Chinese Economist Missing, Apparently Detained

A Uighur economist in Beijing is missing after a website he ran was blamed for “inciting violence” leading to the Urumqi riots. From AP:

A friend said Thursday that Ilham Tohti called him early Wednesday and told him he received formal notice that he would be detained. The friend, Huang Zhangjin, said efforts to reach Tohti since have failed.

Tohti’s disappearance comes just days after Xinjiang’s Beijing-installed governor accused a Web site founded by the 39-year-old professor of stirring up hostilities that led to the bloody riot Sunday in Urumqi, Xinjiang’s capital.

[…] In a televised speech Monday, Xinjiang Governor Nur Bekri said an exiled Uighur activist in the United States had called people in China to stir up the violence that erupted Sunday and that Uighurbiz and another popular Web site,, “were used to orchestrate the incitement and spread propaganda.” All have denied the allegation.

Widely considered a moderate voice, Tohti had praised China’s policies for Xinjiang. His Web site,, became a lively forum for many controversial issues about Chinese rule in Xinjiang.

Dru Gladney, an expert on Uighurs at the Pacific Basin Institute at Pomona College in California, said he never met Tohti, but based on his online essays and press interviews he appears to be “very well educated, very articulate, very thoughtful, certainly not inspired by radical Islam.”


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