News / Asia

China Faces Ongoing Tension in Restive Xinjiang

Members of the Uyghur ethnic minority walk past a Muslim mosque near the Erduoqiao neighborhood in Urumqi in northwestern China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, (File).
Members of the Uyghur ethnic minority walk past a Muslim mosque near the Erduoqiao neighborhood in Urumqi in northwestern China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, (File).
TEXT SIZE - +

China’s far northwestern Xinjiang region is settled primarily by the Muslim Uighurs who have long chafed under Chinese rule. In recent years, there have been episodes of violence between locals and security forces, but who is at fault remains a matter of dispute.

At the end of December, the Chinese government reported a shootout in Xinjiang, in which eight people were killed.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei recounts the official version of events.

He says that it was a police operation, that led to the rescue of two herdsmen who had been kidnapped by a terrorist group that was headed to what Beijing said were “foreign jihad camps.”

The state-run Xinhua news agency says the confrontation involved a gang of 15 “violent terrorists”. Its reporting does not specify whether the terrorists were ethnic Uighur, a Muslim minority that makes up almost 90 percent of the population of Hotan county, where the conflict took place.

Apart from the eight deaths, four people were injured in the shootout, and four others detained. For Chinese authorities, the guilt of those involved is not in doubt.

Hong says that this was definitely an act of terrorism.

When there have been similar incidents in Xinjiang in the past, Uighur groups overseas have disputed China's version of events - and this time was no different.

Dilshat Rexit, spokesman for the World Uighur Congress, an exile group based in Munich, says that the 15 Uighurs in question were unhappy under Chinese rule and were trying to flee the country. He denies that the group had any link with terrorist organizations.

Rexit accuses the Chinese government of linking Uighur people with global terrorism as an excuse for what he describes as systematic suppression in Xinjiang.

Rexit says that many Uighurs are distressed by China's growing interference on the minority's cultural and religious activities, and that such policies are the main cause for the area's restiveness.

Earlier this year 18 Uighur men, who were opposed to a ban on Islamic women wearing a veil, attacked a Hotan police station with bombs and knives, killing two policemen and taking hostages.

Raffaello Pantucci is a Shanghai-based associate fellow at the International Center for the Study of Radicalization at London's Kings College.

He says despite differing interpretations of the most recent events in Hotan, one fact remains the same in both accounts.

“It seems clear that both of the stories agree that there were people leaving, people were trying to leave which suggests that there is some sort of tension that is obviously going on in the background,” noted Pantucci.

Pantucci acknowledges that there are small groups of extremist Uighurs who are reported to have posted threatening videos online, but he says he does not see an overall Uighur trend toward terrorism. At the same time, though, he warns that if the Chinese government's policies are too harsh, they may in fact push more Uighurs toward fundamentalism.

“By reacting to any expression of religion or religiosity as a manifestation of extremism that could lead to violence, you are potentially pushing individuals that might be finding religion as a greater solace into sort of more dangerous and violent direction,” Pantucci said.

Simmering ethnic tensions in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, erupted in July 2009. Uighurs were demonstrating against an ethnically-motivated killing at a factory in southern China. The protest turned violent, with Uighurs targeting residents of China's ethnic Han majority. About 200 people, mostly Han Chinese, were killed.

You May Like

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

Parliament approves legislation to bolster powers of intelligence service, which government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats Turkey faces More

Video Face of American Farmer Changing

Average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Face of American Farmer is Changingi
X
Mike Osborne
April 18, 2014
The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid