News / Asia

US 'Deeply Concerned' by Violence in China's Xinjiang Province

Xinjiang province, Kashgar prefecture, ChinaXinjiang province, Kashgar prefecture, China
x
Xinjiang province, Kashgar prefecture, China
Xinjiang province, Kashgar prefecture, China
VOA News
The United States is calling for a thorough and transparent investigation into a confrontation in China's restive northwest province of Xinjiang that left 21 people dead.

State Department spokesperson Patrick Ventrell says the U.S. is "deeply concerned" by the Tuesday violence, which Beijing was quick to label as a "terrorist attack."

"We regret the unfortunate acts of violence that led to these casualties and we’ll continue to encourage Chinese officials to take steps to reduce tensions and promote long-term stability in Xinjiang," he said.

The clashes began when community workers came across what state media describe as "suspicious individuals and knives" at a house in western Kashgar prefecture.

Fifteen police and officials were killed in the ensuing violence, while six "gang members" were shot dead. Another eight people were captured. A provincial official told VOA the incident was a "premeditated, violent act of terror."

Another official, quoted in Thursday's Communist Party-run Global Times says the group was planning to conduct an "elaborate attack" and was involved in "extreme religious activities," a common accusation against those in Xinjiang's predominantly Muslim Uighur community.

Some exiled Uighur activists dispute Beijing's version of events. The World Uighur Congress says the violence broke out when Chinese forces shot and killed a young Uighur as part of a government crackdown on the ethnic minority group.

James Leibold, a Beijing-based scholar on Chinese minority populations, says the truth is difficult to discern in cases like this. He tells VOA that the government explanation must be viewed with "extreme caution."

"[The government] tends to want to play the blame game very quickly. Local officials, in this regard, will often use words like terrorism, jihadist, and blame Islamic extremism, when incidents of violence and unrest happen in Xinjiang," he said.

Leibold says incidents of ethnic conflict in Xinjiang are often more complex and are rooted in a wide range of local dynamics.

"The rapidly changing nature of Xinjiang society, which creates a sense of social, cultural and religious dislocation, Han trans-migration into the area, restrictions on religious worship, and of course, there are outside influences that we can't rule out, [such as] Islamic extremism," he said.

Leibold warns that, just as government explanations must be viewed with caution, so should those by exiled Uighur groups.

"Both sides have an agenda and are trying to control the narrative and are trying to control how this incident is broadcast to the larger world," he said.

Many in the Turkic-speaking Uighur community say they are economically and culturally disadvantaged and face widespread discrimination resulting from a massive influx of ethnic Han Chinese into the region.

Ethnic tensions in Xinjiang have been simmering since a series of riots in 2009 killed more than 200 people in the regional capital of Urumqi. Subsequent clashes also broke out, prompting what activists say is a heavy-handed crackdown on the Uighur community.

Ventrell, the State Department spokesperson, addressed those grievances during his regular briefing on Wednesday. He says Washington is "deeply concerned by ongoing reports of discrimination against and restrictions on Uighurs and other Muslims in China" and urges Beijing to "cease policies that seek to restrict the practice of religious beliefs across China."

China angrily dismissed the criticism on Thursday. Hua Chunying, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson, said the U.S. should stop making "wild accusations about Chinese policy toward ethnic minorities."

She also blasted Washington for failing to condemn the violence. She told reporters that U.S. leaders should be more sympathetic toward Chinese policies since both countries are dealing with violent terrorist attacks.

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs