Never in Chinese history has northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region been referred to as “East Turkistan,” and there has never been any state known as “East Turkistan,” a white paper said Sunday.

The Turks were nomads who originated in the Altai Mountains in the middle of the 6th century. In the late 8th century, the nomadic Turks dissolved as their last khanate collapsed, according to the white paper titled “Historical Matters Concerning Xinjiang,” which was released by the State Council Information Office.

“They mixed with local tribes during their migration to Central and West Asia, but these newly formed peoples were fundamentally different from the ancient Turks. Ever since then, Turks have disappeared from China’s northern regions,” the white paper said.

From the 18th century to the first half of the 19th century, as the West made a distinction between the various Turkic languages (branches of the Altaic languages), some foreign scholars and writers coined the term “Turkistan” to refer to the region south of the Tianshan Mountains and north of Afghanistan, which roughly covered the area from southern Xinjiang to Central Asia. They called the two areas on either side of the Pamirs “West Turkistan” and “East Turkistan,” it said.

At the turn of the 20th century, as “Pan-Turkism” and “Pan-Islamism” made inroads into Xinjiang, separatists in and outside China politicized the geographical concept and manipulated its meaning, inciting all ethnic groups speaking Turkic languages and believing in Islam to join in creating the theocratic state of “East Turkistan,” it added.

“The advocacy of this so-called state has become a political tool and program for separatists and anti-China forces attempting to split China,” the white paper said.