In the aftermath of this week’s violence in Urumqi, observers are looking at Beijing’s policies toward minorities, and the “Go West” policy which aimed to populate and develop Xinjiang and other western areas. From Bloomberg:
The clashes have pitted Uighurs, Turkic- speaking natives of Xinjiang province, against the dominant Han Chinese and ethnically similar Hui group.
China’s drive to develop Xinjiang’s resources has spurred an influx of migrants and bred resentment among Uighurs, who complain of discrimination and political and cultural repression. Han Chinese now account for half the province’s 21 million population, from 7 percent in the 1953 census.
“We never had any political rights,” said Kurban Haiyur, a Uighur exile who left the province in 2006 to study in Germany. “In my whole life, I never had the same status in society as a Han Chinese.”
See also an Al Jazeera report:
In an op-ed for the New York Times, Human Rights Watch’s Nicholas Bequelin looks at historical reasons for the outbreak of violence by Uighurs. See also “A legacy of repression” by Isabel Hilton.
The Age has a lengthy report interviewing witnesses and participants in the violence about the mistrust and hatred on both sides:
Chen Xiang, a 20-year-old Han man who had joined in the pursuit of the two Uighur boys, explains why he was so angry. A close friend of his, surnamed Jiang, was on his way home from decorating his new house on Sunday night when Uighurs lobbed a petrol bomb onto his No. 3 bus as it reached Shanxi Lane. The bus caught fire and he jumped off.
Uighurs then beat him senseless.
[...] The Government has not said how many of the 156 officially killed were killed by rioters and how many were killed by police. The world, and Xinjiang’s Chinese and
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