News / Asia

China Defends Position on Tiananmen Attack

A Chinese policeman of the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team stands guard on a main street next to Tiananmen Square in Beijing, Oct. 31, 2013.
A Chinese policeman of the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team stands guard on a main street next to Tiananmen Square in Beijing, Oct. 31, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
William Ide
— China is calling for a unified front against what it says is the country’s fight against terrorism, following Monday’s incident in Tiananmen Square that killed five people. After rounding up five suspects linked to the alleged attack, China says it was a pre-mediated and carefully organized act of terrorism.
 
Tiananmen Square car crashTiananmen Square car crash
x
Tiananmen Square car crash
Tiananmen Square car crash
Chinese state-backed media Thursday said the Tiananmen incident was aimed at undermining stability and creating a separate state of East Turkestan in China’s remote region of Xinjiang.
 
The Global Times newspaper noted that while those allegedly involved were all members of the country’s largely Muslim ethnic minority group, known as the Uighurs, they would be the "biggest victims" from the attack. The paper explained that Xinjiang would be subject to even tighter security restrictions.
 
Chinese authorities have been cracking down hard in recent months in Xinjiang, targeting alleged religious extremists. The region’s official Xinjiang Daily newspaper says authorities detained hundreds of people for questioning between late June and August. This followed an outbreak of violence in Xinjiang that left 35 people dead in late June.

Critics blame Beijing for the tensions, citing repression of minority Uighurs and policies encouraging a massive influx of ethnic Han Chinese.

Uighurs

  • Ethnically Turkic Muslims
  • Make up about 45% of Xinjiang's population
  • The area was briefly independent in the 1940s before China re-established control in 1949
  • Many resent Chinese government controls and increased Han population in Xinjiang
  • Fear an erosion of their culture and language
  • Uighur-Han clashes erupted in 2009 in Xinjiang
The World Uyghur Congress, an exile Uighur group, says there is little reason to trust Beijing’s conclusion regarding the attack, given China’s tight control of information.

Dolkun Isa with the World Uyghur Congress says, “That's why we are calling for an international investigation, independent investigation group come to the area and China should open the door to international media, we are worried that the Chinese government will just use this opportunity to crackdown and arrest innocent people, we're just worried about that.”
 
The group says there is no organized resistance against Chinese rule, and that any individual attacks by Uighurs are out of desperation.
 
China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying denied any link between the incident and the government’s policies.
 
Huasaid, “Those individuals who try to link terrorism to the government’s national or religious policies or even use those policies as an excuse to attack the government have ulterior motives and are completely wrong. Anyone who has the basic ability to distinguish [right from wrong] can see this."
 
While Chinese authorities maintain Monday’s incident was a terrorist plot, they have provided little evidence.

Eyewitnesses said a jeep with Xinjiang license plates rammed through barricades, plowed through crowds of tourists and police before hitting a bridge outside the Forbidden City. Police say at that point, the passengers, Usmen Hassan, his wife and mother set the vehicle on fire and died. Police later said knives, fuel canisters and banners with religious extremist slogans were found in the vehicle.

The three people in the vehicle and five other suspects held in connection with the incident are from areas in the western part of Xinjiang where tensions have peaked in recent months. But they are from locales that are as much as one thousand kilometers apart.
 
Officials in Xinjiang helped police in Beijing to locate those allegedly involved in the attack. But Xinjiang government spokesman Yang Guoqiang could not provide any additional details.

Yang says that while the fight against terrorism goes on, it is not having an impact on daily life in the region.

He said, “Police and authorities are carrying out their investigation, but people's life and the normal course of things has not been affected."

However, foreign journalists who have traveled to remote parts of the region where some of the suspects were from are reporting a heavy police presence in areas and tensions on the rise.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid