China Offers a Defense of Its Policies on Minorities

The Chinese government has declared that official policy toward the Uighurs did not play a role in the ethnic violence that claimed almost 200 lives two weeks ago in Urumqi. From the China Daily:

Authorities will not abandon the policies, despite the July 5 riot in Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, Wu said, because “separatists, not police” caused the riot.

Wu said the State’s ethnic policy “had nothing to do with the violent crimes” in Urumqi. The riot left 197 Uygurs and Han Chinese dead.

Wu’s comments were not the first since the riot occurred. Authorities have said there is a need to better implement the country’s ethnic regional autonomy.

On April 20, an editorial in the People’s Daily called on officials to “uphold and improve” the 55-year-old policy regarding the nation’s 110-million minority population.

The New York Times also reports on the statements:

The statements were the most vocal defense by a government official since July 5 of the nation’s ethnic minority policies, which had been widely criticized by foreign scholars, exiled ethnic minority leaders and residents of ethnic minority regions even before the violence took place. About 10 percent of the 1.3 billion people in China are members of ethnic , according to government statistics.

The Chinese official, Wu Shimin, vice minister of the State Ethnic Affairs Commission, said at a news conference on Tuesday that government policies “had nothing to do with the violent crimes” that unfolded in Urumqi, according to China Daily, the largest official English-language newspaper here.

At least 197 people were killed and 1,721 injured, most of them Han civilians, when Uighurs went on a rampage the evening of July 5 after police officers tried suppressing a Uighur protest, according to the government. Vengeful Han, the dominant ethnic group in China, then attacked Uighurs over the next few days. Many Uighurs in Urumqi say the government has severely undercounted the Uighur casualties.


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