilya Ilin, etc) are incredible lifters and earned their places atop the podium.

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