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).

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

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms 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.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls for Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid