Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
News, December 2013
8 Chinese Muslims Killed by Police in Xinjiang, the Region Rich in Oil and Gas
December 30, 2013
8 killed in Xinjiang attack
URUMQI, Dec. 30, 2013 (Xinhua) --
Xinjiang police said they had shot dead eight (Chinese Muslims referred to by Xinhua.net as terrorists) and captured another one as they busted an "organized and premeditated" terrorist attack on early Monday morning.
Nine (men) attacked a police station wielding knives at around 6:30 a.m. in Shache County of Kashgar. They also threw explosives and set police cars on fire, the public security bureau of Kashgar told Xinhua.
An initial probe showed the gang, led by Usman Barat and Abdugheni Abdukhadir, had gathered to watch videos and promote religious extremist ideas since August. They had also raised funds, made and tested explosives for planned terrorist attacks, the bureau said.
Police reported no casualties. They confiscated 25 explosives and nine knives at the site of the attack.
Local social order has returned to normal, according to police.
Editor: Mu Xuequan***
China says riots in western Xinjiang region, home to Uighur Muslim minority, leave 27 dead
CBS News, AP June 26, 2013, 9: 22 AM
BEIJING Assailants attacked police and other people with knives and set fire to police cars in China's restive far-western Xinjiang region on Wednesday in violence that killed 27 people, one of the bloodiest incidents since unrest in the regional capital killed nearly 200 in 2009.
Xinjiang is home to a large population of minority Muslim Uighurs but is ruled by China's Han ethnic majority. It borders Central Asia, Afghanistan and Pakistan and has been the scene of numerous violent incidents in recent years.
The early-morning attacks; described by state media as riots; also left at least three people injured in remote Lukqun township in the Turkic-speaking region, the official Xinhua News Agency said. Police stations, a government building and a construction site were targeted in the violence, it said.
Xinhua said the attackers stabbed victims and set fires, killing 17 people including nine police or security officials, before officers shot and killed 10 of the assailants in Lukqun in Turpan prefecture. The agency cited officials with the region's Communist Party committee.
Xinhua did not provide details about the cause of the unrest and it was impossible to independently confirm the report. Information is tightly controlled in the region, which the Chinese government regards as highly sensitive and where it has imposed a heavy security presence to quell unrest. However, forces are spread thin across the vast territory and the response from authorities is often slow.
An official reached by phone at the press office of the Xinjiang Public Security Bureau, the region's police, said she had only seen news of the violence on the Internet and had no information. Other officials at the county's propaganda department and police said they also had no details. Calls to the region's government spokeswoman, Hou Hanmin, rang unanswered.
Though it remained unclear what caused Wednesday's violence, police stations, government offices and other symbols of Han Chinese authority have been targets of attacks in the past. The attack occurred at 6 a.m., when most residents would still be asleep.
The report said three assailants were seized, and that police pursued fleeing suspects, though it did not say how many. It said three people were injured by the unrest and were being treated.
A man in Lukqun contacted by phone said the area has been cordoned off and armed police officers were posted at road intersections. Police, anti-riot forces and paramilitary police were patrolling the town armed with pistols and machine guns, said the man, who refused to give his name out of fear of government reprisals.
"People are not being allowed to walk around on the streets," he said before disconnecting the call.
The violence came two months after a deadly clash in a town near Kashgar, elsewhere in Xinjiang killed 21 people, including 15 police officers and community workers. Ethnic riots occurred four years ago in Urumqi, the regional capital.
Uighur activist Dilxat Raxit, spokesman for the Germany-based World Uyghur Congress, said Wednesday's violence was triggered by Chinese government policies of "sustained repression and provocation" of the Uighur community.
Many Uighurs say they suffer discrimination in jobs and in obtaining loans and passports, and that Beijing imposes tight restrictions on their religious and cultural life. Children and women are barred from attending mosques, and fasting is discouraged during the Muslim month of Ramadan, which starts this year in early July.
The Chinese government says all ethnic groups are treated equally and points to billions of dollars in investment that has modernized Xinjiang, a strategically vital region with significant oil and gas deposits.
Duncan Innes-Ker, an analyst at Economist Intelligence Unit, said the latest unrest shows that the government needs a new strategy to resolve ethnic and religious tensions in Xinjiang.
"Its past efforts to address them with tight security and economic development have been a manifest failure," Innes-Ker said.
The township of Lukqun is about 150 miles southeast of Urumqi along the ancient Silk Road connecting China to Europe. It is part of an area that includes Turpan, a tourist destination with distinctive Central Asian architecture.***
Xinjiang unrest: The oil and gas connection
July 6, 2009 12:05 pm by Kate Mackenzie
Xinjiang in western China is a province rich in natural resources – a fact not unconnected with the unrest in which 140 people have died in the past few days. The region’s oil and gas riches have been a growing source of tension between the province’s original Uighur residents and the mostly Han migrants from the east, who now make up the majority of the population.
Last year the FT’s Jamil Anderlini visited the region and described the desert surrounding the city “punctuated every kilometre or two by oil and gas derricks, each of them topped with the red Chinese national flag, an assertion of sovereignty over every inch of the energy-rich ground”.
One resident described how the state’s attitude to cultural and religious freedom changed with the oil boom:
“The Chinese didn’t want to let Xinjiang be independent before, but after they built all the oilfields, it became absolutely impossible,” said one Muslim resident in Korla, who asked not to be named for fear of retribution by government security agents.
Xinjiang is the site of an important junction in a pipeline running through Kazakhstan, where Chinese oil companies own stakes in several oil producers, and which has just been extended to reach the Caspian Sea.
Xinjang also contains China’s biggest natural gas reserves, and a 4,000km gas pipeline connects Xinjiang to Shanghai.
It’s not just energy: migrants have also moved there to work on large state-owned farms that make the province China’s biggest producer of cotton and tomatoes.
Conflict has arisen over:
- land rights,
- water rights (cotton is a thirsty crop) and
- the distribution of jobs between Han and Uighur.
While some of the original residents have benefited from the economic boom that has taken place there, Sarah McDowall of IHS Global Insight says government campaigns to ‘open up the West’ of the country has been successful, to some extent, and made the region relatively prosperous. But, she says:
“…It’s a question of how the benefits of these profits have been distributed among the region… the Han tend to be a lot wealthier.”
The latest violence indicates this has not been enough to smooth relations between the groups.
Xinjiang oil boom fuels Uighur resentment (FT, 28/08/2008)
Report eco-accountant | July 7 9:09pm
Chairman Mao himself began extending Han control over Xinjiang when he dispatched waves of young immigrants in his "Go West" campaigns of the 1960s and early 70s.
They increased population tenfold, over-grazed the fragile grasslands, and depleted the wetlands and aquifers.
Now, as the ethnic Uighurs constitute only 41% of Xinjiang's population, and the strategic importance of oil and gas continues to grow, what was once the "Uighur Autonomous Region" is a resource colony ruled from Beijing. Uighurs have become a despised minority, economically and politically disadvantaged, discriminated against in employment, education and civic life.
Many Han view them as backward, lazy and inclined to terrorism. Uighurs reciprocate the venom. The "Harmonious Society" extolled by the Communist Party is more a call for China's ethnic minorities to be docile, focused on attaining "modern prosperity and complicit in the ecological destruction which lies in the wake of the rampant exploitation of landscapes across Tibet, Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia.
Meanwhile Internet "thugs" now clobber any bloggers they consider "anti-Chinese" while they clutter the airwaves with their Han nationalistic is-information. May the lovers of true harmony--that derives from justice, freedom and a healthy environment-- prevail, whatever their nationality.
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