Meanwhile, in China...

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Meanwhile, in China...

Post by Lonestar » 2009-07-06 07:00am

China says 140 dead in ethnic violence

China says 140 dead in Xinjiang unrest
Mon Jul 6, 2009 6:29am EDT


By Tyra Dempster and Mark Chisholm

URUMQI, China (Reuters) - At least 140 people have been killed in rioting in the capital of China's northwestern region of Xinjiang, with the government blaming exiled Muslim separatists for the area's worst case of ethnic unrest in years.

Hundreds of rioters have been arrested, the official Xinhua news agency reported, after rock-throwing Uighurs took to the streets of the regional capital on Sunday, some burning and smashing vehicles and confronting ranks of anti-riot police.

The unrest underscores the volatile ethnic tensions that have accompanied China's growing economic and political stake in its western frontiers.

But independent analysts said the trouble in the resource-rich region was unlikely to have a major impact on China's economy because of the remoteness of the area and restricted access.

Beijing's image as a responsible power, though, may take a hit.

"In terms of China's domestic economy, it is in a remote place and it does not have a big impact on things generally unless there is some evidence, of which there is none, that the government is in some meaningful way losing control," said Arthur Kroeber, Managing Director of Dragonomics, a research and advisory firm in Beijing.

A senior Chinese government official said the unrest was the work of extremist forces abroad, signaling a security crackdown in the strategic region near Pakistan and central Asia.

Li Zhi, the Communist Party boss of regional capital Urumqi told a news conference that the death toll from the rioting had risen to 140, the semi-official China News Agency said. Xinhua said 816 people were injured and hospitalized.

"Police have tightened security in downtown Urumqi streets and at key institutions such as power and natural gas companies and TV stations to prevent large-scale riots," Xinhua quoted Xinjiang police chief Liu Yaohua as saying.

Police rounded up "several hundred" who participated in the violence, including more than 10 key players who fanned unrest, Xinhua said, and are searching for 90 others.

Residents in Urumqi were unable to access the Internet on Monday, several said. "The city is basically under martial law," Yang Jin, a dried fruit merchant, said by telephone.

CLASHES IN JUNE

The riot in Urumqi, a city of 2.3 million residents 3,270 km (2,050 miles) west of Beijing, followed a protest against government handling of a June clash between Han Chinese and Uighur factory workers in southern China, where two Uighurs died in Shaoguan.

The China Daily put the number of protesters at 300 to 500 while the exiled Uyghur (also spelt Uighur) American Association had it as high as 3,000.

"After the (Shaoguan) incident, the three forces abroad strived to beat this up and seized it as an opportunity to attack us, inciting street protests," Xinjiang governor Nuer Baikeli, a Uighur, said in a speech shown on Xinjiang television.

The "three forces" refer to groups the government says engage in separatism, militant action and religious extremism.

An unnamed Chinese official said the "unrest was masterminded by the World Uyghur Congress led by Rebiya Kadeer", according to Xinhua. "This was a crime of violence that was pre-meditated and organised," said the report.

Rebiya Kadeer is a Uighur businesswoman now in exile in the United States after years in jail, and accused of separatist activities. She did not answer calls for comment.

But exiled Uighur groups adamantly rejected the Chinese government claim of a plot. They said the riot was an outpouring of pent-up anger over government policies and Han Chinese dominance of economic opportunities.

"They're blaming us as a way to distract the Uighurs' attention from the discrimination and oppression that sparked this protest," said Dilxat Raxit, a spokesman for the World Uyghur Congress in exile in Sweden.

The government's claims of conspiracy by pro-independence exiles echo the handling of rioting across Tibetan areas in March last year, which Beijing also called a plot hatched abroad.

Xinjiang is the doorway to China's trade and energy ties with central Asia, and is itself rich in gas, minerals and farm produce. But many Uighurs say they see little of that wealth.

"In Xinjiang one of the major sources of discontent is that there is still a major gap economically between Han and Uighurs," said Barry Sautman, a specialist on China's ethnic politics at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

Almost half of Xinjiang's 20 million people are Uighurs. The population of Urumqi is mostly Han Chinese, and the city is under tight police security even in normal times.

Chinese state television showed rioters throwing rocks at police and overturning a police car, and smoke billowing from burning vehicles.

"I personally saw several Han people being stabbed. Many people on buses were scared witless," Zhang Wanxin, a Urumqi resident, said by telephone.
Must have been one hell of a riot.
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Re: Meanwhile, in China...

Post by Fingolfin_Noldor » 2009-07-06 08:40am

Another Tibet in the making probably, or already is. The PRC Government's habit of overwhelming local populations with "Han" Chinese to not just suppress the locals will no doubt lead to some degree of resentment because of competition over resources etc. Of course, you then have the local separatists....
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Re: Meanwhile, in China...

Post by mr friendly guy » 2009-07-06 08:50am

The riot in Urumqi, a city of 2.3 million residents 3,270 km (2,050 miles) west of Beijing, followed a protest against government handling of a June clash between Han Chinese and Uighur factory workers in southern China, where two Uighurs died in Shaoguan.
I have heard it said on Australian news that the protest was sparked because of this incident. The reports I have heard is that local authorities have arrested one of the ring leaders of that factory worker clash so far. Of course, if the protesters wanted to get back at the people who were responsible for the deaths of those 2 Uighurs, they kind of targeted the wrong province, but whatever.
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Re: Meanwhile, in China...

Post by Axis Kast » 2009-07-06 09:15am

Another Tibet in the making probably, or already is. The PRC Government's habit of overwhelming local populations with "Han" Chinese to not just suppress the locals will no doubt lead to some degree of resentment because of competition over resources etc. Of course, you then have the local separatists....
The Chinese policy of religious suppression is also a major cause of unrest.

With respect to separatism, it has been my understanding that organized armed resistance is largely unheard of at this point in time. China is fond of explaining away all unrest and violence in Xinjiang as the work of "the three forces."

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Re: Meanwhile, in China...

Post by PainRack » 2009-07-06 11:57am

the problems are more elaborate than just religious and racial suppression.

Xinjiang, Tibet and other interior areas are areas removed from the economic boom, relying on income from other areas to subsidise their living.
To make matters worse, the former big corporations in this area were the state owned enterprises that were systematically dismantled in the drive for privatisation. Drive in issues of corruption, seperation of the military from enterprises and inflation and other causes of unemployment and poor standard of living/infrastructure, its not hard to see why they would feel embittered when they compare themselves to the ethnic chinese.
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Re: Meanwhile, in China...

Post by Axis Kast » 2009-07-06 07:15pm

Xinjiang, Tibet and other interior areas are areas removed from the economic boom, relying on income from other areas to subsidise their living.
Not strictly true. The province of Xinjiang is an economic outlier: twelfth in terms of wealth, its GDP per capita is far greater than other provinces in western and central China.

The economic plight of the Uighurs is primarily comparative, rather than absolute: they resent the relatively greater socio-economic access of Han migrants, some of whom arrive with inferior personal wealth, but can leverage cultural and linguistic affinities to find work.
To make matters worse, the former big corporations in this area were the state owned enterprises that were systematically dismantled in the drive for privatisation. Drive in issues of corruption, seperation of the military from enterprises and inflation and other causes of unemployment and poor standard of living/infrastructure, its not hard to see why they would feel embittered when they compare themselves to the ethnic chinese
The problem is not that Xinjiang is not developed, but that Uighurs receive the short end of every stick.

China's decade-long "Develop the West" project is worth tens of billions of dollars. The effort will provide transportation, waterworks improvement (vital because of desertification), and energy development. Some twelve new highways across China's many international borders were projected to be operational by 2010. On the other hand, the "opening" of borders has turned Xinjiang into a mere crossroads, rather than an entrepot, and there is now something above 33% unemployment among Uighurs. While health indicators compare favorably with those elsewhere in Central Asia, the Uighurs receive less of it, and not always at bargain prices.

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Re: Meanwhile, in China...

Post by Memnon » 2009-07-06 11:48pm

Corruption also undoubtedly plays a part in this play. It's a huge problem which spreads across China due to its vast bureaucracy and rather lax standards, among other things. Though it is an autonomous region, Xinjiang's communist party chief has a distinctly Han name (Wang Lequan). And though he himself is likely not as incredibly corrupt as very local officials often are, this serves as a good indicator of the kind of people who hold many offices in Xinjiang - Chinese people.
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Re: Meanwhile, in China...

Post by Ziggy Stardust » 2009-07-07 11:31am

Axis Kast wrote:China's decade-long "Develop the West" project is worth tens of billions of dollars. The effort will provide transportation, waterworks improvement (vital because of desertification), and energy development. Some twelve new highways across China's many international borders were projected to be operational by 2010. On the other hand, the "opening" of borders has turned Xinjiang into a mere crossroads, rather than an entrepot, and there is now something above 33% unemployment among Uighurs. While health indicators compare favorably with those elsewhere in Central Asia, the Uighurs receive less of it, and not always at bargain prices.
"Develop the Great North-West" is, IIRC, the name of the strategy. Which uses somewhere around $1 billion of World Bank loans for prison labor (via the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps).

In any case, a major reason for Uygur discontent is, as you mentioned, disenfranchisement. Until the 1940s, the Chinese central government was utterly unable to exert control over a region as far flung from the corridors of power as Xinjiang. Since the ascendancy of the Communists, the official policy with the border regions has been cultural assimilation via encouraged migration, accompanied by investment in communications, education (all higher education is in Mandarin), and occupational shifts (favoring, primarily, the Han).

In Xinjiang, the Han population increased 2500% between 1940 and 1982 (I can't find more recent, reliable numbers). However, a (possibly unintented) side affect of giving incentives for emigrating to Xinjiang is a similar increase in the populations of other minorities, notably Kazaks, Kyrgyz, Tajiks, and Dungans (the Hui, or Chinese-speaking Muslims). Over the same time period as above, the population of Dungans increased 520%, an average annual growth more than twice that of the Uygurs. Historical animosities between these groups only make things worse.

Even besides the cultural issue (Inner Mongolia, for example, has similar tensions, but has not broken out in any sort of large-scale protest since 1997, which was arguably sparked by violence in Xinjiang earlier that year), is the economics of Chinese policy towards Central Asia. The government had invested millions in oil exploration in Xinjiang; however, after those efforts proved fruitless, the money was invested in oil fields/pilelines in (primarily) Kazakhstan. This meant that money and jobs started to flow out of Xinjiang, while its geographic proximity to countries that China suddenly had important economic reasons to maintain relations with allowed communication between Xinjiang Uygurs, the 500,000-1 million diaspora Uygurs, and the Muslims of Central Asia. All the money goes to the Han, and the other local minorities, while the Uygurs are either unemployed or used in what amounts to slave labor.

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Re: Meanwhile, in China...

Post by Ziggy Stardust » 2009-07-07 11:37am

Memnon wrote:Corruption also undoubtedly plays a part in this play. It's a huge problem which spreads across China due to its vast bureaucracy and rather lax standards, among other things. Though it is an autonomous region, Xinjiang's communist party chief has a distinctly Han name (Wang Lequan). And though he himself is likely not as incredibly corrupt as very local officials often are, this serves as a good indicator of the kind of people who hold many offices in Xinjiang - Chinese people.
Corrupt? Possibly not more so than the average for Chinese borderland officials. However, he is a brutal strongman. Human Rights Watch does a good job of describing his policies.

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Re: Meanwhile, in China...

Post by PainRack » 2009-07-07 12:07pm

Axis Kast wrote: Not strictly true. The province of Xinjiang is an economic outlier: twelfth in terms of wealth, its GDP per capita is far greater than other provinces in western and central China.
Right. Compare a poor province and say it is better off than other poorer provinces, which also happen to be those which have racial minorities in them........
The economic plight of the Uighurs is primarily comparative, rather than absolute: they resent the relatively greater socio-economic access of Han migrants, some of whom arrive with inferior personal wealth, but can leverage cultural and linguistic affinities to find work.
That would be the corruption and ties to state enterprises I was talking about earlier.
The problem is not that Xinjiang is not developed, but that Uighurs receive the short end of every stick.

China's decade-long "Develop the West" project is worth tens of billions of dollars. The effort will provide transportation, waterworks improvement (vital because of desertification), and energy development. Some twelve new highways across China's many international borders were projected to be operational by 2010. On the other hand, the "opening" of borders has turned Xinjiang into a mere crossroads, rather than an entrepot, and there is now something above 33% unemployment among Uighurs. While health indicators compare favorably with those elsewhere in Central Asia, the Uighurs receive less of it, and not always at bargain prices.
Granted, I was using a very big generalisation to describe the situation and I concede this clarification.
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Re: Meanwhile, in China...

Post by Pelranius » 2009-07-07 12:26pm

The Uyghur population in China as a whole has actually expanded by a fair amount since 1949, but a lot of the Uyghurs left Xinjiang to go to the eastern cities for better opportunities (there are more opportunities in say Shanghai than in Urumqi or Kashgar), and the overall socio-economic development level for Uyghurs in Xinjiang hasn't been helped by the fact that a lot of those migrants were the best educated and smartest people (same thing happened in Tibet). In that case, much of the resulting void was filled by Han immigrants.

And as for the part about most of Xinjiang's officials being non Han, that's due to the CCP policy of routinely shuffling around officials outside of their home provinces, ostensibly to prevent corruption (arguable if that works anymore though).
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Re: Meanwhile, in China...

Post by Ziggy Stardust » 2009-07-07 12:53pm

Pelranius wrote:The Uyghur population in China as a whole has actually expanded by a fair amount since 1949, but a lot of the Uyghurs left Xinjiang to go to the eastern cities for better opportunities (there are more opportunities in say Shanghai than in Urumqi or Kashgar), and the overall socio-economic development level for Uyghurs in Xinjiang hasn't been helped by the fact that a lot of those migrants were the best educated and smartest people (same thing happened in Tibet). In that case, much of the resulting void was filled by Han immigrants.
The Uyghur population in Xinjiang has grown at around 1.7% a year since the 1940s. The growth of migrant populations was simply an order of magnitude beyond that, marginalizing the Uyghurs who remained in their homeland. And you are right, a lot of Uyghurs did leave Xinjiang. Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Guangzhou, and Hainan all have largish populations of migrant Uyghur workers (primarily in manufacturing, textiles, and electronics plants). There is also the large diaspora in Central Asia, Australia, Germany, Turkey, Russia, and the United States.

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Re: Meanwhile, in China...

Post by Axis Kast » 2009-07-07 09:29pm

Right. Compare a poor province and say it is better off than other poorer provinces, which also happen to be those which have racial minorities in them........
China has a profundity of inland provinces. Not every such province is home to large numbers of minority populations, which constitute a paltry fraction of the total population nationally. Xinjiang is, comparatively speaking, an economic success story by Chinese standards. During the 1980s, the rising tide was often described as raising all boats. Since then, new restrictions on religious and cultural activities, combined with a considerable increase in Han migration, have led to considerable malcontent.

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Re: Meanwhile, in China...

Post by Crossroads Inc. » 2009-07-07 10:32pm

INteresting, I have not heard a single peep of this in American news, not on CNN nor MSNBC. Of course I turned on NPR 5min ago and they were naturally discussing it.
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Re: Meanwhile, in China...

Post by Questor » 2009-07-07 10:39pm

Crossroads Inc. wrote:INteresting, I have not heard a single peep of this in American news, not on CNN nor MSNBC. Of course I turned on NPR 5min ago and they were naturally discussing it.
It got a few minutes on the local CBS radio affiliate. They always seem to have these stories that aren't getting much play in the states
Link to proof that it is on their website. Be warned, website can sometimes be slow.

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Re: Meanwhile, in China...

Post by DarkAscendant » 2009-07-08 05:16am

Crossroads Inc. wrote:INteresting, I have not heard a single peep of this in American news, not on CNN nor MSNBC. Of course I turned on NPR 5min ago and they were naturally discussing it.
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Re: Meanwhile, in China...

Post by Ziggy Stardust » 2009-07-08 10:08am

Axis Kast wrote:Xinjiang is, comparatively speaking, an economic success story by Chinese standards. During the 1980s, the rising tide was often described as raising all boats. Since then, new restrictions on religious and cultural activities, combined with a considerable increase in Han migration, have led to considerable malcontent.
In 2000, Xinjiang's GDP was 136.436 billion RMB, or around $19.9 billion, slightly less than that of Vermont. The population is around 20 million people, which is over 30 times that of that state. The per capita GDP was 7,470 RMB, less than $1,100. This ranks it somewhere between Mali and Rwanda, according to the IMF.

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Re: Meanwhile, in China...

Post by K. A. Pital » 2009-07-08 12:28pm

This ranks it somewhere between Mali and Rwanda, according to the IMF.
Because this is GDP nominal and not by PPP? Or is something wrong here? For all I know, China right now is way ahead of Africa even in it's poorest places.
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Re: Meanwhile, in China...

Post by ray245 » 2009-07-08 01:50pm

Ziggy Stardust wrote:
Axis Kast wrote:Xinjiang is, comparatively speaking, an economic success story by Chinese standards. During the 1980s, the rising tide was often described as raising all boats. Since then, new restrictions on religious and cultural activities, combined with a considerable increase in Han migration, have led to considerable malcontent.
In 2000, Xinjiang's GDP was 136.436 billion RMB, or around $19.9 billion, slightly less than that of Vermont. The population is around 20 million people, which is over 30 times that of that state. The per capita GDP was 7,470 RMB, less than $1,100. This ranks it somewhere between Mali and Rwanda, according to the IMF.
Well, maybe we should consider the actual cost of living down there before throwing out GDP figures?
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Re: Meanwhile, in China...

Post by Lusankya » 2009-07-08 09:07pm

ray245 wrote:Well, maybe we should consider the actual cost of living down there before throwing out GDP figures?
I was thinking about that, actually. I have a friend in Anhui whose parents make about 16000 yuan per year between them, which would be about equivalent to the GDP per capita in Xinjiang, and they were supporting two children and a grandson on that money. Where I was, the cost of food (just for me) was less than 3000RMB a year (or would have been if I'd eaten out less - as it as it was closer to 3500rmb/year).

I don't know what the cost of living is like in Xinjiang, but if it's similar to Anhui they're poor, but not starvation-level poor, and IIRC, the government provides city-wide heating up in Urumuqi, so they don't have to worry too much about the cold.
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Re: Meanwhile, in China...

Post by MKSheppard » 2009-07-08 09:37pm

Speaking of randomness; I've been looking at photos of Uighir protests in China, and comparing the protesters identified as "Uighirs" with the four "Uighirs" that BHO released from Gitmo into the Bahamas.

They look nothing alike, leading me to judge that the "Uighirs" in Gitmo were nothing more than Pakistani Nationals who were undergoing weapons training in Afghanistan before spreading the jihad to China.
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Re: Meanwhile, in China...

Post by Memnon » 2009-07-08 11:39pm

Ziggy Stardust wrote:
Pelranius wrote:The Uyghur population in China as a whole has actually expanded by a fair amount since 1949, but a lot of the Uyghurs left Xinjiang to go to the eastern cities for better opportunities (there are more opportunities in say Shanghai than in Urumqi or Kashgar), and the overall socio-economic development level for Uyghurs in Xinjiang hasn't been helped by the fact that a lot of those migrants were the best educated and smartest people (same thing happened in Tibet). In that case, much of the resulting void was filled by Han immigrants.
The Uyghur population in Xinjiang has grown at around 1.7% a year since the 1940s. The growth of migrant populations was simply an order of magnitude beyond that, marginalizing the Uyghurs who remained in their homeland. And you are right, a lot of Uyghurs did leave Xinjiang. Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Guangzhou, and Hainan all have largish populations of migrant Uyghur workers (primarily in manufacturing, textiles, and electronics plants). There is also the large diaspora in Central Asia, Australia, Germany, Turkey, Russia, and the United States.
Part of this comes from a few simple facts:
China's national university entrance exam system is hugely biased towards minorities (edit to make myself clear: to their advantage)
Job opportunities are also better in the cities due to more affirmative action
These policies don't reach the countryside so well (prestigious universities all in the cities, most jobs, etc)
Quality of life seems to be better in the cities, so the Uighurs and others stay.
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Re: Meanwhile, in China...

Post by Garibaldi » 2009-07-09 12:08am

Speaking of randomness; I've been looking at photos of Uighir protests in China, and comparing the protesters identified as "Uighirs" with the four "Uighirs" that BHO released from Gitmo into the Bahamas. They look nothing alike, leading me to judge that the "Uighirs" in Gitmo were nothing more than Pakistani Nationals who were undergoing weapons training in Afghanistan before spreading the jihad to China.
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Re: Meanwhile, in China...

Post by bobalot » 2009-07-09 04:46am

MKSheppard wrote:Speaking of randomness; I've been looking at photos of Uighir protests in China, and comparing the protesters identified as "Uighirs" with the four "Uighirs" that BHO released from Gitmo into the Bahamas.

They look nothing alike, leading me to judge that the "Uighirs" in Gitmo were nothing more than Pakistani Nationals who were undergoing weapons training in Afghanistan before spreading the jihad to China.
Are you fucking retarded?
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Re: Meanwhile, in China...

Post by Lusankya » 2009-07-09 06:55am

I've actually been mistaken for an Uyghur a couple of times. I imagine there's some variation in how they look.
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