Far West China Tense but Quiet Year after Riots

A year ago today, Urumqi erupted in violence as a clash broke out between ethnic Uighurs and Han Chinese. Reuters reports on the scene in the city one year later:

A year on, the streets of Urumqi were slightly quieter than usual, but workers and shoppers said painful memories of last year were not enough to stop them coming out.

“I am not worried because I believe in China. You can see all the extra measures the government has taken,” said Dou Huanying, 20, heading around the city’s closed-off central square, where last year’s unrest began.

Residents came under the watchful eye of thousands of new security cameras and riot police, armed with guns, loudspeakers, shields and helmets.

ChinaGeeks has summarized domestic media coverage of the anniversary:

China’s major English papers, the China Daily and the Global Times, both have front page stories on the anniversary. The stories contain a basic overview of the riots and ensuing communications blackout juxtaposed with the stories of Han orphans whose parents were killed by Uyghur rioters. The China Daily quotes only one Uyghur source, briefly, and does not speak to the causes of the riots or the motivations of the rioters. The Global Times article does not quote an Uyghur sources at all. (Both papers also ran these stories on the front pages of their print editions).

Still, these fare much better than other domestic English news outlets. The People’s Daily does have several pieces on Xinjiang, but the one that really addresses the riots is just a copy of the China Daily’s piece. Xinhua’s English service doesn’t address the anniversary at all; today’s top stories include pieces on the summer heat, Wimbledon, and a piece on “glamorous female bodyguards worldwide.”

Also from Al Jazeera:

See also “Police on Alert in China Ahead of Riot Anniversary” via CDT. On the Far West China blog, a foreigner living in Xinjiang recounts his experiences over the past year in honor of Independence Day in the U.S.


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