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

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

Analysts say move by President Xi is an effort to win more party support, take step toward economic reforms, removing those who would stand in way of change More

South Africa Land Reforms Still Contentious 20 Years Later

Activists argue that the pace of land reform is slow and biased; legal experts question how some proposed reforms would be implemented More

In Vietnam, Religious Freedoms Violated, UN Finds

Beliefs reportedly prompt heavy surveillance, intimidation and travel restrictions More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelteri
X
Scott Bobb
July 30, 2014 8:16 PM
Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video A Summer Camp for All the World

VIDEO: During workshops and social gatherings, the Global Youth Village summer camp encourages young people to cooperate and embrace their differences, while learning to communicate with people from other countries. VOA's Deborah Block has more.
Video

Video From Cantankerous Warlock to Incorruptible Priest, 'Harry Potter' Actor Embraces Diverse Roles

He’s perhaps best known as Mad Eye Moody, the whimsical wizard in the Harry Potter franchise. But character actor Brendan Gleeson's resume includes dozens of films, and he embraces all the characters he inhabits with equal passion. In an interview with VOA’s Penelope Poulou, Gleeson discussed his new drama "Calvary" and his secret to success.

AppleAndroid