Archive for ‘unrest’

01/08/2014

BBC News – ‘Suspects shot’ in Xinjiang imam killing

Police have shot dead two suspects in the killing of the imam of China’s largest mosque and captured another, state media say.

Jume Tahir speaks during an interview at Id Kah Mosque in Kashgar in this still image taken from video dated 3 August 2011

Jume Tahir was the imam in Kashgar, in China’s restive Xinjiang region.

He was found dead after morning prayers at the Id Kah mosque on Wednesday.

Police said the suspects, located shortly afterwards, “resisted arrest with knives and axes”. They were “influenced by religious extremism“, Xinhua news agency said.

Xinjiang, in China’s far west, is home to the Muslim Uighur minority.

Tensions have rumbled for years between Uighurs and Beijing over large-scale Han Chinese migration and tight Chinese control.

In recent months, however, there has been a marked increase in Xinjiang-linked violence, including a market attack in the regional capital Urumqi that left more than 30 people dead.

Beijing blames these attacks on extremists inspired by overseas terror groups. Uighur activists say heavy-handed restrictions on religious and cultural freedoms are fuelling local resentment.

via BBC News – ‘Suspects shot’ in Xinjiang imam killing.

07/05/2014

Six wounded in knife rampage at Guangzhou Railway Station | South China Morning Post

At least six people were wounded in a knife attack at Guangzhou Railway Station yesterday, the third assault on civilians at train stations in two months.

guangzhou1-0507-re-net.jpg

Witnesses said four assailants began attacking passengers at random at about 11.30am.

Watch unconfirmed video: Suspected attacker caught by police after Guangzhou train station violence

One was subdued by police and a luggage handler after being shot by an officer. But police said later on social media that only one suspect was involved.

Witnesses also said one of the injured was a middle-aged Westerner, but Guangzhou police denied any foreigner was among the victims.

The police didn’t approach [the attacker] until they shot him twice in his chest HU ZHONG, LUGGAGE HANDLER

At least four people were taken to the General Hospital of Guangzhou Military Command, local police said. Three were in stable condition after surgery.

The attack comes less than a week after an explosion at a railway station in Urumqi – capital of Xinjiang , the vast western region home to ethnic minority Uygurs – left two attackers and a civilian dead and 79 wounded.

It also follows a March attack at a railway station in the southwestern city of Kunming , in which machete-wielding attackers killed 29 people and wounded 143 in what many in China dubbed the country’s “9/11″.

via Six wounded in knife rampage at Guangzhou Railway Station | South China Morning Post.

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01/05/2014

Two attackers among three killed in China bombing | Reuters

Two of the assailants who carried out a bombing in western China were among the three people killed, state media said on Thursday, in an attack which also wounded 79 and has raised concerns over its apparent sophistication and daring.

Paramilitary policemen stand guard near the exit of the South Railway Station, where three people were killed and 79 wounded in a bomb and knife attack on Wednesday, in Urumqi, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous region, May 1, 2014. REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic

The People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the ruling Chinese Communist Party, said on its official microblog that “two mobsters set off bombs on their bodies and died”, though the report did not call it a suicide bombing.

The other person who died was a bystander, the People’s Daily said.

Knives and explosives were used in the assault on a railway station in Urumqi on Wednesday, the first bomb attack in the capital of Xinjiang region in 17 years. The attack was carried out soon after the arrival of a train from a mainly Han Chinese province, state media said.

The bombing was possibly timed to coincide with a visit to the region with a large Muslim minority by President Xi Jinping, when security was likely to have been heavy.

On Thursday, dozens of black police vans were parked around the station, while camouflaged police with assault rifles patrolled its entrance. Despite the security, the station was bustling and appeared to be operating normally.

The government blamed the attack on “terrorists”, a term it uses to describe Islamist militants and separatists in Xinjiang who have waged a sometimes violent campaign for an independent East Turkestan state – a campaign that has stirred fears that jihadist groups could become active in western China.

State media accounts did not say if any other attackers had been killed or captured. Nor did they say if Xi, who was wrapping up his visit, was anywhere near Urumqi at the time.

Pan Zhiping, a retired expert on Central Asia at Xinjiang’s Academy of Social Science, described the attack as very well organized, saying it was timed to coincide with Xi’s visit.

“It is very clear that they are challenging the Chinese government,” he said.

“There was a time last year when they were targeting the public security bureau, the police stations and the troops. Now it’s indiscriminate – terrorist activities are conducted in places where people gather the most.”

There has been no claim of responsibility for the attack.

via Two attackers among three killed in China bombing | Reuters.

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19/11/2013

New Chinese Agency to ‘Manage’ Social Unrest | StratRisks

Source: RFA

The ruling Chinese Communist Party on Tuesday said it would establish an agency to “manage” growing social unrest, as part of a set of reforms largely focusing on the economy.

The new “state security committee” will tackle social instability and unify other agencies in charge of increasing security challenges, both foreign and domestic, the party’s Central Committee said in a statement after a four-day plenary meeting in the nation’s capital ended Tuesday.

State news agency Xinhua said the committee would “improve the system of national security and the country’s national security strategy” so as to “effectively prevent and end social disputes and improve public security”.

But it gave no further details of how the new plan, which was announced amid a raft of economic reforms, would be implemented.

China’s nationwide “stability maintenance” system, which now costs more to run than its People’s Liberation Army (PLA), tracks the movements and activities of anyone engaged in political or rights activism across the country.

Under this system, activists and outspoken intellectuals are routinely put under house arrest or other forms of surveillance at politically sensitive times.

However, analysts said that the agency was likely a bid by China’s new leadership under President Xi Jinping to curb the powers of the Political and Legal Affairs Commission, which administers the “stability maintenance” budget and has been slammed for behaving like a law unto itself.

“I think they have suddenly decreed the creation of this state security committee because the political and legal affairs committees have got such a bad name now,” said Chen Ziming, a former student leader of the 1989 Tiananmen pro-democracy movement who is now based in the United States. “Maybe they want to give it a makeover.”

“Also, they want to boost their overseas contacts,” he said. “It’s not just anti-terrorism; it has to do with many aspects of internal security and diplomatic relations.”

“All of those will be strengthened via this new agency,” he said.

New curbs

Shenzhen-based independent commentator Zhu Jianguo said the new committee would likely herald further attempts by the government to stamp out activism and curb online freedom of expression.

“This is exactly what everybody was afraid would happen,” Zhu said. “It will set new curbs and limitations on freedom of speech and thought.”

“If these reforms were genuine, they would be encouraging freedom of thought and expanding opportunities for public supervision [of government],” he said.

He said there had been no signal from China’s leadership that any reforms of the political system were in the pipeline.

“This is very far from any reform of the political system,” he said.

Cheng Li, a fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington and an expert on Chinese politics, said Xi’s administration had taken inspiration from the U.S.’ National Security Council, and was aiming to place more power in the hands of president.

“The official line is to better coordinate the very different domains: the intelligence, military, foreign policy, public security and also national defense,” Cheng told Reuters.

“This gives tremendous power to the presidency,” he said.

Sensitive session

Authorities in Beijing detained or dispersed hundreds of petitioners who tried to voice grievances against the government during the plenary session of the party’s Central Committee.

Police appeared to be on full alert after detaining or intercepting more than 300 former PLA officers last week.

The requisitioning of rural land for lucrative property deals by cash-hungry local governments also triggers thousands of “mass incidents” across China every year.

Many result in violent suppression, the detention of the main organizers, and intense pressure on the local population to comply with the government’s wishes.

Reported by Qiao Long for RFA’s Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.

via New Chinese Agency to ‘Manage’ Social Unrest | StratRisks.

09/11/2013

China’s Coming Terrorism Wave | China Power | The Diplomat

Prediction time: China will experience unprecedented terrorism over the next few years.

China

On October 27, a carload of Xinjiang residents made headlines by crashing into a Tiananmen Square crowd, killing two people while injuring 38. Then, on Wednesday, a series of explosions rocked the provincial Communist Party headquarters in Shanxi province, killing one person while injuring 8.

This recent uptick in political violence is not an anomaly for China, but a harbinger of terrorist violence to come.

Several long-term trends put China at risk.

China’s footprint on the world stage is growing while the United States is retrenching internationally. The recent travel schedules of Xi Jinping and Barack Obama are telling. At a time when Barack was cancelling trips to attend the APEC Summit in Indonesia, the East Asia Summit in Brunei, and his planned visits to the Philippines and Malaysia, Xi was wrapping up tours of Indonesia, Malaysia, Russia, Tanzania, South Africa, the Congo, Mexico, Costa Rica, Trinidad and Tobago, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kurdistan, and Turkmenistan. Look for Xi and he’s probably overseas. Look for Obama and he’s probably at home, wrangling with Congress.

Historically, Americans have been the preferred target of international terrorism, while China has been virtually spared. Americans have been the most popular target because of their country’s hegemonic position around the globe, which inevitably breeds mistrust, resentment, and ultimately counterbalancing. Professor Robert Pape at the University of Chicago has found that foreign meddling is highly correlated with incurring suicide terrorist campaigns. With its comparatively insular foreign policy, China has understandably elicited less passion and violence among foreign terrorists.

But the trajectories of the U.S. and China are now inverting. Reeling from its botched counterinsurgency campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States is engulfed in an unmistakable wave of isolationism. Meanwhile, China is rapidly converting its rising economic power into ever greater international leverage. This newfound orientation makes sense geopolitically, but will not come without costs.

Moving forward, China will contend with not only international terrorism, but also the domestic variety. This is because China is likely to follow (albeit belatedly) the post-Cold War Zeitgeist towards democratization. China will neither become a Jeffersonian democracy nor continue to disenfranchise political dissidents. Instead, it will inch closer to a “mixed” regime, a weak democratic state. This regime type is precisely the kind that sparks domestic political unrest. Such governments are too undemocratic to satisfy citizens, but too democratic to snuff them out.

Add to this brew globalization and the government’s critics at home and abroad will be better informed about both Chinese policy and how to mobilize against it, including violently.

via China’s Coming Terrorism Wave | China Power | The Diplomat.

06/11/2013

Blasts at China regional Communist Party office kill one – BBC News

A series of small blasts have killed at least one person outside a provincial office of the ruling Communist Party in northern China, state media report.

The blasts in Taiyuan in Shanxi province appeared to have been caused by home-made bombs, Xinhua reported.

It said eight people had been injured and two cars damaged.

Photos posted on social media showed smoke and several fire engines at the scene of the incident, which happened around 07:40 local time (23:40 GMT).

No immediate explanation has been given for the incident. There have been occasions in the past where disgruntled citizens have targeted local government institutions.

They do not often make the headlines but explosions in China\’s cities are not unheard of. Earlier this year, in another part of Shanxi Province, Chinese media reported that a bomb exploded outside the house of a local law official, killing his daughter. The culprit was a pensioner enraged by a court ruling against him.

Last year the BBC reported on a suicide bombing in Shandong, carried out by a disabled man upset by lack of compensation for an industrial accident. Every year there are examples of attacks with crude weapons or explosives, carried out by the desperate, the dispossessed and the disturbed, usually triggered by a dispute with some arm of local government or a local official.

It\’s too early to say whether the explosions on Wednesday follow the same pattern. But some details will worry the authorities: the ball bearings apparently placed inside the bombs, increasing their destructive power; the fact that witnesses reported several explosions over a period of time. And the bombs were placed outside the local Communist Party headquarters – was the party itself the target, or was this just the product of a local dispute?

The authorities will especially be nervous after last week\’s apparent suicide attack outside the gates of the Forbidden City, especially as the capital also prepares to host a meeting of China\’s Communist Party elite on Saturday.

Tensions are also high in the wake of last week\’s incident in Beijing. A car ploughed into a crowd in Tiananmen Square in what the authorities said was a terrorist attack incited by extremists from the western region of Xinjiang.

Later this week, the Communist Party\’s top officials will meet in Beijing to start a major economic planning meeting.

via BBC News – Blasts at China regional Communist Party office kill one.

31/05/2013

Urbanisation: Some are more equal than others

The Economist: “FOR many migrants who do not live in factory dormitories, life in the big city looks like the neighbourhood of Shangsha East Village: a maze of alleys framed by illegally constructed apartment buildings in the boomtown of Shenzhen, near Hong Kong. There are at least 200 buildings, many of them ten storeys tall (see picture). They are separated by only a metre or so, hence the name “handshake buildings”—residents of neighbouring blocks can reach out from their windows and high-five.

The buildings are China’s favelas: built illegally on collectively owned rural land. Rents are cheap. An eight-square-metre (86-square-foot) flat costs less than $100 a month. They symbolise both the success of the government’s urbanisation policy and also its chronic failures. China has managed a more orderly system of urbanisation than many developing nations. But it has done so on the cheap. Hundreds of millions of migrants flock to build China’s cities and manufacture the country’s exports. But the cities have done little to reward or welcome them, investing instead in public services and infrastructure for their native residents only. Rural migrants living in the handshake buildings are still second-class citizens, most of whom have no access to urban health care or to the city’s high schools. Their homes could be demolished at any time.

China’s new leaders now say this must change. But it is unclear whether they have the resolve to force through reforms, most of which are costly or opposed by powerful interests, or both. Li Keqiang, the new prime minister, is to host a national conference this year on urbanisation. The agenda may reveal how reformist he really is.

He will have no shortage of suggestions. An unusually public debate has unfolded in think-tanks, on microblogs and in state media about how China should improve the way it handles urbanisation. Some propose that migrants in cities should, as quickly as possible, be given the same rights to services as urban dwellers. Others insist that would-be migrants should first be given the right to sell their rural plot of land to give them a deposit for their new urban life. Still others say the government must allow more private and foreign competition in state-controlled sectors of the economy such as health care, which would expand urban services for all, including migrants. Most agree the central government must bear much more of the cost of public services and give more power to local governments to levy taxes.

Any combination of these options would be likely to raise the income of migrants, help them to integrate into city life and narrow the gap between the wealthy and the poor, which in China is among the widest in the world. Such reforms would also spur on a slowing economy by boosting domestic consumption.

Officials know, too, that the longer reforms are delayed the greater the chances of social unrest. “It is already a little too late,” Chen Xiwen, a senior rural policy official, said last year of providing urban services to migrants. “If we don’t deal with it now, the conflict will grow so great that we won’t be able to proceed.”

Yet Mr Li, the prime minister, would do well to dampen expectations. The problems of migrants and of income inequality are deeply entrenched in two pillars of discriminatory social policy that have stood since the 1950s and must be dealt with before real change can come: the household registration system, or hukou, and the collective ownership of rural land.”

via Urbanisation: Some are more equal than others | The Economist.

See also: http://chindia-alert.org/2013/05/14/right-thing-to-do-comes-with-a-price-tag/

26/05/2013

* Sonia Gandhi ‘devastated’ by India Chhattisgarh ambush

BBC: “The president of India’s Congress Party, Sonia Gandhi, has said she is “devastated” by Saturday’s attack on party officials in Chhattisgarh state.

Sonia Gandhi (R) and PM Manmohan Singh in a hospital in Raipur (May 26 2013)

At least 24 people were killed, including Chhattisgarh Congress chief Nandkumar Patel, his son, and local leader Mahendra Karma, when suspected Maoist rebels ambushed their convoy.

Mrs Gandhi visited some of the wounded with PM Manmohan Singh on Sunday.

The prime minister said India would “never bow down” before the rebels.

He denounced the “barbaric attack” which he said should be an inspiration in the fight against extremism and violence.

Unconfirmed reports said they were unable to visit the scene of the attack because of security concerns.”

via BBC News – Sonia Gandhi ‘devastated’ by India Chhattisgarh ambush.

See also: http://chindia-alert.org/political-factors/indian-tensions/

08/05/2013

* Indian government to deploy 10,000 more personnel in four states to fight Maoists

Times of India: “With the government moving towards a fight to finish war against Maoists in Red Zone, the Union home ministry has decided to deploy additional 10 bBattalions (10,000 personnel) of paramilitary forces in four highly naxal-affected states — Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Bihar.

CRPF, Central Reserve Police Force (www.crpf.n...

CRPF, Central Reserve Police Force (www.crpf.nic.in), Group Centre Pune, at Talegaon, on Old Mumbai Pune Highway (NH4) (Photo credit: Ravi Karandeekar)

Five (5,000 personnel) out of the 10 battalions will be drawn from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) while the remaining five will be spared by SSB, BSF and ITBP for anti-naxal operations.

Disclosing the decision in response to a Parliament question, the ministry said that the additional 10 battalions had been sanctioned on the basis of requests made by the respective state for stepping up operations against the Red Ultras.

At present, a total number of 532 companies (53,200 personnel) of paramilitary forces have been deployed in the seven Maoist-affected states — Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Odisha.

Officials in the ministry said that Jharkhand — which is currently under the President’s rule — would see the maximum deployment where the security forces had already been engaged in intensive operations against the Red Ultras under the leadership of ex-CRPF chief K Vijay Kumar who is posted there as one of the advisors of the state governor.

“Idea is to continue the intensive operations against Maoists before the onset of Monsoon in these states”, said an official.”

via Government to deploy 10,000 more personnel in four states to fight Maoists – The Times of India.

24/04/2013

* China’s Xinjiang hit by deadly clashes

BBC: “Clashes in China’s restive Xinjiang region have left 21 people dead, including 15 police officers and officials, authorities say.

Map

The violence occurred on Tuesday afternoon in Bachu county, Kashgar prefecture.

The foreign ministry said it had been a planned attack by a “violent terrorist group”, but ethnic groups questioned this.

There have been sporadic clashes in Xinjiang in recent years.

The incidents come amid rumbling ethnic tensions between the Muslim Uighur and Han Chinese communities. In 2009 almost 200 people – mostly Han Chinese – were killed after deadly rioting erupted.

Nothing is stopping foreign journalists from booking flights to Xinjiang after hearing reports of violence there. However, simply travelling to the region doesn’t guarantee the ability to dig out the truth behind this story.

In 2009, dozens of foreign reporters were permitted to join an official tour of Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, after clashes between minority ethnic Uighur residents and majority Chinese Hans killed 197 people.

Their experiences were mixed. Some reporters were able to speak to a variety of people on the ground, while others faced harassment and intimidation.

The situation remains the same today. Reporters who travel to the area are closely followed by government minders. Locals often hesitate to answer questions, fearing reprisals from government authorities.

Uighur exile groups often provide accounts that differ from the official Chinese government reports. Reconciling the two can be tricky.

The situation isn’t any easier for Chinese journalists. China’s propaganda departments have warned domestic news outlets against conducting their own independent reporting on sensitive Xinjiang stories, ordering them to reprint official stories from China’s major state news agencies.

It is very difficult to verify reports from Xinjiang, reports the BBC’s Celia Hatton.

Foreign journalists are allowed to travel to the region but frequently face intimidation and harassment when attempting to verify news of ethnic rioting or organised violence against government authorities.”

via BBC News – China’s Xinjiang hit by deadly clashes.

See also: http://chindia-alert.org/prognosis/chinese-challenges/

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