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.Continue Reading →