Thursday, 22 May 2014

Urumqi Under Attack

The scene of the open-air market moments after the explosions in Urumqi
This morning Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang was rocked by a deadly attack that killed 31 and many more injured.

It happened around 7.50am when people in cars crashed through metal barriers and drove into shoppers and setting off explosives.

The vehicles crashed head-on and then one of them exploded. Xinhua says there were up to 12 blasts in total.

The assailants targeted an open-air market that is frequented by Han Chinese, and very few Ughurs there, which makes investigators believe the perpetrators were possibly radical Uighurs, though no one has taken responsibility yet.

It is the single bloodiest attack in recent years, compared to the 2009 riots which lasted several days and resulted in 200 deaths.

While Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged to severely punish the terrorists and spare no effort to maintain stability, this latest attack follows the railway station bomb attack late last month when three people were killed, including two attacks, and 79 injured.

The spate of violence in Xinjiang escalated exponentially today, which underscores the desperation of some Uighurs who are resorting violence to voice their anger and frustration at the Communist government.

We've gone over that palpable indignation many times and don't want to sound like a broken record.

But obviously the attackers are still not happy with how Xi has handled the restive region.

The Central government needs to move quickly and have greater understanding of the conflicts there, that repression does not stability make.

This is the strongest signal yet to force the government to completely revamp its policy there and become more inclusive in a multicultural way. And no, ethnic dancing on the stage at the CCTV Spring Gala is hardly a sign of inclusiveness...

If Xi misses this chance of thoughtfully dealing with the issues head-on, Xinjiang will continue to be headache (and bloody mess) for whoever is in power. Is that worth the risk?

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