A Year Since Xinjiang Riots: Are Faultlines Manageable?

Originally published by EURASIA REVIEW, 09 July 2010 

 By Avinash Godbole

The week that began on July 5 marks the first anniversary of the Urumqi riot of 2009 in which 200 people, according to the official numbers, lost their lives. Unofficial estimates put this number at about 500. The 2009 riot was the biggest ethnic riot in Xinjiang. Beyond the number of deaths, however, the fact that it exposed one of the fault lines in modern China, that too in a most serious manner, should worry the communist leadership.

 Even while being majority Han, China has many other ethnic minorities who mainly inhabit China’s border regions. The Beijing leadership has evidently struggled to keep the ethnic differences to a manageable level, let alone projecting the ethnic diversity of the country with pride. This has obviously been caused by certain historical errors that date to the Mao era. In addition, in the recent past, China’s minorities have merely been a spectator of the country’s economic miracle. Hence, alienation of the people belonging to the minority ethnicities has been an unintended consequence of China’s economic success. An increased sense of ethnic identity among the people whose cultural ties are more with the Central Asian states than with their Han counterparts is the bitter truth for a country that looks forward to rising in the global power hierarchy.

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Inside Stories of Bloody Conflict in Xinjiang

Originally published by Epoch Times, 07 July 2010

By Fang Xiao

The clash that erupted in Xinjiang on July 5 of last year (7-5 incident) is considered by some China’s worst ethnic violence in decades. The Epoch Times talked to residents in Urumqi, Kashi and Aksu over the phone a few days before the one-year anniversary, asking them for their opinion of what caused the violence in 2009.

Policy of Discrimination

People said rancor between Han and Uyghur groups has been growing due to discrimination by authorities against Uyghur citizens. One person stated that the communist regime’s policy for Uyghurs is to eradicate them.

Discontent among the Uyghur community has been growing due to accumulation of discrimination and unequal treatment by authorities of Han and Uyghur citizens. People said that authorities’ being partial to ethnic Han Chinese is increasingly causing rancor between Han and Uyghur groups.

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Tibet and Xinjiang

Marking time at the fringes

A calendar like a minefield

Originally published by The Economist, 08 July 2010

By Good Karma became bad Karma

AS IT struggles to strengthen its grip on the restive minority regions at its periphery, China usually feels that time is on its side. In both Buddhist Tibet and Muslim Xinjiang, China hopes that economic development, improved infrastructure and steady demographic shifts will gradually ease the ethnic tensions that periodically erupt into violence.

But in one sense, time works against Beijing. Sensitive dates have often been catalysts for renewed trouble. This week saw both July 5th, the first anniversary of deadly riots that shook Xinjiang’s capital city of Urumqi, and, the following day, the 75th birthday of Tibet’s exiled leader, the Dalai Lama, reviled by Beijing as a conniving splittist.

Both Xinjiang and Tibet this week remained in the quiet but tense state that has become the norm. The authorities are betting that a heavy police presence and the aggressive prosecution of activists can stave off serious unrest without big concessions to ethnic-minority grievances. These include government interference in religious affairs, discrimination in economic opportunities, and a steady influx of Han Chinese that threatens to erode both regions’ cultural identity.

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China to roll out nationwide tax on oil and gas sales

 Originally published by BBC NEWS, 08 July 2010

 China has confirmed that a new tax on sales of primary resources will be rolled out nationwide.The 5% tax is being tested in the western province of Xinjiang, with revenues going to the local government. Beijing also plans to tax other raw materials, although the tax rate may vary, a government spokesman said. “The reform will clearly increase the local fiscal income of the resource-rich western regions,” said Du Ying of the Chinese planning agency. Before going nationwide, the tax will first be rolled out across the other Western regions of China – including Tibet – and will be extended to coal sales
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Social network sites `a threat to national security’

Originally published by The Standard, 08 July 2010

By Natalie Wong

Mainland authorities should regulate social networking sites in cyberspace as they could pose threats to national security, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences said.

The first annual report about new media developments was released yesterday by the academy’s journalism and communication research center, two days after the first anniversary of the deadly Xinjiang riots.

One popular site, Facebook, has already been banned since last year because it did not comply with requests to censor content involving Uygur protests.

“With the most netizens and an increasing number of blogs, China is worried that personal information on social networking sites may be leaked easily for unlawful use,” the center said.

The fear driving the push to regulate social networking sites like MySpace and Friendster is that they could be used as “a channel for subversion of the state by Western regimes.”

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China: western regions’ growth is key to stability

Originally published by AFP , 08 July 2010

 BEIJING — China said Thursday that development in the country’s restive far western regions was key to nationwide stability, a year after deadly ethnic violence rocked Xinjiang.

 The impoverished west accounts for more than two thirds of China’s land mass and 18,000 kilometres (11,000 miles) of border, and has “complicated” religious problems, said a senior official from the top economic planning agency.

 “The entire country will not be stable if the western areas are not stable,” Du Ying, vice chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), told a news conference.

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A Year since Xinjiang Riots: Regional Consequences

Originally published by EURASIA REVIEW, 07 July 2010

By Avinash Godbole

5 July 2010 marked the first anniversary of the ethnic riots in Urumqi, capital of China’s Xinjiang province that is home to the minority Muslim ethnicity Uighurs. These riots had highlighted the disharmony in the People’s Republic, which has always projected the idea of harmony in every imaginable field. Therefore, the ethnic riot in which about two hundred people lost their lives was a big embarrassment for the leadership of China. Besides the domestic policy implications, the 2009 riots have had serious implications for China’s foreign relations in Asia.

Part of the Chinese strategy in Xinjiang is rapid economic development, which the leadership feels would become the driver of peace and stability in the region. This was clearly articulated in the White Paper on Xinjiang that came out after the riots of July 2009. At the same time, geographically Xinjiang is at a location that is critical for China’s relations with Central Asia and South Asia. These twin long term goals drive Chinese external policy in the region. Within this framework, there are two drivers behind China’s new proactive foreign policy in the region. One of the components of China’s expanding interest in the region has been its quest for energy security; the other is the linkages between the extremist elements in Xinjiang and the Pakistan based Taliban.

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Beijing set to pour in $100B on projects in western regions

Originally published by AFP, 07 July 2010

BEIJING — China has said it will invest more than $100 billion this year in 23 new infrastructure projects in impoverished western regions as part of efforts to boost domestic demand.

The plan was announced Monday after Premier Wen Jiabao said the Chinese economy was facing an “extremely complicated” situation and two purchasing manager surveys showed manufacturing activity had slowed in June.

The 682.2 billion yuan will be used to build railways, roads, airports, coal mines, nuclear power stations and electricity grids, the National Development and Reform Commission said on its Web site.

Construction will start this year to “actively expand domestic demand and promote the fast and healthy development of the western areas,” the top economic planning agency said.

The areas include the northwestern region of Xinjiang, Tibet, Inner Mongolia, Sichuan and Yunnan in the southwest.

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