Wednesday, 30 April 2014

More Unrest in Xinjiang

Soldiers surveying the scene of the explosion at a railway station in Urumqi
Tonight there was an explosion at a railway station in Urumqi, Xinjiang with some 50 people reported injured so far. It is the eve before the three-day Labour Day holiday with many people traveling around the country.

The blast happened around 7pm where some suitcases were left on the ground between the station exit and the bus stop outside.

Reports say the explosion was so powerful, some people nearby thought it was an earthquake.

This incident happened just as Chinese President Xi Jinping wrapped up his four-day visit to the region. It was not clear if he was still in Xinjiang at the time.

Ironically he had called Kashgar  the "front line against terrorism".

He visited a military unit and and armed police squad and then he was pictured touring a police station in Kashgar and watched an anti-terrorism drill.

"You must have the most effective means to deal with violent terrorists," Xi was quoted as saying by Xinhua. "The more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in wartime."

Ominous words...

At least 100 people have been killed in violence in Xinjiang over the past year, and over the past two months Xi has publicly discussed battling against terrorism 15 times.

Two days before he toured Kashgar, Xi vowed in a Politburo meeting to "resolutely crack down on terrorism and separatism with high intensity to safeguard national security".

And then in a strange twist, Xi visited a school and urged ethnic Han teachers to master the Uyghur language and to help Uyghur students become fluent on Putonghua.

"It's important to [have] bilingual education for minority children. [They] will be able to find jobs easier in the future by mastering the Chinese language, and more importantly they will contribute more to national unity," he said.

His comments just add to the frustration that he and Beijing don't understand what the real issues are in Xinjiang, why there are terrorism incidents in this restive region.

Already he is calling Uyghurs "terrorists" and "separatists", and how he wants to crush them for the sake of national security without realizing why these people have resorted to violence. It is because of the Central government's own policies of forcing the ethnic minority not to learn its own language and practice its culture and religion of Islam. The government has also destroyed their native homes and put them in sterile apartment blocks.

By not allowing them to do what is indigenous to them, the Uyghurs feel repressed and frustrated. The pro-Han economic policies make things worse, leaving Uyghurs behind in the race for riches.

Which is why it shouldn't be surprising that the desperate feel they have no choice but to voice their anger through violence, a bloody protest that makes things worse for everyone.

And on top of that, detaining the one clear rational voice for Uyghurs, Ilham Tohti, the academic who could have helped bridge the divide, is a major step backwards in Beijing's dealings with this ethnic minority group.

We are not surprised this explosion happened... but will Xi really get to the heart of the matter to end the violence?

1 comment:

  1. You can take this article replace Urumqi, Xinjiang with Lhasa, Tibet ( or HK, HK) and Kashgar with Tibetians (or Hong Kongers) and your article would still be valid.

    Xi and the violence, windowdressing...