World News

    China's Account of Tiananmen Square Crash Questioned

    Analysts are questioning China's claim that last week's deadly car crash in Tiananmen Square was the work of an al-Qaida-linked separatist group fighting in northwest China.

    Two tourists were killed and scores of bystanders wounded when a car carrying three people rammed past security and burst into flames in the symbolic Beijing square last Monday.

    China has called the incident a terrorist attack. It blames the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, or ETIM, an Islamic group said to be fighting for independence in Xinjiang province.

    Michael Clarke, a Xinjiang scholar at Australia's Griffith University, says it is possible for the incident to be viewed as an act of terror, in terms of the method of violence used.

    But he tells VOA the alleged attackers' apparent lack of sophistication calls into question the government's narrative of ETIM involvement.



    "The immediate question is whether such a fairly amateur-looking attack can be linked to a supposedly organized terrorist group, which is what China wants the international community to believe by pointing the finger at the East Turkestan Islamic Movement."



    China has blamed ETIM for a series of attacks on government targets in Xinjiang in recent years. But many, including Clarke, question the extent to which it still exists in an organized form.

    Many say Beijing is exaggerating the ETIM terror threat in order to justify its harsh policies against ethnic minority Uighurs, some of whom complain of government discrimination against their Islamic religion and culture.

    Others say key details are missing from the government's account of the Beijing car crash. Henryk Szadziewski is with the Washington-based Uyghur Human Rights Project.



    "We really need to have more concrete details from Beijing to call this a terrorist attack. I think we would need to have some overtly stated political motivation, and at the moment, those details are quite sketchy."



    Szadziewski agrees that China has been known to exaggerate the role of ETIM in Xinjiang. And he says such terror accusations serve as politically beneficial distractions from Uighur grievances.

    Johan Lagerkvist , an East Asia researcher at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs, says many Uighurs feel they have "no other means to make their voices heard."



    "They feel their religion and religious practices and their cultural traditions are under challenge from Chinese-speaking people moving there and they feel they don't have the same rights and social mobility opportunities."



    China denies mistreating Uighurs. It says all of the country's ethnic minorities are guaranteed wide-ranging religious and cultural freedoms and benefit from urban development.

    Since the Tiananmen incident, Beijing has lashed out at Western analysts for suggesting that repression of Uighurs is responsible for the violence, saying such accusations amount to supporting terrorists.

    U.S. officials have been reluctant to support or deny Beijing's assertion that the car crash was an organized act of terrorism.

    When pushed on the issue by Foreign Policy on Thursday, U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke said Washington has no independent information, but deplores "any and all acts of terrorism."

    He also said the U.S. believes China should be "more respectful of the different cultures, religions, and languages within Xinjiang, and elsewhere in China."

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmarki
    X
    John Owens
    June 26, 2016 2:04 PM
    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora