News / Asia

More Than 800 Arrested in China's Widening Xinjiang Crackdown

FILE - Criminals and suspects are transported to a stadium for a mass sentencing rally in Yili, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, May 27, 2014.
FILE - Criminals and suspects are transported to a stadium for a mass sentencing rally in Yili, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, May 27, 2014.
William Ide

China is well on the way to one of its biggest crackdowns in the restive and remote northwestern region of Xinjiang since ethnic riots racked the capital of Urumqi in 2009.

Numbers released in state-media reports and in court press releases from the region show that since May more than 800 people, most presumably members of Xinjiang's largest minority group, the Uighurs, have been taken into custody on terrorism charges.

Uighurs are a Turkic-speaking, largely Muslim minority group that have increasingly been linked by Chinese authorities to a growing number of violent attacks in China. The attacks have not only targeted government offices, but civilians as well, in Xinjiang and other parts of the country.

The crackdown began intensifying following a string of deadly attacks this spring. In the month of May more than 200 people were arrested. In the first month of China's yearlong anti-terror campaign, between late May and late June, local court press releases say 380 were arrested and 315 charged.

Figures for the second month of the campaign have yet to be released, but following a violent outburst of unrest late last month more than 230 Uighurs were taken into custody, state media reports say. During that unrest authorities say nearly 100 people died, including 59 alleged terrorists who were shot dead on site.

Some say the number of those rounded up since May could be even higher.

"Based on what we are hearing from a wide range of sources, more than 1,000 people have been arrested since May and that number is conservative figure," said Dilxat Raxit, a spokesman for the World Uyghur Congress. "The total could be even higher because there are also those who have been detained by extralegal means."

In 2009, authorities arrested more than 1,400 Uighurs after protests turned deadly and ethnic riots left nearly 200 people dead.

Fears of a Middle East Link

State media reports say authorities in Xinjiang have broken up more than 50 alleged terror groups since May. The government frequently blames the spread of religious extremism in Xinjiang on groups overseas, and increasingly there are concerns about growing links between extremists here and the Middle East.

China's Special Envoy to the Middle East, Wu Sike, recently said that Muslim extremists from Xinjiang have gone to the Middle East for training and that others may have crossed into Iraq. Chinese language media recently latched onto a speech of the proclaimed head of the Islamic State group, Abu Baki al-Baghdadi, that he made early last month.

In the address, Baghdadi raises concerns about the plight of Muslims in a long list of countries, including China. 

Rafaello Pantucci, a senior research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, said that while terrorist groups such as al-Qaida do mention Xinjiang in their declarations about the global movement, there is no clear connection yet between groups overseas and those in China.

 "For example, if we look back at some of al Zahiri's recent statements he will talk about the brother organizations in the Gulf or in North Africa, or in Pakistan or in Syria, but he would never talk about in Xinjiang there being a group that they are specifically affiliated to," Pantucci said. "What they will do is to refer to this as one of the many places where Muslims have been oppressed and the Chinese government in particular is responsible for that."

Critics of the government's approach in Xinjiang such as Raxit say authorities are using the crackdown on terrorism to carry out wide-ranging oppression of Uighurs. He also says there are concerns that legal procedures are being completely ignored.

Beijing Offers Some Economic, Social Support for Region

"What we are hearing from those in the region is that the situation there now is like living in a war zone," Raxit said. "They feel no sense of justice, equality and no sense of security even in their own homes."

China Xinjiang analysts say that while the crackdown is severe, the government is reaching out at the same time to try to address longstanding concerns in the restive region such as unemployment.

Analysts say that at the same time as the crackdown intensifies, the government is also promoting policies that call for free education up to the age of 14 and bilingual teaching. The construction of a massive university in Kasghar is also seen as a key project.

Much of the violence that has wracked the region since Chinese President Xi Jinping stepped into office in March of last year, including the recent riots in Yarkand, has occurred in the south of Xinjiang, an area where a large number of Uighurs live and poverty and economic development are a key challenge.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: william li from: canada
August 15, 2014 11:54 AM
good job China! and good job Xi! keep it! use carrots and sticks, to keep those Uyghurrs under control!

by: T
August 15, 2014 9:14 AM
China's government during many years killing uyghur people and doesn't have punishment behind it's.

by: Ali baba from: New York
August 15, 2014 5:42 AM
China has to do any necessary mean to keep the country secure. Radical Islam has establish international countries including China. It looks that they need harsh treatment before it is getting out of control. China is a country that nobody can mess with it. once they thinking of trying ,they will be arrested in spot. China does not playing game . no body give them in china. no human right ,no stabbing in the back
In Response

by: Q
August 16, 2014 7:53 AM
Red china , it's a hell for innocent uyghur Muslims . Allah knows who will be pay more price . People can be killed , but there will be a day you can find who is who .

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festivali
X
April 24, 2015 4:09 AM
Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Keeping Washington Airspace Safe Is Tall Order

Being the home of all three branches of the U.S. federal government makes Washington, D.C. the prime target for those who want to make their messages and ideas heard. Unfortunately, many of them choose to deliver them in unorthodox ways, including from the air, as a recent incident clearly showed involving a gyrocopter landing on the Capitol’s West Lawn. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.

VOA Blogs