Archive for ‘Ethnic clash’

17/09/2016

The plateau, unpacified | The Economist

AN ELDERLY woman with long, grey plaits, wearing a traditional Tibetan apron of wool in colourful stripes, has spent her day weaving thread outside her home near the southern end of Qinghai Lake, high on the Tibetan plateau. She is among hundreds of thousands of Tibetan nomads who have been forced by the government in recent years to settle in newly built villages. She now lives in one of them with her extended family and two goats. Every few months one of her sons, a red-robed monk, visits from his monastery, a place so cut off from the world that he has never heard of Donald Trump. Her grandson, a 23-year-old with slick hair and a turquoise rain jacket, is more clued in. He is training to be a motorcycle mechanic in a nearby town. Theirs is a disorienting world of social transformation, sometimes resented, sometimes welcome.Chinese and foreigners alike have long been fascinated by Tibet, romanticising its impoverished vastness as a haven of spirituality and tranquillity. Its brand of Buddhism is alluring to many Chinese—even, it is rumoured, to Peng Liyuan, the wife of China’s president, Xi Jinping. Many Tibetans, however, see their world differently. It has been shattered by China’s campaign to crush separatism and eradicate support for the Dalai Lama, their spiritual leader who fled to India after an uprising in 1959. The economic transformation of the rest of China and its cities’ brash modernity are seductive, but frustratingly elusive.

The story of political repression in Tibet is a familiar one. The Dalai Lama accuses China’s government of “cultural genocide”, a fear echoed by a tour guide in Qinghai, one of five provinces across which most of the country’s 6m Tibetans are scattered (the others are Gansu, Sichuan, Yunnan and the Tibet Autonomous Region, or TAR—see map). “We know what happened to the Jews,” he says. “We are fighting for our existence.” Less commonly told is the despair felt by many young Tibetans who feel shut out of China’s boom. They are victims of Tibet’s remote and forbidding topography as well as of racial prejudice and the party’s anti-separatist zeal. They often cannot migrate to coastal factories, and few factories will come to them. Even fluent Mandarin speakers rarely find jobs outside their region.

Yet Tibetans are not cut off from the rapidly evolving culture of the rest of China, where more than 90% of the population is ethnic Han. Mayong Gasong Qiuding, a 26-year-old hotel worker in Yushu in southern Qinghai, listens to Mandarin, Tibetan and Western pop music in tandem. He can rattle off official slogans but can recite only short Tibetan prayers. His greatest wish, he says, is to go to the Maldives to see the sea. Tibetan women in Qinghai use skin-whitening products, following a widespread fashion among their Han counterparts; a teenager roller-skates anticlockwise around a Buddhist stupa, ignoring a cultural taboo. Young nomads frustrate their elders by forsaking locally-made black, yak-hair tents for cheaper, lighter canvas ones produced in far-off factories.

Han migration, encouraged by a splurge of spending on infrastructure, is hastening such change. Although Tibetans still make up 90% of the permanent population of the TAR, its capital Lhasa is now 22% Han, compared with 17% in 2000. Many Tibetans resent the influx. Yet they are far more likely to marry Han Chinese than are members of some of China’s other ethnic groups. Around 10% of Tibetan households have at least one member who is non-Tibetan, according to a census in 2010. That compares with 1% of households among Uighurs, another ethnic minority whose members often chafe at rule by a Han-dominated government.

Core features of Tibetan culture are in flux. Monasteries, which long ago played a central role in Tibetan society, are losing whatever influence China has allowed them to retain. In recent years, some have been shut or ordered to reduce their populations (monks and nuns have often been at the forefront of separatist unrest). In July buildings at Larung Gar in Sichuan, a sprawling centre of Tibetan Buddhist learning, were destroyed and thousands of monks and nuns evicted. Three nuns have reportedly committed suicide since. Of the more than 140 Tibetans who have set fire to themselves since 2011 in protest against Chinese rule, many were spurred to do so by repressive measures at their own monastery or nunnery.

Cloistered life is threatened by social change, too. Families often used to send their second son to a monastery, a good source of schooling. Now all children receive nine years of free education. “The young think there are better things to do,” says a monk at Rongwo monastery in Tongren, a town in Qinghai, who spends his days “praying, teaching [and] cleaning”. New recruits often come from poorly educated rural families.

Mind your language

In the TAR (which is closed to foreign journalists most of the time), the Tibetan language is under particular threat. Even nursery schools often teach entirely in Mandarin. A generation is now graduating from universities there who barely speak Tibetan. Some people have been arrested for continuing to teach in the language. In April last year Gonpo Tenzin, a singer, was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison for his album, “No New Year for Tibet”, encouraging Tibetans to preserve their language and culture.

In some areas outside the TAR, however, the government is less hostile to Tibetan. Since the early 2000s, in much of Qinghai, the number of secondary schools that teach in Tibetan has risen, according to research there by Adrian Zenz of the European School of Culture and Theology at Korntal, Germany. The range of degrees taught in Tibetan has expanded too. Unlike elsewhere, someone who has studied mainly in Tibetan can still get a good job in Qinghai. A third of all government roles advertised there between 2011 and 2015 required the language. Despite this, many parents and students chose to be taught in Mandarin anyway, Mr Zenz found. They thought it would improve job prospects.

Karma chameleon

But work can be difficult to get, despite years of huge government aid that has helped to boost growth. Government subsidies for the TAR amounted to 111% of GDP in 2014 (see chart), according to Andrew Fischer of Erasmus University Rotterdam. Eleven airports serve Qinghai and the TAR—they will have three more by 2020. A 156-mile train line from Lhasa (population 560,000) to Shigatse (population 120,000), which was completed in 2014, cost 13.3 billion yuan ($2.16 billion). A second track to Lhasa is being laid from Sichuan, priced at 105 billion yuan.

Better infrastructure has fuelled a tourism boom—domestic visitors to the TAR increased fivefold between 2007 and 2015—but most income flows to travel agents elsewhere. Tourists stay in Han-run hotels and largely eat in non-Tibetan restaurants (KFC opened its first Lhasa branch in March). Tibetan resentment at exclusion from tourism- and construction-related jobs was a big cause of rioting in Lhasa in 2008 that sparked plateau-wide protests. Other big money-spinners—hydropower and the extraction of minerals and timber—are controlled by state-owned firms that employ relatively few Tibetans. The Chinese name for Tibet, Xizang, means “western treasure house”. But Tibetans have little share in its spoils. The rehousing of nomads has helped provide some with building jobs, but has also brought suffering: those relocated sometimes find it harder to make a living from herding.

In most other parts of China, villages have been rapidly emptying as people flock to work in cities. In the country as a whole, the agricultural population dropped from 65% to 48% as a share of the total between 2000 and 2010. On the plateau it fell only slightly, from 87% to 83%. It is hard for Tibetans to migrate to places where there are more opportunities. Police and employers treat them as potential troublemakers. In 2010 only about 1% of Tibetans had settled outside the plateau, says Ma Rong of Peking University. They cannot move abroad either. In 2012 Tibetans in the TAR had to surrender their passports (to prevent them joining the Dalai Lama); in parts of Qinghai officials went house-to-house confiscating them.

Karma chameleon

For university graduates, the prospects are somewhat better. There are few prospects for secure work in private firms on the plateau. But to help them, the government has been on a hiring spree since 2011. Almost all educated Tibetans now work for the state. A government job is a pretty good one: salaries have been rising fast. Few Tibetans see such work as traitorous to their cause or culture. But the government may not be able to keep providing enough jobs for graduates, especially if a slowdown in China’s economy, which is crimping demand for commodities, has a knock-on effect on the plateau.

Many of the problems faced by Tibetans are common in traditional pastoral cultures as they modernise. But those of Tibetans are compounded by repression. They are only likely to increase when the Dalai Lama, now 81, dies. The central government will try to rig the selection of his successor, and no doubt persecute Tibetans who publicly object.

In private, officials say they are playing a waiting game: they expect the “Tibetan problem” to be more easily solved when he is gone. They are deluding themselves. They ignore his impact as a voice of moderation: he does not demand outright independence and he condemns violence. Tibetan culture may be under duress, but adoration of the Dalai Lama shows no sign of diminishing. Poverty, alienation and the loss of a beloved figurehead may prove an incendiary cocktail.

Source: The plateau, unpacified | The Economist

23/05/2016

Doubling down | The Economist

“A COLOSSAL roller-coaster” is how a senior engineer described it. He was talking about the railway that China plans to build from the lowlands of the south-west, across some of the world’s most forbidding terrain, into Tibet. Of all the country’s railway-building feats in recent years, this will be the most remarkable: a 1,600-kilometre (1,000-mile) track that will pass through snow-capped mountains in a region racked by earthquakes, with nearly half of it running through tunnels or over bridges. It will also be dogged all the way by controversy.

Chinese officials have dreamed of such a railway line for a century. In 1912, shortly after he took over as China’s first president, Sun Yat-sen called for a trans-Tibetan line, not least to help prevent Tibet from falling under the sway of Britain (which had already invaded Tibet from India a decade earlier). Mao Zedong revived the idea in the 1950s. In the years since, many exploratory surveys have been carried out.

But it is only after building the world’s second-longest railway network—including, in the past few years, by far the biggest high-speed one—that China’s government has felt ready to take on the challenge. It had a warm-up with the construction of the first railway into Tibet, which opened in 2006. That line, connecting Lhasa with Golmud in Qinghai province to the north (and extended two years ago from Lhasa to Tibet’s second city, Shigatse), was proclaimed to be a huge accomplishment. It included the highest-altitude stretch in the world, parts of it across permafrost. It required ingenious heat-regulating technology to keep the track from buckling. Advertisement: Replay Ad China further honed its skills with the opening of a high-speed line across the Tibetan plateau in 2014—though in Qinghai province, rather than in Tibet proper. But neither track had anything like the natural barriers that the Sichuan-Tibet line will face. It will be just under half as long again as the existing line to Tibet, but will take three times longer to build. The second line’s estimated cost of 105 billion yuan ($16 billion) is several times more than the first one. Lhasa is about 3,200 metres (10,500 feet) higher than Chengdu, yet by the time the track goes up and down on the way there—crossing 14 mountains, two of them higher than Mont Blanc, western Europe’s highest mountain—the cumulative ascent will be 14,000 metres. The existing road from Chengdu to Lhasa that follows the proposed route into Tibet is a narrow highway notable for the wreckage of lorries that have careered off it. Some Chinese drivers regard the navigation of Highway 318 as the ultimate proof of their vehicles’, and their own, endurance. Work on easier stretches of the railway line, closest to Lhasa and Chengdu respectively, began in 2014. Now the government appears to be getting ready for the tougher parts. A national three-year “plan of action”, adopted in March for major transport-infrastructure projects, mentions the most difficult stretch: a 1,000km link between Kangding in Sichuan and the Tibetan prefecture of Linzhi (Nyingchi in Tibetan). The plan says this should be “pushed forward” by 2018. It will involve 16 bridges to carry the track over the Yarlung Tsangpo river, known downstream as the Brahmaputra. Dai Bin of Southwest Jiaotong University in Chengdu says the Chengdu-Lhasa line could be finished by around 2030.

Source: Doubling down | The Economist

08/05/2015

China’s drive to settle new wave of migrants in restive Xinjiang | South China Morning Post

Newly employed as a hotel receptionist in Xinjiang, Fang Lihua is a foot soldier on the front line of a demographic contest for the mainly Muslim region’s identity as China opens it up for migration.

Uygur men visiting a night market in Hotan. Some Uygurs allege that ethnic Han settlers in Xinjiang receive preferential treatment. Photo: AFP

The resource-rich, far-western region is home to more than 10 million Uygurs, a Turkic minority with stronger cultural links to Central Asia than to the rest of China, dominated by the Han ethnic majority.

It sees sporadic violence the authorities blame on Islamist separatists, which has increased in intensity and spread beyond its borders in recent years.

Waves of mass migration from China’s heartland have raised Xinjiang’s Han population from six per cent in 1949 to 38 per cent four years ago.

Now Beijing hopes to trigger a new influx with the most liberal residency rules in China.

Fang, who is Han and in her 20s, took a three-day train ride from China’s ancient capital Xian to reach her new home in Hotan. The oasis town by the Taklamakan desert is renowned for its jade and fruit, but held little charm for her.

“I hate it here,” she said. “It’s completely foreign, I don’t think I’ll be able to adjust to life here.”

She and her builder husband are among the first to take advantage of new rules announced six months ago and she says they may stay despite her misgivings.

In cities across China, migration is strictly controlled, with new arrivals struggling for years to secure the all-important household registration, or hukou, entitling residents to education, healthcare, social insurance and more. Larger cities require advanced degrees, special skills or a job at a well-connected or government-owned company.

But in southern Xinjiang, the latest regulations mean a hukou is available with no educational or skill requirements at all.

Nationwide changes to the system are in the pipeline with urbanisation a key driver of the Chinese economy, but the fact that the Uygur-dominated area has been chosen for the country’s most liberal rules is striking.

More than 200 people died in Xinjiang-linked incidents last year according to official media reports, including a bloody mass stabbing in Kunming in southwestern China.

“The hukou reforms are about trying to encourage Han migration to southern Xinjiang, even though it’s not phrased in that way,” said James Leibold, an expert on ethnic relations in China at Australia’s La Trobe University.

“The idea behind that is to encourage more inter-ethnic mingling and hopefully by bringing more Han, the quality and the civilisation of southern Xinjiang will increase.”

At the same time the government is trying to stem population growth among minorities.

Propaganda throughout rural Hotan encourages residents to “have fewer children and get rich quick”, with a 3,000 yuan (HK$3,800) payout for those who forgo having the third child allowed to many ethnic minority couples under China’s family planning rules, compared to one or two for Han.

Security concerns and poor business opportunities would put off many potential migrants, Leibold said.

But that did not stop construction worker Du Yun, from the southwestern province of Sichuan, who arrived in November.

“I prefer the air in Sichuan, we don’t have sandstorms, but the social benefits are better in cities,” he said.

Areas of Xinjiang have at times been part of different states, including Russia, sometimes independent, but it has largely been ruled by Beijing since the late 1800s.

After the Communists won China’s civil war in 1949, it saw waves of migration from the east.

The semi-military Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps settled demobilised soldiers on work farms and today runs businesses including real estate, insurance, plastics and cement across the region, with its own universities and media.

Throughout Xinjiang, the Han and Uygur communities live almost entirely separately.

At one bazaar nearly all the patrons and merchants were Uygur, and blamed rising prices on new arrivals.

“The government has plenty of money, but any subsidies we’re entitled to just get taken by officials,” said Abduljan, who was buying lamb. “But we can’t do anything, we have no voice, no power.”

Almost none of about two dozen Han Chinese living in Hotan interviewed for this article spoke Uygur.

“Even if these policies do manage to attract Han to places like Hotan it doesn’t mean they will intermingle,” Leibold said.

“They’ll just live in segregated communities and they’ll be guarded by the People’s Armed Police,” he added.

“To create a truly cohesive society you need first and foremost trust, and interethnic trust is in extremely short supply.”

More than 300,000 people live in Hotan, but at night it is a ghost town.

Eighteen people were killed in an assault on a police station four years ago, according to the authorities, who say all the attackers who mounted a fatal car crash in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square 18 months ago were from Hotan.

Now most Han are afraid to go out after sunset and those who gather for nightly dances under a Mao Zedong statue in the main square are guarded by armed police.

The security presence is ubiquitous and many Uygurs similarly avoid the streets during darkness, citing harassment in the form of constant identity checks and probing questioning.

“The police, the checkpoints, the guns,” said a Uygur man who refused to give his name. “It’s all here to make the Han feel safe.”

 

via China’s drive to settle new wave of migrants in restive Xinjiang | South China Morning Post.

20/02/2015

Top China cotton producer resists reforms in restive Xinjiang | Reuters

China’s top cotton producer, a quasi-military body formed 60 years ago to settle the far west Xinjiang area, is resisting a government policy that could force it to cut output in an industry employing hundreds of thousands in the restive region.

Farmers stack cotton at a cotton purchase station in Hami, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region in this November 3, 2010 file picture. REUTERS/Stringer/Files

Beijing has pledged to end a costly stockpiling program that has artificially inflated cotton prices and in Xinjiang helped underpin an influx of Han Chinese workers, creating friction in an area home to the Muslim Uighur people.

Reluctant to accept the current weak market price, the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC) has asked the government to buy part of its crop and store it in state reserves, said two trade sources with knowledge of the issue.

XPCC, also known as the army corps, or ‘bingtuan’, has become a sort of state within a state and gained a dominant role in industries such as cotton, where it employs about 200,000 mainly Han Chinese on some of Xinjiang’s best land.

“Cotton is intimately associated with land usage, ownership, employment and Han in-migration. It’s all tied up,” said Tom Cliff, a scholar at the Australian National University.

Beijing has promised subsidies to help cushion the impact of ending stockpiling, but the total amount is unclear and with the local cotton price plunging any threat to the industry could be a fresh source of competition for jobs.

via Top China cotton producer resists reforms in restive Xinjiang | Reuters.

31/01/2015

5 Things to Know About Turkey and the Chinese Uighurs – WSJ

1 TURKISH NATIONALISTS CONSIDER UIGHURS KIN.

Many Turkish nationalists regard the Uighurs, who speak a Turkic language, as part of a broad family of ethnic Turks spread across Eurasia. They have lobbied successive Turkish governments to offer refuge to those fleeing Chinese rule and to allow Uighurs to campaign against Beijing’s policies from Turkish soil.

2 TURKEY HAS SHELTERED UIGHUR LEADERS SINCE AT LEAST THE 1950S.

Turkey offered shelter in the 1950s to Isa Yusuf Alptekin, a Uighur nationalist who was a leader of the East Turkestan Republic established in southern Xinjiang from 1933 to 1934. A small park named after him can be found in Istanbul, near the Blue Mosque in the city’s historic center.

3 TURKISH AUTHORITIES HELPED ESTABLISH UIGHUR COMMUNITIES IN TURKEY IN 1965.

In 1965, Turkey offered sanctuary to a group of some 200 Chinese Uighurs who had escaped on foot to Afghanistan. Turkish authorities airlifted them out of Kabul and settled them mostly in the central Turkish city of Kayseri, where many still live today.

4 UIGHURS FLEEING CHINA OFTEN HEAD FOR ISTANBUL.

The Turkish government doesn’t provide official statistics for the number of Uighurs in Turkey. Uighur groups say there are about 20,000, many of whom have never been to China. About 1,500 are in Kayseri, while most others live in Istanbul, especially in the Zeytinburnu neighborhood near old town. There are also hundreds of thousands of Uighurs living in former Soviet Central Asia

5 THE UIGHUR ISSUE MAKES TURKEY-CHINA RELATIONS A DELICATE BALANCE.

After inter-ethnic rioting in 2009 left at least 156 dead in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, Turkey’s then Prime Minister — now President — Recep Tayyip Erdogan described the violence as “genocide,” prompting an angry response from Beijing. In 2012, with relations improving, Mr. Erdogan made his first stop in Xinjiang during an official visit to China.

via 5 Things to Know About Turkey and the Chinese Uighurs – WSJ.

16/01/2015

Ethnic minorities: Don’t make yourself at home | The Economist

CHINA is urbanising at a rapid pace. In 2000 nearly two-thirds of its residents lived in the countryside. Today fewer than half do. But two ethnic groups, whose members often chafe at Chinese rule, are bucking this trend. Uighurs and Tibetans are staying on the farm, often because discrimination against them makes it difficult to find work in cities. As ethnic discontent grows, so too does the discrimination, creating a vicious circle.

Breaking this circle is crucial to China’s efforts to defuse unrest in Xinjiang, Tibet and Tibetan-inhabited areas of other provinces, which collectively account for nearly one-third of China’s land area. In Xinjiang, Uighur grievances have triggered numerous outbreaks of violence. On January 12th, in what appeared to be the latest such example, six people were shot dead after allegedly attacking police in Shule, a town near China’s border with Central Asia. Uighurs are a Turkic-speaking, mostly Muslim, minority who number about 10m in Xinjiang. In 2000, 80% of them were farmers; ten years later 83% of them were.

There has been far less violence in Tibet, but separatism in the region is no less a headache for China’s leaders. There are more than 6m Tibetans in Tibet and four neighbouring provinces. The proportion of farmers fell only slightly between 2000 and 2010, from 87% to 83%. Some prefer to stay in the fields. But many others feel excluded from the benefits enjoyed by the ethnic Han Chinese, who make up more than 90% of China’s population. Neither Uighurs nor Tibetans enjoy ready access to the job market that has drawn tens of millions of Han to cities in recent years. They are unwelcome, and they know it.

In 2010 about 1% of Tibetans had settled outside the provinces that encompass their homeland, and less than 1% of Uighurs had migrated from Xinjiang, according to census data compiled by Ma Rong of Peking University. Many of the migrants are either officials or in government-sponsored education programmes. The rate of voluntary exodus from Xinjiang and Tibetan areas is slowing considerably.

Part of the problem is linguistic. Uighurs and Tibetans brought up in the countryside often have a very poor grasp of Mandarin, the official language. The government has tried to promote Mandarin in schools, but has encountered resistance in some places where it is seen as an attempt to suppress native culture. In southern Xinjiang, where most Uighurs live, many schools do not teach it.

But discrimination is a big factor, too. Even some of the best-educated Uighur and Tibetan migrants struggle to find work. Reza Hasmath of Oxford University found that minority candidates in Beijing, for example, were better educated on average than their Han counterparts, but got worse-paying jobs. A separate study found that CVs of Uighurs and Tibetans, whose ethnicities are clearly identifiable from their names (most Uighurs also look physically very different from Han Chinese), generated far fewer calls for interviews.

Government programmes help some Uighurs, Tibetans and other minorities get a better education; affirmative-action policies can boost their chances of going to university. One scheme, known as the Xinjiang Class, sends thousands of Uighurs as well as Han Chinese from Xinjiang every year to other parts of China to complete their schooling. But it also encourages them to return to Xinjiang to work among Uighurs. Official figures suggest that 50% end up going back to Xinjiang. Timothy Grose of Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Indiana found that most he interviewed would have preferred not to.

via Ethnic minorities: Don’t make yourself at home | The Economist.

12/01/2015

Han cadres required to learn Tibetan language – Xinhua | English.news.cn

Mastery of the Tibetan language will become a requirement for non-native cadres in China’s Tibet Autonomous Region.

All seven prefecture-level cities in Tibet have started organizing Tibetan language training for non-native cadres, according to the regional bureau of compilation and translation on Monday.

Qoizha, deputy director of the bureau, said they have handed out 40,000 books on basic Tibetan language for daily conversation.

President Xi Jinping stressed at a conference on ethnic work in September 2014 that in ethnic regions, ethnic minority cadres should learn Mandarin, and Han cadres should also learn ethnic languages. The language skill should become a “requirement” for cadres.

“One cannot serve the local people well if one cannot speak the local language,” Xi said.

Tibet has adopted a bilingual policy since the regional legislature passed a law in 1987 stipulating both Tibetan language and Mandarin as official languages in the region.

Qoizha said over 90 percent of Tibet’s population of 3 million is of Tibetan ethnicity. Breaking the language hurdle can help non-native cadres better interact with local communities.

In the past 20 years, close to 6,000 cadres and technical professionals from various Chinese provinces and municipalities have been sent to help develop the southwestern autonomous region of Tibet. Cadres usually stay in the region for three years.

via Han cadres required to learn Tibetan language – Xinhua | English.news.cn.

12/01/2015

Police in China shoot dead six in restive Xinjiang | Reuters

A group of “mobsters” on Monday tried to set off an explosive device in a business district in China‘s troubled western region of Xinjiang, prompting police to shoot six of them dead, the local government said.

Hundreds of people have been killed in resource-rich Xinjiang, strategically located on the borders of central Asia, in violence in the past two years between the Muslim Uighur people who call the region home and ethnic majority Han Chinese.

The government has also blamed attacks elsewhere in China, including Beijing, on Islamist militants from Xinjiang.

Monday’s violence came two months after 15 people were killed when a group threw explosives into a crowded street of vendors selling food in Xinjiang.

Police in Shule county, south of the old Silk Road city of Kashgar, had acted on a tip-off about “a suspicious person carrying an explosive device”, the Xinjiang government said on its official news website.

An axe-wielding individual tried to attack police officers and set off an explosive device, prompting the officers to shoot him, the government said.

via Police in China shoot dead six in restive Xinjiang | Reuters.

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.

29/07/2014

Police shoot dead dozens of attackers during mob violence in Xinjiang | South China Morning Post

Police in Xinjiang shot dead dozens of knife-wielding attackers on Monday morning after they staged assaults on two towns in the westerly Xinjiang region, the official Xinhua news agency said on Tuesday, citing local police.

china_xinjiang_explosion_tok101_43157649.jpg

Describing the incident as a “premeditated terror attack,” the official Xinhua news agency said a gang armed with knives attacked a police station and government offices in Elixku, a township in Kashgar prefecture, and then some of them moved on to nearby Huangdi Township, attacking civilians and smashing vehicles as they passed.

Dozens of civilians were killed or injured in the attack before police responded by shooting dead dozens of attackers, official media reported.

Citing local police, Xinhua said dozens of civilians of both Uygur and Han ethnicities were killed or injured, while police officers at the scene shot dead dozens of members of the mob.

Over 30 cars were vandalised, some of which were set on fire, the report said.

Earlier this month, the regional capital Urumqi marked the fifth anniversary of the 2009 riot that left 197 people dead and about 17,000 others injured, mostly Han Chinese.

The turbulent region has since seen a series of violent incidents that have left many people dead or injured, including last May’s bombing of a market in Urumqi that left dozens dead and prompted a clampdown by authorities.

In the immediate wake of that bombing, which came just weeks after a blast at an Urumqi rail station left three dead, China launched one-year “anti-terror” campaign in Xinjiang in which hundreds of suspects have been arrested and large amounts of explosives and explosive devices have been seized, according to local media.

On June 17, authorities executed 13 people and sentencing three others to death for their role in terror attacks and related crimes in Xinjiang, including an attack on government facilities and police stations in the oasis city of Turpan on June 26 last year that left 24 police officers and civilians dead.

China’s heavy-handed approach has drawn concerns that many of the region’s Uygurs, including vocal critics and people linked to the separatist East Turkestan Islamic Movement, have been arrested and indefinitely detained without trial, while others have disappeared without trace.

Uygurs in Xinjiang and those in self-exile abroad have long complained that discrimination and restrictions on religion, such as a ban on taking children to mosques, are fuelling anger at the Han Chinese majority.

via Police shoot dead dozens of attackers during mob violence in Xinjiang | South China Morning Post.

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