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

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

The studies point to the possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More