The Urumqi Mass Incident - Part 2

(Anti-cnn.com)  July 8, 2009.

London Evening Standard uses the photo of two Han women just being assaulted by Uighur rioters and glad to have reached the safety of police protection in order to frame its preferred version of events ("The women invoking Tiananmen's spirit" and "Blood and defiance: two women comfort each other being attacked by police ...).

(51.ca)

HI,
Please check the photo authenticity before you publish it. These two women is attacked by the Urumqi desperado.

Gao

=====

Dear Gao

Thank you for your email.

Our Managing Editor, Doug Wills, has asked me to let you know that both the picture and caption have been removed from our website.

Yours sincerely

Liz Wass
PA to Doug Wills, Managing Editor

And here is the new and improved revision:

(Newsweek)  Q&A: Rebiya Kadeer on China's Uighur Riots   By Melinda Liu.  July 8, 2009.

On Sunday, bloody race riots erupted in Urumqi, the capital of China's Xinjiang region, where the Muslim Uighur population is the biggest ethnic group. Announcing an official death toll of 156, Chinese authorities have blamed the violence between Chinese and Uighurs on leading Uighur activist Rebiya Kadeer, an elfin grandmother with gray-tinged pigtails who was released from a Chinese prison in March 2005 and immediately whisked into exile. A former millionaire once praised by Beijing as a model businesswoman, Kadeer now lives near Washington D.C. and recently published Dragon Fighter, an autobiography."She is recognized as the leader of the Uighur exile community and heads the Uyghur American Association and the World Uyghur Congress; both groups receive grants from the bipartisan National Endowment for Democracy funded by the U.S. Congress. In an exclusive interview Wednesday with NEWSWEEK's Melinda Liu, Kadeer denied Beijing's accusations, appealed for U.S. support, and wept at the memory of horrors she witnessed in prison. Excerpts:

Chinese officials have blamed you for instigating the riots in Xinjiang by making a phone call to rally supporters there. What did you say in that phone call?
The accusations are false. On July 4 my daughters, who frequently check Web sites related to Uighur issues, told me they saw notices about potential protests on Sunday in Urumqi. As you know, my family has been a target of Chinese government persecution. Whenever something happens, authorities go after my family. My two sons are in prison. Even my grandchildren have been kicked out of school. So I was extremely concerned and called my younger brother. He was under virtual house arrest and couldn't even go out to talk with other people. I asked him, "How are my children?" I told him something was about to happen the next day. I told him to be very careful and to tell other relatives to be very careful and to not go out. It seems the Chinese government has a record of that conversation.

You mentioned your two sons in prison. What were they charged with and what are their prison terms?
In 2006 one was sentenced to seven years and the other to nine years, on charges of tax evasion and separatism, respectively.

And you were arrested in 1999 on charges of revealing state secrets. Is it true that these "secrets" included official newspapers published openly in Xinjiang?
Yes, it's true. I had state-run newspapers with articles stating the numbers of deaths, arrests, and executions of Uighurs and with printed speeches by leaders saying they needed to "strike hard" against Uighurs. I sent these ordinary newspapers to my husband [who was then overseas]. These were openly available publications.

You spent more than five years in prison. Were you tortured?
I was not physically tortured but I was psychologically tortured. Prison officials brought young Uighurs and tortured them in front of me. No human being should see that kind of torture. Two Chinese prison officials brought young Uighur women in and stripped them naked and beat them. Two younger men were brought in by guards and tortured. The brutality cannot be described. I don't want to recall it [wipes tears from her eyes]. I believe they must have died. One was bleeding heavily, especially in the front of his trousers. The guards then said to me, "Why don't you come and save these two?" They always said that to me when I wept. They did it to torture me mentally.

The riots in Urumqi appear to have been sparked by an incident at a toy factory in Guangdong province on the coast, far away from Xinjiang. A Chinese worker spread rumors that Uighur workers had raped two Chinese women; this led to a deadly attack on the Uighur workers' dorm by a Chinese mob. Two Uighurs were killed. Many Uighurs in Xinjiang were upset because Guangdong authorities failed to announce timely arrests. What was your reaction to this incident?
I was very surprised myself. The authorities didn't take action to charge or arrest people involved in the killings. I suppose when Uighurs are killed and beaten, the Chinese government may not care.

In the past you've enjoyed influence and wealth—you were the richest woman in China, to use your description. You had a business empire worth tens of millions of dollars, including a trading firm, real-estate investments, a department store, even part of a leather factory in Kazakhstan. Despite your material wealth, you came to criticize Chinese government policies. Why?
Yes, I was once very successful. But under Chinese rule, I saw everything: the poverty of the Uighur people, the religious controls, the attacks on Uighur identity, the suffering. And I saw ethnic [Han] Chinese migrants coming to Xinjiang; within three to five years they got rich. Initially I blamed the Uighurs; I believed, as the Chinese government did, that they were lazy. I was very faithful to the Chinese government and it bestowed on me many titles … But as I became wealthy, I realized it was government policy to reduce the level of education for Uighurs. As a human being with a conscience, I couldn't accept the government's policies. I was not raising the voice of the Uighur people as a Uighur, but simply as a human being who sees their suffering.

What would you like to see the U.S. government do now, in the face of this crisis in Xinjiang?
It would be great if the U.S. government could open a consulate in Urumqi. Then it could monitor events on the ground and the Chinese government couldn't just crack down. Just look at recent developments: the government is deploying a massive number of troops from other regions to Xinjiang. Without international intervention or condemnation—and because of the political brainwashing of Chinese people—it could become a really massive racial and ethnic clash.

You've called for Uighurs not to use violence. Are they listening?
My call has worked. But now the problem is that it's not just security forces but people in the streets beating Uighurs. So Uighurs are defending themselves. I believe they will not attack Chinese civilians unless they are attacked themselves.

What is the biggest misunderstanding that the West has about the Uighur people?
Our religion and faith in Islam. The government's nonstop propaganda portraying us as terrorists, separatists, and religious extremists plays a very negative role.

(Xinhua)  Overseas Chinese condemn violence in Xinjiang.  July 8, 2009.

Chinese in the United States, Australia and Russia have condemned the deadly July 5 riot in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, which killed at least 156 people and injured more than 1,000 others.

Steven Wong, executive chairman of the United Chinese Associations of Eastern America, on Monday slammed the violence in Xinjiang, saying it brought many hurts and pains to people there.  Wong said any attempt to sabotage social stability, economic prosperity, ethnic unity and peaceful living in Xinjiang will neither win people's hearts nor succeed. He also voiced support for actions and measures taken by the Chinese government to punish those responsible for the violence.

The Chinese Peaceful Unification Association, located in Canberra,Australia's capital city, issued a statement strongly denouncing the riot in Xinjiang and blasting the overseas forces behind the riot.  The riot left many innocent people injured, destroyed a large amount of property and infrastructure, and damaged the ethnic unity, peace and stability in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, the statement said. "This is the severe violation of basic human rights as well as aggression to all Chinese ethnic groups," the statement said. 

The statement emphasized that the highest interest of the Chinese people lies in social harmony and stability as well as in the unity of all ethnic groups in China. The attempt by a few people to ruin ethic unity and seek separation colluded with the three forces of terrorism, separatism and extremism and is doomed to fail, the group said. The organization said it supports efforts by the local government to take effective measures to give a harsh blow to the violence and bring the separatists to justice.  The statement also made it clear that the organization shares the same position as the Chinese government on safeguarding national security and ethnic unity in a bid to secure the safety of residents and property as well as ensure normal social order.

Li Zonglun, executive vice president of the Moscow Association for the Peaceful Reunification of China, on Tuesday told Xinhua that he has been to Urumqi, "a very beautiful place where people from all ethnic groups there unite and work together to build their sweet homes." "But now all I saw from TV are burned vehicles, damaged shops and blood everywhere in Urumqi," he said. "Those separatists, using the so-called ethnic conflict as an excuse, have committed horrible violence." Li urged all overseas Chinese to stand with the Chinese government and people in opposition to the illegal violence in Xinjiang. Meanwhile, Wu Hao, chairman of the Russian Overseas Chinese Youth Federation, expressed grief and sympathy for the victims of the rioting. Wu denounced the criminals and their wire-pullers and voiced support for the local government.

Yin Bin, vice chairman of the Chinese Student Union in Russia, underlined the hard-earned solidarity of people from all ethnic groups in China and vowed to endeavor to study so as to repay the motherland with specific actions.

The regional government said Monday that initial investigations showed that the separatist World Uygur Congress led by Rebiya Kadeer was behind the riot. Police said evidence was found that the organization instigated the riots with posts on the Internet calling on Uygurs to "be courageous" and "do something big."

(Taipei Times)  Xinjiang and Taiwan's silence.  July 8, 2009.

The Chinese government has its admirers for being able to temper diplomatic difficulties by spreading money through the region and integrating its economic structure with the US and other major economies.

But when it comes to managing regions dominated — now or in the past — in population terms by non-Han peoples, China remains in a political Stone Age in which brutality, torture, terror, unchallenged propaganda, racism, colonialism and media blackouts are essential tools of governance.

China’s “peaceful rise” slogan is usually taken to refer to Beijing’s relations with the Asian region and the rest of the world. The term has had little currency when it comes to domestic developments and conflicts.

However, following similar tensions and violence in Tibet, China’s western-most territory of Xinjiang is now suffering pronounced unrest and ethnic conflict between not only the authorities and the Uighur people but also between Uighurs and Han immigrants.

The term “peaceful rise” can only have ironic value: China’s relations with the outside world can never be normalized as long as it systematically mistreats its own people — especially its minorities.

Beijing’s decades-long exploitation of Xinjiang’s people and their natural resources cannot continue indefinitely without escalating conflict. Yet the problem has been worsened — not only by irresponsible levels of Han immigration but also Beijing’s inability to allow democratic reforms that would empower and legitimize the role of Uighurs outside the party-state nexus.

The consequence of this is a problem that has plagued Muslim societies the world over: When autocrats lock up and smear moderate opponents with terms like “splittists” and “terrorists,” the only space left is for radicals and genuine terrorists.

In this way, Beijing helps to bestow upon its citizenry a self-fulfilling prophecy of a militant insurgency nightmare and possible future links with Islamic terrorists to the west.

It is a diabolically stupid situation, and almost all of it is Beijing’s making.

The response of President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration to developments in Xinjiang has been immensely disappointing. Ma’s Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) continues to state that Xinjiang is Chinese territory, but this does not demand that the party or the government hide in the wings as the Chinese Communist Party runs roughshod over the Uighurs.

It would be wrong to infer from their silence that Taiwan’s government and the KMT are complicit in the violence in Xinjiang. But by saying nothing as atrocities accelerate, both are suggesting that the fate of the Uighurs — whom they profess to be compatriots — is of no consequence, and certainly not worth damaging the progress of an economic accord with Beijing.

The question follows: Where will the Ma government draw the line as far as Chinese rights violations are concerned? And does the Ma government have any agenda whatsoever for the ordinary Chinese national, Han or otherwise, for whom it would one day purport to speak? The answers to these questions, even now, are a complete mystery — but chilling to contemplate.

Despicable acts are made more unbearable by the silence of those who seek benefits from oppressors. From now on, the Taiwanese government’s response will have to be strong and clear if it is to make up for its extraordinary cynicism and its denial of the human rights and dignity of China’s Uighur minority.

(PR News Wire)  Pelosi Statement on the Violence in Xinjiang Province in China    July 8, 2009.

WASHINGTON, July 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued the following statement today on the violence in Xinjiang Province of China:

"Recent reports about the deaths and violence in Xinjiang Province of China are deeply disturbing. The acts of violence and attempts to further exacerbate ethnic tensions on all sides must be rejected. The Chinese government should take the necessary steps to ensure that the right to peaceful expression is protected and to allow journalists, observers, and organizations to report on developments without restrictions.

"Harsh policies by Chinese authorities in the region have caused increased tension and resentment among the Uighur people. The most recent U.S. State Department Country Report on Human Rights states that during the last year, Chinese authorities 'increased repression in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR), and targeted the region's ethnic Uighur population.'

"It is long past time for Chinese leaders to pursue activities that further dialogue and understanding with the Uighur people and respect minority rights as guaranteed under Chinese law. "

Note: More information can be found in the State Department Country Report on Human Rights report at http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2008/eap/119037.htm .

(The Wall Street Journal)  China's Uighur Crackdown.  July 8, 2009.

Authoritarian states are typically less stable than they appear, and China is no exception. This week's ethnic riots in western Xinjiang province are the deadliest on record since the end of the Cultural Revolution in the 1970s. Until the Chinese government is truly accountable to its citizens -- both the majority Han and other ethnic minorities -- these kinds of deadly uprisings will continue.

Sunday's riots started when around 3,000 ethnic Uighurs, including many high-school and college students, gathered to protest ethnically motivated killings in a factory in China's southern Guangdong province. The riots turned violent but, thanks to China's information firewall, no one knows exactly why. State-run media report that Uighurs had attacked Han Chinese and count at least 156 people killed and more than 1,000 injured.

Government outlets blamed Uighur "separatists" and labeled U.S.-based Rebiya Kadeer, president of the World Uighur Congress, the "mastermind" of the violence. Ms. Kadeer denies this in an article on a nearby page. Yesterday, thousands of Han Chinese, armed with homemade weapons, swarmed the streets of Urumqi, calling for revenge. Police stopped them with tear gas, but not before they had destroyed some Uighur shops. Other protests and violent outbreaks ripped across the city.

China's draconian policies in Xinjiang stem in part from fears that the Uighurs, a Muslim ethnic group who speak a Turkic language, want to secede from China. The province is rich in oil and gas reserves and shares a sensitive border with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan and Russia (which has tried to foment uprisings in Xinjiang in the past). There are about 10 million Uighurs in Xinjiang.

But these fears are no excuse for China's punitive and often violent suppression of the Uighurs. Beijing has poured money into a quasimilitary conglomerate, the "Bingtuan," which runs businesses and large farms in the region. Bingtuan jobs often go to Han Chinese immigrants who receive economic incentives to move west. Meanwhile, a 2006 government policy encourages migration in the opposite direction -- i.e., getting young Uighur men and women to work in coastal factories. The program is designed to get young Uighurs to "integrate" (read: marry) into Han society.

These policies threaten the very existence of Uighur culture. Today Uighurs comprise less than half of the population of Xinjiang, according to official Chinese government statistics -- down from around 75% in 1949, when Mao Zedong's army took control of the area. Recently the government announced it would tear down the old city of Kashgar, the Uighur's cultural home, and replace it with a "new" old city. China also restricts the use of the Uighur language in schools and requires state employees to eat during Ramadan, when devout Muslims fast during the day.

Beijing's reaction to Sunday's riots is thus true to form. Officials say 1,434 people were arrested, and Uighurs protesting yesterday told journalists that the men in their families had been arbitrarily rounded up. As of last night, Urumqi is subject to a curfew. The Internet has been cut off and mobile phone access is limited. Foreign reporters have been allowed into the region -- in contrast to the March 2008 Tibet riots, when they were kicked out -- but they are accompanied by government minders.

Like Beijing's brutal response to the Tibet riots, a crackdown will only strengthen the Uighurs' pro-independence movement. This holds risks for Beijing. Although most Uighurs advocate peaceful methods to achieve equal rights, a fringe of violent extremists already exists. During the Olympics last year, three attacks on government outposts in Xinjiang killed 21.

The immediate priority must be to stop further killing in Urumqi and other Xinjiang cities, either by Han or Uighurs. But to prevent violence from recurring, Beijing needs to address the concerns of a Uighur population who have no say over the policies that have transformed their homeland and threaten to eradicate their way of life.

(The Wall Street Journal)  The Real Uighur Story.  By Rebiya Kadeer.  July 8, 2009.

When the Chinese government, with the comfort of hindsight, looks back on its handling of the unrest in Urumqi and East Turkestan this week, it will most likely tell the world with great satisfaction that it acted in the interests of maintaining stability. What officials in Beijing and Urumqi will most likely forget to tell the world is the reason why thousands of Uighurs risked everything to speak out against injustice, and the fact that hundreds of Uighurs are now dead for exercising their right to protest.

On Sunday, students organized a protest in the Döng Körük (Erdaoqiao) area of Urumqi. They wished to express discontent with the Chinese authorities' inaction on the mob killing and beating of Uighurs at a toy factory in Shaoguan in China's southern Guangdong province and to express sympathy with the families of those killed and injured. What started as a peaceful assembly of Uighurs turned violent as some elements of the crowd reacted to heavy-handed policing. I unequivocally condemn the use of violence by Uighurs during the demonstration as much as I do China's use of excessive force against protestors.

While the incident in Shaoguan upset Uighurs, it was the Chinese government's inaction over the racially motivated killings that compelled Uighurs to show their dissatisfaction on the streets of Urumqi. Wang Lequan, the Party Secretary of the "Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region" has blamed me for the unrest; however, years of Chinese repression of Uighurs topped by a confirmation that Chinese officials have no interest in observing the rule of law when Uighurs are concerned is the cause of the current Uighur discontent.

China's heavy-handed reaction to Sunday's protest will only reinforce these views. Uighur sources within East Turkestan say that 400 Uighurs in Urumqi have died as a result of police shootings and beatings. There is no accurate figure for the number of injured. A curfew has been imposed, telephone lines are down and the city remains tense. Uighurs have contacted me to report that the Chinese authorities are in the process of conducting a house-to-house search of Uighur homes and are arresting male Uighurs. They say that Uighurs are afraid to walk the streets in the capital of their homeland.

The unrest is spreading. The cities of Kashgar, Yarkand, Aksu, Khotan and Karamay may have also seen unrest, though it's hard to tell, given China's state-run propanganda. Kashgar has been the worst effected of these cities and unconfirmed reports state that over 100 Uighurs have been killed there. Troops have entered Kashgar, and sources in the city say that two Chinese soldiers have been posted to each Uighur house.

The nature of recent Uighur repression has taken on a racial tone. The Chinese government is well-known for encouraging a nationalistic streak among Han Chinese as it seeks to replace the bankrupt communist ideology it used to promote. This nationalism was clearly in evidence as the Han Chinese mob attacked Uighur workers in Shaoguan, and it seems that the Chinese government is now content to let some of its citizens carry out its repression of Uighurs on its behalf.

This encouragement of a reactionary nationalism among Han Chinese makes the path forward very difficult. The World Uighur Congress that I head, much like the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan movement, advocates for the peaceful establishment of self-determination with genuine respect for human rights and democracy. To achieve this objective, there needs to be a path for Han Chinese and Uighur to achieve a dialogue based on trust, mutual respect and equality. Under present Chinese government policies encouraging unchecked nationalism, this is not possible.

To rectify the deteriorating situation in East Turkestan, the Chinese government must first properly investigate the Shaoguan killings and bring those responsible for the killing of Uighurs to justice. An independent and open inquiry into the Urumqi unrest also needs to be conducted so that Han Chinese and Uighurs can understand the reasons for Sunday's events and seek ways to establish the mutual understanding so conspicuously absent in the current climate.

The United States has a key role to play in this process. Given the Chinese government's track record of egregious human-rights abuses against Uighurs, it seems unlikely Beijing will drop its rhetoric and invite Uighurs to discuss concerns. The U.S. has always spoken out on behalf of the oppressed; this is why they have been the leaders in presenting the Uighur case to the Chinese government. The U.S., at this critical juncture in the East Turkestan issue, must unequivocally show its concern by first condemning the violence in Urumqi, and second, by establishing a consulate in Urumqi to not only act as a beacon of freedom in an environment of fierce repression but also to monitor the daily human-rights abuses perpetrated against the Uighurs.

As I write this piece, reports are reaching our office in Washington that on Monday, 4,000 Han Chinese took to the streets in Urumqi seeking revenge by carrying out acts of violence against Uighurs. On Tuesday, more Han Chinese took to the streets. As the violence escalates, so does the pain I feel for the loss of all innocent lives. I fear the Chinese government will not experience this pain as it reports on its version of events in Urumqi, and it is this lack of self-examination that further divides Han Chinese and Uighurs.

Ms. Kadeer is the president of the Uighur American Association and World Uighur Congress.

(The Wall Street Journal)  Han Chinese Roam City Armed With Clubs    By Shai Oster and Gordon Fairclough.  July 7, 2009.

Thousands of Han Chinese roamed the capital of the country's Xinjiang region armed with makeshift weapons Tuesday, following demonstrations and ethnic riots that left scores dead and more than 1,000 injured. The situation remained tense Tuesday in Urumqi in northwest China, where protests Sunday by Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking minority that often chafes against Chinese government rule, spun into violent clashes that officials say claimed at least 156 lives. The fatalities, if confirmed, would represent one of the deadliest outbreaks of violence in China in decades.

Wang Lequan, secretary of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Committee of the Communist Party of China, said in a televised speech Tuesday that Urumqi would adopt a curfew from 9 p.m. to 8 a.m. to avoid further chaos, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

Police have arrested 1,434 suspects in connection with the riot on Sunday, Xinhua reported. "The police have started interrogations with the suspects," Xinhua quoted Li Yi, a spokesman for the Communist Party in Xinjiang, as saying. The government said more than 20,000 security personnel have been deployed, with armored cars patrolling the streets.

The unrest grew out of protests by Uighurs, a mainly Muslim ethnic group, against what they see as discrimination against them by the Han Chinese majority. Violence appeared to have been widely distributed around the city's Uighur district, with shops or vehicles destroyed on many different streets.

On Tuesday, rumors swirled in the Han part of the city of more violence, and angry mobs of Han, which Xinhua said numbered in the thousands, moved about armed with wooden clubs, rebar rods, machetes, meat cleavers and other weapons. "We have to protect ourselves. People are getting killed," said one. The crowds included women and some children.

Police maintained a heavy presence, and fired tear gas at some Han Chinese demonstrators, witnesses said. Xinhua said that police had detained an unknown number of people in those latest outbursts of violence, but it wasn't clear how many. Foreign journalists in the city said that some of the Han crowds had threatened them, although there haven't been any reports of violence against journalists.

At one point, a black car driven by a man in military fatigues crashed into a produce truck carrying eggplants. Crowds of Han Chinese quickly descended on the driver, many with weapons raised, apparently believing that he was a Uighur. The groups stopped after some onlookers pointed out that he was Han.

China's government has tried to accommodate reporters, holding press conferences and operating a media center. But local police have also detained several journalists temporarily, for reasons that weren't clear.

How Beijing acts in the days ahead could have major repercussions both at home and abroad, as China seeks a higher profile on the world stage. If its response is considered too heavy-handed by foreign governments, it could provoke international condemnation. But if Beijing doesn't go far enough, it risks a domestic backlash from Han citizens. Chinese authorities appeared to move quickly to keep the unrest from spreading across Xinjiang, an oil-and-gas producing region that covers one-sixth of Chinese territory and shares borders with Afghanistan and Pakistan as well as Central Asian nations.

Residents said other large cities in the region had been blanketed by security forces. In the ancient Silk Road city of Kashgar, a group of Uighurs engaged in a shouting match with riot police outside a mosque before dispersing, witnesses said.

In Washington, a spokesman said the White House was "deeply concerned" about reports of the violence. Chinese President Hu Jintao was in Italy Monday, heading to the Group of Eight summit in L'Aquila, and was expected to face questions about the incident.

The exact sequence of Sunday's events couldn't be determined from incomplete and, at times, conflicting accounts offered by people caught up in the violence.

An overseas umbrella group promoting Uighur rights, the World Uyghur Congress, said security forces used lethal force against protesters. Uighurs in Urumqi said they saw police shooting at Uighurs. Han witnesses said groups of Uighurs attacked Hans, set fire to buses and cars and smashed shop windows.

Chinese authorities didn't say how many of the dead and injured were Han, how many were Uighur and how many were from the security forces. The different views of the events from Uighurs and Han are likely to feed resentment. Chinese officials blamed the violence on the World Uyghur Congress, and its leader, Rebiya Kadeer. Ms. Kadeer said she had "no role in organizing or promoting these protests."

An official in the nursing department of one of Urumqi's largest hospitals, the Uyghur Autonomous Region People's Hospital, said 291 people injured in the unrest were treated there, 233 of them Han, 39 Uighur and the rest from other minority ethnic groups. Seven had suffered gunshot wounds and 17 died, the official said.

China has struggled to keep the peace in its sensitive western border regions, where the government has tried to win over ethnic minorities with economic development while using a heavy hand to stamp out opposition to Beijing.

"There has been a substantial level of discontent" among Uighurs who feel they haven't shared equally in China's economic boom and chafe at political and religious restrictions, says Dru Gladney, a professor at Pomona College in California who studies the Uighurs. "Now it's erupted."

Sunday's events echoed an apparently similar incident in Lhasa, in China's Tibet region, in March last year, when the official death toll was 18. Uighurs share many of the same grievances as Tibetans, complaining of restrictions on their civil rights and religious practices, as well as economic and social discrimination by Han Chinese who have migrated to the country's West in growing numbers.

Incomes in Xinjiang considerably lag the national average, and many Uighurs complain that Han get preferential treatment when looking for work. Many also fear that their culture, which is closely tied to that of Central Asia, is under threat as the government moves ahead with development plans.

Lately, Uighur exile groups have become more organized in challenging the Chinese government and giving voice to the frustrations of Uighurs unhappy with Beijing's rule. Other Uighurs, seeking independence from China, have waged sporadic and sometimes violent campaigns against the government. One Uighur group, the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, has been labeled a terrorist organization by China and the U.S.

Unrest in Xinjiang mounted last year, and there were several violent incidents around the time of last summer's Beijing Olympics.

Uighur activists Monday said hundreds of Uighurs, many of them students, had gathered Sunday to protest racial discrimination and to call for government action against Hans involved in a battle with Uighur migrant workers at a toy factory hundreds of miles away in southern China.

Two workers were killed and 60 injured in the toy factory incident, according to state media reports. The incident followed an allegation posted online by a former employee of the factory that Uighur men had raped two Han women. Police concluded the allegation was bogus and arrested the man who posted it, according to Xinhua.

Pictures said to be of the Urumqi protests distributed by the Washington-based Uyghur American Association showed young Uighurs marching with Chinese national flags. Ms. Kadeer said Monday that the situation turned violent after police beat demonstrators.

Chinese police said violence began at about 8 p.m. Sunday, an hour after hundreds of protestors gathered at the city's People's Square. Witnesses said rioters smashed shops and attacked buses.

A Uighur man standing near Urumqi's central bazaar said young Uighurs were angered by what happened at the toy factory in Guangdong, in southern China. When Han Chinese come to work in Xinjiang, "there is no problem," he said. But he said, "We go to work in Guangdong and they beat us up....The young people just get fed up."

According to a report by the state-run Xinhua news agency, Liu Yaohua, a senior police official in Xinjiang, said rioters burned 261 vehicles, including 190 buses and two police cars, several of which were still ablaze Monday morning.

Internet users roundly condemned the violence. In one forum on the People's Daily newspaper Web site, a user said "only the hardest crackdown can quiet the people's anger." Another post called for an end to various government affirmative-action programs for minorities.

Nicholas Bequelin, a researcher for Human Rights Watch, a U.S.-based advocacy group, said the Chinese government had created a "pressure cooker" atmosphere for Uighurs in Xinjiang. "Any criticism is seen as undermining Chinese sovereignty," he said. "People have no way to express their grievances."

(Associated PressInternet plays key role in China's latest unrest.  By Alexa Olesen.  July 8, 2009.

The brawl between Han Chinese and Uighurs in southern China was scarcely covered by state media, but accounts and photos spread quickly via the Internet and became a spark that helped ignite deadly riots thousands of miles away in the Uighur homeland.

Even in tightly controlled China, relatively unfettered commentaries and images circulating on Web sites helped stir up tensions and rally people to join an initially peaceful protest in the Xinjiang region that spiraled into violence Sunday, leaving more than 150 people dead. In China, as in Iran and other hotspots, the Internet, social networking and micro-blogging are playing a central role in mobilizing people power — and becoming contested ground as governments fight back.

In the Internet age, events in "places like Xinjiang or Tibet, which were always considered very remote," can suddenly become close and immediate for people around the world, said Xiao Qiang, director of the Berkeley China Internet Project at the University of California-Berkeley.

Since the outburst in the Xinjiang capital of Urumqi, the Chinese government has blocked Twitter and Facebook, scrubbed news sites, unplugged the Internet entirely in some places and slowed it and cell phone service to a crawl in others to stifle reports about the violence — and get its own message out that authorities are in control. Key-word filters have been activated on search engines like Baidu and Google's Chinese version so that searches for "Xinjiang" or "Uighur" only turn up results that jibe with the official version of events.

That a fight in one part of China could impact a riot 10 days later thousands of miles away underscores how slippery fast-evolving communication technologies can be even for an authoritarian government with the world's most extensive Internet monitoring system.

State media reports said only two people died in the June 25 fight between Uighur and Han Chinese workers at a toy factory in southern Shaoguan city. In the days that followed, however, graphic photos spread on the Internet purportedly showing at least a half-dozen bodies of Uighurs, with Han Chinese — members of China's majority ethnic group — standing over them, arms raised in victory. Expunged from some sites, the photos were posted and reposted, some on overseas servers beyond the reach of censors. Their impact was amplified by postings on bulletin boards and other sites.

Uighurbiz.cn, a site popular among Uighurs, carried an open letter over the weekend suggesting there would be revenge for the factory fight. "You've beaten Uighurs, killed Uighurs and perhaps never thought about the consequences," said the letter posted by someone using the Uighur alias Yadkar. A flurry of postings on another popular site, Diyarim.com, began calling for action in Urumqi. Diyarim's founder, Dilixati, remembers one: "Gather at 5 p.m. at People's Square. Young people if you have time come to the square." The messages kept reappearing, and he called police to alert them and took the site off-line, said Dilixati, who would give only his first name for fear of reprisals.

Hours after Sunday's riot, when police were still trying to pacify Urumqi's streets, Xinjiang's leaders went on TV to denounce Uighur separatists living abroad for using Diyarim and Uighurbiz to organize the disturbance. That the riot occurred in Urumqi may be testament to its being the most-wired place in Xinjiang, a remote region of vast deserts and towering mountains that juts into Central Asia.

Mobile phone coverage is typically stable in the city and people use handheld devices to go online, said Dru Gladney, a Uighur expert at the Pacific Basin Institute at Pomona College in California. In Urumqi, "people have these technologies literally at their fingertips," he said.

Elsewhere in Xinjiang, the best services are provided at closely monitored Internet cafes, where Uighurs may be less comfortable posting sensitive information, Gladney said. Only a dozen years ago, when China was scarcely wired, details of the authorities' brutal quelling of a similar protest by Uighurs in the city of Yining leaked out slowly and even today remain obscure. An official death toll of nine is disputed by exiled Uighurs and rights groups who say fatalities may have been 10 times that or greater.

Unplugging Internet and cell phone service has become standard practice for dealing with civil unrest. The government did so in March over worries about renewed anti-Chinese demonstrations in Tibetan areas. Though officials usually prefer to keep silent about such tactics, Urumqi's top Communist Party official, Li Zhi, told a news conference Tuesday that the Internet was deliberately cut off in parts of the city. He said it was done "in order to quench the riot quickly and prevent violence from spreading to other places."

Such censorship does not quiet unrest for long, but instead ends up giving rumors more credence than they deserve, said Berkeley's Xiao. "The more you try to police the Internet, and delete information, the more those rumors become some kind of truth and people just pick what they want to believe," said Xiao. "That's the negative direct consequences of such tight information control."

(TIME)  A Uighur Leader Blames China for Xinjiang Violence    By Bobby Ghosh.  July 7, 2009.

The Uighur leader blamed by Beijing for instigating the riots that continue to roil China's western Xinjiang province is calling on the United Nations to investigate the causes of the violence. Rebiya Kadeer suggests that an independent inquiry would find that the Chinese authorities provoked the riots when they brutally cracked down on a peaceful demonstration in the provincial capital of Urumqi.

For friend and foe alike, Kadeer has become the public face of the Uighur movement. A successful businesswoman and local leader, she was jailed by the Chinese authorities in 1999 on charges of betraying state secrets. Following her prison term, she was exiled in 2005, and now lives in the Washington area, where she leads the World Uighur Congress. Pressure from the U.S. was instrumental in securing her release, and she has forged strong contacts on Capitol Hill. "To blame the civil disturbances and bloodshed on human rights leader Rebiya Kadeer is ludicrous," Rep. Chris Smith, a senior member of the House Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement. "But it is typical of Chinese officials attempting to hide the government's cruelty that in fact created the unrest by violating the fundamental human rights of its own citizens." See photos from China's race riots.

Kadeer spoke with TIME's Bobby Ghosh via a translator. Excerpts:

TIME: How do you respond to Chinese allegations that you were behind the demonstrations?
Rebiya Kadeer: I reject the Chinese accusations as false. I believe they are doing it to cover their own actions. The demonstrations started peacefully, and some [Uighurs] were even carrying Chinese flags. The Chinese government has already branded me as a separatist; they want to connect the demonstrators to me so they can punish them severely. Actually, I have nothing to do with the demonstrations.

What connections do you have to Urumqi at present?
We don't have any specific connection. What we're doing here is educating the international community about the human rights of the Uighurs. We don't have any people there, and we don't have any connection there.

How do you feel about the reaction to the violence against Han Chinese?
I don't believe what the Chinese are saying, that the Uighurs are beating up Chinese. I don't have any specific evidence. I know that it started out as a peaceful demonstration. There was a violent crackdown by the Chinese police and soldiers, and it turned into a riot. Of course, there was a fight.
How many people were beaten by Uighurs, I don't know. I can't comment about something I don't know. The Chinese are showing just their side of the story. They are only showing injured Chinese. But they are not showing any injured Uighur man or woman. The injured and dead Uighurs were not shown by Chinese TV. We know that the Uighurs were sent to substandard and small hospitals. The Uighurs resisted the violence of the Chinese government. They have the guns and the armored vehicles. The Uighurs don't have any weapons in their hands, as we've seen from the TV images.

Are you worried that relations between Uighurs and Han Chinese have broken? Are they any ways they can be improved?
This unrest was caused by government policies. The government is instigating Chinese people against Uighurs. Because of government propaganda, the Chinese people have begun to hate Uighurs.
Uighur people have nothing against Chinese people.  One way of improving relations is that injured Uighurs should be treated, detained Uighurs should be released and the government should bring to justice those who opened fire on the demonstrators. The Uighur cause is a just cause. The government should stop branding the Uighurs as separatists and terrorists.

Have the events in Iran inspired the demonstrators in Urumqi?
Probably there's a connection, but I don't see it. There's been a simmering discontent among Uighurs about Chinese policies in East Turkistan [the Uighur name for the Chinese province of Xinjiang] for the past 60 years. And there's been severe discrimination against Uighurs.
The demonstrations were sparked by the Chinese killing of Uighurs in a toy factory in Guangdong.

What will be your next steps?
I will campaign to raise awareness in the free world. I will appeal to the White House, the European Parliament and the U.N. to condemn Chinese actions. I will ask the U.N. to appoint an independent enquiry into what has happened in Urumqi.

Are you concerned that your activism may endanger those who are demonstrating in Urumqi?
I speak on behalf of justice. It's not my voice but the government's actions that have triggered these events.

(National Review Online

(Cable TV News (Hong Kong) via YouTube) (in Cantonese)

 

(Sanlih TV (Taiwan) (in putonghua))

 

(Phoenix TV (in putonghua))

 

(Voice of America (in putonghua))

 

[ESWN comment: I had posted this two days ago, but YouTube said that it has been removed because it violated the terms of agreement.  So here is a re-posting of the Korean TV report, which is now regarded as the most comprehensive and blood-curdling televised report this far.]

 

(South China Morning Post)  Fresh unrest rocks Xinjiang    

Fresh protests rocked Urumqi, the capital of restive Xinjiang yesterday, after ethnic violence on Sunday night which left at least 156 people dead - the worst rioting the city has seen in decades.  Thousands of Han Chinese protesters armed with makeshift weapons marched through the streets, vowing vengeance and seeking Uygur targets, despite the government's appeals for order.

First, hundreds of Uygurs took to the streets in the morning and then the Han followed in the afternoon after local authorities said on Monday they had restored order. The Xinjiang regional government declared an overnight curfew to ease the volatile situation. Fourteen military vehicles full of armed soldiers were stationed in People's Square, while military jets flew above the city closely monitoring the curfew.  A dozen Han Chinese told the South China Morning Post  they were going to stay up last night guarding their shops with long sticks, knives and whatever weapons they could lay their hands on. "We believe Uygurs will come back and ransack our stores," one shop owner said.  Police fired tear gas repeatedly at the Han protesters to try to prevent them entering a Uygur district, but the Han refused to disperse and smashed Uygur-owned shops and restaurants. They said they had to stand up and protect themselves because of the government's inability to stop Uygurs attacking Han Chinese.

The Han, armed with metal pipes, wooden clubs and machetes, marched after a protest by about 200 people, mostly Uygur women in headscarves, against the arrests of their husbands and sons. The Uygur protesters briefly scuffled with paramilitary police, who pushed them back with long sticks before both sides retreated.

(South China Morning Post)  Ethnic hatred erupts on mainland Web forums   By Fiona Tam.  July 8, 2009.

The deaths of Han Chinese in Urumqi ignited anger against Uygurs on the mainland's internet forums yesterday, even as authorities sought to play down ethnic friction by ordering censors to ban public discussion. Han and Uygur netizens sparred on major bulletin boards and chat rooms. To avoid the censors, they used illusory language such as homophones or pinyin instead of words such as "Xinjiang" and "Uygur". But at portals Sina and Sohu. com, netizens were not allowed to comment at all on the violence that erupted in the past few days.

Many Han Chinese condemned the Uygurs for the violence and demanded swift punishment. Even though the state media blamed Uygur activist Rebiya Kadeer for masterminding the riots, few mentioned her.

One furious netizen said he wanted to rush to Xinjiang to help "Han compatriots" whom he said were being persecuted by Uygurs. "I would fight for my compatriots if I was there. How can the country's policemen fail to protect the Han Chinese and let them die in an obviously ethnic slaughter? We, the Han, should unite and rise up for our country." His post, on a bulletin board run by Baidu.com, said Han people "should no longer be treated as second-class citizens".

Uygur netizens complained that the Han reaped most of the region's minerals and resources and made them feel like outsiders. "Many state companies enjoy staggering profits by squeezing the mining and petroleum resources in Xinjiang, but they have left no money for the Uygur people to develop Xinjiang ... we are all angry over the Hans' pillage," one Uygur wrote. Other Uygurs said that they had been discriminated against by the Han and deprived of most of their rights since the onset of Communist Party rule.

A recurring complaint among Han netizens was that police were too sympathetic towards Uygur workers following a fight at a factory in Shaoguan , Guangdong, last month that killed at least two Uygur workers and injured 120 others. "Han people are usually obedient and won't fight with the Uygur until they are persecuted," one netizen said before repeating the rumour that allegedly started the fight - that Uygur workers had raped Han women but not been punished. "Authorities shouldn't give fringe benefits to Uygurs in exchange for independence. It's unfair that Guangdong party chief Wang Yang visited the Uygur workers and vowed to punish the Han Chinese before a thorough investigation," the netizen wrote.

Since 1984, the mainland has adopted a system of milder punishments for ethnic minorities.

A Guangzhou newspaper commentator said the real enemy of Han and Uygur people was autocracy rather than ethnicity. "The Uygur people are actually fighting for what they deserve - democracy, dialogue, freedom and [the end of] brainwashing from the state media," the commentator said. "In this regard, the two ethnic groups are fighting on the same front."

In Xinjiang and Tibet, the mainland's most politically sensitive regions, the government has sought to maintain its grip by controlling religious and cultural life while promising economic growth and prosperity.

(South China Morning PostHan feel they're let down, while the Uygurs complain of injustice    By

"We used to pin our hopes on authorities to get things under control, but they have let us down again," said one Han woman who clutched a wooden club as she joined yesterday's march, which saw thousands of angry Han Chinese take to the streets seeking revenge against Uygurs. "The government is too weak and we are forced to take up arms to protect ourselves," she added.

Protesters, mostly young people, expressed frustration at the government's perceived inability to prevent Uygurs from rioting and attacking Han Chinese. Many protesters carried machetes, axes, metal pipes or wooden clubs and chanted the national anthem and slogans including "Down with the Uygurs" and "Unity is strength", as more and more people joined the protest.

At about 3pm, at least 3,000 young Han people marched from Renmin Nan Lu, one of the main streets, towards the Er Dao Bridge, the scene of riots that killed at least 156 people and injured more than 1,000 on Sunday. "They attacked us. Now it's our turn to attack them," said one man as other protesters shook their fists.

There were few Uygurs on the streets yesterday and crowds stopped to smash Uygur restaurants and roadside shops, throw rocks at a mosque - ignoring pleas from moderates among the protesters - and threaten nervous-looking residents in Uygur areas. They accused Uygurs of not appreciating the government's policies, which they said had helped lift them out of poverty.

At least 1,000 helmeted paramilitary police with shields repeatedly fired volleys of tear gas to disperse the crowd and stop them entering a Uygur neighbourhood. But many of the demonstrators refused to retreat despite suffering streaming eyes and swollen throats from the tear gas.

Witnesses said police fired warning gunshots into the air. One protester said: "We could not live our ordinary lives anymore. We do not dare to come out at night. We have been living in fear." Another marcher said: "They've killed so many of us Hans, we have to rush towards Er Daoqiao market. It's you Uygurs who first committed a crime. It's you guys who first harassed our women. How can we not stand up and protest now?" Fighting back the effects of the tear gas, a red-eyed man who gave his name as Mr Yau said that he came out at 1.30pm after hearing that a Han child had been beaten to death yesterday morning. At one point, protesters chased a Uygur boy up a tree, with some throwing bricks, sticks and mineral-water bottles at him and threatening to kill him. The boy screamed for help, while others called for calm and eventually hustled him to safety.

In a sign of government alarm over the outpouring of anger, the city's Communist Party boss, Li Zhi, took to the streets with a bullhorn, begging protesters from the top of a police vehicle to go home. Witnesses described the atmosphere as extremely tense, with crowds running about waving weapons over their heads. Some even tried to chase away Hong Kong reporters, accusing them of unfair reporting.

Thousands more were out on other streets as the day wore on, many heading to the main square, but by late afternoon police had started blocking roads. The protests ended in the early evening when anti-riot patrols moved in to quell the protests after the local government announced an overnight curfew. But some refused to leave the scene. Seven people stood in front of roadside shops near one intersection, holding metal pipes and knives. "We know the Uygurs may fight back tonight despite the curfew, and we will stay here overnight to protect our property," a shop owner surnamed Zhao said.

CCTV 9 (in English)

 

(China DailyGovt: Rebiya plotted deadly clash.  By Xiao Huo.  July 8, 2009.

The Xinjiang regional government said Tuesday it has "solid evidence" that the separatist group World Uyghur Congress (WUC) led by Rebiya Kadeer masterminded Sunday's deadly violence in Urumqi.

Xinjiang police said they have obtained recordings of calls between overseas "Eastern Turkestan" groups and accomplices inside the country, Xinhua reported. In the recorded calls, Kadeer reportedly said: "Something will happen in Urumqi." She also allegedly called her younger brother in Urumqi, saying, "We know a lot of things have happened." Authorities said the second call is in reference to the June 26 brawl involving workers from Xinjiang in a toy factory in Guangdong province, according to the report.

Anti-terror and regional experts said the WUC is connected with the World Uyghur Youth Congress - seen as one of the most-wanted terrorist groups by the Ministry of Public Security. They said the connection has enabled the WUC to wield significant influence in the region, which had fallen victim to several separatist attacks in the last two decades.

China has condemned the WUC to be a separatist organization, even though the organization has said its intention is for "peace and freedom for the Uygur community" since the group's establishment in 2004.

Experts in China said the organization comprises a number of pro-independence, overseas Uygur groups, including the World Uyghur Youth Congress. "The World Uyghur Congress has been advocating human rights and campaigns for so-called peace to hide its separatist attempts," said Xu Jianying, a researcher in border studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

On Monday, Kadeer invited reporters to a news conference in Washington D.C. to refute her involvement in orchestrating riots between ethnic Uygurs and Han groups. "The Chinese government always blames me and the World Uyghur Congress for problems over there," she said, adding the Chinese government is to blame for the deadly violence.

The Chinese government offered an immediate rebuttal. "Anybody calling the violence a peaceful protest is trying to turn black into white in an attempt to mislead the public," Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said at a press conference Tuesday.

A Chinese court sentenced Kadeer, a 59-year-old former business tycoon from Xinjiang, to nine years in prison on charges of instigating and engaging in secessionist activities in 1999. But she was allowed to go to the US for medical treatment in March 2005 after promising to keep away from any separatist activities. She then resided near Washington D.C. before becoming the president of the WUC.

Despite China's protest, she was nominated in 2006 as one of the candidates for the Nobel Peace Prize. "Judging from what Rebiya Kadeer, leader of the WUC, had said and done, it is fair to say the organization masterminded the incident," Li Wei, director of the Center for Counter-Terrorism Studies with the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told Xinhua Tuesday.

After the March 14 riot in Tibet last year, Kadeer reportedly said in public that something similar should happen in Xinjiang. The riot in Urumqi bore some similarities with the March 14 incident, Li added. "The riot was by no means incidental and spontaneous," he said. "It was well organized, targeting civilians, and occurred simultaneously at several locations."

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, Li said. "The World Uyghur Congress has chosen this specific time."

(Associated Press)  Uighur supporters in US blame China for riots   By Nafeesa Syeed.  July 8, 2009.

An exiled Uighur (WEE-gur) leader is blaming the Chinese government for the rising tensions and ethnic violence in China. Rebiya (ruh-BEE-yuh) Kadeer (kuh-DEER) spoke to Uighur supporters at a rally in downtown Washington on Tuesday. About 100 people chanted "Shame on China" as they marched to the Chinese Embassy. Chinese authorities have accused Kadeer of inciting violence between Muslim Uighurs and ethnic Han Chinese. At least 156 people have been killed since the riots broke out Sunday in China's Xinjiang region. Kadeer disputes the number of fatalities and says she believes at least 500 people have been killed. Kadeer says she's seeking a stronger statement from the U.S. government about the violence.

(Ming Pao)  Confused information on the Internet, news agency release wrong photos.  July 8, 2009.

For the three days since the July 5th Urumqi disturbances, a vast amount of information has come through the Internet as many netizens posted photos and videos.  The news agencies have also used them.  But sometimes it is hard to tell which ones are real or fake, so that some items that do not come from the scene have been used.  Yesterday, many media outlets were tricked.

On the day before yesterday, Reuters published two photos said to come from Twitter.  One of them was released at 3:58pm and showed several rows of police preventing people from advancing.  The explanation was that this was taken in Urumqi.  But the truth was that this was the June 21st Shishou (Hubei) disturbance and the photo was originally published in Southern Metropolis Weekly.  At 6:55pm that evening, Reuters issued a notice that the location and date were in error and apologized for causing any inconvenience.

China News published a photo also on the day before yesterday which was purportedly of a young man who was severely wounded on July 5.  The man was wounded in the throat and lying in a pool of blood.  But it was pointed out that this was a photo of a Xinjiang thief mutilating himself after being caught.

[ESWN Comment: Both photos were pointed out here as fake previously.]

(Wen Wei Po)  Our reporter's eyewitness report: several hundred Uighur women and children surround foreign media.  July 8, 2009.

[in translation]

On the morning of July 7, the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region government organized foreign media to gather news at the scene of the disturbances in Urumqi on July 5.  Several hundred Uighur women and children plus some young men suddenly appeared.  They chanted slogans and surrounded the reporters, telling them about how their family members have been arrested.  The entire episode lasted two hours.

At the time, more than one hundred Chinese and foreign media (including reporters from Hong Kong) were gathering news at a Geely 4S store near the Race Course in Urumqi.  While the reporters were busily filming the hulks of the more than 30 cars that were set on fire by the criminal elements and the blackened building, a Uighur women and two Uighur girls suddenly showed up.

Within a few more minutes, about 300 to 400 Uighur women emerged from another alley.  They all had children in their arms or in tow.  They all wore ethnic clothes.  They kept waving their right arms in the air and chanting slogans in Uighur, and they surrounded the reporters.

After drawing the attention of the reporters, these Uighur women split up in groups and cried to the reporters, especially the ones who are foreigners.  Amongst each group, there was always one Uighur woman who could speak Chinese and acted as the interpreters so that the reporters can understand what they were saying: their husbands, sons or fathers were arrested or killed last night.  When asked how many people were arrested or killed last night, they kept changing their responses: at first, they told the foreign media one hundred persons, then it became three hundred persons and finally it became more than 1,000 persons.

Our reporter noticed that when the Chinese reporters posed questions in Chinese (putonghua), they will say in Chinese that they didn't understand.  But when they faced the cameras of the foreign reporters, they would immediately cry and complain in fluent Chinese.  During the process, people kept fainting.  If the foreign reporters did not notice these "details," someone will go over and suggest to them to take photos.

As for the police officers who were trying to maintain order, the Uighur women would push and shove those police men who stood alone.

After about ten minutes of this, another several hundred women and children in Uighur clothes and some young men emerged from the alley.  These people also raised their right arms and chanted slogans.  The women and children who had shown up previously abandoned the foreign media and joined this other group.  Together, there were about one thousand people who now headed towards the special police and the armed police who were on alert at the other end of the street.

The reporter noticed that the special police and the armed police maintained their composure.  First, they spoke in Uighur and then they tried to use a human wall to disperse the crowd.  This did not work.  Many Uighur women and young men kept charging the police line.  They chose to sit down in front of the police cars right before the cameras of the foreign reporters.  The face-off lasted more than one hour.  At one point, the police were even forced to back off.

(Sing Tao)  400 Uighur women charged at armed police to demand detainee release.  July 8, 2009.

"My father, my elder brother and my husband were all taken away!"  At the Urumqi Race Course, which was one of the riot spots, a Uighur woman cried and told the foreign reporters in awkward Chinese.  Several hundred Uighur women demonstrated yesterday to demand the immediate release of detainees.  The protestors faced off with the police and made physical contact.  The atmosphere was tense.

Yesterday morning, the authorities organized the Chinese and foreign reporters to visit the Race Course in the city.  A car dealer had been burned down, with a row of car hulls in front.  When the reporter finished their work, more than one hundred Uighur women and their children showed up to protest.

A Uighur woman named Malita said: "Yesterday they came to arrest people.  I want them to release the detainees."  With respect to the assaults, looting, vandalism and arson on Sunday, she said: "We were not fighting!  We know nothing!"  Other female protestors said: "They are being unfair!  We have our customs, and they don't respect our customs!"

At one end of the road were the armored vehicles of the armed police.  At the other end are the fully armed anti-riot police with semi-automatic guns in hand.  In the middle were these Uighur protestors who numbered as many as 300 to 400 at the peak.  The demonstration lasted for an hour.  The police used tear gas and batons to disperse the protestors.

Sirens, horns and whistles were going on, mixed in with the cries, yells and chants from the protestors.  It was a chaotic and noisy scene.

During the confrontation, a Uighur man held an unconscious woman in his arms.  He said that she was wounded in the clash.  This caused the protestors to be even more emotionally worked up.

A Uighur man dressed in yellow was taken away by the police.  He had a look that was filled with hostility and hatred.  According to the observation of this reporter, this man and the other Uighur woman named Malita were the leaders of the protest group whom they directed.

When he saw Uighur people standing on the curbside without participating, he would point his finger at them and yell.  This reporter does not understand the Uighur language and therefore does not what was said.

(The China Blog (TIME))  Foreign Reporters Visit Prompts New Demonstration in Urumqi   July 6, 2009.

Austin Ramzy, who is in Urumqi called to report that he is witnessing a new protest that is currently underway, apparently sparked by the presence of foreign reporters. He says that the Foreign Ministry and local government officials took six buses of reporters, about 50 in all, on a trip to see a burned out car dealership on Dawangnan Road. The reporters spoke to some victims and witnesses to Sunday's events for about half an hour. Then a Uighur woman with a small child (or two children; the situation is still confused) suddenly appeared and started complaining about her missing husband very loudly. Soon a crowd of around 30 Uighurs, mostly women in headscraves had gathered, many of them weeping, all complaining about their missing relatives: husbands, fathers, grandfathers, even one 14 year old boy, one mother told Austin. (The authorities say they have arrested some 1400 people).

Before long the crowd had swelled to several hundred and a group of riot police (members of  the People's Armed Police) carrying shields and long truncheons and accompanied by several armoured personnel carriers began to try and clear the protesters. Some of the protesters sat down for a time. Most refused to move. That's where the situation stands now. All of this being witnessed by a crowd of reporters stuck more or less between the police and the protesters. A core group of some 75 women are refusing to move (many others have been hustled down sidestreets by police) and chanting slogans which bystanders tell Austin mostly are calling for the release of their husbands other male relatives.

Final update: most of the protesters have dispersed or been dispersed and Austin is being pretty much dragged away by his minders.

****

At one point, Austin says he was dragged down a side street by some of the women who wanted to show him something. They said the police swept through their neighborhood Monday and seem to have arrested any males. They said the men were forced to take off their shoes and trousers before being taken away and showed Austin a pile of some 60-70 pairs of shoes. He wonders whether the authorities may have been clearing the neighborhood for the visit by reporters, not figuring that the mass arrests would spark a reaction by the Uighur women.

(Something similar happened (without the presence of foreign reporters) in Hetian, a town in the far south of Xinjiang after the Lahsa protests in March of last year prompted mass arrests of males apparently aimed at heading of possible demonstrations. On the market day after the arrests hundreds of women protested, itself prompting and even greater clamp down. My story here.)

(The New Dominion)  Images from Tuesday Urumqi Demonstrations.  July 8, 2009.

(FT.com)  Beijing channels internet debate to own ends.  By Richard McGregor.  July 8, 2009.

While local security forces are struggling to restore order in Urumqi, Beijing has been handling the political management of the Xinjiang riots, a task it regards as being equally vital to the resolution of the crisis. The propaganda department, the Communist party ministry that controls the press, has already shown it has learnt lessons from last year's Tibet uprising, a public relations disaster overseas for China.

Unlike in Tibet, Beijing allowed foreign journalists into Urumqi the day after Sunday's riots, escorted them to the damaged areas and attempted to control their interviews. But a far more important audience for the Communist party is at home, where the release of information has to be calibrated for local constituencies.

Local blogs have bubbled with fury over reports of the attacks on Han Chinese residents of Urumqi by ethnic Uighurs, as the Xinjiang Muslims are known. Just as they do in foreign policy crises, such blogs invariably call for the government to take a harder line against "wrongdoers". "I strongly call on the central government to send more troops!" wrote one anonymous blogger yesterday. "We can only count on the central government but, even now, it still has no clear position."

The government traditionally walks a thin line, encouraging boisterous patriotism while trying to channel it in the direction it wants. In managing public opinion, the government also reserves the right to shut down any debate at the time of its choosing. The Chinese media have been covering the rioting extensively, using only reports from official outlets, such as Xinhua, the government news agency, and regional state television.

At such times, blogs and other cyberspace outlets are the sole means of expression for opinions untainted by the government line. Yet far from softening the Communist party's hard line, as many western liberals might have hoped, the blogs often display an intense chauvinism.

The web page of a potential alternative voice, Ilham Tohti, Uighur economist and blogger and a consistent critic of Chinese management of Xinjiang, has been closed and his mobile phone cut off. Mr Tohti managed to put up a short posting on a blog run by a Beijing-based Tibetan yesterday, replying to a Xinjiang official who blamed him for helping incite Sunday's riots. He was unable to add any more, he said, as people from the "relevant authorities" - a euphemism for state security - were with him at home.

So far, none of the Politburo's nine-member inner circle has commented publicly on the riots, leaving the issue in the hands of local officials. Qin Gang, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, who is travelling with Hu Jintao, the president, at the Group of Eight summit in Italy, stuck strictly to the script in his only comments. The violence, he said, amounted to "evil killing, fire-setting and looting". "Anybody calling the violence a peaceful protest is turning black into white in an attempt to mislead the public."

(Epoch Times)  International Media Follow Beijing's Lead in Reporting on Xinjiang   By Matthew Little.  July 7, 2009.

When violence erupted in China’s Xinjiang Autonomous Region, home to the Uyghur Muslim minority, China’s state media rushed to “cover” the news, and Western media followed their lead.

“The bloody riots in China’s Muslim far west are a disturbing reminder of anti-Chinese violence in another troubled region—Tibet—and show how heavy-handed rule and radical resistance are pushing unrest to new heights,” wrote AP.

“The death toll from violent ethnic riots in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region has risen to 156, and police on Monday dispersed ‘rioters’ in a second city, the official Xinhua news agency said early on Tuesday,” reported Reuters.

But media experts and Uyghur activists say that China’s state-controlled media are working to frame the story in favor of the regime, a strategy one Hong Kong-based Chinese media expert calls “Control 2.0.” “By getting the information out, officials can get the ‘peripheral media’ (influential portal news sites, and commercial newspapers) to work for them,” writes David Bandurski editor of the China Media Project Web site in his analysis of the earlier riots in Shishou.

“These media feed off of the original Xinhua reports, amplifying their effect. Those same reports, with only slight permutations in many cases, become AFP, Reuters, and AP reports.” Using this method, Bandurski says the Chinese regime can kill negative information and keep “rabble-rousing professional media away.” While Chinese state media set the tone for reporting, the regime worked to cut uncontrolled information from escaping the region.

Tala Dowlatshahi, with Reporters Without Borders in New York, said more than 50 Uyghur-language Internet forums were closed yesterday and communications were cut down.

“The people of that region are completely cut off from the rest of the world,” she said. “I don’t have a lot of answers for you but I can tell you that we are not getting the real story.” Uyghurs in Canada say that friends and family have disappeared off instant messenger services, don’t answer their cell phones, and don’t reply to e-mails.

While early reports of the riots in Xinjiang relied heavily on Chinese media sources few, if any, of those reports, mentioned that these same state media are regarded as propaganda tools of the regime.

“[News media] should be greatly concerned about the accuracy of any reports by Chinese state media because Chinese state media reports one side,” she said, noting that all coverage serves the regimes political interests,” Dowlatshahi said. Related Articles

* Chinese Police Shoot Uighur Protesters in Xinjiang * Death Toll Unknown in Uighur Massacre

Xinhua has also worked hard to frame the story as a clash of Han and Uyghur ethnicities fueled by terrorists within the Uyghur minority. But Uyghur experts are saying the tension there is caused mainly by longstanding grievances related to the Chinese regime’s occupation of the region.

The Uyghur people have suffered a fate similar to Tibetans after their region was taken over by the Chinese Communist Party in 1949. Thousands were killed, their religious institutions were destroyed, their language banned, and recent policies have seen Uyghur families coerced to send their children to inland schools and their young women to work in inland cities. Few of the women ever return and Uyghur activists say they are forced into prostitution.

Amnesty International says that since the 1980s, “the Chinese government has mounted an aggressive campaign that has led to the arrest and arbitrary detention of thousands of Uyghurs on charges of ‘terrorism, separatism and religious extremism’ for peacefully exercising their human rights.” Although international media reports were skeptical when the Chinese regime portrayed riots in Tibet before the Olympics as a plot cooked up by the Dalai Lama, they have been far more willing to accept and reprint the regime’s line on the situation in Xinjiang, say Uyghur activists in Canada and the United States.

“Most of the media just show Chinese side, take the Chinese media’s pictures and photos,” said Rukiye Turdesh, president of the Uyghur Canadian Society.

Chinese state media reports focused on Han Chinese, she said, and presented Uyghurs as violently attacking Han Chinese people. Western media then followed suit, said Turdesh. “They don’t show any pictures of how Uyghurs are killed. They don’t say anything about the Uyghurs, what happened to the Uyghurs, they just say the Chinese were beaten, the Chinese were killed. What is this, it is not fair, right? They just copy the Chinese media,” Turdesh said.

“Uyghurs are helpless, they don’t have soldiers, they don’t have guns, they have nothing, the Chinese have everything and the Chinese blocked the information, we don’t know what is happening over there right now. Even if China killed all of them, massacred all of the Uyghurs, nobody could know.” Turdesh said that watching footage of Uyghurs being attacked and killed that got out of the region before the regime cut it off from the outside world was unbearable for her.

Alim Seytoff, general secretary of the Uyghur American Association, the umbrella group that the Chinese regime accuses of orchestrating the riots, said later coverage of the riots has improved, with more media talking to Uyghur sources, but he is still concerned too many news sources give credence to Chinese state media. “It is wrong for the international community to take words coming out of the Chinese media as facts, they should be cautious about that because it is always prejudiced and one-sided.” Xinhua and CCTV, China’s most influential and pervasive media, which smaller Chinese outlets take as guides for their own reporting, have been framing the riots in Xinjiang eerily similarly to those in Tibet in March 2008.

While the Dalai Lama was blamed for orchestrating the riots in Tibet, Rebiya Kadeer, a leading Uyghur activist and President of World Uyghur Congress is being blamed for the current riots.

Like Tibetans, Uyghurs are consistently portrayed as “barbaric, lazy, and stupid,” said Alim.

The Chinese regime has gone a step further in trying to manage the media by inviting overseas reporters to Xinjiang for guided tours of hospitals and riot areas. “The important phrase is ‘guided tours.’ They did the same thing in Tibet itself,” said D.J. McGuire, co-founder of the China e-Lobby and author of Dragon in the Dark: How and Why Communist China Helps Our Enemies in the War on Terror.

“The problem is that people have already been preconditioned to not believe what the cadres say on Tibet, so there was something of that in the Tibet coverage,” said McGuire, referring to the fact that media coverage on the Tibet riots was very sympathetic to the Tibetans, and those guided tours were largely seen as a farce. “People understood that, but they don’t understand that as much with what is going on in Urumqi [Xinjiang’s capital].” The fact that Uyghurs are Muslim further conflates the issue, he said. “After 9/11 it became much easier to paint any Muslim resistance as terrorist and anti-Western than it is to do the same with any resistant in Tibet, so that is what colors the coverage,” he said.

The regime was caught trying to frame Uyghurs for terrorist attacks when evidence emerged months after that a reported machete attack in Xinjiang just before the Olympics was actually played up by state media. Chinese paramilitary officers were also discovered to have staged an anti-terror raid in Urumqi in 2008.

(BBC)  Ethnic mobs overrun Chinese city   By Quentin Sommerville.  July 8, 2009.

Urumqi is again under curfew. China began Tuesday saying it had the city under control, but a surprise interruption to a government tour showed that claim to be false.

As journalists stopped to view a burned out car showroom, hundreds of Uighur women poured in from side streets, shouting and wailing.

Old and young, some carried babies.

They seemed oblivious to the batons and guns of the paramilitary troops who had taken control of their neighbourhood.

"We don't want to fight," said one. "Please release our families. Almost all the men were taken away, hundreds of them, thousands of them! We believe in our police, we don't fight, please release our men."

Uighur defiance

Overnight, some 1,400 men - husbands, sons and brothers - were taken away for questioning. They are accused of being a part of Sunday's murderous riots.

We watched as they raged at the police, some even threw their shoes. A number of the women fainted.

On the edges of the scene, policemen had un-holstered their pistols, some stood ready with long steel batons.

One of the troops climbed on top of an armoured truck and used a loudhailer to tell people to disperse. Some did, heading for side streets.

At the other end of the road, riot police arrived.

These stony-faced defenders of Chinese rule rarely come face-to-face with such defiance.

Looking fearsome in their dark bulletproof vests and armed with teargas and guns, they didn't respond.

We stayed until we saw the protest end without violence. The women left in single file.

Then our government minders pushed us back into the buses that had brought us there.

Han revenge

Back in a central hotel - perhaps the only one in town with access to the internet following a citywide government shut down - it soon became clear that the protests were far from over.

Suddenly the roads emptied of traffic. In the distance a crowd could be heard.

Then, around People's Square, Han Chinese demonstrators in shorts and T-shirts marched along the streets. They were armed with steel rods and bamboo poles. Some carried knives.

At first they had been shocked by Sunday's brutal attacks - Han Chinese suffered the worst. Now they were angry.

As they marched past, shouting they would protect Xinjiang, and crying, "Down with the Uighurs", office workers came out to applaud them.

"We're protecting our property," one man said. "We've run out of patience," said another.

At a bank across the street, employees appeared in their shirtsleeves, waving spades and iron rods.

In a surreal moment, a group of girls in miniskirts walked by, each with their own 5ft-long poles. It seemed as if every other person had acquired a weapon of choice.

At first the paramilitary forces simply watched - one snapping a picture with his camera phone. But later the streets emptied again, things were suddenly still.

Reports spread that tear gas had been fired at the Han Chinese.

People began heading home as the hour of curfew approached.

Deep divisions

These would be extraordinary scenes anywhere, but they are particularly astonishing in a country as tightly controlled as China.

As the sun began to set and the guards around the square changed shifts, dozens of trucks and buses full of camouflaged troops began arriving in the city.

Despite the curfew, small groups of Han Chinese - mostly young men - wandered around, weapons still in their hands.

Ethnic harmony and stability are watchwords for China's leadership, but there has been little of either on display here in Xinjiang.

After days of violence and threats, Uighurs and Han Chinese have never been further apart.

It will take more than additional troops to bring the people who share this city back together.

(FT.com)  Han seek revenge after Uighur rioting    By Kathrin Hille in Urumqi and Richard McGregor in Beijing    July 8, 2009.

Authorities struggled to contain some of China’s worst ethnic violence in decades on Tuesday as gangs of Han Chinese defied a government crackdown and took to the streets seeking revenge against the Muslim Uighur minority.

The authorities had appeared to have the north-western city of Urumqi under control by Tuesday morning, with shops opening and public transport running for the first time since riots on Sunday, in which officials say more than 150 people were killed.

But gangs of Han Chinese armed with sticks and bars started to form in the early afternoon and poured down two main streets towards the Great Bazaar, Urumqi’s traditional Uighur trading quarter.

Han Chinese, many of whom are angry at the failure of security forces to protect their community on Sunday, later cheered on riot police when they intervened to separate them from Uighurs with whom they were fighting.

Beijing has battled against a low-level insurgency in the region of Xinjiang for decades, but unrest has grown in recent years as many Uighurs began to feel left behind by rapid economic growth that benefits mainly members of China’s dominant Han ethnic group who have moved there.

The Xinjiang riots are of deep concern to Beijing, as they could trigger unrest among other minority groups with complaints similar to those of the Uighurs. Protests spread to the Uighur-majority oasis town of Kashgar on Tuesday, Xinhua, the state news agency, reported.

China’s leaders, including Hu Jintao, the president, who is in Italy to attend the Group of Eight summit, have yet to comment directly on the unrest. But officials have sought to blame Rebiya Kadeer, an exiled Uighur leader, and others for the violence.

Ms Kadeer dismissed Beijing’s charges in a BBC interview on Tuesday.

China’s embassy in the Netherlands was attacked by exiled pro-Uighur activists who threw rocks that smashed windows, and two men threw Molotov cocktails at a Munich consulate, a foreign ministry spokesman said.

Sunday’s protests were sparked by the deaths of two Uighurs in clashes with Han Chinese at a toy factory near Hong Kong late last month.

Wang Lequan, the Communist party secretary of Xinjiang who is under intense pressure from Beijing to bring the volatile situation under control, pleaded to Han Chinese not to take the law into their own hands. “Some Han people took to the streets in Urumqi today, disrupting social orders. This is not necessary at all,” he said.

Li Zhi, the Communist party chief in Urumqi city, said the authorities had arrested more than 1,400 suspects allegedly involved in the Sunday riots.

Uighur women also took to the streets on Tuesday to protest against the arrest of their husbands and sons. “My husband was detained at gunpoint. They were hitting people, they were stripping people naked. My husband was scared so he locked the door, but the police broke down the door and took him away,” a woman, who gave her name as Aynir, told the Associated Press. She said about 300 people were arrested in the market in the southern section of town.

Mr Li said the men arrested had all been caught red-handed. “We caught them in the act of beating, smashing, robbing, burning and killing. We dragged them out from under beds still with clubs in their hands,” he said.

The Uighurs, who comprise just under half the region’s population, had long complained at Communist rule in Xinjiang, saying that officials restrict religious worship, stifle their culture and keep most of the economic benefits in the region’s oil and natural gas reserves for their own community.

Xinjiang has seen waves of Han immigration for decades. According to the official point of view, which is shared by most Han Chinese, that is only positive. Anyone who rejects it is viewed as a separatist.

For Urumqi’s angry Han, however, passions are boiling over. At sunset, with just half an hour to go to the 9pm curfew, ever larger groups of stick- and knife-wielding young men came marching south from all over Urumqi. Police, soldiers and the fire brigade erected several roadblocks, but crowds soon regrouped.

A young man who had been stopped at an army barricade on a bridge flew into a rage.

“Soldiers, you must treat the people well, for it is the people who feed you!” he screamed, waving his stick at a trooper guarding Urumqi’s military headquarters.

(The Wall Street Journal)  Uprising in Urumqi    July 8, 2009.

Authoritarian states are typically less stable than they appear, and China is no exception. This week's ethnic riots in western Xinjiang province are the deadliest on record since the end of the Cultural Revolution in the 1970s. Until the Chinese government is truly accountable to its citizens -- both the majority Han and other ethnic minorities -- these kinds of deadly uprisings will continue.

Sunday's riots started when around 3,000 ethnic Uighurs, including many high-school and college students, gathered to protest ethnically motivated killings in a factory in China's southern Guangdong province. The riots turned violent but, thanks to China's information firewall, no one knows exactly why. State-run media report that Uighurs had attacked Han Chinese and count at least 156 people killed and more than 1,000 injured.

Government outlets blamed Uighur "separatists" and labeled U.S.-based Rebiya Kadeer, president of the World Uighur Congress, the "mastermind" of the violence. Ms. Kadeer denies this in an article on a nearby page. Yesterday, thousands of Han Chinese, armed with homemade weapons, swarmed the streets of Urumqi, calling for revenge. Police stopped them with tear gas, but not before they had destroyed some Uighur shops. Other protests and violent outbreaks ripped across the city.

China's draconian policies in Xinjiang stem in part from fears that the Uighurs, a Muslim ethnic group who speak a Turkic language, want to secede from China. The province is rich in oil and gas reserves and shares a sensitive border with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan and Russia (which has tried to foment uprisings in Xinjiang in the past). There are about 10 million Uighurs in Xinjiang.

But these fears are no excuse for China's punitive and often violent suppression of the Uighurs. Beijing has poured money into a quasimilitary conglomerate, the "Bingtuan," which runs businesses and large farms in the region. Bingtuan jobs often go to Han Chinese immigrants who receive economic incentives to move west. Meanwhile, a 2006 government policy encourages migration in the opposite direction -- i.e., getting young Uighur men and women to work in coastal factories. The program is designed to get young Uighurs to "integrate" (read: marry) into Han society.

These policies threaten the very existence of Uighur culture. Today Uighurs comprise less than half of the population of Xinjiang, according to official Chinese government statistics -- down from around 75% in 1949, when Mao Zedong's army took control of the area. Recently the government announced it would tear down the old city of Kashgar, the Uighur's cultural home, and replace it with a "new" old city. China also restricts the use of the Uighur language in schools and requires state employees to eat during Ramadan, when devout Muslims fast during the day.

Beijing's reaction to Sunday's riots is thus true to form. Officials say 1,434 people were arrested, and Uighurs protesting yesterday told journalists that the men in their families had been arbitrarily rounded up. As of last night, Urumqi is subject to a curfew. The Internet has been cut off and mobile phone access is limited. Foreign reporters have been allowed into the region -- in contrast to the March 2008 Tibet riots, when they were kicked out -- but they are accompanied by government minders.

Like Beijing's brutal response to the Tibet riots, a crackdown will only strengthen the Uighurs' pro-independence movement. This holds risks for Beijing. Although most Uighurs advocate peaceful methods to achieve equal rights, a fringe of violent extremists already exists. During the Olympics last year, three attacks on government outposts in Xinjiang killed 21.

The immediate priority must be to stop further killing in Urumqi and other Xinjiang cities, either by Han or Uighurs. But to prevent violence from recurring, Beijing needs to address the concerns of a Uighur population who have no say over the policies that have transformed their homeland and threaten to eradicate their way of life.

(New York Times Op Ed)  Beijing Always Wins.  By Russell Leigh Moses.  July 8, 2009.

THE riots in the Xinjiang region, the home of China’s Muslim Uighur minority, will affirm to many analysts outside the country that social unrest is a direct threat to the continued rule of the Communist Party. If officials don’t take a long, hard look at how to avoid such uprisings, this argument will run, the government could eventually fall.

If only Chinese officials saw things that way.

But even after at least 156 people have been reported dead in the city of Urumqi, many officials here see the recent violence — with Uighur rioters torching businesses owned by Han Chinese, China’s ethnic majority — as simple ingratitude.

A front-page editorial in the state-run People’s Daily described the protests as criminal actions by rioters, not as the manifestation of complaints of citizens angered by discriminatory policies. That view is already popular here in the capital. Few are surprised by the violence meted out by the state, and more than a few applaud it. A merchant in east Beijing expressed allegiance with his fellow Han entrepreneurs and, referring to the large outlays of aid to Xinjiang, asked of the Uighurs, “Where is their thanks for all the money we provide them?”

Both nationalistic fervor and the fear that instability might reverse the hard-won individual gains of economic reform combine to create more support for the government’s hard-line approach. Less discussed are the Uighurs’ real grievances: Beijing’s tight control over the practice of Islam; Han Chinese who migrate to Xinjiang and take the better jobs there; and the fact that ethnic minorities lack regular access to the government bureaucracy, where business in China is largely done.

Religious practice, local customs and educational choices in Xinjiang are controlled by the state to a draconian degree. Mosques are being repaired and modernized, but children have not been allowed to attend services. The follow-up demonstrations in Urumqi the day after the riots erupted took place outside mosques, testifying to the rallying cry of religion for a growing number of Chinese Muslims. These protests, too, were quickly broken up by local security forces.

Success breeds repetition, and the state always seems to win every contest with protesters — by cracking down, by persuading people to return to their homes, by imprisoning suspected ringleaders. Last month in Shishou, in Hubei Province, rumors surrounding a young man’s mysterious death drew thousands into the streets, but a display of force cowed demonstrators, who ultimately retreated. Two recent incidents of unrest in Guiyang, in southwestern China — over a land dispute and employment — were quickly brought to a halt when officials, accompanied by police and security forces, dispersed the crowds. Little indicates that dialogue is preferred to repression. Indeed, some reports from Urumqi indicate that the demonstrations began peacefully, and much of the marauding occurred only after security troops appeared in large numbers.

Party cadres know that Beijing’s leadership is largely composed of officials who have not been shy about using force when protests emerged. For example, the crushing of dissent that took place in Beijing and Tibet in 1989 is seen by Chinese decision-makers and the cadres they sponsor as creating the conditions for economic reform. Party members seem to be keenly aware that that those who supported the crackdowns were quickly helicoptered into high-level positions.

Many Chinese officials are quite sophisticated in their responses to threats to their governance, and they are not tone-deaf to technology. Cellphone service and Internet access were both blocked within a few hours of the first demonstrations in Xinjiang. When word of the unrest cascaded out, much of the news was artfully managed by officials. Friends of mine in Beijing received unsolicited messages on their cellphones that provided the government version of the unrest. Government representatives handed out discs with pictures taken by state news organizations.

The state news media talked up the looting and burning of Han businesses but said nothing about attacks on Uighur establishments, and repeated mantras about stability and order. Rumors ran rampant in the run-up to these riots, but at the end of the day, bullets flew faster and struck harder than netizens’ bulletins.

The state apparatus has become dizzy with success in dealing with unrest. This gives little hope that further mass outbreaks will not be violently crushed. It also demonstrates that social upheaval will not pave the way to democracy. The party is too strong and confident to allow change from below.

(Times Online)  Chinese troops flood into riot city as Hu Jintao flies home   By Jane Macartney.  July 8, 2009.

Thousands of Chinese troops poured into the restive city of Urumqi early today in a massive show of force, as President Hu Jintao cut short a visit to Italy for the G8 summit to deal with the outbreak of ethnic violence.

Along one road ringing the capital of the western region of Xianjiang where 156 people died in riots on Sunday, The Times counted more than 30 paramilitary trucks, each followed by about two dozen men, many in black body armour, and most carrying riot shields, batons and fire arms.

The convoys included several white armoured personnel carriers accompanied by tear gas vans, all with paramilitaries standing ready to open fire if necessary. They were preceded by land cruisers, their sirens wailing as they moved almost at a walking pace through the town.

On the sides of the trucks were banners reading: "See the people as our father and mother".

In the centre of the city around People's Square, army helicopters circled overhead as hundreds more paramilitary troops marched in brigades of 20 to 30 chanting: "Defend the Motherland, defend the people."

A Han Chinese man surnamed Run said, as he watched the troops rolling by; "We support this. The government has to take action to protect the people. But they should have got here sooner. It took them three days to do this. Why so long?"

Mr Hu's decision to return home came after another day of strife in Urumqi on Tuesday, as thousands of Han Chinese roamed the streets looking for vengeance after Sunday's riots, which left 156 dead and more than 800 injured.

He left Italy early today "due to the situation in northwest China's Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region" Xinhua, China's state news agency reported.

Mr Hu decided to curtail his trip "given the worsening of the disorder in Xinjiang," Tang Heng, the first political counsellor at the Chinese embassy in the Italian capital told Italy's ANSA news agency.

Although China is not a member of the Group of Eight, talks at the summit were to include emerging powers including China and India.

State Councillor Dai Bingguo would take part in the summit on Mr Hu's behalf, Xinhua reported.

This morning, the streets were quiet and cars began moving agin. But although the angry mobs had not returned, many Han Chinese were still carrying makeshift weapons in the city centre and outlying districts.

"I'm carrying this just for my own feeling of safety," said a man named Li as he walked near the city centre carrying a martial arts nanchuk - two batons held together by a chain.

One woman in her 30s was seen walking on the street carrying a large stick with nails coming out of it, while others were carrying knives and steel poles.

Many shops and businesses remained closed and there were no buses or taxis running through the centre of town.

Chinese officials have already blamed the unrest on separatist groups abroad, which it says want to create an independent homeland of East Turkestan for the Uighurs. Ms Kadeer, the exiled Uighur businesswoman and activist blamed

for the violence, denied having anything to do with it. She said: "These accusations are completely false."

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(Telegraph)  China pour troops into the city of Urumqi, China.  July 8, 2009.

(The Guardian)  Riots in Urumqi, China

(The Australian)  China's crackdown has world bluffed    By Greg Sheridan    July 8, 2009

THE violence and rioting in Urumqi, and other cities in the vast, desolate Western Chinese province of Xinjiang, constitute the greatest political loss of life in China since the Tiananmen massacre in 1989. They are also the most serious challenge to Chinese state authority. They demonstrate the failure of the Chinese development model for both Xinjiang and Tibet, and the crudity of Chinese rule in those two provinces.

They also demonstrate the danger of the nationalism and ethnic Han chauvinism (Han is the dominant ethnic group in China) encouraged as a key way of gaining legitimacy by the Chinese state. It also reveals a new approach to media management by Beijing. Hu Jintao had to drop out of the G8 meeting and rush back to China to take charge of the crisis. Although the heroic leader returning to the rescue is now standard in Beijing dealing with a crisis, it is nonetheless a very bad look and a serious loss of face. According to official Chinese figures, more than 150 people are dead, 800 injured, 220 buildings and 260 vehicles destroyed and more than 200 shops damaged. There have been well over 800 arrests.

The sequence of events is contested, but goes like this. In Shaoguan City in distant Guangdong province two Uighurs were accused of raping a Han Chinese girl. The Chinese authorities now say this accusation was baseless. However, it led to some kind of anti-Uighur pogrom and at least two Uighurs, and possibly a few more, were killed.

This led, the next day, to a demonstration against the general repression of Uighurs, China's biggest Muslim minority, in Xinjiang's capital city, Urumqi. The Uighurs have a lot of grievances. The Australian government clearly thinks some of them significant, as Uighur issues always figure in the annual Australia-China human rights dialogue. When the Chinese communists took control of Xinjiang in 1949, ethnic Han made up about 6 per cent of the population, with Uighurs the vast majority.

Today, the Han make up about 50 per cent, with Uighurs a minority in their own homeland. There are several other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang. It is now a very segregated province. Urumqi has clear Han and Uighur districts, and throughout Xinjiang there are separate Uighur, Khazak and Han villages.

The practice of the Muslim religion is very circumscribed. Individual visits to Mecca for the haj are illegal. Religion is discouraged in schools, religious festivals not fully celebrated.

The vast natural resource development has resulted in jobs for Han, not for Uighurs. Although Xinjiang is formally designated a Uighur Autonomous Region, all political power, most political positions, most jobs and most economic development has gone to the Han. Some Han are recent migrants, others were forcibly relocated to Xinjiang during either the Great Leap Forward or the Cultural Revolution.

The Uighurs say the recent violence began when their peaceful demonstration was met with savage brutality by Chinese police. We cannot know for sure what happened, but the Uighur claims are plausible as they would be consistent with Chinese police behaviour elsewhere in China and especially in Xinjiang.

The Chinese authorities say the violence began when the Uighur demonstrators went on an anti-Han rampage. Subsequently Han mobs went on an anti-Uighur rampage. If any other country were managing a minority region with this degree of crudity there would be immediate calls for greater autonomy and perhaps self determination. But, as usual, the Chinese have the international community bluffed. They have achieved this with Xinjiang in part by convincing the world that all Uighur activists are 9/11-style terrorists.

In fact, the Americans are trying to find homes for the Uighur residents of Guantanamo Bay because they have come to the conclusion that they pose no terrorist threat.

There have been Uighur separatist terrorist bombings in China, but independent analysts believe the number of Uighurs involved in international jihadist terrorism is tiny. However, by its recent behaviour China certainly risks radicalising young Uighur men.

A fascinating aspect of the conflict has been Beijing's new approach to the media. It has made the standard but implausible accusation that all the disturbances are being orchestrated by outside forces. It shut down the internet in Urumqi to try to limit the demonstrators' organising ability. However, rather than trying to impose a media blackout as it did in the Tibet uprisings last year, it has swamped the media, domestic and international, with its own television images designed to suggest Uighur violence against Han. It is thus using the authoritarian power of the state to lead and dominate the media, rather than try to black it out. This is a significant development and signals China's move from the totalitarianism of communism to a more contemporary authoritarian style. Still a dictatorship, but significantly more sophisticated.

The problem with this media strategy, though, is that it inflames Han hostility to the Uighurs. The Chinese state has used Han nationalism, along with economic performance, as the key source of legitimacy for its rule, given the death of communist ideology. But this nationalism is increasingly ugly.

Further, the policy lessons Beijing will draw from this are that it needs to be tougher on Uighur activists. This is exactly the reverse of the truth. In fact it needs to be more liberal with people, allow them to pursue their cultures more freely, give them more authentic autonomy and integrate them in a more sophisticated fashion.

There is one implication out of all this for Australia. Michael Wesley, the new head of the Lowy Institute and one of Australia's best foreign policy thinkers, recently argued that the Rudd government had had some trouble in its dealings with China because it did not have a big, integrated China policy.

I have the greatest respect for Wesley, but this is dead wrong. Problems in Australia-China relations result sometimes from specific mis-steps, such as having a politburo member here and trying to keep it secret. Or they result from the nature and actions of China's government, a government that will arrest an Australian Rio employee and deny consular access, a government which acts the way it does in Xinjiang and Tibet, compelling Australian concerns about human rights. Similarly, China's massive military build-up requires some sort of insurance policy by Australia. Trying to make a definitive statement about China's ultimate intentions, which are unknowable, achieves nothing and could harm a lot.

Meanwhile, the prospects in Xinjiang, and Tibet, are very gloomy.

(Xinhua)  "Unintentional scream" triggered Xinjiang riot    by Xinhua writers Zhou Yan, Wang Pan & Pan Ying    July 8, 2009.

    The teenager at the center of allegations of sexual assault that sparked the deadly violence in western China's Xinjiang region Wednesday said the incident was nothing more than an "unintentional scream."

    A brawl between Han and Uygur workers at a toy factory in the southern Guangdong Province on June 26 is said to have sparked Sunday's riot that left 156 people dead and more than 1,000 injured thousands of kilometers away in the Xinjiang capital of Urumqi. But the people at the center of the conflict believed it was just a row between young men.

    The brawl in Shaoguan City was said to have flared up over allegations of a "sexual assault on a Han girl by a Uygur worker" that left two people dead and more than 100 injured.

    The "Han girl," a 19-year-old trainee who had worked at the factory less than two months, said she only found out hours later that she was the cause of the violence. "I was lost and entered the wrong dormitory and screamed when I saw those Uygur young men in the room," said Huang Cuilian, originally from rural Guangdong. Huang said she had no idea why exactly she was scared. "I just felt they were unfriendly so I turned and ran."

    She remembered one of them stood up and stamped his feet as if he would chase her. "I later realized that he was just making fun of me." She spent the night with a school teacher who accompanied her and her schoolmates to the job, not knowing her screams had stirred a fight between Han and Uygur workers.

    Other ethnic Uygurs working at the factory say they will continue to work in Guangdong.

    Atigul, 21, says she takes a manual, "900 Phrases of Commercial Chinese," wherever she goes and the bloodshed has not put her off working there. "I'm ready to stay here for at least a year. After all, my folks back home need to work hard for a whole year to earn what I make in a month," Atigul said through an interpreter. Her monthly wage averages 1,400 yuan, almost equal the annual income she earned in her hometown. Her co-worker, Yossef, 19, felt more comfortable because he spoke fluent Mandarin, but could not write. "I learned Mandarin at primary school."

    Guangdong Province had hired about 800 workers from Xinjiang from May to fill its labor shortages, said Li Xiuying, an official in charge of ethnic and religious affairs in Guangdong. "Most of them are Uygurs aged from 18 to 29 and are eager to learn. But their distinct lifestyles, culture and poor Mandarin isolate them to some extent from their Han colleagues," she said.

    China's booming coastal region is attracting an increasing number of ethnic minorities from the poor west. Guangdong alone is host to 1.5 million workers of ethnic minorities. "The fight in the toy factory was just an isolated incident, but unfortunately, the separatists have made use of it to create chaos," said Nur Bekri, chairman of the Xinjiang regional government.

    The rioting in Urumqi forced Chinese President Hu Jintao cut short his European trip and returned to Beijing Wednesday, skipping a G8 meeting with leaders from other developing countries that is expected to cover the economic crisis and climate change among other global issues. A statement on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' website said Hu's trip was cut short "in light of the current situation in Xinjiang". This change of schedule was the first overt public response by the central leadership to the deadliest riot in six decades in the far western region that covers a sixth of China's territory and has a population of 21 million.

    Xinjiang police said they had evidence that the separatist World Uygur Congress led by Rebiya Kadeer masterminded the riot. "Those rioters by no means represented the Uygur people. They were incited by separatists from abroad and deviated from the spirit of the Koran," said Abdul Rehep, vice president of Xinjiang Islam Association.

    About 60 percent of Xinjiang residents are "ethnic minorities," meaning Chinese nationals other than the most populous Han group. They represent 47 ethnic groups including the Uygur, Kazak, Hui, Mongolian, Kirgiz, Tajik, Ozbek, Manchu, Tatar and Russian. The central government has been implementing a policy that offers many privileges to minorities. These include easier access to colleges and certain jobs and at least two children per family instead of one for Han families in urban areas. 

(China Journal, WSJ Blogs)  Shutting Down Communications to Prevent More Protest   By Sky Canaves    July 8, 2009.

The ongoing riots and protests in western China’s Xinjiang region have led to some extraordinary restrictions on communications in China: Internet service and mobile phone access around Urumqi have been curtailed, while social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Fanfou (a homegrown version of Twitter) are suddenly inaccessible to users around the country. More familiar tactics, such as the removal of online discussions, photos and videos of the violence, are also being employed.

In an unusually candid statement, the Communist Party chief of Xinjiang acknowledged the intentional disruption of Internet service in Urumqi, saying that it was done to prevent the spread of further protests, according to China Daily. Despite the restrictions on communications, thousands of Han Chinese protested in Urumqi on Tuesday, and smaller groups of Uighurs continued to gather to air their grievances.

The increasingly draconian measures underscore the increasingly major role that technology plays in inspiring and organizing opposition in China. Chinese authorities have blamed overseas Uighur activists, specifically Rebiya Kadeer and the Uighur World Congress, for instigating the initial protests on Sunday, saying they used social networking tools such as QQ, China’s most popular instant messaging service to foment unrest. (Kadeer has denied any involvement in organizing the protests.)

Ironically, the original spark for Sunday’s protest was itself a rumor that circulated on the Internet. Last month, after allegations spread that Uighur workers at a south China toy factory had raped Han Chinese women, Han workers at the factory rioted, leaving two Uighurs dead and dozens more injured, according to official Chinese media reports. But Uighurs claimed that many more had been killed. Pictures and video of the toy factory clash spread online to support that assertion, ultimately leading Uighurs in Urumqi, 2,800 miles from the Guangdong toy factory, to take to the streets. It’s a worrying development for Chinese authorities, who are used to mass incidents being far more local in nature.

(China Journal, WSJ Blogs)  Missing Numbers After Tuesday’s Protests in Xinjiang     By Sky Canaves     July 8, 2009

Following Sunday’s violent clashes between members of the Uighur ethnic minority and police in the Xinjiang autonomous region’s capital of Urumqi, we noted the swiftness of official updates on the number of casualties and fatalities, which are usually a sensitive topic subject to much dispute (For examples, see the debates on the number of dead in Tiananmen in 1989, Yining in 1997 and Lhasa last year).

Critics said that the announcements of the figures (156 dead, more than 1,080 injured) may have been intended to emphasize that the majority of the dead came from the Han Chinese majority, while the overseas Uighur activist Rebiya Kadeer claims the official figure conceals a much higher death toll among Uighurs.

On Tuesday, thousands of Han Chinese took to the streets of Urumqi, carrying improvised weapons and vowing revenge on Uighurs, in what is fast turning out to be one of the ugliest incidents of ethnic violence in China in a long time. (At the time of this writing, reports were coming in of another protest involving hundreds of Uighurs in Urumqi).

Yet, since Monday, there appear to have been no new reports on the number of dead or injured. One possibility, given the heavy police presence in Urumqi now, is that there haven’t been any deaths or serious injuries to report. That’s despite reports of Han Chinese rioters breaking through the ranks of police trying to contain the crowds, with tear gas being used on Han protesters as well.

The Washington Post quotes a witness who said he saw dozens of Han Chinese beating up a much smaller group of Uighurs on Tuesday. Melissa Chan, a reporter with Al-Jazeera’s English network, wrote on Twitter today of an interview with Uighurs who said a Han mob killed at least six people in their neighborhood around 9 p.m. on Tuesday night, around the same time that a curfew was coming into effect in Urumqi.

(NPR)  Foreign Policy: Why Twitter Failed The Uighurs    Evgeny Morozov    July 8, 2009

Given the current oversupply of Twitter experts, it's strange that nobody told the Uighurs that staging a protest in the week of Michael Jackson's funeral is not going to propel them into the top charts of Twitter's most discussed items. What a bummer – Michael Jackson is still topic number one on Twitter, the Uighurs are not even in top 10, and the Internet-savvy whizzes of the State Department are nowhere to be seen.

I'd leave the discussion of geopolitical repercussions of the Uighur riots to my more qualified FP colleagues, zooming in on what they tell us about technology. There is very little that we know for sure; Twitter and YouTube have been reported to be down; mobile networks offer a very spotty service, and the overall connectivity in the region appears to be rather poor. It's quite logical to speculate – as many China-watchers and most of the media have done already- that the government is trying to thwart communication between the province and the rest of the world, as this would inevitably undermine their own accounts of what had happened.

What I find really interesting is the Chinese government's increasing eagerness to turn off Internet connectivity (thus blocking access to all web-sites) as opposed to selected and well-targeted censorship, that would leave most web-sites untouched. In a sense, this could be their response to the Cute Cat Theory: since activists would always find huge non-activists sites (like Facebook) where they can hide their protest activities, it may be easier for the government to simply shut down the entire Internet – at least, for a short time.

To me, this reflects the impending failure of the targeted approach: the ingenuity of activists has made every web-site into a potential target and, as such, has made targeted censorship useless (e.g. you block Facebook and the same people resurface on MySpace, or GoodReads or some obscure web-site for cat lovers). Granted some unique web-sites would continue serving as targets: YouTube may simply be the best-known and the easiest to use video-sharing web-sites, so it may make sense to continue blocking it and thus preventing a very small percentage of netizens of sharing their videos, but it's naïve to think that if they really-really want to, they won't be able to upload them elsewhere. So what would replace targeted censorship? Perhaps, a combination of spin – as today's New York Times documents in an article on China's new information strategies and as I have also documented on its pages– with comprehensive Internet black-outs during sensitive events.

Now, this may be a very unpopular position, but let me try to advance a little thought experiment. Suppose that much of the recent criticism of online activism (or "slacktivism") is actually right, i.e. online campaigns add little value (while also providing great distractions to real activists). If so, a rational authoritarian government would not actually mind having its people sit by their monitors and think that they are affecting change via Facebook; after all, better give them an illusion of being in control and having some autonomy. From their perspective, where the Internet does get dangerous is when it accompanies some big real-world events – elections in Moldova or Iran or the deaths of the two Uyghur workers – this is also when it needs to be blocked/restrained, especially if the objective is to ensure that nobody could challenge the government's version of events (hence, the rapid growth of the "spinternet").

If true, this could actually be a very big blow to the cyber-utopians who are trying to argue that ther eis some magic role that technology plays in igniting the protests. Their ideal scenario is that 2 random people find each other via the Internet, find out that both are dissatisfied with some public service, decide to protest, share planning tips on an Internet forum, 100 people read their messages, and here you go – 10,000 people gather in some central square to topple the government. Personally, I believe that this is science fiction; I grant that this may have happened once or twice on a much smaller scale, but I strongly believe that politics as well as many other social, cultural, and economic factors usually play a much greater role in actually igniting the protests; 99% of discussions of people dissatisfied with public services only helps to blow their steam off and thus, actually, benefits the government.

The problem with the current media narrative of a "cat and mouse" game is that much of this narrative has been built by the media itself. First, the media finds a story of the next Twitter revolution, blows it out of proportion by manipulating (or simply misunderstanding) the facts, and then this story is accepted as an explanation of what happened. Thus, having read many accounts of the Twitter Revolution in Moldova, it's no surprise that the Iranian authorities tried to ban Twitter; whether it played any role in igniting the protests is beyond the point – there is no way that Iranians would not try to block Twitter given that it has been lauded by almost every single media outlet out there as the next revolutionary tool. Ditto the Chinese: what self-respecting Communist party wouldn't ban Twitter given that it's often been singled out as one of the reasons why so many Iranians gathered in the streets of Tehran?

But then the fact that the Iranians and the Chinese tried to ban Twitter only makes all of us even more convinced that they got banned it for a reason: they must have feared its great political potential! Nobody stops to think if this potential actually exists though; we often forget that the fact that something is blocked does not necessarily mean that it has been (or will be) instrumental...This only perpetuates the fears of other authoritarian leaders – and so it goes... At moments like this, I feel that may be it's okay that Michael Jackson is still topic number one on Twitter – at least, this is what it was designed for and most of those discussions DO fit quite nicely into 140 characters...

(Telegraph)  Chinese province of Xinjiang teeters on the edge of fresh violence.  By Peter Foster and Malcolm Moore.  July 8, 2009.

The continuing ethnic unrest in the far Western province of Xinjiang forced Hu Jintao, the Chinese president, to break off from the G8 summit in Italy and return home. The Foreign ministry said Mr Hu had decided to abandon the summit "in light of the current situation", leaving Dai Bingguo, China's state councillor, in his stead.

After a night of calm, an enormous security operation was mounted this morning to avoid any repeat of the race riots which have claimed 156 lives, injured another 1,080 and led to 1,434 arrests.

At least 40 People's Liberation Army trucks were spotted trundling in a convoy along access roads in the South East of the city this morning.

Patrols of armed soldiers stood on street corners, watching over the residents in the street, while long columns of soldiers jogged through the city, shouting the motivational mantra: "Defend our Motherland!"

"We support this. The government has to take action to protect the people," said a Han Chinese man surnamed Run, 45, as he watched the troops roll by in trucks. "But they should have got here sooner. It took them three days to do this. Why so long?" Thousands of security forces have set up a demarcation line along the Renmin road, in a bid to divide ethnic Uighur neighbourhoods from those populated by the Han Chinese.

However, the city remains seething with tension.

Hundreds of Uighurs, the ethnic Muslims whose protest march against discrimination spiralled out of control on Sunday, gathered along one side of the police line, armed with sticks and rocks. Earlier, a smaller group of Uighurs traded insults with Han Chinese across the cordon.

The crowd had been incensed by propaganda leaflets, dropped from a helicopter, pinning blame for the race riots on Rebiya Kadeer, the head of the World Uighur Congress who is living in exile in Washington.

They also claimed police had allowed Han Chinese to freely attack Muslim areas overnight, despite a strict curfew on the city. "Last night about 300 Han came through the security over there (pointing to the police cordon) and they attacked people's homes and smashed up a restaurant," said one 20-year-old man named Akbar.

Beijing is so concerned about the delicate situation in Xinjiang that Wen Jiabao, the prime minister, has refrained from making a public statement in Mr Hu's absence. Wang Lequan, the party secretary of Xinjiang, is a member of the politburo and such a senior figure in the Communist Party that only Mr Hu is able to speak out over his head.

Some Uighur leaders have distanced themselves from the violent acts in the city, condemning the rioters as "thugs". Abdurekep, the head of the Xinjiang Islamic Association, said: "These are the actions of thugs. These people do not represent normal Uighurs."

The trigger for the riots is still unclear, but it appears that Urumqi, a normally placid city of two million people, was awash with wild rumours in the run-up to the violence. Groups of protesting Uighurs said yesterday they had heard about mass murders and rapes of Uighur workers in the southern province of Guangdong.

Chinese officials laid the blame squarely on Rebiya Kadeer, the head of the World Uighur Congress, who lives in exile in Washington DC. A Foreign ministry spokesman said the 62-year-old Ms Kadeer had "committed crimes that jeopardize national security." He added that evidence had been found against her, but refused to give details.

Ms Kadeer, who lives in exile in Washington, denied the accusations.

In an editorial in the Wall Street Journal she claimed that 400 Uighurs had been killed in Urumqi and a further 100 in Kashgar, the second-largest Uighur city. "Years of Chinese repression [...] topped by a confirmation that Chinese officials have no interest in observing the rule of law [...] is the cause of the current Uighur discontent," she wrote. "Troops have entered Kashgar and sources in the city say that two Chinese soldiers have been posted to each Uighur house."

However there has been scant evidence to support Ms Kadeer's claims. A series of graphic photographs of the victims of the riots appear to show an overwhelming number of Han Chinese corpses, while reporters, who have been allowed to circulate freely in Urumqi by the Chinese government, have not heard similar claims from the local Uighur population.

The United Nations has described the events in Urumqi as a "major tragedy" and urged both Uighurs and Han Chinese "to exercise great restraint so as not to spark further violence and loss of life." Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said: "This is an extraordinarily high number of people to be killed and injured in less than a day of rioting."

(Telegraph)  Thousands of Chinese troops pour into Urumqi to end unrest.  July 8, 2009.

The troop carriers, interspersed with armoured personnel carriers, water cannons and multiple tear-gas launchers, disgorged their cargoes into the streets around Urumqi's People's Square, fanning rapidly out across the city centre.

Security cordons three-men deep were set up to keep the warring Muslim Uighur minority and the dominant Han Chinese communities at arms' length, the riot police in paramilitary clothing fixing bayonets and brandishing crossbows in a clear signal that revenge attacks from either side would not be tolerated.

After Tuesday's chaotic scenes, where the Chinese authorities appeared to be taken by surprise when a 10,000-strong mob of Han Chinese took to the streets with axes, staves and knives, this was an unequivocal reassertion of the controlling power of state.

As soon as curfew was lifted at 8am, the streets reverberated to the tramp of thousands of marching boots as squads of troops that had previously been kept in reserve were pulsing through the streets in tight-packed formations. They belted out their intimidating barrack-room choruses: "We defend our motherland! Defend our people! Defend our country!"

As the surprise news of president Hu Jintao's return from the G8 was flashed around the world – a face-losing step which analysts said revealed the depth of Chinese concern over events in Xinjiang – it was as if a conscious decision had been taken that the leader's authority would not be undermined.

Helicopters hovered overhead, their bulbous camera pods keeping a watchful eye on the streets below as the scattered leaflets ordering the people to "return to their work units and their communities". Police vans with loudspeakers relayed the same message.

Most appeared to welcome the restoration of order. "We support this. The government has to take action to protect the people," said a middle-aged Han Chinese man as he watched the troops roll by. "But they should have got here sooner. It took them three days to do this. Why so long?" A few younger Han – but only a handful compared with Tuesday – dared to return to the streets in search of targets on which to vent their desire for revenge as it became clear that the majority of Sunday's 156 dead were Han.

But under such an all-enveloping security blanket, the incidents of violence remained contained. At one point two policemen were forced to draw their side-arms and fire shots into the air after a small band of young Han men cornered a Uighur.

He was rescued by police, with two of the Han assailants bundled into a car that was quickly surrounded by an angry Han crowd that demanded to know why the government was not doing more to 'punish the Uighur'.

However Li Zhi, the Party Secretary of Urumqi, who on Wednesday was forced to take to the streets with a loud hailer to urge calm, made a statement promising to execute all those found guilty of using 'cruel violence' in Sunday's killings.

More than 1,400 have been arrested, deepening resentment among the Uighur community which is visibly poorer than the Han and claims it has laboured for too long under the economic and socially discriminatory policies of Beijing.

Uighur leaders have condemned the violence. Abdurekep, the head of the Xinjiang Islamic Association, described it as "the actions of thugs who do not represent normal Uighurs" but the fact that it occurred at all has raised worrying questions about its underlying causes.

Chinese officials have laid the blame for the riots not on entrenched discrimination but on 'outside forces', specifically accusing Rebiya Kadeer, the head of the World Uighur Congress rights-group of actively fomenting Uighur discontent over the internet and phone networks.

Ms Kadeer, 62, has denied the accusations and yesterday used an editorial page article in the Wall Street Journal and a BBC interview to repeat her claims that 400 Uighurs had been killed in Urumqi and a further 100 in Kashgar, the second-largest Uighur city in Xinjiang.

However her claims appear to conflict directly with eyewitness testimonies and other reports gathered by international media on the ground in Urumqi over the last three days.

In the People's Hospital No. 2, visited by The Telegraph yesterday, the overwhelming number of the 360 casualties were Han Chinese who, according to doctors, had injuries consistent with being beaten with rocks, sticks and other blunt instruments.

One Han woman, Zhang Xiangying, 45, described how she left work on Sunday night and was walking home with two colleagues when they were set upon by five or six young Uighur men who called out 'They are Han, beat them!"

Ms Zhang says she pleaded for her life, asking the men not to beat her for the sake of her son, but was smashed on the head with a rock and left for dead. She awoke some time later and found herself drenched in her own blood, her handbag and necklace gone.

The wounds left behind are more than skin-deep; not only for Ms Zhang but also for Beijing's contention that the Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking people who naturally look west to central Europe, not east to Beijing, are content with their lot.

"Before this happened I thought the Uighur and the Han were one family," Ms Zhang observed sadly, "My neighbour was a Uighur, but now I feel this coldness between us. When the men attacked I begged a Uighur woman to open her door to help me, but she refused. I don't think I could find it in my heart to ever help a Uighur again."

(Telegraph)  Chinese vent anger over the internet during Uighur clashes    By Malcolm Moore    July 8, 2009.

In Urumqi - the centre of the ethnic conflict - and in several other cities in Xinjiang province the internet has been cut for two days in order to maintain public order and stop rumours from spreading. But China's most popular internet portals and forums have carried a stream of abuse from Chinese directed at Uighur Muslims, the ethnic minority at the heart of the unrest in the country's far West.

"Destroy the conspiracy, strike hard against these saboteurs, and strike even more fiercely than before," said a commentator named Chang Qing on the Sina.com portal. "The blood debt will be repaid. Han compatriots unite and rise up," said another commentator on Baidu, a search engine.

However, the more extreme posters were forced to play a cat-and-mouse game with internet censors, who busily deleted provocative posts. Other posters appealed for Chinese to understand the complaints of the Uighurs, who believe they have been marginalised economically. "If your family members have no rights, no power, are discriminated against and made fun of, not only will your family collapse, you will already have sown the seeds of hatred," wrote one web user.

There are fears that the spread of false information across the internet helped to fuel the riots in Urumqi, which continued into a third day.

Around 10,000 angry Han Chinese took to the streets armed with clubs and machetes to extract vengeance against the Uighurs, who they blame for inciting China's deadliest race riots for decades.

Li Zhi, the local Communist Party secretary, said: "We cut Internet connection in some areas of Urumqi in order to quench the riot quickly and prevent violence from spreading to other places."

However, the swirl of accusations continued to be spread by word of mouth, mobile phones and television reports.

The authorities said they are investigating the use of several pro-Uighur websites to fan anger in Urumqi. Wild rumours about an incident in Guangdong last month, when two Uighurs were killed by Han Chinese factory workers, appear to be responsible for much of the anger.

One 19-year-old Uighur woman said she had heard that 600 Uighur men had been butchered and 400 women raped. "Our menfolk would never forgive this," she said.

On Twitter, various posters in China argued whether a selective censorship of news in Xinjiang would have a calming effect on the situation, or whether it would breed further distrust of the government.

(Telegraph)  Uighur woman who defied Chinese riot police.  By Peter Foster.  July 8, 2009.


An ethnic Uighur woman, Tursun Gul, stands in front of a Chinese riot police
during a demonstration in Urumqi Photo: AFP

The woman hobbled alone from a crowd of protestors to demand the return of her husband who was arrested following the ethnic riots in western China.

The image of the unknown woman's defiance – which drew comparison with the infamous image of a lone man confronting a tank in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests - was flashed around the world after Chinese police fought to contain tensions between the Uighur and Han communities in the city of Urumqi on Monday.

The Daily Telegraph can now reveal her identity as Tursun Gul, 30, after tracking her down to her dingy two-room house in the Uighur suburb of Sai Ma (Racetrack) district where she lives with her two children, aged three and six.

"I told the policeman, 'I'm not scared, I don't want to live, just give me back my husband and my three brothers who you took away'," she said on Wednesday, recalling the moment that she broke from a line of protesting women and children and hobbled on her crutch towards the massed ranks of police and a white armoured personnel carrier.

Her husband, Maimaiti, a 33-year-old painter and decorator, was among 100 Uighur men who were arrested on Monday during a police sweep of the area that followed the riots on Sunday in which 156 people were killed and more than 800 injured, many of them Han Chinese who were stabbed or beaten.

"At 6pm on Monday night the police came with loud hailers and ordered the all the men out into the courtyard, threatening them that there would be 'consequences' if they didn't obey," she said.

"My husband was at home with me cooking food all of Sunday and thought that if he co-operated he would have nothing to fear.

"But after the men had gathered, the police stripped them all to their underwear and forced them to lie on the street with their hands behind their heads. Then they took them away."

Mrs Gul says she was too angry to be frightened when she disobeyed police orders for the protesting women and children to "sit down", choosing instead to confront senior officers and press her husband's case directly.

She said demanded to know from the officer, a Uighur who gave his name to her as "Bik", when her husband and three brothers who, were also arrested, would be released.

"He asked me to calm down, to go back to the other woman and to return to my home. He said I must trust the Communist Party and the police to handle this matter properly.

"I was satisfied with this answer so I did as he asked. He also gave me a phone number and asked me to call later, but when I did there was no reply."

Mrs Gul's husband is one of more than 1,400 Uighur men arrested by the Chinese police following Sunday's violence.

The authorities have promised to return any found innocent of involvement in the killing to their families, but have promised harsh punishment on those responsible for Sunday's killing and looting spree.

In Mrs Gul's district on Wednesday many women were queuing to register the names and addresses of men taken by the police after being told they could expect the "innocent" to be allowed home in eight days' time.

Mrs Gul, who is too lame to endure the queue to register, is still worried.

"My husband has a heart condition and he did nothing wrong. We just want him to come home soon," she said.

(Malcolm Moore's Telegraph Blog Urumqi riots signal dark days ahead   July 8, 2009

Yesterday, I was able to use Twitter to relay real-time information from Peter Foster in Urumqi about the race riots which have claimed 156 lives.

Today, nothing works. Peter is not able to receive calls or text messages. My Twitter account has been blocked, even while using the virtual private networks (VPN) that help me skip past the Chinese censors. Twitter remains blocked in general in China, but others seem to be able to access it with their VPN. I guess the problem is just with me.

The situation remains tense in Urumqi, and Hu Jintao has had to fly home to deal with the issue. No one else has enough authority to impose himself above Wang Lequan, the powerful party secretary of the region and member of the politburo. Wang’s days appear numbered, however - the events in Urumqi may well compromise his reelection to the standing committee. It will be interesting to see if Hu flies directly to Urumqi.

Turning over the riots in my mind, I concede I was wrong in my last post to suggest that Rebiya Kadeer would rise in stature as a result of the riots.

When I wrote the post, I had limited information and I jumped to the conclusion that the 156 victims of Sunday’s violence were Uighur.

In fact, it appears that the majority of the victims were Han Chinese, brutally killed by gangs of Uighurs roaming through the back streets of Urumqi. There are some horrific pictures circulating of rows of bloodied bodies and cyclists lying in puddles of blood with their heads bashed in.

I apologise for running ahead of the facts, but the idea that Chinese troops had been unable to prevent the Uighurs from murdering Han Chinese honestly never occurred to me.

Now that the sequence of events is clearer, I have a lot of praise for the Chinese security operation in the city. According to Peter Foster, who is on the scene, they managed to prevent escalating situations getting out of hand several times yesterday with calm and judicious policing.

In addition, allowing journalists to circulate and protecting them from the crowd has clearly paid dividends. Rebiya Kadeer’s claims that 400 Uighurs were killed on Sunday were dismissed by my colleagues on the ground, who have neither seen nor heard any evidence to back up her accusation.

I would encourage the authorities to stop censoring the internet now. Allowing information to circulate does not lead to greater instability - this unrest has shown that the wild rumours that develop when news is suppressed can be incredibly explosive.

My feeling is that the Han Chinese, now that they have marched and let off some steam, are unlikely to assemble in large numbers again. An enormous security operation should succeed in preventing any more chaos. But the long-term picture is still troublesome. How will the Uighurs and the Han Chinese resolve their differences?

The Chinese authorities have taken the first step, arresting 13 people in Guangdong in connection with the factory killings which proved the catalyst for the riots. But that’s unlikely to satisfy the Uighur population, which has been fed ugly and wild rumours of mass rapes and butchery.

In addition, China’s refusal to admit that Uighurs have a legitimate complaint - that they are economically disenfranchised and discriminated against - will hinder any reconciliation.

The Chinese believe that Uighurs get an easy ride from police and are allowed to get away with petty crime. They also worry about policies that allow Uighurs to carry knives and threaten hardworking Han Chinese. This needs to change. Uighurs and other ethnic minorities should be subject to the same laws as everyone else in China.

However, the complaints of the Uighurs are far more serious. They are restricted from worshipping freely, from free movement (their passports are often held by the police and visas are difficult to obtain) and they are clearly not benefitting from the economic prosperity of their province.

When I was last in Kashgar, last year, I asked a former colleague who has since departed China, what the fundamental problem between Han Chinese and Uighurs was. “There’s a total lack of respect for Uighurs,” was his reply. It is difficult to imagine that there will be a change, and the hatred on both sides will run deep in Urumqi long after security is re-imposed.

China may even be succeeding in turning the Muslim Uighurs, who have traditionally been enamoured with Western values and culture, towards the anger and disenfranchisement felt by the fundamentalists just over the border in Pakistan and Afghanistan. These riots have been a watershed moment for Han and Uighur relations, and I fear that more trouble lies ahead.

(Earth Times)  Leader of Uighur exiles puts Xinjiang toll near 800    July 8, 2009.

The leader of Uighur exiles from China said Wednesday that based on eyewitness reports by phone, the Uighur death toll in clashes in Xinjiang was up to 800. Dolkun Isa, general secretary of the World Uighur Congress (WUC), said many had been lynched by Han Chinese mobs. He added an exact toll was difficult to confirm, but telephone accounts of fatal clashes indicated "between 600 and 800" Uighurs were killed. "We can say for certain it was several hundred," Isa said.

The Chinese government said clashes Sunday and Monday in Urumqi between Uighur protestors and riot police as well as attacks on civilians, left at least 156 people dead and 1,080 injured.

Isa said four women students had been killed and their heads cut off when a mob invaded Urumqi University's medical school, while 150 had been killed at the city tractor factory. "We have been hearing that bodies are lying in the streets in Urumqi," said another WUC official, vice president Asgar Can. The WUC's German office is in Munich.

Can appealed to Berlin to let into Germany 13 Uighur men still detained at the US detention camp at Guantanamo Bay. He said they could live in Munich, which has Europe's biggest Uighur community, and would integrate well.

(Associated Press)  China vow executions for rioters behind killings    July 8, 2009.

The Communist Party boss of Urumqi says the government will seek the death penalty for anyone found to be behind the deaths of 156 people killed in riots in the capital of Xinjiang.

Li Zhi told a news conference Wednesday that Urumqi was stable after several days of ethnic violence. He said security forces had control of the streets.

He said many people accused of murder had already been detained and that most of them were students.

The violence has already caused President Hu Jintao to cut short a visit to take part in the Group of Eight summit in Italy to return to take charge of the situation.

URUMQI, China (AP) — China flooded the capital of western Xinjiang province with security forces Wednesday, and President Hu Jintao cut short a visit to the G8 summit as Beijing tries to stem a tide of ethnic clashes in the wake of a riot that left 156 dead.

Helicopters dropped leaflets appealing for calm among Urumqi's 2.3 million residents, although the official Xinhua News Agency said there were "sporadic standoffs" between protesters and security forces, and some minor clashes. It did not give details.

Hu arrived home Wednesday "due to the situation" in Xinjiang, Xinhua said. It did not say what action he would take.

In some areas of the city, residents formed alleyway barricades with furniture and debris to stop a repeat of the fighting between minority Uighurs (pronounced WEE-gers) and Han Chinese — the country's majority ethnic group.

"The government told us today not to get involved in any kind of violence. They've been broadcasting this on the radio, and they even drove through neighborhoods with speakers telling people not to carry weapons," said one Han Chinese man who would give only his surname, Wang.

Hundreds of paramilitary police guarded the main roads to Uighur neighborhoods and the central square in Urumqi (pronounced uh-ROOM-chee), where the first riots began. Most were armed with shields and clubs, while a few had assault rifles fixed with bayonets.

It was not known if any new arrests were made. The government has already said more than 1,000 had been detained.

The notes dropped by helicopter carried an appeal for calm from Xinjiang's Communist Party secretary. "Secretary Wang urges everybody to return home, return to their work units and return to their communities," read the title in bold Chinese characters.

Crowds reacted warily. "We don't believe this. They need to tell the Han to retreat. We're going to stay here to protect our homes," said a Uighur businessman, who would give only part of his name, Mamet.

Shortly afterward, policemen — some Han, some Uighur and armed with handguns and automatic rifles — came through the neighborhood to enforce calm.

"We are just protecting our homes. We are not planning a counterattack," said one of a group of 10 Uighur men guarding the entrance to a side street. After talking with the police, the men turned and walked inside nearby shops and buildings.

Uighurs say the riots that started Sunday — put down by volleys of tear gas and a massive show of force — were triggered by the June 25 deaths of Uighur factory workers during a brawl in the southern Chinese city of Shaoguan. State-run media have said two workers died, but many Uighurs believe more were killed and said the incident was an example of how little the government cared about them.

Many of the Turkic-speaking group believe the Han Chinese, who have flooded into the rugged, rapidly developing western region in recent years, are trying to crowd them out. The Han Chinese say the Uighurs are backward and ungrateful for all the economic development and modernization.

They also say the Uighurs' religion — a moderate form of Sunni Islam — keeps them from blending into Chinese society, which is officially communist and largely secular.

The authorities have been trying to control the unrest by blocking the Internet, including social networking sites such as Facebook, and limiting access to texting services on cell phones. At the same time, police have generally been allowing foreign media to cover the tensions.

On Wednesday, workers in Internet cafes in two other Xinjiang cities, Turpan and Kashgar, said Internet connections had been cut.

"The police came to us and told us to shut down our Internet cafe for the next three days, but who knows how long this will last," said the manger of the Huo Zhou Internet cafe in Turpan. He would give only his surname, Pei.

An operator with China Mobile's service center in Xinjiang, who refused to give her name, said all the services for cell phones, except making and receiving calls, had been suspended, including sending and receiving text messages — one of the major ways Twitter messages are distributed.

She said many calls were not going through because the system was overloaded.

(The Guardian)  Officials threaten death penalty against aggressors.  July 8, 2009.

Thousands of paramilitary troops flooded the streets of Urumqi today as officals warned they would seek the death penalty for those behind the wave of violence that has claimed more than 150 lives.

Li Zhi, the local Communist party leader, said many of those responsible for the violence had been arrested, including students. "To those who committed crimes with cruel means, we will execute them," he warned, adding that government forces would crack down on any security risk.

The move came as China's president, Hu Jintao, left the G8 summit because of the situation in the troubled Xinjiang province. A foreign ministry statement said that "given the current situation in Xinjiang" Hu had cut short his trip to Italy.

The streets were generally calmer today, but the security forces were forced to step in when a group of several hundred Han began beating up a Uighur man.

Helicopters could be seen circling overhead and water-cannon trucks were deployed across the city. Some of the security forces were armed with crossbows. A loudspeaker truck touring the streets blared the message: "We protect the people's interest. Unity is strength."

Yesterday rioting tore through several parts of the city, and police used volleys of teargas to fight back hundreds of club-wielding men seeking revenge on Uighurs after the government reported that many victims in the original violence were Han Chinese.

There were no weapons visible today, but residents showed reporters mobile phone and video camera footage of the earlier chaos. They reported neighbour-against-neighbour violence and pointed out bloodstains.

"The government told us today not to get involved in any kind of violence. They've been broadcasting this on the radio and they even drove through neighbourhoods with speakers telling people not to carry weapons," said one Han Chinese man, who would give only his surname, Wang.

At least 20,000 security forces are stationed through the city, according to the authorities, and last night's curfew appeared to have dampened much of the immediate tension, along with the presence of so many personnel.

Passers-by applauded as the security forces circled the centre of Xinjiang's capital with armed officers at the front and rear. Some Uighurs could be seen in the heart of the city around People's Square. A few Han Chinese were carrying sticks and other implements.

One young man caring a wooden stick with a nail in it said: "Of course I am carrying a stick, I don't feel safe. I am just going to work. It is only to protect me."

Cai Jixing, a shop owner, said: "Here it is safe, but up to the street it is not so safe. It is better now. There are too many people who died. Our store could not open for three days so we had lost thousands of yuan of income. It is difficult to say what would happen next."

Hundreds of officers with bayonets guarded the parameters of the Uighur parts of town. About 30 paramilitary police trucks were parked down a road at the entrance to the Uighur area. Most of the security forces were armed with shields and clubs, while a few had assault rifles with bayonets.

One Han Chinese man took off his belt when he saw a Uighur couple on the street and yelled: "I want to beat you to death." The couple avoided the confrontation by crossing the street.

Uighurs have said the rioting was triggered by the 25 June deaths of Uighur factory workers in a brawl in the southern Chinese city of Shaoguan. State-run media have said two workers died, but many Uighurs believe more were killed and said the incident was an example of how little the government cared about them.

The authorities have been trying to control the unrest by blocking access to the internet, including social networking sites such as Facebook, and limiting access to texting services on mobile phones. At the same time, police have generally allowed foreign media to cover the tensions. The Chinese media have covered the violence but have not made it a priority.

(AFP)  China's Urumqi divided along tense ethnic lines   July 8, 2009.

The flashpoint city of Urumqi has become China's Baghdad, a fearful resident said, as thousands of troops draw a line in the sand to prevent new ethnic unrest between the Han and Uighur people.

A demarcation line was set up along Renmin Road, the east-west artery through the city where troops carrying semi-automatic machine guns and heavy batons cut the city in half to separate the two communities.

Thousands of Han Chinese, armed with clubs, metal pipes and blunt weapons, had crossed the road the day before seeking revenge against Muslim Uighurs after riots Sunday.

Residents welcomed the security but many, especially Uighurs, expressed fears for the future.

"I'm afraid there will be more violence," said a Uighur man named Ali, who was allowed through security along with many other Uighurs to head home after spending a tense night at his workplace on the north side of the boundary.

"There was too much hatred around now. The future looks bad."

He also expressed fear about going home because of reports circulating among Uighurs that Chinese police were breaking into Uighur homes to arrest suspected rioters from Sunday.

The Han are China's dominant ethnic group, making up 91.5 percent of the nation's 1.3 billion people, according to the latest government figures.

But in Xinjiang, a vast region of deserts and mountains bordering Central Asia, eight million Turkic-speaking Uighurs make up nearly half the population.

Uighurs have consistently complained about discrimination and repression under communist Chinese rule over the past 60 years, accusations the government denies.

Many Han people also felt the dividing line between the two sides in Urumqi would likely last a long time, in a figurative if not physical sense.

"This will be very difficult to resolve. There is a lot of bad blood now because of the Uighurs," said Chen Xiping, 32.

"We needed this security because Urumqi has become our Baghdad."

But other Han were more optimistic.

"We will return to normal soon. I'm confident," said a Han man named Run as he watched army trucks rumbling along Renmin Road.

"This week we have seen the worst violence in Urumqi in 60 years. That shows that we basically have stability between the people."

However, illustrating the ethnic division, he rejected Uighur accusations of political, religious and cultural oppression by China.

"No, no, no, that's nonsense," he said.

"There is religious freedom and cultural freedom in China. They have as much freedom as we do."

But a Uighur eye doctor named Halisha said that type of attitude was one of the reasons behind the recent unrest.

"The Uighur people are always kept down by Chinese. So there will continue to be anger," said Halisha, who spent Tuesday night in his clinic in the Uighur district because he could not return to his home north of the security line.

(Xinhua)  Teacher's saga in riots: ethnic unity prevails    July 8, 2009.

Sporting a dark blue long-sleeved shirt, Zhao Mindong was reluctant to show his arms wounded at the deadly violence that erupted in Urumqi, capital of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on Sunday.

"I'm OK," Zhao said in a mild voice, sitting at the meeting room on the fourth floor of the Snow Lotus Hotel in Urumqi, "they are just minor injuries."

Zhao, a 33-year-old maths teacher, traveled two days across more than 3,600 kilometers by train and arrived in Urumqi from Shanghai on July 2 to escort 320 Uygur students studying in Nanhui High School in east China's Shanghai City.

Zhao said he could hardly believe he would run into such violence, which ripped through the city Sunday night, during his first visit to the region.

"I sat with my students from Xinjiang on the train, talking day and night about the picturesque scenes and local customs," Zhao said, "I had thought to go to Altay, sightseeing with my wife, who flew to Urumqi to join me on July 4."

All the 78 students Zhao taught in two classes at Nanhui High School are of Uygur ethnic groups from across Xinjiang.

When Zhao and his wife left for the Great Bazaar, downtown areas mainly inhabited by ethnic minority groups in southern Urumqi, on Sunday night, they did not know that deadly violence was brewing.

"My wife and I took a taxi for the Great Bazaar, planning to buy some local specialties like raisins before leaving for Altay the next day," Zhao recollected, "our taxi driver was 30-something and of Uygur ethnicity, and we talked in a friendly way."

The taxi drove to Tuanjie Road at around 8:00 p.m. Sunday, but was unable to go further.

"My taxi driver knew something was happening ahead and he asked us to roll up the window," Zhao said, "Then about seven to eight rioters wielding wooden rods and rocks besieged our taxi. Our driver got out and tried to stop them, but failed."

The rioters pulled Zhao and his wife out of the taxi and beat them with wooden rods studded with pitons. Zhao's glasses were broken, his shirt was torn apart and his watch was stolen.

"A 40-something ordinary woman of Uygur ethnicity by the side came up and tried to stop the mob. She helped us up to the roadside and told us to 'run for it' in Mandarin Chinese," Zhao paused, then continued, "Another cluster of rioters ran at us again. Other Uygur compatriots at the roadside patted us on our shoulders and hinted quietly the direction of a safe lane for us to hide."

Zhao hid in the downstairs of a community building, which was home to Uygur ethnic groups and asked for help but he could not understand the Uygur dialect spoken by people around him.

With his mobile phone, Zhao called Ilharti Imin, one of his Uygur students in Aksu City, for help. Zhao and Imin last saw each other only three days before as the students went back home from Shanghai for summer holidays.

"Through the translation by Imin, a Uygur couple in their 20s opened the door and led my wife and I, along with two other frightened women of Han ethnicity, into their home on the sixth floor until the condition turned safe," Zhao recalled, "though I didn't understand the language they spoke and I was a stranger here, it will be easy for me to find the building and the doorplate."

Zhao and his wife were later saved by police and escorted to Urumqi City Hospital of Chinese Traditional Medicine for treatment.

The couple suffered only minor injuries like bruises to the head and cuts to their arms.

"It is the first time that I have encountered such violence in my life," Zhao said, "but I am lucky enough to have help from far more good people other than rioters."

The deadly violence Zhao encountered on Sunday night has so far left at least 156 people dead and 1,103 others injured.

"I just want to say thanks to the taxi driver, the Uygur woman, the Uygur couple, the doctors, nurses and dozens more who helped me go through the violence though I did not know their names," he said.

After the deadly violence that shocked the country and the world, Zhao was greeted by calls from his Uygur students, who had returned to their homes before the riots happened.

"I reassured my students that I am OK," Zhao said, "We met far more good guys than rioters and the help to us offered by Uygur ethnics was much greater than the harm rioters brought to us."

Zhao and his wife planned to fly back to Shanghai on Friday but his promises to his Uygur students remained.

"I have promised my students to accompany them back home for every summer holiday until they graduate from high school," Zhao said, "I also plan to visit Kanas next year."

Zhao's face turned soft when talking about his Uygur students.

"They are all good children and good students. Many of them are from needy families but they all have ambitions to bring their hometown out of poverty," Zhao said. "I often told them that only by studying hard can them realize their dreams to bring prosperity for their families and their hometown."

Zhao said in their school, many teachers and the headmaster frequently help the Uygur students, economically and mentally, buying necessities and opening a Muslim canteen for the Uygur students.

"Our help to and care of each other are from the deepest corner of our hearts," he said, "We are all of one big family."

Zhao said when his students go back to school after the summer holidays he would help them understand the responsibility they are shouldering.

"I will tell them that education is very important, not only for themselves, but for their families and our country," he said.

Oriental Daily is Hong Kong's largest daily newspaper and it's front cover on July 8, 2009 is this:


The Han people get weapons for huge counter-attack

The photo used is this one:

(ABC News)  Angry Chinese Mob Turns On ABC Reporters & Crew    July 8, 2009.

Urumqi, the troubled capital of China’s north-western Xianjiang province, is under lock-down today. It has been the scene of serious civil unrest since the weekend with the ethnic minority Uighurs pitting themselves against the Han Chinese in a series of violent street battles. The local Muslim Uighur population have long complained of discrimination by the Han Chinese who have been steadily moving into the region since the 1940s. The Uighurs say the Han, immigrants from other parts of China and the largest ethnic group in the country, are attacking their identity, religious beliefs and also taking all the best jobs and opportunities away from them. In short, treating them like second class citizens in their own home

.This region is of particular interest to China’s central government as it is rich in resources in particular natural gas. The tense situation there has caused such concern that President Hu Jintao has left the G8 summit in Italy early. Like last year’s protests in Tibet any uprising that could unravel the patchwork that holds China’s various ethnic communities together is treated with utmost severity – Urumqi’s Communist Party boss today threatened the riots’ ringleaders with execution. So far over a hundred and fifty people have died and the Chinese government yesterday ordered the town to be placed under curfew. Today the streets are swarming with troops and police.

ABC News’ producer Beth Loyd is there and described the scene:

Tens of thousands of troops and police have swarmed the streets of downtown Urumqi and made a perimeter around the mostly Uighur neighborhood to prevent the Uighurs from getting out and the Han Chinese from getting it.  But that has not quelled the violence.  We were driving to the Uighur area and encountered an angry mob.  Thirty Han Chinese men were beating a Uighur man, kicking him and punching him and hitting him with sticks.  He was not fighting back but just trying to get away.  Hundreds of Han Chinese were cheering the men on.  Eventually, the police dragged the Uighur away and put him in a vehicle for his protection.  Then, the mob turned on us.  They blocked our cameras, not wanting the images of Han Chinese beating a Uighur to get out.  I was pushed.  Then the group surrounded us and started yelling.  They pushed us back up a highway ramp where we were shooting.  They yelled that western journalists were biased against the Han Chinese and that we should delete our footage.  One man tried to grab our camera and then pulled out a baton and held it over his head as if he were going to hit us.  We turned around and ran.  The oddest part of the whole experience was that there were swarms of police and troops around and none of them were really trying to break up the fight. 

We finally made it inside the Uighur area and spoke to several people there who were afraid to have their faces shown on television, out of fear or reprisals by the authorities.  The police stopped us several times and eventually forced us to leave the Uighur area.   

The Communist Party Chief of Urumqi today said the situation is calm and under control.  The scenes we saw today don’t support that conclusion. 

(CNN)  Reporter's notebook: Boiling emotions in China    By Jaime FlorCruz.   July 8, 2009.

Han Chinese protesters were out in the streets, not far from our hotel near the People's Square, on Tuesday. A lot of the Han Chinese own shops in the area and there are some hospitals in the vicinity.

When we saw the protesters marching in the streets, we simply followed them. It was, in a way, a little dicey, because obviously there was raw emotion among them. There is also raw emotion on the part of the Uyghurs. So, we had to keep in mind safety and security. In fact, while we were shooting pictures for our report, some of the protesters turned to us and told us, "stop shooting, stop shooting."

We saw hundreds of Han Chinese holding sticks and pipes basically calling for severe punishment of the Uyghurs, who they say committed serious crimes during Sunday's deadly rioting.

The Han Chinese protesters also say they are out to defend themselves if they have to. I saw policemen and local officials trying to talk to them and convince the crowd to disperse. We haven't heard about any serious confrontations between the Han Chinese protesters and Uyghurs, but we heard that the police dispersed protesters in some places using tear gas.

When we got close to the Uyghur-populated area, we were stopped by the police and told to get in their jeeps. They said it was for our own safety. They probably were right. We may have been pushing our luck and could have gotten caught in potential confrontations and clashes.

Before that, we stopped and talked with a doctor in front of a small traditional Chinese hospital close to the People's Square. The doctor said the Han Chinese are trying to defend themselves. He was very angry about the violence reported on Sunday.

He said that they are fed up with what they saw, they felt that it was unspeakable that young people, old people and women were beaten up, helpless people who just happened to be in the wrong place. So there is this very visceral anger among many Han Chinese.

During the march on Tuesday, there were different groups, kind of in waves, marching through the streets. A few times they converged. I would say it was pretty spontaneous. Pent up emotions, boiling over.

Ethnic tensions run deep in this region, with minority groups such as the Uyghur Muslims complaining they are subjected to discrimination by the majority Han, despite government guarantees of equal rights. The Uyghurs say they've been victimized and that many of those killed in the recent violence were Uyghurs.

Local officials on Tuesday organized a press conference and they called in three ethnic Uyghur religious leaders who condemned Sunday's violence. The vice chairman of the Muslim Association said what happened on Sunday was against the spirit of the Quran, the holy book of Islam, and of Uyghur tradition and religion.

Right now (Wednesday morning), we are driving around Urumqi in a taxi and we see fairly light traffic. On our way we have seen anti-riot police taking positions in major intersections. This is a build-up from yesterday -- the arrival of reinforcements of People's Armed Police. I talked with a local official Wednesday morning. She told me that it is very important that they show they are in charge and that they are taking measures to ensure the safety of residents.

The local official told me this morning that, in a way, the protests on the part of the Han Chinese were probably unavoidable because people were looking to blow off steam, especially since the Internet has been down.

The Internet, in other circumstances, has played a role in allowing people to release pent-up anger. But without the Internet, many of the Chinese, especially the young, have bottled-up rage stoked by the images of violence they've seen in the Chinese media. The local authorities are urging residents to show restraint.

Wednesday morning, I saw a few people holding sticks but there were no signs of organized protests. I didn't see the kind of violence or antagonism I saw on Tuesday, but I think it is still a very fluid situation.

(MSNBC.com)  Chinese Open Up - Slightly - Over Uighur Riots.  By Ian Williams.  July 8, 2009.

Thousands of riot police have descended upon the Western city of Urumqi as Chinese authorities try to control the ethnic tensions that sparked riots on Sunday and left at least 156 dead. Fears of further violent clashes between the local Uighur population and Han Chinese in the oil-rich Xinjiang province forced Chinese President Hu Jintao to cut short his visit to the Group of Eight summit so he could address the situation.

NBC News’ Ian Williams arrived in the city on Wednesday and reports on the mood in the city and government efforts to control the local Uighur population, as well as the media.

What’s the mood like in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang province? Well the city is very, very tense. There aren’t many people on the streets, there is very little traffic.

The city has been flooded with riot police and members of the security forces. They have blocked most of the junctions downtown. There are police and security forces everywhere. They have really locked the place down.

All the shops are closed. One or two are open, but most of the shops are shuttered. There are people just lingering on the corners, watching the riot police. But it does seem that the authorities have the center of town under control at the moment.

It’s very, very tense and you can feel it. There is a sense that without the massive police presence, violence could flare up again at any time.

There have been reports of mob violence – on both the Han side and the Uighur side. Have you seen any of that? We arrived in town around midday today, but the situation seems calmer, compared to the reports we were hearing from earlier in the week. There were some rumors that there had been some smaller clashes this morning – but we didn’t see any evidence of that.

There just aren’t many people on the streets. I think it’s because they have made the security force deployment so huge. Any large group of people who gather are quickly broken up or dispersed by the riot police. The presence of security forces is particularly heavy in the town center and on the streets that lead up to the main Uighur neighborhoods.

Just walking the streets earlier this evening, there were truckloads of riot police circling the main square. They were chanting as they went, saying things like, "We should be united."

There were also police cars driving by with loud speakers saying that the violence was only done by a minority and that, "we are all one people, people mustn’t be scared, and go home."

So there is a big effort to get people to calm down and stay off the streets.

Now and again, we’ve had people come over and start talking to us. At one point we started talking to a young Uighur man and an angry Han Chinese man came over and interrupted us. He said, "Don’t talk to him – he’s a liar." So the Uighur man quickly disappeared. So there is a lot of tension not far from the surface.

What about the availability of information and communication lines like the Internet and cell phones? It has been impossible for us to make international calls from here. We can receive calls, but we can’t make them. The local mobile phone circuit seems to be OK, but just for local calls. There is no text messaging and no Internet.

What about Chinese media coverage? And how are the Chinese authorities controlling the media? There are a lot of Chinese journalists here. I think that by local standards, the coverage has been quite open.

I think the Chinese authorities seemed to have learned from the mistakes of Tibet – when they locked things down and wouldn’t let anybody in. The Chinese approach to the media seems to be a little bit more sophisticated this time. They’ve decided that they can’t just ram the door shut and block information.

They are allowing people in, but once there they are here, they are trying to manage their movements more effectively by imposing pretty strict controls on the Internet, mobile phones, and the routes through which information would normally get out.

There is a press center that has been set up and it has what seems to be the only working Internet link in the city. It’s a crowded place and the connection is very slow. So that is one way of controlling the journalists who are here.

But it’s still not very clear what happened on Sunday when the initial riots occurred.

We went on a government sponsored trip to a hospital today. By far, the vast majority of the people we saw – some of them with horrendous injuries – were Han Chinese.

But the government officials leading the tour wouldn’t tell us what proportion of the injured were Han Chinese or what proportion were Uighur. Nor would they give the precise breakdown of what proportion of the injuries were gunshot wounds, which would suggest they were shot by security forces, and what proportion were head wounds. All they would say is that most of the injuries were from beatings.

We were not shown any Uighurs at the hospital. There were a couple of Uighurs in the hospital ward, one of whom said he thought he’d been mistaken for a policeman and he thought it was Uighurs who actually attacked him. But we weren’t able to talk to any ordinary Uighurs, I think they were kept in a separate part of the hospital.

And it is quite difficult to get into the Uighur neighborhoods because they are the ones that are most heavily sealed off by the riot police.

So it’s difficult to ascertain precisely the mechanics of what happened on Sunday. All we can conclude is that there was a real frenzy of ethnic violence. What is still not very clear are the claims from exiled Uighurs: That most of the deaths were caused by the police opening up on unarmed demonstrators.

There may have been people killed that way, but there were also a lot of Han Chinese who were injured. Of course, that’s what the Chinese media is concentrating on.

But it is very difficult to get a proper feel as to what the breakdown is between Han Chinese and Uighur. And it could well be that the Chinese doesn’t want to give out too many details for fear that it could further inflame passions.

(Forbes)  What The Riots In China Really Mean.  By Gordon R. Chang.  July 8, 2009.

This week, rioting left scores dead in Urumqi, the capital of China's troubled Xinjiang region. The latest official death toll is 156, but that number undoubtedly understates the count of those killed. The disturbances are accurately portrayed as ethnic conflict--Turkic Uighurs against the dominant Hans--but they also say much about the general stability of the modern Chinese state.

That state says the Uighurs are "Chinese," but that's not true in any meaningful sense of the term. The Uighurs are, in fact, from different racial stock than the Han; they speak a different language, and they practice a religion few others in China follow. Of the 55 officially recognized minority groups in China, they stand out the most.

The Uighurs are a conquered people. In the 1940s, they had their own state, the East Turkestan Republic, for about half a decade. Mao Zedong, however, forcibly incorporated the short-lived nation into the People's Republic by sending the People's Liberation Army into Xinjiang.

As much as the Uighurs deserve to govern themselves again--and they most certainly do--almost no one thinks they will be able to resurrect the East Turkestan state. They have even lost their own homeland, as Beijing's policies encouraged the Han to populate Xinjiang. In the 1940s, Hans constituted about 5% of Xinjiang's population. Today, that number has increased to about 40%. In the capital of Urumqi, more than 70% of the residents are Hans. In short, the Uighurs are no match for the seemingly invincible Han-dominated state.

Yet the riots of the last few days show just how vulnerable that Chinese state is, even in the face of apparently weak opponents. For one thing, according to one report, the disturbances came completely out of the blue for many. "There were no warning signs about the riots," said Tang Yan, a 21-year-old drug store employee who fled rampaging Uighurs in Urumqi. "No one expected it." What started as a silent, peaceful demonstration--over the failure of authorities to investigate the murders of Uighur factory workers in faraway Guangdong province--somehow turned into savagery in the streets of Urumqi's capital.

The chronology of events on Sunday is unclear, but it appears the gathering became a riot when police began to beat the protesters, even girls. There are, at this moment, so many grievances against the central government and the Communist Party that almost anything can spark an insurrection. And that's especially true when security forces overreact, as they appeared to do on Sunday.

Moreover, the disturbances, once they started, spread out from the capital city of Urumqi to remote Kashgar and possibly to Yarkand, Aksu, Khotan and Karamay as well. Beijing blocked the Internet and social networking sites after the demonstration turned violent. But in a modern society, even a centralized government cannot control every phone line and Web connection.

More important, the protests spread so fast because Uighurs throughout Xinjiang shared the same feelings about the Han authorities. Therefore, it's not surprising Uighurs reacted the same way when hearing of the events in Urumqi. When people realize that they're not alone, social order can break down. Citizens then feel the safety of numbers and so both lose fear and gain hope, especially if they are as desperate as the Uighurs have been for some time.

Consequently, people in oppressive societies can act in unison because, at some moments, enough of them think the same way. For the Uighurs, brutal oppression is the force binding one to the other. For others in China, the process of coming together is more subtle. "Ideas sometimes seep into people's minds almost imperceptibly and, over time, become embedded in a population's collective psyche," writes Jean Nicol, a psychologist and former South China Morning Post columnist.

As a result, people are more united--and stronger--than they appear. "I recall that my friends and I for decades were asked by people visiting from democratic Western countries, 'How can you, a mere handful of powerless individuals, change the regime, when the regime has at hand all the tools of power: the army, the police and the media, when it can convene gigantic rallies to reflect its people's 'support' to the world, when pictures of the leaders are everywhere and any effort to resist seems hopeless and quixotic?'" wrote Vaclav Havel, who knows something about how people under communist governments think. "My answer was that it was impossible to see the inside clearly, to witness the true spirit of the society and its potential--impossible because everything was forged. In such circumstances, no one can perceive the internal, underground movements and processes that are occurring."

The Chinese regime can fail because, as we are seeing in Xinjiang, the Party is losing hearts and minds, and, as Havel suggests, a ruling organization is vulnerable when that happens. In most other parts of China, ethnic tensions are not a factor, but the Communist Party has other problems. Almost nobody believes in its ideology, and everyone can see its failings as a ruling organization. Outside of minority-inhabited areas, few actively oppose it, but few anywhere enthusiastically support it. The Party stays in place largely due to apathy, fear and a failure to imagine that China can be better.

So this is a dangerous time for the one-party state. For three decades, its primary basis of legitimacy has been the continual delivery of prosperity. In the current economic downturn, however, it has been arguing that it deserves to remain in power for other reasons. As the Party tries to change the basis of its support, it puts its future at risk.

There are tens of thousands of protests in China each year, and most of them have nothing to do with clashes between ethnicities. Mishandled like the one in Urumqi, however, almost any one of them can spread fast, from city to city and across vast regions. That's the most important lesson to be learned from the events in Xinjiang this week.

(CRI English)  Revenge Is No Justice: Editorial   July 9, 2009.

If a wrong is avenged with another wrong, there would be no end to it.

We fully understand the indignation of the innocent citizens of Urumqi, especially those whose beloved ones were killed or injured in the riots. Yet revenge is not the way to justice.

Justice must be done. And we believe it will be. But not through violent infighting among innocent citizens of different ethnic backgrounds. Or we will play right into the hands of the masterminds of the Sunday rioting, who want full-blown ethnic tensions between the Uygur and Han citizens. That would only sadden our own folk and gladden the enemies. And the people of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region would never have a day of peace thereafter.

For everybody's well being, and for true justice to be done, we call on all citizens, regardless of ethnic backgrounds, to demonstrate reason and restraint, and consign the task of justice-doing to the justices.

Law enforcement is doing its best to track down criminal suspects in the Sunday rioting. Citizens' own revenge-seeking not only is against the law, but will also distract the judiciary, and add new factors of instability to the already chaotic situation.

At present, like always, order is in the best interest of all citizens, except a very small number of people who want to profit from chaos.

The indiscriminate carnage on Sunday was cursed because it targeted innocent citizens. We are angry because of its disturbing character of ethnic hatred. If the victim communities follow suit and do the same to the harm-doers' communities, we are no better than those we hate and despise.

"Blood for blood" is incompatible with the rule of law, and will only lead to a vicious circle of harm and revenge. That is a zero-sum game where there is no true winner. And that is precisely the instigators' dream scenario - Han against Uygur.

Amid the excited pleas for justice and calls for revenge, everybody should allow him/herself a moment of calm and ask him/herself a simple question: Is it fair to hate all Han/Uygur people?

Of course not. The Han and Uygur residents of Urumqi have lived in harmony for all these decades. The Sunday mobsters represented only a very small fraction of the local Uygur population.

With most suspects under custody, and a few others on the run, we are sure the overwhelming majority of the Uygur citizens in Urumqi are themselves victims of the unrest. It would be a larger tragedy if the innocent Uygurs become targets of revenge.

Violence is not the answer to injustice. There has been too much bloodshed in Urumqi. We cannot afford to see more.

(Huffington Post)  If Only the Uighurs were Buddhist and China was Israel.  By Mona Eltahawy.  July 8, 2009.

Pity the Uighurs - the wrong kind of minority, the wrong kind of Muslims, fighting the wrong kind of enemy.

For years, Uighurs - a Turkic people who are largely Muslim - complained of economic, cultural and religious discrimination under the harsh fist of Beijing. The latter made sure the Uighurs were outnumbered in the western Xinxiang province by Han Chinese migrants.

In the worst ethnic unrest in China in years, Uighurs took to the streets of the provincial capital Urumqi on Sunday, apparently after a protest at government handling of a June clash between Han Chinese and Uighur factory workers in southern China, where two Uighurs died.

At least 156 people died in weekend riots.

The Chinese government quickly blamed exiled separatists and Muslim militant groups, arrested dozens and tried to curb information by stifling the internet. On Tuesday, Han Chinese armed with iron bars and machetes went looking for revenge on Uighurs.

Following the news that did make it out of Xinxiang, I thought if only the Uighurs were Buddhists like the Tibetans with whom the Uighurs share almost mirror grievances against Beijing.

If they were Buddhists, Bjork, Sting, Bono and all those other one-named saviors of the world's poor and oppressed would have held "Free Xinxiang" concerts already. But the West continues to largely ignore the Uighurs. Maybe they're not as cuddly as the Tibetans or their leader the Dalai Lama.

Perhaps the U.S. State Department would issue stronger words in their defense if only the Uighurs weren't the wrong kind of minority in a country that produces half the goods we use and which currently lends the wobbly global economy enough money to keep it just this side of total collapse.

The Uighurs aren't Buddhists but are instead Muslims and us Muslims don't get much love these days. You'd think the U.S. at least would be paying a bit more attention to Uighurs after locking up four of their brethren at the prison camp at Guantanamo without charge for seven years. They were released earlier this year to Bermuda.

If the West seems deaf to Uighur complaints, then where are their fellow Muslims? Surely this is a chance for Muslims across the world to march in protest at the stranglehold the godless Communist Chinese keep over the Uighurs?

Think again.

The Egyptian blogger Wael Abbas put it bluntly on the micro-blogging site Twitter - where thousands follow him - when he asked why no one was paying attention to the Uighur "intifada", the Arabic word for uprising that is usually associated with Palestinians fighting back against Israeli occupation.

That's precisely the problem - the Uighurs are no Palestinians and the Chinese are not Israel. Many Muslims - Arab Muslims especially - pay attention only when the U.S. and Israel are behaving badly. Palestine followed by Iraq always take precedence leaving little room for other Muslim grievances.

Look at Darfur, where the suffering goes ignored because those who are creating the misery are neither Americans nor Israelis but instead fellow Arab Muslim Sudanese.

China is coincidentally one of Sudan's biggest trade partners and sells Khartoum plenty of weapons which Darfuris complain are used against them. So it's unlikely Sudanese President Omar Bashir, who declared himself the guardian of Islam in 2007 by putting on trial a British teacher for insulting Muslims when she named a class teddy bear "Mohammed", will condemn Chinese oppression of Uighurs.

Perhaps Israel can save the day and invade Xinxiang.

Xinxiang and its Muslim inhabitants are almost complete unknowns in the Arab world, much to China's relief, I'm sure. During a visit in 1995 to attend the United Nations conference on women in Beijing, I tried to visit Xinxiang. But not a singly airline office would sell a ticket to a "radical lesbians", as conference attendees were seen. No "restive regions" for us.

Further afield from the Arab world, Shaaz Mahboob, a British Muslim friend of Pakistani descent, wondered on Facebook "Where are the Pakistani emotions which rage whenever there is an issue to do with Muslims anywhere on this planet (thank God there aren't Muslims being persecuted on the Moon or Mars - yet!)?"

He asked Imran Khan, the former Pakistani cricket superstar, and other Pakistanis who have supported militant groups why "they would not even support the militant Uighur groups who have allegedly initiated this chain of violence?

"They remain mysteriously silent over the plight of Chinese fellow Muslim.. Or is it that the "friendship" with China takes precedence over helping fellow Muslims this time?"

As I said - wrong enemy.

The Chinese government quickly boosted security to crush Sunday's Uighur uprising and arrested dozens of men, leaving many women to demonstrate on Tuesday, waving their the identity cards of male relatives they say were arbitrarily detained.

Those women just might be the Uighurs' best hope of getting the world's attention. Or at least one of them and no, I don't mean Rebiya Kadeer, the exiled Uighur businesswoman and activist whom Beijing blames for orchestrating the violence from her home in the U.S.

Reuters' photographer David Gray took a picture of a lone Uighur woman in a headscarf leaning on a crutch and facing off with two Chinese security vehicles behind which stood dozens of security personnel.

It was reminiscent both of the picture of the lone Chinese student facing off with the tanks in Tiananmen Square in 1989 and of the ubiquitous images of Iranian women from that country's recent demonstrations,

So now they have an iconic image, here's hoping the Uighurs start to register on our radar.

(New York Times)  What Should China Do About The Uighurs?  July 8, 2009.

Riots and street protests abated on Wednesday in Xinjiang in the northwest region of China, after government forces lined the streets and arrested the leaders of the unrest. China’s president, Hu Jintao, cut short a stay in Italy for the G-8 meeting to deal with the riots, the worst ethnic violence in China in decades. Officials said they would seek the death sentence against those responsible for fanning the violence between the native Uighur Muslims and the rising population of Han Chinese.

What are the roots of the tensions between the Uighurs and the Han Chinese? As the government cracks down, what dangers does it face as anger continues to simmer on both sides, especially from Uighur separatists?

Pacifying the Uighurs

Chien-peng Chung is associate professor of political science at Lingnan University, in Hong Kong. He is the author of “Domestic Politics: International Bargaining, and China’s Territorial Disputes.”

Although no major incidents were reported on Wednesday, unlike the previous three days, most non-government establishments in Urumqi were closed for the entire day. The streets of Urumqi and other major Xinjiang cities were flooded with truckloads and columns of riot policemen, with soldiers massed along Urumqi’s roadsides and at Xinjiang’s military bases on high alert and ready for immediate deployment. Together with nightly curfews, this is a recommendable strategy to restore and maintain order for the time being.

With racial tension still in the air, the danger is that a pattern of attacks and counterattacks between armed Uighur and Han Chinese may emerge in the days to come, not only in Xinjiang, but also in large Chinese cities elsewhere. This would be difficult and tricky for government security forces to deal with. If the authorities crack down heavily on the protesting Uighurs, it could be seen as further discrimination against them, since most members of the security forces are Han Chinese. But if the authorities are to be equally or more tough on a Han Chinese mob, perception of official favoritism and appeasement toward minorities could incite further Han-on-Uighur violence everywhere.

It is important for the security forces to be perceived as fair and even-handed in preventing destructive acts or apprehending troublemakers. To calm public sentiments further, people who were arrested in connection with the riots over the past few days should either be quickly charged or released.

Despite allegations by the Chinese government that the protest on July 5 and riots were instigated, directed and organized from overseas, chiefly by the World Uyghur Congress, the authorities should be mindful that it is perfectly imaginable for Uighurs who had some experience with leadership roles in schools, factories, social groups, trade guilds, mosques, the Communist Youth League and even local Communist Party organizations to take the lead in mobilizing marches before allowing the crowds’ emotion to take over.

The arrests of several people on Tuesday in connection with the brawl between Uighurs and Han Chinese workers at the toy factory in Shaoguan, Guangdong, on June 25, 2009, which led to the deaths of two Uighurs and was believed to have sparked off the July 5 riots, was a good start
to pacify Uighur sentiments.

However, other grievances broadly held by Uighurs should be addressed. The perception that economic development in Xinjiang aids Han Chinese at the expense of Uighurs cannot be allowed to continue. The government must look into effectively enforcing existing, and devising more, affirmative action policies to ensure that Uighurs do not feel marginalized. Muslim religious activities in Xinjiang could still be closely monitored for separatist or violent tendencies, but left to operate with minimum overt interference by the authorities.

Communist Party cadres should demonstrate respect for Muslim and other religious customs whenever possible in public. Travel restrictions to overseas destinations for Uighurs should be no different from those for other Chinese nationals.

Governments of countries around China and Xinjiang such as Russia, those of Central Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India have their own problems with ethnic minorities, separatism and violence, so are very unlikely to support any separatist aspirations by Uighur or other ethnic minorities in China, and have in fact been enlisted as active partners in the fight against ethnic separatism, violence and religious fundamentalism. China’s foreign missions in many European countries were pelted with rocks by Uighur demonstrators yesterday, but the governments of these countries will not allow the situation to continue.

Terrorists Fan the Flames

Rohan Gunaratna is a professor and head of the International Center for Political Violence and Terrorism Research at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. His books include “Inside Al Qaeda: Global Network of Terror.”

Despite efforts by Beijing to restore piece, the simmering tension and sporadic violence between Muslim Uighurs and Han Chinese in Urumqi, the worst in China since 1949, is likely to remain a continuing source of instability and to spread beyond Xinjiang province.

The Chinese hard-line approach towards Uighur separatists fails to differentiate among terrorists, supporters and sympathizers. Instead of investing in community engagement initiatives, the Chinese government has detained several thousands of protesters.

The propaganda by the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), an Uighur separatist group associated with Al Qaeda, is driving the hatred and fueling the violence. The ETIM leadership, located in Waziristan on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, was responsible for a series of bombing both in Xinjiang and elsewhere in China in the lead-up to the Beijing Olympics.

Having received training, weapons, finance and ideology from Al Qaeda, ETIM members today fight both in tribal Pakistan and in Afghanistan. Al Qaeda-trained ETIM suicide bombers present a growing threat both to coalition forces in Afghanistan and to China. Al Qaeda ideologues have argued that after the defeat of the existing superpower, the U.S. forces, the next enemy of the Muslims will be the multiheaded dragon, a reference to China, the emerging superpower.

In addition to ETIM, a dozen Uighur separatist groups in the U.S., Canada and Europe are radicalizing the Uighur communities in China. Some of these groups have pushed for the release of the Uighur detainees held in Guantanamo Bay.

Seeing China as a Colonizer

Stevan Harrell, an anthropologist at the University of Washington, has collaborated with minority scholars from China for more than 20 years. He is author of “Ways of Being Ethnic in Southwest China.”

The 130 million members of China’s 55 officially designated minority groups have all the civil rights of full citizenship, and are even beneficiaries of affirmative action and less stringent birth planning regulations. They are also poorer, less educated, and less represented in Communist Party and government positions than are the majority Han Chinese.

Not all minority groups are the same. Most are citizens of no state but China and have never been independent nations. While all of these groups — which range in size from the Zhuang, with a population of 16 million, and the Hui Muslims, with 10 million, to the Lhoba, with only 3,000 members — have their conflicts with local Han and have at times demonstrated over Chinese state policies and the Han presence in their home areas, they have not developed political separatist movements.

The Tibetans and Uighurs (and perhaps the Mongols) are different. They are “minority nationalities,” peoples with historic and contemporary claims to nationhood. Historically, they have sometimes been ruled by a larger East Asian empire, and have sometimes been independent. Despite being officially included as citizens and members of the Chinese nation, many think that their nations are rightfully independent and not part of China.

Recent infusions of financial support from the government to develop their regional economies have not altered that sentiment. Not unlike the the Kikuyu in Kenya or the Bengalis in India, who prospered materially under British rule but were eager to be rid of it, rising standards of living among minority nationalities in China have not diminished their sense that they are an occupied people.

Both the Tibetans and Uighurs would probably choose to be independent of China. But most of them realize that this is almost certainly impossible in the foreseeable future, and many have accommodated to the current system, as do colonized peoples anywhere — they go to school, learn Chinese, migrate to Han areas to work and become local officials. Some even join the Communist Party and rise high in its ranks. But most continue to feel that their land is being held by an outside power.

The Chinese authorities may or may not realize this, but they do not accept it. For them, all minorities are fully — and only — Chinese citizens, and therefore must be loyal to the government and grateful for its largesse. There will never be much gratitude unless China’s leaders grant these groups real regional autonomy, guarantee freedom of religion, curb Han Chinese migration and stop their insulting rhetoric about underdeveloped minorities in need of help. But they won’t. So the unrest and discontent — at times exploding into the violence of the past few days — are bound to continue.

My Han Relatives’ View From Xinjiang

Yan Sun, a native of Sichuan, has lived in the United States since 1985 and been a professor of political science at the City University of New York since 1992.
 

After arriving at the home of my parents in Chongqing on July 7, I asked my mother how many relatives we still had in Xinjiang and how they were doing lately. Ten families of close relatives, she said, and several more distant ones. Some were born and raised in Xinjiang, but the majority migrated there in the 1960s and 1970s from the Sichuan countryside. The sole reason was to get out of the poor farmland and have a chance at becoming urban residents. They were introduced to Xinjiang by an aunt who was assigned there in the 1950s but had managed to bring her family back to Sichuan in the 1980s.

I scrambled to reach some of them by phone and talk to them candidly about the issues that are often cited in the Western media as responsible for growing ethnic divide and tensions between the Uighur and Han Chinese. Some of my cited reasons took them by surprise; others made them laugh. With their decades of life and work in an austere region, I have little reason to dispute them. As a social scientist, it is fascinating for me to learn about their perspective on the deeper roots of the recent riots. After all, they were supposed to be the very source and targets of local grievance.

Without any need to repeat government accounts to me, my relatives mostly see “outside forces” as the main reason for the latest as well as other riots in Xinjiang in recent years. Citing long-term good friendship with local Muslims, they are hard-pressed to think of divisions serious enough to cause deadly riots. Rather, they claim to have seen outside influences at work from their own experience, e.g., money for underground mosques where mullahs engage in inciting rhetoric, for “terrorist groups” that make explosives and bombs, or for restless Muslim youths who stage trouble on the streets. They also see a pattern of Uighur separatist forces imitating the tactics of Tibetan exiles, namely, phrasing issues in terms that appeal to Western sensibilities, such as religious freedom, cultural and linguistic preservation, ethnic equality or territorial autonomy.

But aren’t there problems in these areas? My relatives were unanimous in their view that state policies are already tilted in favor of local ethnics. Freedom of religion? My relatives see the state restrictions are justifiable: no mosques for those under 18 because they are not mature enough to have good judgment, and no mosque attendance for those holding government jobs. The state does send an (Uighur) official as a liaison with the mosques on a weekly basis, but again this is seen as justifiable since the state funds helped with their construction and to pay the mullahs’ salaries. Why not let them fund on their own? The answer is that outside religious forces would otherwise fund them. Having read about how foreign-financed madrassahs spring up and spread in western Pakistan, I am hard-pressed to pass judgment here.

How about the imposition of Chinese language instruction in schools? This was news to my relatives. They grew up attending separate schools from their Uighur peers, where different languages were used in instruction. Some Uighurs chose to attend Han Chinese schools for career benefits. Only since 2005 has bilingual education been introduced in public schools in Xinjiang. Most technical colleges use Chinese in instruction, because of available resources, while colleges for ethnic nationalities instruct in minority languages. Rather than seeing bilingual education as forced assimilation, my relatives see it as a good skill to have in the job market, because many modern-sector jobs will involve interaction with Han Chinese in and out of Xinjiang. For their part, my Xinjiang cousins speak enough Uighur to communicate with Uighurs on a daily basis, and tell me that they live more like Uighurs than Han Chinese, enjoying mutton more than pork.

What about widened income gaps between Han Chinese and Uighur Muslims in the market economy? My relatives cite different attitudes toward education, achievement and life. This is where some “racist” assessments may be found, if they may be so-called: nomadic traditions do not value sending kids to schools, but rather roaming around or bathing in the sun; nor do they prioritize professional and material pursuits like the Han Chinese, or hard work or long-term planning for this world, but rather satisfaction in the spiritual world, etc. These are the contrasts I have learned in Western social sciences — conflicts between pre-modern and modern values, religious and secular cultures, or an achievement and non-achievement ethic. So it is hard for me to pass judgment here as well except to urge Han Chinese to loosen up and enjoy life a little as our ethnic brothers do.

What about the squeezing of Uighurs in their own native land by growing Han presence? Is that occupation or colonialism? These lines usually shocked my relatives. One aunt, a college professor who spent three decades in Khotan of southern Xinjiang, gave me a history lesson about how Xinjiang came under Chinese control in the Han Dynasty in the 200s B.C. and remained so on and off till the Manchu Dynasty finally consolidated Chinese rule in the 1770s. Xinjiang was loose whenever China was weak internally and its rulers were preoccupied elsewhere.

But successive rulers always reasserted control and sovereignty. Another aunt who had lived in a Tibetan region called the Chinese nation a melting pot of different ethnic groups over millenniums. Citing our own ancestors who had migrated to Sichuan generations back, my mother recalls her grandmother as one with white skin and yellow hair, possible of Turkic origin herself from western China.

Are there government policies on minority regions responsible for increasing ethnic tensions? Surprisingly (or not so surprisingly for someone familiar with America’s ethnic politics), some of my relatives fault the government’s preferential policies for helping to enhance ethnic identity and entitlement for minorities. Uighurs with disciplinary problems or criminal offenses are treated leniently, they say. In matters of employment, appointment and promotion in the public sector, Uighurs may be preferred over (perceived) more qualified Han candidates. “Reverse discrimination” in college admissions and population policies are other areas of Han complaints. While Han Chinese can have only one child, Uighurs receive honorary and monetary rewards for stopping at three, along with yearly bonuses. Whether legitimate or not, such complaints make it difficult for Han Chinese to appreciate Uighur grievances.

Do they think the World Uighur Congress and its exiled leader, Rebiya Radeer, were behind the recent riots? My older relatives from Xinjiang recalled Soviet instigations of Uighur separatism in the 30s and during the cold war, so they said they would not be surprised by any outside support for the W.U.C. or Radeer. Younger relatives point to the U.S. — not the U.S. per se but to the exploitation of U.S. apprehension over anything Beijing does and of U.S. sympathies for any group that Beijing opposes. The real point of staging riots inside China, they assert, is that they enable the exiled groups to survive and thrive. So they expect such riots for years to come.




(The Age)  Fear and loathing on China's Silk Road    By John Garnaut   July 9, 2009.

IN SOUTH Gate, in downtown Urumqi, two teenage boys walk through crowds of Chinese bystanders and past lines of hundreds of riot police.

Then there is a shout: "UIGHUR! Hit him. Hit, hit, hit," and the two boys take flight, scared for their lives, with a throng of Chinese men attempting to beat them and throw water bottles and whatever objects they happen to have at hand.

They eventually get away — by hiding between police, who are too slow to protect them, and then scrambling out of sight — but scores of other Urumqi residents have not been so lucky.

Some of the worst violence happened close to here on Sunday night, especially around a Uighur area called Shanxi Lane.

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.

"I just saw him at the Children's Hospital and he cannot move, and has only just managed to talk again," Chen says.

As the violence in the capital — and probably elsewhere in the sprawling Xinjiang Uighur autonomous region in China's north-west — entered its fourth day, everyone I talk to in downtown Urumqi can recite vivid details of how the other side has brutalised theirs. They say deadly violence has continued across the city despite the city being saturated with armed police.

Han witnesses say mobs of Uighurs were on Tuesday robbing and beating Han, including those who had just arrived in Urumqi at the main train station. Other violence occurred at Friendship Road and at Liberation Road, they said.

They said there were major confrontations at Liberation Road and at this place, South Gate.

Uighur witnesses say the South Gate incident on Tuesday involved thousands of Han vigilantes killing four Uighurs with poles and knives.

Few talk of brutality by their own side except to rationalise what went on.

"We Han Chinese are organising to protect ourselves," says Chen.

Some Han are willing to put their names to their words. But Uighurs only talk to me cautiously, in low voices, out of fear of police reprisals and also of Uighur informants lurking in the nearby crowds.

A quietly spoken young Uighur woman in Shanxi Lane confirms she saw her fellow Uighurs slaughtering Han people outside her window.

"But this does not mean they are animals," she says. "Do you know June 26?" referring to the murder of at least two Uighur workers by Han Chinese mobs in Guangdong province, the incident that sparked the current wave of violence.

Asked whether she personally saw Uighurs killed at Shanxi Lane, she switches to English and answers in code: "Those women are Muslims," she says nodding towards two women dressed in black with white headscarves. "Muslim women wear white scarves when they are in mourning."

A Han construction worker told us he watched Uighurs slaughtering Han — "slicing their throats like lambs" — in Shanxi Lane before armed police opened fire killing Uighurs.

Uighurs have claimed that "hundreds" of their own were massacred at various locations across Urumqi on Sunday night, but facts are thin on the ground.

Yesterday, in a Uighur restaurant in Shanxi Lane, we received detailed firsthand accounts of events on Sunday night.

Three young employees at the restaurant have been taken away.. One was shot in the leg and is recovering in the nearby Children's Hospital.

Two others — aged 14 and 16 — were arrested on their way home from work on Monday night.

"We still don't know where they are," says one young restaurant worker, whom we will call Yusuf.

Yusuf says the street was "full of shooting" when he watched out the restaurant window on Sunday night. "The Chinese have taken everything way and left us with nothing," he says. "So we throw rocks and whatever we have in our hands, and they have guns."

He says he personally saw a large number of Uighurs felled by gunfire from Chinese police early in the night.

"They were shooting at people, they were not shooting in the air," he says.

Yusuf says he later ventured outside and saw the street littered with bodies and carnage.

He claims hundreds were killed in this area, but concedes he did not personally see most of them.

An older restaurant worker says that police returned about 9pm (Xinjiang time, which is the same as Melbourne time or 11pm on official Chinese time) and took away about 200 Uighurs who had been shot. He says he could not distinguish between those who were injured and those who were dead as most of the wounded and arrested have not been accounted for.

We ask for evidence of gunshot fire and the group directs us around the corner to an internet cafe. The front glass of the cafe is fractured in the pattern of a cobweb, with a small bullet-sized hole in the middle.

The Chinese Government says 156 people were killed on Sunday night. It seems certain that number, if accurate at the time, has grown in the days since.

There have been no reports of deaths outside Urumqi but it seems unlikely that racial reprisals are not taking place all over the region.

The mother of the young Uighur woman in Shanxi Lane was beaten by "two Chinese sisters" in her home yesterday, in far away Turpan.

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 Uighur communities, can only guess.

The cooler headed Uighurs and Han Chinese shake their heads and lament how their once cosmopolitan city is now broken.

"This is terrible, awful — nobody trusts anybody any more," says the young Uighur woman in Shanxi Lane.

Back at South Gate, the angry Chinese crowd has been urged to cool down.

One man, Ge Linghai, uses his body to make a barrier to allow a terrified Uighur family to pass through without physical harassment.

Ge was born to a Chinese family in Xinjiang and has lived here in Urumqi most of his life.

"This is the first time I've seen anything like this in more than 40 years," he says, shaking his head. "I am miserable."

He says there are rumours that Uighurs have poisoned the reservoir.

"I don't know if they are true or not — but we are all too scared to drink the water," he says.

And even he, who has plenty of Uighur friends and insists against the will of the crowd that only a small group of them are bad, can't escape the pull of defining his world in racial terms.

He can't understand why Uighurs are so angry when the Government helps them with affirmative action policies. And he explains that Han violence against Uighurs is not unreasonable because when Hans find them they only beat them, not kill them, and wait for the police.

It seems that the cycles of reprisals will roll on, Uighur against Han and Han against Uighur.

We ask the young Uighur restaurant worker how it should be stopped.

"Xinjiang was originally ours. We want our own country. We want independence."

(The Age)  Local Uighurs starved for news   By Carolyn Webb    July 9, 2009.

MELBOURNE'S tiny Uighur community has been hungry for news from their strife-torn homeland in north-western China.

"We can't eat, we can't sleep, it's very hard," said Dandenong plasterer Tuergun Kuerban, who has dozens of relatives in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang province.

Mr Kuerban says the Chinese Government has cut off email and phone reception is patchy.

Melbourne's 70 Uighur families, many of whom live in Dandenong, have been in close contact with one another. "We're trying to relieve our grief," Mr Kuerban said.

More than 50 Melbourne Uighurs will take a bus to Canberra today, to protest outside the Chinese embassy tomorrow. Mr Kuerban, 35, who migrated to Australia as a child in 1984, says that he wants the Australian Government to help "stop all the killing" and "whoever needs help, help them".

In his living room, Mr Kuerban hangs the blue East Turkestan flag, with its white crescent and star, long associated with the cause of independence for Xinjiang. He would be arrested if he flew it in public in China.

He said the Uighur protesters in Urumqi who marched with the Chinese flag were still attacked, and many killed. "Why can't they protest, even carrying a red flag?" Uighurs just want to live in peace, free from persecution, he said.

"We're not even talking about separation, it's just, when is somebody going to go down there and help everybody to stop killing all these Uighur people and releasing 1400 people they arrested?

"We just want freedom and human rights."

(New York Times China Official Threatens Death Penalty After Riots     By Edward Wong.  July 9, 2009.

As northwest China’s Xinjiang Province settled into tense stillness after three days of deadly ethnic violence, a Communist Party leader from the region pledged to seek the death penalty for those responsible for the strife that state news reports say claimed at least 156 lives.

Li Zhi, the party boss in Urumqi, the Xinjiang capital and the center of the violence, said that many suspected instigators had been arrested and that most were students.

“To those who have committed crimes with cruel means, we will execute them,” he said at a morning news conference. “The small groups of the violent people have already been caught by the police. The situation is now under control.” He was echoed by China’s public security minister, Meng Jianzhu, who was quoted by the state news agency Xinhua as telling Urumqi residents that those who led the violence should be punished “with the utmost severity.” Underscoring the government’s concern over China’s worst ethnic violence in decades, China’s president, Hu Jintao, cut short a visit to Italy, where he planned to attend gatherings organized alongside the Group of Eight summit meeting that began on Wednesday, and returned to Beijing to deal with the aftermath of the riots.

Mr. Hu was supposed to meet with President Obama to discuss climate change and other issues, then fly to Portugal for a state visit. China’s foreign ministry said that the Portugal visit would be rescheduled and that another official, Dai Bingguo, would attend the meetings in Italy in his stead.

Xinhua reported scattered violence on Wednesday in Urumqi, where Sunday’s riots by ethnic Uighurs had been followed by reprisal attacks by ethnic Han Chinese. But the government lifted an overnight traffic curfew, and a beefed-up military force, aided by helicopters clattering overhead, kept streets largely calm.

The Uighurs, a Turkic ethnic group, once were the majority in Xinjiang but now make up only about half of the province’s 20 million people. Urumqi has a population of more than two million, but there Uighurs are greatly outnumbered by the Han, who make up some 90 percent of China’s population.

News reports from Urumqi said that up to 1,000 Han protesters gathered there on Wednesday but that squads of paramilitary police broke up the protest.

Xinhua reported that many neighborhood stores were closed after selling out of food and bottled water. Prices were reported to have doubled and tripled, even though the city brought 25 railway cars of vegetables into the city to alleviate shortages.

Urumqi’s mayor told journalists that about 100 of the 156 reported riot victims had been identified and their bodies released to survivors, and that experts were using DNA tests to identify some of the remainder. Mr. Li said that nine of the 156 known dead could not be identified because their bodies were burned too badly for families to recognize them.

He did not account for the ethnicity of those who died, but one Han family member who reviewed photos of the dead, seeking to identify a relative, said in an interview that the great majority of the photographs were of Han victims.

Advocates for the city’s Uighur population angrily challenged both the official death toll and the suggestion that most victims were Han. Uighurs who witnessed the rioting in Urumqi estimate that between 400 and 1,000 Uighurs died in the violence, many shot on sight by paramilitary police, according to a statement by a former president of the Uighur American Association, Turdi Huji.

Mr. Huji’s statement asserted that official Chinese accounts of internal violence are by their nature not credible.

“China routinely lies in this kind of situation to cover up state abuses,” he wrote. “For example, the Tiananmen massacre on June 4, 1989, did not happen on China’s book.” In Washington, a Uighur-American businesswoman whom the Chinese government has branded the mastermind of the riots, Rebiya Kadeer, told The Associated Press that at least 500 people died in the rioting. Ms. Kadeer has denied any role in the violence.

Journalists have no easy way to check either the government or the Uighur death estimates. Reliable independent accounts are scarce, in part because the government has blocked Internet and telephone service in the area and discouraged journalists from conducting interviews on their own.

(Bloomberg News Riots Expose China’s Ethnic Divisions Created by Uneven Growth   By John Liu.   July 9, 2009.

Guo Jianxin surveyed the wreckage of his car dealership in Urumqi and reflected on the violence that left at least 156 people dead in the northwestern Chinese city.

“Most Uighurs are good people,” said Guo, after rioters from the mostly Muslim ethnic group burned 30 of the domestic cars he sells and smashed another 23, causing an estimated 3 million yuan ($440,000) of damage. “There are just a few rotten apples.” The plight of Guo, a member of the Hui minority, highlights the ethnic tensions that have boiled over into China’s deadliest violence in decades. 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.” Han mobs fought Uighurs with machetes, sticks and makeshift weapons in Urumqi yesterday, defying hundreds of military police as the violence entered a fourth day. The clashes prompted President Hu Jintao to cut short a visit to the Group of Eight summit in Italy.

‘Terrified’ at Night

“I’m terrified of going out at night,” said Yi, a 70- year-old woman who moved to Xinjiang from the eastern province of Jiangsu 50 years ago and would only give her surname for fear of retaliation. “I’ve never seen anything like this in my five decades here.” The trigger for the riot was a demonstration over the deaths of migrant Uighur workers last month in a factory in Guangdong, thousands of kilometers to the south.

The official death toll makes the violence the most deadly since possibly the 1966-1976 Cultural Revolution.

The official number of deaths in the demonstrations that broke out in Lhasa, capital of Tibet, in March last year was 19. Unofficial estimates put the figure at about 200. The government cast those riots as violence directed at Han Chinese and Hui.

China has poured investment into Xinjiang and Tibet in an attempt to placate its restive western territories and close the gap in economic development with wealthier eastern provinces. The central government has spent 1 trillion yuan on 70 infrastructure projects in the five years through 2005 under a “Go West” policy adopted in 2000.

National Identity

That hasn’t satisfied ethnic groups who say most of the economic benefits go to Han migrants while local culture is being trampled.

“The Han don’t have enough sensitivity to Uighur culture and the Uighurs feel their culture is being eroded,” said Colin Mackerras, a professor at Australia’s Griffith University and author of “China’s Ethnic Minorities and Globalization.” “Some of them feel it’s being destroyed.” Han Chinese account for more than 90 percent of China’s 1.3 billion people, the world’s largest population, and dominate the government of the Communist-ruled country.

“At school, we were never allowed to wear the traditional Uighur hat as the Chinese saw it as a threat to them if we showed our national identity,” said Haiyur, the Uighur exile. Uighurs were prevented from celebrating a traditional festival, banned from gathering in public and forced to learn Chinese, he said.

Search for Work

“I experienced a lot of discrimination in the job market,” Haiyur said. “Almost all the factories in Xinjiang are Chinese-owned. Often you would find a big poster outside the factories saying ‘We don’t need ethnic minorities for this position.’” The landlocked province, about three times the size of France, has China’s second-biggest oil and natural gas reserves and was the biggest cotton producer as of 2007. Per-capita annual income of rural households was 3,183 yuan, against a national average of 4,140 yuan.

Chinese stocks were little changed yesterday, with the Shanghai Composite index falling 0.3 percent to close at 3,080.77. The measure has risen 69 percent this year, the world’s best-performing major market.

Situation ‘Contained’ “The situation is pretty much contained, not having a major impact on the national economy, unless it spills over to other parts of China or triggers policy reversals,” said Fan Cheuk Wan, head of Asia Pacific research in Hong Kong at Credit Suisse Private Banking, which oversees about $50 billion in the region.

The nation’s economy will probably grow at a 7.5 percent annual rate this year, compared with 9 percent last year, the International Monetary Fund predicts.

China’s government has accused the World Uighur Congress, a Munich-based exile organization, of orchestrating this week’s violence, echoing its blaming of the exiled Dalai Lama for last year’s clashes in Tibet. Xinjiang police said they had evidence that congress leader Rebiya Kadeer masterminded the riot, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.

The World Uighur Congress, in turn, has accused the Chinese government of trying to deflect blame for problems caused by its “systematic abuse.” “The events of the last few days show that the government is right to be sensitive about Xinjiang,” said Calla Wiemer, a visiting fellow at the National University of Singapore’s East Asian Institute. “In the general context of China, when there aren’t avenues for the expression of grievances and repression, it all just simmers ready to explode.” That explosion has left car dealer Guo ruing the destruction of a business that took him eight years to build. “Look around, the only reason we were attacked is because we’re Huis,” lamented his wife, surnamed Tian.

Guo said he will have to think about whether to start again. “I’m a bit concerned about the security situation.”

(Taiwan News)  Ma's Taiwan Lacks guts on Urumqi.  July 9, 2009.

The outbreak of massive violence in Xinjiang (also known as East Turkestan) has stunned international society and incurred nearly universal condemnation of the Chinese Communist Party-ruled People's Republic of China for its bloody suppression and failure to respect the human rights of the Uighur "minority" people in their own land.

For example, Amnesty International has called on the PRC government to bear full responsibility for the deaths of over 160 persons and imprisonments of over 1,000 and the immediate release of persons who were merely exercising their rights of free speech and assembly and has demanded an independent and impartial investigation into the sources and handling of the violence.

Unfortunately, one of the few governments to remain silent in the broad global democratic community has been Taiwan, whose President Ma Ying-jeou and other senior officials of the restored Chinese Nationalist Party government have uttered not one clear word of criticism of the state violence of the CCP regime or its fostering of development policies that have discriminated heavily against the Uighur native population in favor of Han Chinese immigrants and its condoning of ethnic violence by Han Chinese.

This latest wave of protests began with non-violent demonstrations by Uighur residents over the PRC government's failure to take action after a massive riot between hundreds of Uighur workers and thousands of Han Chinese employees in a toy factory in Shaoguan, Guangdong province, ended in the deaths of two Uighur workers.

The protests erupted into violence that has claimed the lives of Han Chinese and Uighurs alike and should be condemned regardless of who "provoked" the clashes.

Nevertheless, it is evident that this week's riots were virtually inevitable given the discriminatory policies carried out by the PRC regime for decades.

As a statement released by Amnesty International Tuesday correctly noted, the Uighurs have been the target of systematic and extensive human rights violations since the 1980s, including arbitrary detention and imprisonment, incommunicado detention, and serious restrictions on religious freedom as well as cultural and social rights.

"Chinese government policies, including those that limit use of the Uighur language, severe restrictions on freedom of religion, and a sustained influx of Han Chinese migrants into the region, are destroying customs and, together with employment discrimination, fuelling discontent and ethnic tensions," noted the London-based human rights organization.

Despite growing unrest and international criticism, the PRC government has refused to seriously contemplate any change in its policies of encouraging Han occupation of "minority" areas which has indeed turned the Turkish Uirgur people and, likewise, the Tibetan people into "minorities" on their own lands.

Uighur citizens have also been infuriated by the latest action in Beijing's campaign of cultural subordination, namely the ongoing deliberate demolishment of the core of the ancient city of Kashgar, which has been described as "the best-preserved example of a traditional Islamic city to be found anywhere in central Asia."

Not surprisingly, Kashgar has also been reported to have experienced "violence" in the latest wave of unrest.

Instead of examining the underlying reasons for the recurrent unrest, the the Beijing authorities have adopted almost identical attitudes toward dissent in East Turkestan and Tibet, namely to deal severely with any manifestation of protest with suppression, arrests or arbitrary detentions and slander any calls for genuine autonomy or self-rule as terrorism, separatism or religious extremism.

Just as Beijing authorities irrationally blame the pacifist Dalai Lama for promoting "terrorism" in Tibetan areas, the PRC regime has blamed exiled Uighur organizations, notably the World Uyghur Congress led by Rebiya Kadeer which the PRC labels as both "terrorist" and "separatist," for planning the riots.

To its credit, the opposition Democratic Progressive Party has joined with local human rights organizations to openly condemn the violence in East Turkestan, including the use of state violence by PRC authorities, but the KMT government seems to have forgotten that, as a free and democratic country, Taiwan has an obligation to uphold human rights at home and abroad. Indeed, precisely because of the recent process of cross-strait "reconciliation," Taiwan's voice - as well as its silence - will have considerable weight in the Asia-Pacific region and will not go unnoticed.

The KMT government's cowardly refusal to utter a word of criticism of the PRC regime for its actions in East Turkestan also contrasts starkly with the Ma government's self-congratulations for its use of threats to downgrade relations and even cut economic assistance in the "defense of national dignity" after Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega missed a state dinner last Friday due to a national emergency.

If the KMT government wishes to retain any credibility in its recent claim to "have always upheld democracy and the rule of law," it can at the very least join in the calls issues by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and Amnesty International for the PRC authorities immediately release all persons detained only for exercising their civic freedoms, immediately end news and internet backouts and an independent and impartial investigation into the incidents in Shaoguan and Urumqi alike.

(WSJ.com)  Media Savvy in Xinjiang.  By Kelley Currie.  July 9, 2009.

The recent protests in China's Xinjiang region may provoke a sense of déjà vu after last year's protests in Tibet. There are superficial similarities: Both involved conflict between a repressed ethnic minority and Han Chinese, violent clashes with Chinese security forces, and a government clampdown on information. But a closer look shows that the Chinese government is learning from past crises and incorporating these lessons into an increasingly sophisticated, multifaceted public relations strategy.

Following the spring 2008 protests in Tibet, the Chinese quickly kicked out foreign media, but they were slower to shut down cell phone and Internet service. As a result, information continued to trickle out through nontraditional sources, and mainstream media stories often focused on how China was blocking their access to Tibet.

This week, by contrast, China's censors moved quickly to close down Twitter, "cleanse" search results from Google and other online sources of information, and suspend cell phone service in Xinjiang. At the same time, the Chinese quickly brought foreign reporters to Urumqi for stage-managed tours. While such tours seem counterintuitive, they illustrate China's increasing media saavy.

By allowing reporters immediate, if controlled, access, China wins some plaudits for its openness. These tour groups usually include a contingent from countries such as Nepal and Russia, where the press is nominally free but journalistic standards are rather flexible and relations with the Chinese government are good. These journalists are relied on to produce a suitable number of "independent" stories in English and other languages that parrot the coverage in China's state-run press. In today's media world, where search engine hits matter more than quality of writing, the Chinese are probably correct in calculating that the small number of predictably negative stories from the likes of the New York Times and this newspaper are an acceptable cost to achieve parity or even supremacy in the post-protest online spin zone.

The Chinese government's official account of the Uighur protests has followed the same "blame the ethnics" approach used with Tibet last year. Authorities have accused Uighurs of instigating violence, labeled them terrorists, and claimed that Rebiya Kadeer -- a Uighur businesswoman and former political prisoner -- is orchestrating events from exile in Washington, D.C. As in Tibet, state-run television has featured video of Uighurs violently attacking Han Chinese, while the use of force against Uighurs -- by both state security and mobs -- remains invisible to the domestic audience.

Although Western observers dismiss claims of foreign agitation in Tibet and Xinjiang, these claims are almost universally accepted within China's predominantly Han population. The foreign agitation theory is further propagated by a nationalistic cohort of "netizens" in China's online community. Years of referring to the Turkic-speaking Muslim Uighurs as terrorists who want to "split" China have stoked latent anti-minority sentiment and discouraged any discussion of possible legitimate underlying causes of conflict.

The Chinese leadership's demonstrated willingness to pit the Han majority against small, disadvantaged ethnic minorities, while troubling in its own right, should also be understood as evidence of the regime's insecurities about its own legitimacy. This behavior also belies the trite aphorism about stability being the top priority of China's "modern" leaders, unless one considers race-baiting a sustainable path to societal harmony. Rather, it points to a brittle and unscrupulous regime focused on self-preservation, with an ability to deploy ever more advanced tools and technologies to achieve this objective.

Policy makers in free societies need to recognize China's simultaneous efforts to control and exploit new information technologies as a serious threat to freedom and human rights. Effective policy responses will require political leadership and adequate resources for deploying a range of both offensive and defensive capabilities to combat censorship. A good start would include expanding existing alternative Chinese-language media such as Radio Free Asia, Voice of America and the BBC. It would also include investing in new initiatives that challenge China's control of online space and discourse by both increasing Chinese citizens' access to the uncensored Web and expanding the number and presence of alternate Chinese vernacular voices.

Western technology companies have a key role to play in these efforts, and should be pushed to re-examine their conduct in China. Neither fear of losing market share nor China's repressive laws can excuse the complicity of these firms in China's censorship regime. The U.S. Department of Justice and its European counterparts should investigate reports that Microsoft's new search engine, Bing!, filters out results for Chinese-language searches outside China, and Chinese-language users in free countries can file class-action lawsuits against Microsoft. The Chinese government's recent about-face on the "Green Dam" filtering software shows that Western companies and Chinese citizens can effectively push back on censorship through vigorous, broad-based protest. The increasing privatization of Chinese media also creates new opportunities to use market-based and legal tools to go after the censorship regime. Because Chinese state-owned media outlets enjoy open access to Western media markets while Western media are censored and harassed in China, the U.S. and other countries should consider filing a World Trade Organization market access complaint.

The current Chinese government has bet heavily on a strategy of censoring media at home, manipulating the media environment abroad and scape-goating restive minorities. They are devoting substantial resources to their efforts, and take the long view. The corrosive effects of Chinese censorship will grow, until the free world is able to overcome its present inertia and pursue a comprehensive and equally sophisticated defense of Internet freedom. It is anathema to the spirit of the Internet and the communications revolution it spawned that these technologies are being used to prop up an authoritarian regime and its self-serving propaganda efforts. It is past time for the free world to retake the initiative and push back against this perverse trend.

(Asia Times)  Beware the Tiananmen reflex.  By Francisco Sisci.  July 9, 2009.

The deadly July 5 riots in Urumqi, capital of northwestern Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, have ignited the old blame-game against Chinese authorities. Across the world, many are now labeling the Beijing government guilty of all death and destruction in the remote city.

It is a Tiananmen reflex: if there are dead people on the streets, it must be Beijing's fault; just like Beijing was guilty of killing students in the crackdown on the Tiananmen movement in 1989. After all, Beijing occupies a land, Xinjiang, that wanted its independence in the 1940s, and many Uyghurs, the local population that is now in a minority because of Han Chinese migration, might want to become independent - if only they could.

It is important to try to see clearly the narrow and broad context behind the Urumqi riot, even forgetting for a moment the obvious points about greater protection of human rights for the Uyghur minority.

Narrow context
There is no evidence of large-scale indiscriminate shooting by the police as accounting for the 156 deaths and over 800 injured. The Chinese police did not try to exterminate the Uyghur rioters because they don't need to. If they wanted to wipe out the protesters, they could have simply arrested and killed them in prison, not in the streets. The crackdown could have been more or less fierce, but they did not massacre people in the street, unlike in 1989.

There is abundant evidence that the protesters set the city on fire, causing the casualties directly (by beating people) or indirectly (because innocents were in the buses on fire). Their actions could have reasonable motives and could be justified, but the killing of scores of innocent people is blood on their hands, and it is not pretty.

A riot of this scale and scope could well have been organized beforehand to make President Hu Jintao - visiting Italy for the Group of Eight (G-8) meeting - lose face. Conspiracies are hard to prove, but because of this, politics tend to rule out pure accidents.

It is most likely that the brewing hatred among ethnic Uyghurs for the Han Chinese (the ethnic group making up about 95% of the Chinese population) was funneled into this demonstration by organizations opposing the Beijing government. This does not rule out the possibility that a brutal, careless intervention by the police might have escalated the situation.

Broad context
The riot in Urumqi is a quantum leap in the political opposition to Beijing's rule in Xinjiang for several reasons. The protests moved from the traditionally restive Nanjiang (the southern part of Xinjiang, where Uyghurs are still the majority and retain their traditions) to Urumqi (the regional capital, where Uyghurs are the minority, are allegedly integrated, and have been "sedated", largely peaceful for decades).

Most likely, the new restrictions marshaled wholesale onto the Uyghur population - including in once-peaceful Urumqi - after last year's attacks in Kashgar, Khotan and Turfan have backfired. For fear of attacks spreading to cities outside of Xinjiang, as happened in the mid-1990s, Beijing limited the movement of Uyghurs out of the region, and even those traveling out were under stricter control. This reinforced the feeling among Uyghurs that they were second-class citizens.

This decision possibly prevented attacks or bombings against the Han populations in Beijing and Shanghai, but spread dissatisfaction and loathing among common Uyghurs, who might have been more middle-of-the-road about Beijing.

Broader context
There is an old tension between the Han and Uyghurs, sprouting from the lack of a sense of one Chinese nation, inclusive of all its minority ethnic groups. With the fall of communist ideals, there is no new ideological glue. There is also growing nationalism - but it is ethnic Han nationalism. This Han nationalism widens the divide with other minorities, especially those proud of their origins, like Uyghurs and Tibetans. Furthermore, Han nationalism kindles and feeds other ethnic groups' nationalism and it all becomes a vicious circle.

China wants and needs Han nationalism and pride to win the support of the rich and powerful Chinese diaspora which supported China's growth in the past three decades. But this nationalism leaves the Tibetans and the Uyghurs behind. They are less relevant for Chinese development, but can cause a lot of trouble and embarrassment.

China, now more than any other time, may come to realize that the Islamic problem is not just part of its foreign policy, it seeps into its domestic policy. It is impossible to isolate Islamic Uyghurs from radical Muslims rebelling in Central Asia. Delicate balances in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran are bound to have consequences in Xinjiang. The stabilization of Central Asia is crucial for the long-term pacification of Islamic Xinjiang.

China can decide that on balance these are minor costs that it must be willing to pay, and crackdowns in Urumqi or Lhasa don't really matter. However, image-conscious Chinese leaders may want to be spared further embarrassment and might want to consider some proposals already advanced by government think-tanks.

Broad measures
The idea of nationalism came to China around the turn of the 19th century, when Beijing was confronting Western nation-states that, unlike imperial China, had a strong sentiment of state unity.

Scholar Liang Qichao was instrumental in advancing this idea. This came to him possibly because, as the last reforming mandarin of Han origin in the Manchu court, he was the object of diffidence, envy and jealousy on the part of the ethnic Manchu aristocracy.

The great Han nationalism was the stock idea of the Chiang Kai-shek's Kuomintang, and Mao Zedong corrected it by introducing Soviet-style "protections" for other nationalities living in China. But in the former Soviet Union, the issue was that there had been an oppressive Russian nationalism that needed curbing.

In China, there had been no Han nationalism to speak of. Mao's nationalities instituted for the first time minute divisions among the ethnic groups living in China, which de facto promoted national and ethnic sentiments that previously were more blurred.

It is necessary to drop the institution of ethnic nationalities and develop a Chinese dream - inclusive of non-ethnic Han - and to revamp the old imperial idea of huaren, people who belong to the new Chinese culture. This can be inclusive of Tibetans, Uyghurs and foreigners emigrating to China, just like the idea of being an American is based on sharing a culture, not an ethnicity.

This can be achieved also by looking at the example of India, divided by dozens of languages and ethnicities. In school, Indian children have to learn their own language, English and another nationality language. They may not be proficient in the other languages, but the process of learning conveys a deep sentiment of unity.

If Han schoolchildren could choose to learn Uyghur, Mongolian or Tibetan, this would give them and the Uyghurs, Mongolians or Tibetans a stronger sense of being one country and one system.

Narrow measures
A crackdown must work with laser-fine precision. Wholesale measures that net together activists, sympathizers and neutral bystanders are bound to spread hatred and dissatisfaction against the Beijing government. It is a well-established principle in penal culture: if you execute the killer, the robber and simple accomplice, you encourage everybody to go to the extreme and become killers.

If, for fear of Uyghur terrorists, you turn a whole people into suspects, you then push them to become terrorists. Then what can you do, wage war on a people? This is actually what terrorists want - an expansion of state repression so that angered people will flock to the terrorists' ranks.

The opposite must occur: safeguard the common Uyghur population from terrorists. In that case, the problem now should be how to scale down the size of the crackdown and increase its accuracy.

These measures will be difficult and time-consuming. But without them, Han nationalism will dominate the national ideology, and this will hinder domestic and international politics as China grows into a global power.

The immediate thought abroad will be: "Will Chinese nationalists, once big and powerful, do to me what they are now doing to the Uyghurs and Tibetans?" Denials will be to no avail. Only facts - and the careful communication of these facts - will prove to the world China's true intentions.

(Associated Press)  China tries new openness with foreign media.  By Tini Tran.  July 9, 2009.

When riots broke out in the northwest this week, China took a different tack with foreign journalists: Instead of being barred, reporters were invited on an official tour of Xinjiang's capital.

The approach, a stark reversal from last year's handling of Tibetan unrest, suggests Chinese authorities have learned that providing access to information means they can get their own message out, experts said.

"They are getting more sophisticated in how they're handling foreign and domestic media coverage of a crisis. It used to be in a time of major crisis, you get a blackout... Now the approach is to get the government's viewpoint out there," said Rebecca MacKinnon, a journalism professor at the University of Hong Kong.

The State Council Information Office, the government's main public relations arm, extended their highly unusual invitation to the foreign media Monday, just one day after the worst ethnic violence in decades left 156 dead and 1,100 injured in the regional capital of Urumqi. Their goal? "To help foreign media to do more objective, fair and friendly reports," the agency said in a statement.

Journalists from 60 different foreign media organizations traveled to Urumqi Monday on a flight arranged by the government. They were taken to the largest hotel in town where the government had set up a media center. Special reporting passes were issued and press conferences were arranged.

The hotel was the only place in town where Internet service was not cut, which helped ensure that reporters stayed close.

Still, not everything stayed within the government's control. On Tuesday, as reporters were escorted around town to see the damage from Sunday's rioting, a group of some 200 Uighur women, wailing and shouting, appeared to protest the arrests of their husbands and sons in the ensuing crackdown.

For the government guides, who tried to herd reporters on buses as TV cameras rolled, it was a totally unscripted moment.

Despite the access, foreign journalists still reported problems in the field. The Foreign Correspondents' Club of China said it had received reports of security forces detaining TV crews and other reporters, confiscating equipment, and even damaging a video camera. Two Associated Press Television producers were detained for more than three hours and questioned about their reporting. Their equipment was returned and eventually they were taken back to the media hotel.

Within China, the government has been working hard to control the information on this week's violence. State media remains under tight supervision while mobile phone service along with Internet access in Urumqi has been sharply curtailed. Meanwhile, China's Internet censors were scrubbing videos and text updates about the riots from China-based social networking sites such as Youku, a YouTube-like service, and Fanfou, a Chinese Web site similar to Twitter.

The riots exposed the long-simmering tensions between the minority Uighurs and majority Han Chinese and echoed last year's unrest in the Tibetan capital Lhasa. The rioters, mostly Uighurs, rampaged through the streets, overturning barricades, attacking vehicles and buildings, and clashing with police. State television aired footage showing protesters attacking and kicking people on the ground. Victims who appeared to be Han Chinese sat dazed with blood pouring down their faces.

"If they try to suppress coverage, then the foreign media writes its own stories...whereas here, they can encourage foreign media to understand their view better," said David Zweig, director of the Center on China's Transnational Relations at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. "By taking people to see it, they can make the case that there was violence by Uighurs. Otherwise, people won't write that story," he said.

During the protests in Lhasa and other Tibetan communities last spring, the government maintained a virtual news blackout. A strict travel ban, which has always been in place, meant foreign reporters could not board planes and trains to get into Lhasa, but limited information seeped out through foreign travelers and Tibetan exile communities abroad.

For China, the picture that emerged from Tibet was a highly negative and often more simplistic version of a complicated history, said MacKinnon. "I don't know what sparked their change of approach this time but I think one of the results of not allowing Beijing-based press corps into Tibet last year was that the story ended up being covered outside of China. It resulted in the exile community being able to frame the story," she said.

China's leaders may also be borrowing from how Western countries handle media during a crisis, she said. "I think generally, the media strategy in the Internet age is that you're better off allowing media access and trying to spin the situation in your favor."

Ultimately, new technology and Internet access may have left China with little choice but to cultivate a new way of dealing with the media.

"A degree of openness is something that cannot be avoided any more, given the development of mass media," said Barry Sautman, a political scientist in Hong Kong. "Not only is it productive politically, but it's also something China has to get used to."

(Associated Press)  Chinese troops flood streets after riots  By William Foreman.  July 9, 2009.

Thousands of Chinese troops flooded into this city Wednesday to separate feuding ethnic groups after three days of communal violence left 156 people dead, and a senior Communist Party official vowed to execute those guilty of murder in the rioting in western China.

Long convoys of armored cars and green troop trucks with riot police rumbled through Urumqi, a city of 2.3 million people. Other security forces carrying automatic rifles with bayonets formed cordons to defend Muslim neighborhoods from marauding groups of vigilantes with sticks.

Military helicopters buzzed over Xinjiang's regional capital, dropping pamphlets urging people to stay in their homes and stop fighting. Special police from other provinces were called in to patrol the city.

The crisis was so severe that President Hu Jintao cut short a trip to Italy, where he was to participate in a Group of Eight summit. It was an embarrassing move for a leader who wants to show that China has a harmonious society as it prepares to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Communist rule.

The heightened security came amid the worst spasm of ethnic violence in decades in Xinjiang — a sprawling, oil-rich territory that borders Pakistan, Afghanistan and other Central Asian countries. The region is home to the Uighur ethnic minority, who rioted Sunday and attacked the Han Chinese — the nation's biggest ethnic group — after holding a protest that was ended by police.

Officials have said 156 people were killed as the Turkic-speaking Uighurs ran amok in the city, beating and stabbing the Han Chinese. The Uighurs allege that trigger-happy security forces gunned down many of the protesters, and officials have yet to give an ethnic breakdown of those killed.

In Rome, a Germany-based Uighur leader, Erkin Alptekin, told The Associated Press that "our countrymen in China" reported that 600-800 Uighurs were killed in the past few days and 3,000 were arrested.

"We were told (by fellow Uighurs) that 140 were dead on the spot" on Sunday and that their bodies were tossed into trucks and taken away by Chinese security forces, said Alptekin, who briefed the human rights commission in the Italian parliament.

"When the Uighurs heard the people were fired upon, parents all came out looking for their sons and daughters," he said, adding that security forces started to "disperse them by force, then started to beat them, tear gas them and shoot them."

His account could not be independently confirmed.

More than 1,100 people were wounded in the violence. Dr. Yuan Hong of Urumqi People's Hospital said most of the people treated at his facility were clubbed, while others had been cut by knives.

Li Zhi, the highest-ranking Communist Party official in Urumqi, told reporters that some of the rioters were university students who were misled and didn't understand what they were doing. They would be treated leniently, he said, as long as they weren't involved in serious acts of violence and vandalism.

But Li added: "To those who committed crimes with cruel means, we will execute them."

He also repeated allegations that the riot was whipped up by U.S.-exiled Uighur activist Rebiya Kadeer and her overseas supporters. "They're afraid to see our economic prosperity. They're afraid to see our ethnic unity and the people living a stable, prosperous life," he said.

Kadeer has denied masterminding the violence, and many Uighurs laughed off the notion that they were puppets of groups abroad.

"Not even a 3-year-old would believe that Rebiya stirred this up. It's ridiculous," said a shopkeeper who only identified himself as Ahmet. Like other Uighurs, he declined to give his full name because he feared the police would detain him.

Ahmet was quick to rattle off a long list of grievances commonly mentioned by Uighurs. He accused the Han Chinese of discrimination and alleged that government policies were forcing them to abandon their culture, language and Islamic faith.

"After all this rioting, I'm still filled with hatred. I'm not afraid of the Han Chinese," Ahmet said.

His neighborhood in southern Urumqi was targeted by mobs of Han Chinese who roamed the capital Tuesday seeking revenge. Ahmet's friends had video shot by mobile phones and cameras that showed the stick-wielding Han men beating Uighurs. He pointed to blood stains on a white concrete apartment wall, where he said a Uighur was severely stabbed.

A Uighur college student who called herself Parizat added, "The men were carrying a Chinese flag. I never thought something like this would happen. We're all Chinese citizens."

The Uighurs accused paramilitary police of allowing the Han Chinese to attack their neighbors. But in the video, the troops appeared to be trying to block or restrain the mobs.

On Wednesday, the government warned residents against carrying weapons on the street, and most people generally complied. But there were groups of Han Chinese who tried to find soft spots in police cordons and rush into Uighur neighborhoods.

One such failed attempt sent a wave of terror and panic through the biggest Uighur neighborhood, Er Dao Qiao.

When someone yelled, "The Han are coming!" children scampered indoors and women ran shrieking through a backstreet market with carts of watermelons, shops selling cold soft drinks and smoky grills with sizzling lamb kebabs.

Within seconds, the men armed themselves with spears stashed behind doors and under market stands. The weapons were long poles with knives and meat cleavers tied to the ends. Piles of rocks were placed across the street for ammunition.

One Uighur graduate student who called himself Memet greeted a foreign reporter in English by saying, "Welcome to the jungle!"

"I think the Uighur people lately are kind of happy. You can see it in their eyes, a bit of happiness. We've spoken up. People know we exist now," he said.

The ethnic hatred in Xinjiang appears to run so deep that many Uighurs won't express sorrow for the Han Chinese who were attacked Sunday.

One of them was Dong Yuanyuan, 24, a newlywed who said she was on a bus with her husband getting ready to leave on their honeymoon. She said Uighur attackers dragged them off the bus and beat them until they were unconscious. Her husband was still missing, said the woman, who had abrasions on her face, arms and knees.

"My aunts have been going to all the hospitals to search for him. He must still be unconscious," she told reporters who joined a government tour at the People's Hospital.

Abdul Rehim, a Uighur with his left arm in a sling, said he was walking with his brother when a group of Han Chinese "just came out and did this to me."

Another victim was Ma Weihong, who said she was walking home from a park with her 10-year-old son when the riot started. The boy suffered minor injuries, but the mother had a broken arm and wrist, missing teeth and head wounds.

"The stores all closed up and we tried to run for home," she said. "That is when they caught us. We couldn't get away."

(Times OnlineThe Uighurs’ cry has echoed round the world    By

The massacre of Uighur demonstrators in the cities of Urumqi and Kashgar has been reported in every language, from English to Chinese to Portuguese to Arabic. While the intense repression against Uighurs is normally ignored by both the Chinese Government and the international media, the deaths of hundreds of protesters and the injuries of hundreds more has exposed the brutality of Chinese government actions toward Uighurs in a way that cannot be ignored.

Instead of taking action to recognise the cause of Uighurs’ demonstrations, or to acknowledge that the problems in East Turkestan [known by the Chinese as Xinjiang] derive from the Chinese Government’s inability to resolve discontent, Chinese officials have resorted to blaming “outside forces”, including me and one of the organisations I lead, the World Uighur Congress. Just as Chinese officials placed the blame for widespread demonstrations in Tibet on the Dalai Lama, they claim that overseas Uighur organisations “instigated” the demonstrations in East Turkestan. I in no way organised or called for any demonstrations.

I condemn the violence that has been carried out against the Uighur people. I also condemn the violence some Uighur demonstrators have committed. I am absolutely opposed to all forms of violence, and believe it is only through dialogue and attempts at mutual understanding that we may achieve peace.

At this point, it is impossible to confirm the exact number of those killed and injured. The organisations I lead have received reports from witnesses inside East Turkestan that more than 400 Uighur demonstrators were killed in the regional capital of Urumqi.

On Sunday, July 5, students in Urumqi began marching in the streets in a peaceful demonstration against the recent killing of Uighur workers at a toy factory in Guangdong province, in southern China. According to Radio Free Asia interviews of Uighurs working at the factory, a mob of Chinese workers and gang members from the local area stormed into the dormitory housing Uighurs, beating them and hacking at them with machetes. The attack was carried out in response to an unsubstantiated rumour that Uighur workers had sexually assaulted two Chinese workers.

According to the official Chinese media, two Uighurs were killed, but reports from Uighur factory workers who witnessed the mob attack say the number is much higher.

Had the top two government officials in East Turkestan taken steps to address the killings in Guangdong, together with local officials, the protest in Urumqi might never have happened. However, these officials were clearly not interested in investigating abuses against Uighurs, or in examining what caused the attack in Guangdong.

Uighur discontent over Chinese government policy started long before the killings in Guangdong. Under six decades of rule by the Government of the People’s Republic of China, Uighurs have been slowly suffocating from official policies aimed at eliminating our Turkic culture and mystical brand of Islam — much in the same way as official policies have destroyed the culture and customs of Tibetans. The killing and injuring of Uighur workers in Guangdong, and the lack of a transparent, just government response, was only the latest in a long line of abuses committed against Uighurs, though a particularly egregious one.

I have experienced first-hand the repression of Uighurs, through my own imprisonment and the imprisonment of two of my sons, Alim and Ablikim Abdureyim. Alim and Ablikim are currently serving lengthy prison sentences in Urumchi, in clear retaliation for my international human rights advocacy. There are reports that they have been tortured in prison, and that they have not been treated for serious medical ailments.

I was imprisoned from 1999 until 2005 for using my position as a delegate to a top Chinese governmental body to call upon the Chinese Government to change its policies toward Uighurs. Unfortunately, there is no place within Chinese officialdom for the expression of concern over ethnic policies. While in prison, I was subject to extended periods of solitary confinement and medical neglect. But far more horrifying were the times I was forced to witness torture of my fellow prisoners — those without an official government position, or the support of groups such as Amnesty International.

I am extremely lucky to have been given the opportunity to live a free life in the United States, beginning in 2005. Unfortunately, my fellow Uighurs left behind in East Turkestan face severe discrimination in the areas of healthcare and employment, as well as religious repression, forced abortion, and the removal of Uighur as a language in schools at all levels of instruction.

Uighur resentment at government policy has only intensified with the razing of an ancient centre for Uighur culture: the Old City of Kashgar. The Old City, which has served as a cradle of Uighur civilisation for centuries and which was an important stop on the Silk Road, is being reduced to rubble, and its population of 220,000 Uighurs is being forcibly moved to cinderblock apartments on the outskirts of the city. Uighurs were not given a voice in the project, and are being forced to watch in silence as their homes, and their history, are bulldozed away.

This crescendo of the destruction of Uighurs’ culture is what brought Uighurs to the streets. Though they must have known they would be subjected to extreme force, the Uighurs’ desperation seems to have outweighed their fear. Theirs was a desperate call to be heard, in the face of an authoritarian regime that crushes any dissent. Theirs was a call for freedom and justice.

Rubiya Kadeer’s book Dragon Fighter is published next week by Kales Press

(Committee to Protect Journalists Blog)  'The mob turned on us': Foreign reporters in Xinjiang.  By Madeline Earp.  July 9, 2009.

Chinese authorities have, unusually, welcomed foreign reporters to Xinjiang since ethnic rioting broke out on Sunday in Urumqi between the Uighur minority and Han Chinese. A Beijing-based agency has even offered to facilitate travel, according to one writer who blogs from Shanghai. (CPJ hasn't confirmed his story. Have any other reporters been approached in this way?) 

Some Uighur protesters also welcome the foreign press, according to Hong Kong newspaper Wen Wei Po on July 7. "After drawing the attention of the [Chinese, Hong Kong, and international] reporters, these Uighur women split up in groups and cried to the reporters, especially the ones who are foreigners," while ignoring the Chinese journalists, the report says, in a translation by the EastSouthWestNorth blog.

Yet open reporting hasn't been encouraged across the board. Electronic communication is increasingly curtailed, and the pressures of getting reports out amid ongoing violence are apparent in journalists' accounts from the region. "About 50 Han Chinese, many carrying metal rods, shouted and harassed a foreign reporter who walked by and would not let another journalist with a video camera film the scene," The Associated Press reported today.

ABC News reporter Beth Lloyd has this vivid description today on the outlet's blog:

"Then, the mob turned on us. They blocked our cameras, not wanting the images of Han Chinese beating a Uighur to get out. I was pushed. Then the group surrounded us and started yelling. They pushed us back up a highway ramp where we were shooting. They yelled that western journalists were biased against the Han Chinese and that we should delete our footage. One man tried to grab our camera and then pulled out a baton and held it over his head as if he were going to hit us. We turned around and ran." 

Below is a transcript of public Twitter posts by Al-Jazeera English correspondent Melissa Chan while she was reporting this segment in Urumqi, from her arrival in Xinjiang on July 6 until the segment was posted on YouTube yesterday. CPJ cited Chan's messages in our news alert on Tuesday, but we're reproducing a longer extract because of the insight she offers into the situation for journalists on the ground, as well as the opportunities--and limitations--offered by the micro-blogging format itself.

We haven't been able to reach Chan yet directly and have not confirmed all the content of her tweets, but she continued to post updates today. About four hours ago she posted: "No internet from phone and my laptop is down. Will be even harder to twitter now." You can monitor what happens next on her Twitter page.

melissakchan

Off to Xinjiang. Will tweet what we find on the ground in a few hours.3:35 AM Jul 6th

Twitter appears to be blocked suddenly in China - possibly because of the Urumqi rioting? I'm using a proxy but updates will now be harder.3:39 AM Jul 6th

The Internet is down in #Urumqi. Everywhere.6:22 AM Jul 6th

The streets are completely empty; curfew in effect. Everything seems under control during our drive from airport to city center, Urumqi.12:36 PM Jul 6th

Everyone can follow me on Twitter: melissakchan12:45 PM Jul 6th

The Foreign Ministry is organizing a trip for journalists Tuesday. Those who go off on their own to newsgather, they say, go at own peril.12:47 PM Jul 6th

If you don't go on the organized trip, you might not be able to get pass police/PLA roadblocks to see anything at all.12:51 PM Jul 6th

Those asking how I'm getting Internet: one room out of one hotel for all journalists. No other Internet access in entire city.12:51 PM Jul 6th

Tricky: Go on a government trip and get their version of the story, or go on your own and risk not getting access anywhere, getting nothing.1:06 PM Jul 6th 

The government appears very confident things are under control.1:10 PM Jul 6th

Just to clarify: journalists can go off on our own. But, for example, riot police have surrounded hospitals. If you want to check injured-1:50 PM Jul 6th

Government has set up press center here in Urumqi. But it's hard to feel welcomed. No phone, no Internet. One reporter's camera smashed.2:30 PM Jul 6th

And at least two media crews detained for hours.2:31 PM Jul 6th

About to visit a few hospitals; the streets have more people out now.8:44 PM Jul 6th

Uighur women with babies and children; hundreds protesting and asking for release of husbands.10:17 PM Jul 6th

Shot police are moving in the protesters are shouting, "Let them free."10:19 PM Jul 6th

Chinese plainclothes with sticks now have shown up.10:25 PM Jul 6th

Some men have started throwing rocks.10:26 PM Jul 6th

The government have finally reacted and they are now trying to round us up back to our buses.10:40 PM Jul 6th

There are rottweilers with the police. I fear if we leave bad things will happen to these people. #urumqi 10:44 PM Jul 6th

For those wondering how I am twittering. Have been text messaging a Beijing friend who is posting my messages via proxy.11:36 PM Jul 6th

The last we saw it looked as if the protesters were dispersing but armed police had guns not by their side, but in hand.11:52 PM Jul 6th

From the other point of view the police did manage the situation well - it could have escalated far more.11:53 PM Jul 6th

Looking Han Chinese doesn't make me feel safe I must say.1:12 AM Jul 7th

Locals tell up there are riots now in three or four locations in the city.1:42 AM Jul 7th

A few hundred Han Chinese with sticks and knives have come down the road singing the national anthem.2:31 AM Jul 7th

Heading to an ethnic neighborhood.2:31 AM Jul 7th

I asked a Han Chinese girl if she was scared. Yes. But this is to defend my country she says with stick in hand.2:54 AM Jul 7th

There is no right or wrong anymore. Just vigilantes, Han and Uighur. Mostly men but some women and even children.3:21 AM Jul 7th

A Han Chinese man with a stick just tore open our car door to beat our producer. Averted just in time.3:48 AM Jul 7th

The city is now under martial law.3:59 AM Jul 7th

It is dangerous to film around Han Chinese if you have blonde hair and white skin. They get angry.4:32 AM Jul 7th

Equally bad if you're a journalist who is Han-looking in Uighur neighborhoods. We all feel kind of stuck.4:34 AM Jul 7th

Watch the report I just put out for al Jazeera on YouTube: http://bit.ly/baozH

(BBC News)  Ethnic tensions taboo in China    By Vaudine England.  July 8, 2009.

Among the Uighurs who have settled in south-eastern China, it is hard to find anyone prepared to talk openly about life in the Han-majority country.

In Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province, even people running restaurants that advertise Xinjiang food, have pictures of mosques on the wall, and employ staff wearing headscarves, insist they are not Uighur.

"We are from another minority," said a restaurateur, refusing to say which one.

On 26 June Han and Uighurs at a toy factory in the Guangdong town of Shaoguan fought each other for hours, leaving at least two dead and 118 injured.

It was over this violence that Uighurs in Urumqi, in the north-western Xinjiang province, rallied on Sunday, leading to much more deadly clashes.

Keeping heads down

The restaurateur in Guangzhou did admit to discomfort when watching state television images of recent deadly unrest in Urumqi, but discussing ethnic tensions remains taboo.

The teenage son of another restaurateur, further along San Yuan Li Road in Guangzhou, was even more reticent.

"We don't have time to watch the news," he said.

Prospering in their new life, it seemed the last thing his family wanted was to be associated with rioting back in Xinjiang.

Around Guangzhou's old railway station, what was once a lively and extensive Muslim community has shrunk.

Those left seem determined to keep their heads down in times such as these.

Xinyue Muslim Restaurant in the Xinjiang Mansion - an official home to the representative office of the Uighur Autonomous Region's provincial government - offers nightly floor-shows by Uighur dancing girls.

But before a question about how the unrest in Xinjiang was affecting business could be completed, a waitress interjected.

"This is a very safe place - you don't need to worry," she said.

Factory repaired

Guangzhou newspapers have followed the government line, reporting that the trouble in Xinjiang could only have happened because of outside manipulation.

Coverage has focused on the injuries suffered by the Han.

The Guangzhou Daily recently reported that in Shaoguan, repairs to the assembly line, dormitories and canteen needed after the 26 June fighting at the toy factory had already been completed.

"More than 700 Xinjiang migrant workers could resume their work thanks to the Xinjiang and Guangdong relevant departments' officials' endeavours," it said.

Alongside were pictures of happy, smiling Uighur women, back at work at long tables in the toy factory.

Censored TV

Two people in Guangzhou who were prepared to speak were Han taxi drivers, one of whom turned up his radio when the news came on to hear updates from Xinjiang.

Another went so far as to give his surname, Huang, and confide that he watched TV reports from Hong Kong channels, just across the border, to get a clearer picture of events.

"Any time there's anything sensitive, they interrupt the signal and throw in another advertisement or jumble up the pictures," he said.

His views on the unrest in Xinjiang were firm.

"The government treats the Uighur so nicely, yet the Uighurs don't feel satisfied," he said.

"They just create so much trouble. They should be satisfied with what they have."

He agreed with the crackdown now under way by Chinese security forces in Urumqi.

"The Communist Party has already done so much for the Uighurs," he said.

His views are common in commercial centres where Uighers have thrived.

The communities were included in former Chinese leader Deng Xiao-ping's plans for economic reform from the early 1980s, and have been resident in south China since then.

But as in other parts of the world, problems between different ethnic groups have endured.

The difference in China is that people are reluctant to discuss the issue, and the tensions are hard to measure.

(China Daily)  Journalists welcomed in Urumqi    By Mu Qian.   July 9, 2009.

On Monday, Beijing-based journalist Henrik Bork was debating whether to find his own way to Xinjiang to cover the riot when he received an e-mail from the Chinese government.

The message, from the State Council Information Office, not only welcomed him to Urumqi, it listed phone numbers of people from the local information department he could contact.

He immediately went to the airport.

"I get a lot of invitations for press conferences from the Chinese authorities, but this is the first time for me to be invited on a reporting trip in such a timely fashion," says Bork, a correspondent for Germany's Suddeutsche Zeitung who has worked for more than eight years in China.

"Usually in such circumstances I would try to go by myself and see how far I can get, but this time I am positively surprised that we can get some help from the authorities," he said.

According to Wu Nong, an official with the Information Office of the Xinjiang regional government, some 150 reporters from more than 80 media organizations had arrived in Urumqi by Tuesday to cover the riots.

A press center has been set up at the Hoi Tak Hotel in downtown Urumqi, where most of the journalists are staying. The press center is also one of the places providing Internet service in the city, as the government has shut down the Web to prevent rioters from organizing online.

"The world is interested in China, and given the scale of violence and the number of casualties, this is a very big story for us and everyone else," Bork said.

An American journalist, who wished to keep himself and his organization anonymous, said that compared with the riots in Lhasa last March, foreign media have more access this time in Urumqi.

"For Lhasa we were not allowed to go there but could only do reporting from afar. This time the Chinese authorities are prompt in giving access to the media and giving press conferences," he said.

(The Guardian)  China lets foreign media in Xinjiang but controls local coverage    By Jonathan Watts.  July 8, 2009.

In a striking contrast to its handling of the unrest in Tibet last year, the Chinese government has provided a high degree of access to foreign reporters covering the ethnic riots in Xinjiang, laying on media tours, press conferences and facilities for correspondents to file stories.

Harassment has not completely disappeared. The Foreign Correspondents' Club of China, of which the Guardian is a member, reports that security forces in Xinjiang have detained reporters, confiscated equipment and, in at least one case, damaged a video camera.

Domestic newspapers and television stations have been told not to report independently on the riots, but to use reports from the state-run Xinhua news agency and CCTV broadcaster.

The authorities acknowledge that they have blocked the internet in parts of Xinjiang to "prevent the riot from spreading." Mobile phone signals in Urumqi have been intermittently disrupted and short messages blocked.

While the foreign media have been given more access, opportunities for citizen journalism have been stifled. Soon after the explosion of violence, the microblog Twitter – which led coverage in the early stages of the riot – was blocked nationwide, along with its Chinese counterpart, Fanfou. Facebook is inaccessible from many places. YouTube has long been restricted. Many Chinese discussion forums and websites are censoring themselves.

Correspondents have been able to film police holding back mobs of Han vigilantes seeking revenge in a Uighur district and security forces facing up to crowds of angry Uighurs demanding the release of arrested husbands and sons. Guardian correspondents in Urumqi have been able to travel to Uighur and Han areas and conduct interviews without government minders. The main concern is safety. Journalists have been threatened by angry Han crowds, at times requiring police protection.

Why the change is occurring now is unclear. Xinjiang has long been more accessible than Tibet. The government may feel entitled to international sympathy given that the majority of those killed appear to be Han Chinese civilians, though it has yet to give a list of the dead. It may also have learned a lesson from the largely negative coverage of the Lhasa unrest by a foreign media unable, for the most part, to visit the area. The one journalist who happened to be on the ground then, James Miles of the Economist, filed many of the most accurate and balanced reports.

Last year, the state media and the foreign ministry turned against foreign journalists, at least 10 of whom received death threats for their coverage of the Tibetan disturbances. This year, they are less restricted than domestic citizen journalists.

On the CCTV Dialogue chatshow, the host, Yang Rui, said the open door for foreign reporters this time was a test of the correspondents' objectivity – a view likely to be echoed in the Chinese government.

(South China Morning Post)  Keeping region open to media crucial, experts say    By Vivian Wu.  July 9, 2009.

The decision to allow independent media to stay in Urumqi was correct and it was crucial that Beijing kept Xinjiang open to world media, experts said yesterday.

As of last night, reporters were allowed to stay in the city even as armed police and soldiers patrolled the streets, and there were reports of some confrontations between Han and Uygurs.

Reporters were generally unhindered in their work, though they remained barred from sensitive areas, such as Uygur neighbourhoods, and some news organisations complained of brief detentions.

Beijing has shown a determination to create an open environment for overseas media in the aftermath of Sunday's riots that left at least 156 dead and over 800 injured.

Xinjiang's local government also co-operated by arranging regular news briefings and a media tour, and providing internet access in the media centre, the only place in the region that has access after authorities shut down Web access to control the spread of information.

A Xinjiang spokesman promised to provide assistance and convenience for overseas media so long as it was safe to do so, Xinhua said.

Experts said it was crucial that the situation remained like this otherwise the mainland's attempts to improve its image and be seen as open and responsible would be harmed.

"It is already a great improvement for central authorities and media administrators to tolerate free reporting by foreign media in the city, compared with the total shut-down to the outside world in Tibet last March," Zhan Jiang , a professor at the journalism and communication department of the China Youth University for Political Sciences, said.

"As we could see, despite different news angles and news language, most of the overseas media has reported the Urumqi riots in a balanced way, which would help the world understand the damage caused by the rioters and earn more sympathy and support.

"The presence of foreign media would also help both sides keep calm in the chaotic situation," Professor Zhan said. "In front of the foreign media's cameras, the police would try to maintain maximum self-control and the protesters would probably stop displaying their anger and thirst for revenge."

But Professor Zhan cautioned that as the situation in the city remained complex, coping with foreign media was a major challenge for local authorities. "If they allow reporters to stay, they should try to ensure their reporting freedom and avoid actions such as detaining reporters or confiscating equipment."

"Central authorities have made great efforts to come up with sensible and transparent press policies for big emergencies, especially in the wake of the Tibet riots and the Beijing Olympics in 2008," Zhang Zhi, from the School of Literature, Journalism and Communication at Minzu University, said.

"In many propaganda officials' minds, they have realised that international media would actually help the world understand more about the real China, as their reports are more professional, more advanced and more easily received by overseas audiences than those from propaganda mouthpieces," Professor Zhang said.

"To allow foreign media to report freely in the city would greatly help the world get a sense of the damage the riots caused in Urumqi and what really happened," he added.

Professor Zhang suggested another reason the foreign media has been granted greater freedom was that the nature of the riots was already obvious.

"The maintenance of social stability is a more important and challenging task for the government and propaganda officials, and that is why the unofficial channels of information on the internet were strictly controlled," he said.

(South China Morning Post)  US groups accused of backing separatists    By Al Guo.  July 9, 2009.

The Communist Party's official newspaper, the People's Daily, blamed a number of US-based organisations yesterday for sponsoring exiled pro-Xinjiang independence leader Rebiya Kadeer, hinting that some government agencies and the US Congress may have channelled money to her organisation.

Its US-based correspondent wrote on the paper's website that the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a Washington-based foundation, was giving Ms Kadeer funding and listed Congress as the main sponsor of the organisation.

It is the first time since the riots began on Sunday that mainland newspapers have accused US organisations of sponsoring independence movements. Officials have blamed western countries for backing separatists in Xinjiang, but had refrained from singling out any government.

Shi Yinhong , a China-US relations specialist at Renmin University, said the article could be seen as a moderate warning, telling the west not to interfere, but that people should not interpret it as a direct confrontation with the US.

"China's Foreign Ministry officials are smart enough to know the fundamental difference between some human rights organisations, Congress and the US government," Professor Shi said.

"At the same time, it's possible that China wants the US side to understand that the Chinese government knows many things about Rebiya Kadeer and her US sponsors."

The newspaper said many other organisations in Washington had close relationships with Ms Kadeer. It said Ms Kadeer hosted her first press conference about the crisis on Monday at the National Press Club with the support of the NED, which receives backing from Congress through the US State Department.

Zhou Dunren , a US analyst at Fudan University in Shanghai, said it was unlikely that the State Department would say anything contentious on the issue.

"It's simply not in the basic interests of either country to create any friction on the Xinjiang issue, as they both need the other's co-operation on many other issues," Professor Zhou said.

The US needed co-operation from China, the largest holder of US Treasury bonds, to maintain its fragile markets. The US and China also needed each other over North Korea's nuclear aspirations and the global financial reform, he said.

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has said she was concerned about the Xinjiang situation.

"We know there is a long history of tension and discontent, but the most immediate matter is to bring the violence to a conclusion," she said.

Mrs Clinton's comments came as the World Uygur Congress, the pro-independence organisation that Ms Kadeer leads, claimed that hundreds of Uygurs had been killed by police during the riots and called for western diplomatic intervention.

Professor Shi said Washington's lack of verbal support for the Uygur congress was because most of the evidence indicated the riots were started by Uygurs, not the security forces.

"Suppose similar killings had happened in a US city. What would have happened?" Professor Shi said. "Police officers would have opened fire long ago without a moment's hesitation."

(The Globe and Mail)  Economic gulf, discrimination create tension in Urumqi.  By Mark MacKinnon.  July 8, 2009.

On Tuesday, as riot police moved to stop enraged mobs of Han Chinese and Uyghurs from attacking each other with clubs and knives, officers drew an invisible “red line” that neither side was to cross at the bottom of Yamalik Hill, on the western edge of this city in tumult.

After some tense moments and a few warning shots, the tactic worked, at least for the day. Police were eventually able to separate the Hans, intent on seeking revenge for bloody riots that killed 156 people the previous day, from the Uyghur men who had come out of their homes to confront them.

But no one needed to draw a line for the two sides to know where the Han area of Urumqi ends and the Uyghur district begins. An informal border has existed for decades, and the gap between the two groups has grown in the years since 1999, when then-president Jiang Zemin introduced his “Go West” campaign, which encouraged a huge influx of Han Chinese migration into the oil-rich northwestern province of Xinjiang.

With its broad, tree-lined boulevards flanked by supermarkets and karaoke salons, the neighbourhood that sprawls out from the bottom of Yamalik Hill could be found in almost any city in China.

The Uyghur neighbourhood atop Yamalik Hill, meanwhile, has more in common with parts of rural Afghanistan than with the rest of Urumqi. Just a few hundred metres up a winding road from a major thoroughfare, the steel-and-glass towers of the city melt away rapidly into mud-brick homes and bumpy unpaved roads covered in litter.

There are no sewers or running water, so drinking water is brought up the hill each day on donkeys and the smell of open latrines fills the air. The only hint of modernity is a train track that cuts between haphazard rows of houses.

Urumqi's modern city centre, where many of the residents of Yamalik Hill go to work as day labourers, glitters in the valley below.

“We all feel the difference. They live in high buildings and we live in these small houses,” said Ashan Saidi, a 39-year-old who recently lost his job as a street cleaner. “There are seven people in my family. We want to buy an apartment in the city, but we can't afford it.”

While the rich-poor divide is vast all across China – a country of 1.3 billion people that is one of the world's largest economies and yet is still poor on a per-capita basis – in Xinjiang that split is exacerbated by a religious and cultural divide almost as large.

The Uyghurs are a Muslim people of Turkic descent who speak their own language and have more in common culturally with neighbouring states such as Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan than they do with faraway Beijing. Home to 20 million people and occupying roughly one-sixth of China's land mass, Xinjiang briefly had independence in 1945 as East Turkestan, a status to which many Uyghur exile groups long to return.

But thanks in large part to Go West, the Uyghurs are no longer a majority in Xinjiang. Where 60 years ago they accounted for 90 per cent of the population, they now make up an estimated 45 per cent, with Hans accounting for an increasing share, especially in Urumqi, the provincial capital of 2.3 million people.

While Uyghurs and Hans have generally lived side by side in peace, there is growing resentment among Uyghurs about perceived discrimination that has boiled over in a series of violent incidents over the past 12 years. This week's rioting was the worst yet.

“If you live in Xinjiang you know [there's] tension between the two groups and it doesn't take much for this kind of violence to occur,” said Enze Han, a PhD student at George Washington University who is specializing in Chinese minorities and separatist politics. The situation in Xinjiang, he said, is similar to but even more volatile than that in Tibet, where ethnic riots last year left at least 19 people dead.

“Han Chinese, before 1949, were about 6 per cent of the population [in Xinjiang]. Now they're 40 per cent, and in reality probably more, but many of them have lived there for generations. They see it as home and they say if the Chinese government isn't doing enough, we'll take care of ourselves.”

The Uyghurs of Yamalik Hill spend their days wearing uniforms and working for Han bosses at construction sites and other menial jobs. They return home to a world where Muslim prayer caps and Pakistani-style dishdasha robes are the norm, and where the women wear head scarves and are rarely seen in the company of men to whom they are not related.

Underscoring the lack of cultural understanding on both sides, Beijing used the word “terrorist” on several occasions to refer to the rioting and the overseas Uyghur groups that Chinese authorities allege masterminded the unrest. Many Uyghurs, for their part, felt no safer after thousands of Chinese soldiers and police poured into Urumqi to put an end to the rioting.

Though most of Urumqi was under effective martial law Wednesday, with phalanxes of soldiers marching through the city centre and green military helicopters buzzing overhead, only a dozen riot police armed with clubs and shields were posted at the bottom of Yamalik Hill.

“We don't feel safe. We are afraid the Han people will come and attack our women and children,” said Tuarhun Abe, a 45-year-old restaurateur who said he and his neighbours were preparing to defend themselves with wooden clubs. The Uyghurs can't rely on police protection, he said. “Yesterday, when the Han people rushed up the hill at us, we rushed down to protect ourselves. The police didn't shoot at them, but they shot four bullets at us.”

Though the heavy military presence brought an end to the rioting Wednesday, rage still simmered on both sides of Urumqi's now open ethnic divide. In the city centre, groups of Han men roamed the streets, openly wielding weapons such as blackjacks and knives. At one point, a crowd of about 1,000 Han Chinese faced off with security forces, angry that police were arresting young Han men. There was at least one fresh attack, as six Han men beat and kicked a Uyghur man as dozens of other Han Chinese watched and cheered.

There's no agreement about how the situation got so bad so fast. The government and many Han eyewitnesses say that Uyghur mobs, enraged by a video posted on the Internet of a deadly brawl between Han and Uyghur workers at a factory in China's coastal Guangdong province, started attacking innocent civilians and setting shops and buses on fire. Uyghurs claim police opened fire on a peaceful demonstration by students, and that the majority of the dead are Uyghur. The government has left things murky by thus far declining to provide an ethnic breakdown of the 156 dead.

“The July 5 riot was not an ethnic problem, nor a religious problem, but a violent terrorist event which is against the country, against the nation and against humanity,” Li Zhi, head of the Urumqi Communist Party, told a press conference yesterday. He said the government would execute those responsible for the worst violence, and repeated the government's assertion that it had been directed from abroad by the World Uyghur Congress, led by exiled businesswoman Rebiya Kadeer, who is now based in Washington.

On the streets of Urumqi, military vehicles with speakers mounted on top put out the message that life would soon return to normal. “Please keep calm,” the recorded message said, alternately in Chinese and Uyghur. “What happened before was completely done by a few people. There is no ethnic or religious problem. Continue our harmonious life in Xinjiang.”

Though Hans and Uyghurs alike for the most part say they hope to see a swift return to normal, few believe it will be easy to move on after so much bloodshed.

Despite a government crackdown that has included blocking the Internet all over Xinjiang, as well as stopping mobile phone text messages and international calls, dangerous rumours, unsupported by any evidence produced in public, flew through the city yesterday. Hans told tales of how Uyghurs burned people alive and stripped Chinese women of their clothing during the riots. Uyghurs whispered of how Han mobs had beaten two old Muslim women to death and thrown a man into the river.

“I think there will probably be more chaos,” said Nie Jiangtao, a 42-year-old Han Chinese tour operator. He told how a group of his tourists from eastern China had been having dinner in the city's historic market when a mob of Uyghurs rampaged through with stones and clubs, savagely beating the tour bus driver and forcing Mr. Nie to hand over his mobile phone.

Mr. Nie said the government's show of force in the city yesterday came too late, and would do little to salve the anger of those who lost friends and relatives in the rioting. “The citizens feel the weakness of the government, so they have spontaneously gotten together with weapons to safeguard their homes,” he said. “This is irrational behaviour, but losing their families and friends is very painful.”

The sense that there is another round of violence yet to come, though perhaps not while the military is so heavily deployed in the streets, was shared by a group of Uyghur men who gathered yesterday outside the city's Kakhar Mosque to watch workers sweeping up the broken glass and rubble. The mosque was attacked on Tuesday by a group of Han Chinese looking for revenge after Sunday's riots.

“The mosque is the heart of the Muslim. They attacked our mosque and the government did nothing,” said a thin man with short black hair and a neatly trimmed beard.

Neither he nor any of the other men outside the mosque would give their name for fear of reprisals. More than 1,400 people, most of them Uyghur, have been arrested this week following the riots.

“I don't dare tell you my name,” the thin man with the beard said. “If I tell you, a few days later I will disappear.”

“There is nowhere we'd feel comfortable talking with you,” another of the men gathered outside the mosque said, sounding apologetic. “We have no rights.”

Hans and Uyghurs can't even agree what time it is in Xinjiang. Government offices and many Han-run businesses abide by the official dictate that Urumqi is in the same time zone as Beijing, nearly 3,800 kilometres to the east. As a result, the workday often begins while the sky is still dark, and ends while the sun is high in the sky.

Many Uyghurs, in quiet defiance of Beijing, take a look at the sun and set their watches two hours earlier. Many a meeting between Han and Uyghur has been missed in the confusion.

(Asia Sentinel)  Hu Gets A Black Eye in Urumqi.  By William Lam.  July 9, 2009.

Call it asymmetrical warfare with ethnic-Chinese characteristics. Yet for the first time since Chairman Mao Zedong invented guerrilla skirmishes in the 1930s, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership is in the receiving end of the volleys and bombardments from the Uighurs, a 9 million-strong ethnic grouping which has become a minority in its own territory.

Little wonder then, that President Hu Jintao, who dictates Beijing's policy toward Uighurs and Tibetans, has had to to scurry back to China half way through the G8-plus-5 conclave in Italy. This is the first time in recent memory that a Chinese head of state has had to cut short a foreign trip to attend to a domestic crisis.

The protests and riots that broke out on Sunday in Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang Autonomous Region (XAR) – as well as follow-up mishaps on Tuesday – are remarkable for several reasons. First, Hu, in his capacity as chairman of the Central Military Commission, already moved an estimated 80,000 troops and People's Armed Police (PAP) officers to Tibet and Xinjiang early this year.

This was in anticipation of the disturbances the Tibetans would stage in March to mark the 50th anniversary of the failed Tibetan Insurrection in 1959. There are obviously chinks in the armor of the CCP's usually highly rated control apparatus.

Secondly, the rioting took place in Urumqi, where Han Chinese outnumber Uighurs by four to one. (Only 9 million of the 21 million residents in the XAR are Uighurs, the rest include the predominant Han Chinese as well as Kazaks and other minorities.) Previous acts of violence – including at least four quasi-terrorist attacks on police and PAP officers in the Olympic month of August last year – by alleged Uighur terrorists -- mostly took place in western and southern Xinjiang, where Uighurs are the majority.

By Tuesday, police and PAP officers in Urumqi had arrested some 1,434 suspects. Yet even if, as is likely, more "anti-Chinese" elements in Xinjiang and Tibet were taken behind bars, this will only stoke the fires of hatred – and could result in more members of ethnic minorities taking part in guerrilla warfare against Han Chinese soldiers and police guarding the two autonomous regions.

Immediately after the Sunday demonstrations, Chinese authorities accused the foreign-based World Uighur Congress of masterminding the riots via messages sent through the Internet and other channels. Beijing has yet to produce conclusive evidence to back up this charge. Yet there is no denying that thanks to developments like the "Twitter Revolution" in Iran, it is a lot easier for Net-empowered Uighurs and Tibetans to organize anti-Bejing protests and other acts of defiance.

The Urumqi riots also show that undercurrents of mistrusts and mutual acrimony between Han Chinese and Uighurs have broken into the open. The Sunday demonstration was organized by Uighurs to show their displeasure over the fact that on June 26, a few dozen Uighur workers were beaten up – and two killed – by their Han Chinese colleagues in a Guangdong toy factory. Yet this protest soon morphed into a free-for-all slugfest between Uighurs and Han Chinese. And on Tuesday, hundreds of Han Chinese with self-made weapons were marching to the Uighur quarter of Urumqi to seek revenge.

Beijing authorities have to bear a lot of responsibility for the precipitous deterioration of ties between Chinese on the one hand, and Uighurs and Tibetans on the other. Since the first wave of protests broke out in March 2008, CCTV and other official media have relentlessly broadcast footage suggesting that Tibetans and Uighurs are accomplices of "anti-foreign forces abroad" and that they are unpatriotic and therefore untrustworthy. To this day, Uighur businessmen, some of them millionaires, working in coastal China are routinely turned away from 5-star hotels.

Given this background, it is doubtful how President Hu, who as Party Secretary of Tibet from 1988 to 1992 is regarded as the CCP's top authority on western China, could turn the tide. After all, Hu himself is the progenitor of the "get tough" policy toward both Tibetans and Uighurs.

After the scores of protests in March and April last year, Hu called off talks with the emissaries of the Dalai Lama. And in an open violation of the Chinese Constitution – which vouchsafes the two regions autonomous powers in areas including religion, language and education – police surveillance in mosques and monasteries has intensified.

Ethnic-minority intellectuals, including college lecturers, have been routinely questioned by the police. Moreover, high schools and universities in Tibet and Xinjiang have been told to boost Chinese-language teaching as well as ideological indoctrination geared toward propagating "patriotic and Party-loving" Uighur and Tibetan youths.

Draconian policies toward ethnic-minority groupings are also difficult to change due to the fact that the bulk of senior party, government and military officers in Western China are Hu protégés in as well as members of the president's Chinese Youth League Faction.

These include the Party Secretaries of Tibet and Xinjiang, respectively Zhang Qingli and Wang Lequn. Wang, who became a XAR vice-governor in 1991, has spent almost two decades in the restive region. He was inducted into the Politburo in 2002 as a reward for his work in taming the Uighurs.

After the large number of anti-Beijing riots in Tibet and Xinjiang last year, however, there are calls within the CCP's higher echelons for Hu to penalize or even sack Zhang and Wang. After all, these two powerful plenipotentiaries failed to contain the disturbances last year despite abundant intelligence that Tibetan and Uighur "troublemakers" would engineer disruptive activities to spoil the Summer Olympics.

The shrill tactics used by Zhang and Wang have also exacerbated tension between ordinary Han Chinese and ethnic groupings. So far, Hu has refused to penalize any senior officials in either Tibet or Xinjiang.

The Hu leadership now also faces more ferocious global criticism of its problematic human rights record. The troubles in Xinjiang have given a pretext to European politicians supportive of the Dalai Lama such as President Nicholas Sarkozy and Chancellor Angela Merkel to stick to their arguments that China the aspiring "quasi-superpower" has an obligation to meet global norms on its treatment of ethnic minorities.

Yet if, as is likely, President Hu continues to rely on brute force to contain malcontents among Tibetans and Uighurs, the situation could deteriorate – and the eventual blow to Hu's legacy would be devastating.

(New York Times)  For Poor Migrants, Grief in China’s Ethnic Strife   Edward Wong   July 9, 2009

As Muslim Uighurs rampaged through the streets of this western provincial capital on Sunday, Zhang Aiying rushed home and stashed her fruit cart away, safe from the mob. But there was no sign of her son, who ventured out amid the ruckus to retrieve another of the family’s carts.

“Call him on his cellphone,” Ms. Zhang, 46, recalled shouting to another relative. “Tell him we want him home. We don’t need him to go back.” Her son, Lu Huakun, did not answer the call. Three hours later, after the screaming and pleading had died down, Ms. Zhang went in search of him. A dozen bodies were strewn about. She found her son, his head covered with blood, his left arm nearly severed into three pieces.

The killing of Mr. Lu, 25, was a ruinous end to the journey of a family that had fled their poor farming village in central China more than a decade ago to forge a new life here in China’s remote desert region.

Mr. Lu and his parents are typical of the many Han migrants who, at the encouragement of the Chinese government, have settled among the Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking race that is the largest ethnic group in oil-rich Xinjiang Province. The influx of Han, the dominant ethnic group in China, has transformed Xinjiang: the percentage of Han in the population was 40 percent in 2000, up from 6 percent in 1949.

“We wanted to do business,” Lu Sifeng, 47, the father, said Tuesday, his eyes glistening with tears as he sat smoking on his bed. “There was a calling by the government to develop the west. This place would be nothing without the Han.” But migration has fueled ethnic tensions, as Uighurs complain about the loss of jobs, the proliferation of Han-owned businesses and the disintegration of their own culture.

On Sunday, Mr. Lu was among at least 156 people killed in the deadliest ethnic violence in China in decades. Rampaging Uighurs battled security forces and attacked Han civilians across Urumqi.

The riot had evolved from a protest march held by more than 1,000 Uighurs to demand that the government investigate an earlier brawl between Han and Uighurs in southern China.

The government, apparently hoping to tamp down racial violence, has not released a breakdown of the ethnicities of the 156 dead. But Mr. Lu’s father said that of more than 100 photographs of bodies that he looked through at a police station to identify his son, the vast majority were Han Chinese, most with their heads cut or smashed.

Each victim had a number. His son was 51.

“Of course, in recent days, we’ve been angry toward the Uighur,” Mr. Lu said. “And of course we’re scared of them.” The family came from Zhoukou, in Henan Province, a poor part of central China. They grew wheat, corn and soybeans on a tiny plot of land. There was little money in it, and the parents heard of a way out: friends from Henan had gone to distant Xinjiang and were making enough money to support relatives back home.

It was the late 1990s, and the central government had announced a push to develop the west, promising that investment would soon flow to those long-neglected lands.

Mr. Lu and Ms. Zhang went first. The younger Mr. Lu followed after graduating from junior high school.

It was far from a bonanza. Others from Henan were selling fruit and vegetables, so the Lu family bought wooden fruit carts. They got a spot at an open-air market off Dawan North Road, on the border between Han and Uighur neighborhoods. Every day, they pushed their carts to work at 8 a.m. and did not shut down until midnight. In a good month, the family netted $300.

“He wasn’t so satisfied with life here,” Ms. Zhang said of her son. “He was so tired here, and there wasn’t so much money.” Not a day went by that they did not miss their hometown, Ms. Zhang said. But until this past winter, they had never returned for a visit. They wanted to save the cost of train tickets.

They live in bare concrete rooms on the ground floor of an apartment block opposite the market. The kitchen has a makeshift two-burner stove a few feet from the parents’ bed. Most of their neighbors are fellow migrants from Henan and Sichuan.

At the market, about three-quarters of the 200 vendors are from those two provinces, the parents said. A handful of Uighurs sold fruit or raw mutton.

“Relations with the Uighurs were pretty good,” Ms. Zhang said. “There was a mutton stall beside the cart where my son sold fruit. On nights when my son didn’t want to bring his fruit home, he would ask the Uighur neighbor to keep the fruit inside his stall.” This past winter, the family took the nearly 40-hour train ride home for the first time. The parents had arranged for Mr. Lu to marry a 23-year-old woman from home. The couple had photographs taken: Mr. Lu in a white turtleneck lying beside his bride-to-be in front of a beach backdrop; the smiling couple sitting on a white bench, each holding teddy bears in their laps.

The family returned to Xinjiang after scheduling the wedding for the end of this year.

On Sunday, as on any other day, Ms. Zhang, her son and a young cousin pushed four carts to the market. Mr. Lu’s father had gone to another province to buy fruit wholesale.

Abruptly at 8 p.m., the manager of the market told people to shut down immediately. More than 1,000 Uighurs were marching through the streets to protest government discrimination. Street battles erupted when riot police officers armed with tear gas and batons tried to disperse the crowd.

The first wave of the rioters arrived minutes later, weapons in hand. The younger Mr. Lu dashed home first and Ms. Zhang followed him. When she got home, she found that he had gone out again to rescue another cart.

She cried for three hours until she dared go out to look for him.

“I thought, if I don’t find a body, then maybe he’s in hiding and still alive,” she said. “But I quickly found the body.” Mr. Lu’s father identified his son on Wednesday from a photograph at a police station.

“After we cremate the body, we’ll go home with the ashes,” Ms. Zhang said. The father stared at cigarette butts strewn across the floor. “We’ll never come back,” he said.

(New York Times)  China Warns of Executions as Riots Ebb   By Edward Wong.  July 9, 2009.

As Xinjiang Province in northwest China settled into tense stillness after three days of deadly ethnic violence, a Communist Party leader from the region said that those directly responsible for the killings of 156 people would be punished with the death penalty.

The official, Li Zhi, the party boss in Urumqi, which is Xinjiang’s capital and the center of the violence, said that many people suspected of being instigators had been arrested and that some were students.

“To those who have committed crimes with cruel means, we will execute them,” Mr. Li said at a morning news conference. “The small groups of the violent people have already been caught by the police. The situation is now under control.” He was echoed by China’s public security minister, Meng Jianzhu, who was quoted by the state news agency Xinhua as telling Urumqi residents that those who led the violence should be punished “with the utmost severity.” Underscoring the government’s concern over China’s worst ethnic violence in decades, China’s president, Hu Jintao, cut short a trip that was scheduled to take him to Italy for the Group of 8 summit meeting and to Portugal for a state visit. China’s Foreign Ministry said that the Portugal visit would be rescheduled and that another official, Dai Bingguo, would attend the meetings in Italy.

Xinhua reported scattered violence on Wednesday in Urumqi, where Sunday’s riots by ethnic Uighurs were followed by reprisal attacks by ethnic Han Chinese. But the government lifted an overnight traffic curfew, and a beefed-up military force, aided by helicopters clattering overhead, kept streets largely calm.

The Uighurs, a Turkic ethnic group, once were the majority in Xinjiang but now make up only about half of the province’s 20 million people. Urumqi has a population of more than two million, but Uighurs are greatly outnumbered here by the Han, who make up about 90 percent of China’s population.

News reports from here said that up to 1,000 Han protesters gathered on Wednesday but that squads of paramilitary police officers broke up the demonstration.

Xinhua reported that many neighborhood stores were closed after selling out of food and bottled water. Prices were reported to have doubled and tripled, even though the city brought 25 railway cars of vegetables into the city to alleviate shortages.

Urumqi’s mayor, Jerla Isamudin, told journalists that about 100 of the 156 reported riot victims had been identified and their bodies released to survivors, and that experts were using DNA tests to identify some of the others. Mr. Li, the local party boss, said that 9 of the 156 known dead could not be identified because their bodies were burned too badly for families to recognize them.

He did not account for the ethnicity of those who died, but one Han family member who reviewed photos of the dead, seeking to identify a relative, said in an interview that the great majority of the photographs were of Han victims.

(New York Times)  After Her Rise in China and Expulsion, a Uighur Becomes the Face of Her People    By Erik Eckholm.  July 9, 2009.

As the global face of resistance to what she calls the worsening Chinese repression of the Uighurs, Rebiya Kadeer is displaying the tenacity and sense of destiny that drove her improbable climb inside China in decades past, from laundry girl to famed business mogul.

The Beijing government that hailed her as a model citizen in the 1990s, before imprisoning her for stealing state secrets and sending her into exile in the United States in 2005, vilifies her as the unseen hand behind protests that erupted Sunday in the Uighur homeland of western China.

“All the difficulties in my life prepared me for the tough times we face now,” said the woman who is happy to be called the “Mother of the Uighurs,” in an interview on Tuesday.

In a plain wool suit and a traditional Uighur cap topping waist-length pigtails, Ms. Kadeer, 62, veered from impish humor and warmth — she leapt to pump the hand of a reporter who described visiting her childhood town — to intense, hand-waving condemnations of Chinese perfidy.

The walls of her small office in downtown Washington are covered with giant photographs of meetings with President George W. Bush and Laura Bush, and pictures of several of her 11 children, two of whom are now in prison in China. They were sentenced to long terms after she came to the United States and resumed work for Uighur rights.

The week’s events have catapulted Ms. Kadeer to a new level of global recognition, a prominence that seems belied by the few modest rooms here where she and a few aides press their cause with telephones, the Internet and passion.

This week, several office and personal phones rang incessantly, with reporters from around the world seeking a word. Still, it became clear that the Uighurs, long downtrodden and little known in the West, enjoy little of the glamour of their neighbors, the Tibetans. When Ms. Kadeer led a march to the Chinese Embassy on Tuesday, no more than several dozen supporters, mainly fellow exiles, showed up.

If she was disappointed, she gave no sign. In the interview and in her autobiography, “Dragon Fighter,” which came out this year, Ms. Kadeer described her survival through famine, persecution during Mao’s Cultural Revolution and then — as she threw herself into black-market trading of cloth, underwear and other items — the repeated seizure of her goods and money by corrupt or overzealous officials.

She claims that she had, from the beginning, an irrepressible devotion to Uighur self-determination. In her eyes, even her start in life brought an omen. Money and luck were running out in the mining settlement where her father hoped to strike it rich, she wrote, in a story that may be too good to investigate.

In accordance with tradition, her father went to bury the bloody birth linens. As he dug a hole, he suddenly shouted, “Gold!” From that moment on, she wrote, her parents said, “You don’t belong to us; you belong to the people.” What is indisputable is that from early on she was a determined and shrewd businesswoman willing to sell goods from a sack at the side of the road when necessary, buying and selling thousands of sheepskins or logs when she saw the chance. As China’s economy opened up in the 1980s, she expanded into real estate and flourished. By the 1990s she was running trading companies all over Central Asia, had built a famous women’s bazaar and then a seven-story department store in Urumqi, the capital of the region of Xinjiang, and ran a charity for Uighur women.

Her career had personal costs. In an unthinkable violation of Uighur custom, and angering her relatives, she traveled for months at a time, leaving young children with a working husband or relatives. “Of course it was difficult for me as a woman to leave my children,” she said. “But I found out that money is very important to the destiny of a nation, and I decided to find that money.” Five of her children are now in the United States, and have been working computers and phones night and day this week, she said. Another five, including the two in prison, remain in China, and one lives in Australia.

In the mid-1990s, as Chinese officials heralded her as an example of ethnic success and even made her a member of the national legislature, she tried to work for change and never lost sight of her political dream, Ms. Kadeer said.

“I was sincere in my interactions with the Chinese government. I was hoping to solve the problems of the Uighurs,” she said. “I still believe we can solve the problems.” But she started speaking out about Uighur problems and she kept ties with her husband, by then a dissident living in the United States. In 1999 she was imprisoned.

Ms. Kadeer dismisses Beijing’s charge that she planned last Sunday’s protests.

She is more than happy, however, to tell how she and the two organizations she heads, the Uighur American Association and the World Uighur Congress, both of which receive financial support from the National Endowment for Democracy, mobilized exile groups around the world to protest an incident in Guangdong Province in late June.

Chinese officials say that two Uighur workers were killed by a small group of Han Chinese, who have been detained; Ms. Kadeer says, with evident sincerity, there is evidence that a mob killed up to 60 Uighurs while the police did nothing. But her version has not been independently verified, and Chinese authorities accuse exiles of exaggerating the incident to incite anti-Chinese feelings.

The world congress, based in Munich, has just one paid staff member but is in touch with some 51 exile groups around the world. Ms. Kadeer said that by June 30 she had called all of those groups to encourage demonstrations outside Chinese embassies.

The rumors about mass killings in Guangdong were one trigger for Sunday’s protests, but Ms. Kadeer challenged Beijing authorities to release the transcript of a call she made to a brother in Urumqi on Saturday in which, she said, she urged him not to become involved in any demonstrations.

“Instead of blaming me, the Chinese government should start listening to the complaints of the Uighur people and choose dialogue,” Ms. Kadeer said.

Her fame and force of personality have given the Uighurs a huge lift, but some exiles wonder about her domination and future leadership.

“I’ve been looking for someone like me who can take over,” she said on Tuesday. For now, she said, “The people will not let me stop because my goal is their liberation.” “Until I lose my consciousness, I’ll stay on as the leader.”

(Strait Times)  Brutality reigns    By Peh Shing Huei.   July 9, 2009.

SHE tapped me on the shoulder and said: 'You are a reporter? Interview me. I have things to tell the world.' As I reached for my notebook, tears were already streaming down the face of toilet cleaner Zhu Xinqin, 60.

'Forty years in Xinjiang and I have never seen this. My neighbours are Uighurs and they treat me like their mother,' said the white-haired Han Chinese woman, who came to this far western region of China with her soldier husband decades ago. 'My heart hurts. It pains me. I saw what happened. First, the Uighurs attacked the Han Chinese. Then, the Han Chinese attacked the Uighurs,' she said.

The toilet she cleans is situated strategically at the South Gate, the scene of violent clashes on both Sunday and Tuesday. 'Please stop, please stop fighting,' pleaded Madam Zhu. 'Let's live a peaceful life. Peace did not come easily, let's not waste it like this.'

But the fighting continued in Urumqi on Wednesday, with a brutality I had not witnessed first-hand until now. When I was visiting the Uighur quarters on Wednesday morning to look at the damage caused by Tuesday's riots, a roar erupted from the adjacent Liberation South Road.

I ran out and saw a dozen Han Chinese men armed with makeshift weapons breaking through a police barricade and charging at a group of Muslim Uighurs. An Uighur woman screamed, but she and the Uighur men managed to flee, averting what might have been a bloody clash right next to a mosque.

The paramilitary, which was supposed to stop the two ethnic groups from attacking each other, did little. They did not pursue the men either. I thought that menacing scene was awful enough, but worse was to follow.

In the afternoon, groups of Han Chinese vigilantes standing along the streets were clearly baying for blood. On sighting a possible Uighur, some of the men would rush towards the person, shouting for revenge.

At about 3pm, the vigilantes found what they were looking for - a hapless Uighur. They chased him, caught him, pushed him down by the side of the road and began punching and kicking him. At least one of the attackers used a stick to clobber him.

When the paramilitary officers formed a ring around the victim, who was still breathing, the attackers refused to move away. Instead, they berated the officers for going to the Uighur's rescue. A teenage boy, ignoring the men in uniform, walked up and threw an empty water bottle at the floored Uighur. The officers did nothing.

The better times that Madam Zhu recounted to me with tears in her eyes might well remain only memories of the good old days.

(CRI EnglishNetizens Condemn Biased Reporting on Riots    By Ying Xinlian    July 9, 2009

Netizens slammed some Western media, including CNN, for biased reporting about the riots in Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, which left 156 people dead.

After analyzing the structure, selection of sources, and wording choice, some netizens urged Western media to stop repeating their mistakes in covering the Lhasa riots last year.

Some western media blamed the government and security forces for the violence, without even mentioning the brutal killings by those rioters, netizens said. The CNN report, "Unrest among Uyghur residents in China" (July 7, 2009), mainly used one anonymous witness and a spokesman for the World Uyghur Congress as the news source, portraying the event as a bloody crackdown over the peaceful protestors.

"The whole news structure shows that CNN is like the propaganda machine for the World Uyghur Congress, other Chinese are completely silenced, and how can the world learn about the whole truth in this way?" a netizen said.

In using the videos provided by Chinese media, the Western media coupled them with biased commendatory that the Chinese government is suppressing ethnic minority groups and transferring huge numbers of Han Chinese into Xinjiang to dilute the Uyghur culture .

A China Daily website reader who identified himself as Aussie criticized the biased reporting in some Australia media. "I read The Australian and Sydney Morning Herald reports about the riot. I notice the subtlety of words used to give support/sympathy to those rioters and terrorists.

"Somehow, the reports are more concerned with the rights of these rioters/terrorists than the crimes against the innocents citizens get caught in the scene! How irresponsible it is for these reporting agencies to show this biased news! " he said.

"I am truly ashamed of these new agencies. Unbiased reporting is only a fair dinkum way to readers irrespective of country involved!"

A post on anti-cnn.com reads: "I am very angry about the biased reporting. If you look at the video, you see people shed blood on the street, but what you hear from the commendatory is that Chinese armed forces suppressing the protestors."

"Naturally, the audience would think that those people died because of police action. But this is not the case. They were actually killed by the rioters. This way of editing video footages is politically charged and will make many Westerns confused. It only enforces the misunderstanding of China's ethnic minority policy," the post said.

Questions also surfaced over why the Western media failed to explain that tens of thousands of Uygurs work in big cities all over China. China is developing its market economy and everyone has the legal right to move freely and work in a place of their own choice, without discrimination of racial background.

"If Uygur are segregated and discriminated as some western media claimed, how can these Uygurs be working in Shaoguan, Guangdong province?" a reader commented.

The ethnics-based approach of analyzing the riot misrepresented the true picture in Xinjiang, a place home to 47 of China's 56 ethnic groups, including the Uygur (45.62 %), Han(39.87 %) and Kazak (6.99 %) ethnic groups.

Netizens believe that the western media's languages are not neutral, and the way of defining the brawl at a toy factory in Shaoguan best shows how the Western media try to orientate the Western readers' attention. To frame the brawl as racial violence is not only wrong in fact but also malicious in nature, they said, accusing some Western media continuously play up the ethnic tension in China through many ways, following the same intrigue of reporting the Lhasa riots.

They specifically mentioned the Times article "How unrest in China flared to violence" (July 7) , which emphasized the racial reading of the riots with the remarks "the antipathy between the two ethnic groups".

The AFP report also starts the report with sentences like "China poured troops into the restive city of Urumqi", immediately restraining people's attention to the dramatic scenario of crackdown, the netizens said.

It is also easy to find descriptions like "long-simmering ethnic tensions" in the Western media reports, such as in an AP report "China arrests 1,434 after deadly Xinjiang riots "(July 7). The Western media, either due to a lack of knowledge of the long-term relationship between two ethnic groups or an insidious purpose of inciting the ethnic tension, tries to imply that Han Chinese and Uygur can't live together peacefully, according to the netizens.

However, some readers suggest the Chinese be not overactive to the reporting methods of Western media.

"Media has its own way of operation and you can't expect the Western media to be objective and balanced," a netizen said on sina.com.cn.

"All they desperately need is people's attention, and that's why the toy factory conflict is framed as 'ethnic cleansing'. These concepts sell well in the Western world."

(Anti-CNN.com)

On July 8, Agence France Presse published a photo with the caption: "On July 7, 2009, a demonstration took place in front of the Chinese consulate in Ankara (Turkey).  A demonstrator held up a controversial photo issued by the American Uighur Association.  This photo shows the victims of violence during the Xinjiang riots.  After a tense period of several decades between the Han and Uighur people, a violent incident broke out in Urumqi (Xinjiang) on July 7, with 156 deaths and more than 1,000 persons injured.

The Agence France Presse also noted that this photo can be related to a car accident.

This photo is actually for an accident that occurred in Hanghzou on May 15, with resulted in injuries to a family of three on an electric bicycle hit by a BMW car.  The original story (including the photo) can be found at ifeng.com.

(Al Jazeera in English)

 

(Central News Agency)  Taiwan condemns riots in Xinjiang, urges China to be tolerant     By Sofia Wu   July 9, 2009.

Taiwan broke its silence Thursday on the recent riots in China's northwest Xinjiang province, condemning all those who instigated the deadly ethnic violence.

In Taiwan's first official response to the incident, Premier Liu Chao-shiuan said the bloody riots in Urumqi, the Xinjiang capital, deserve the strongest condemnation.

While urging that all parties involved in the confrontation exercise self-restraint, the premier also expressed the hope that Chinese authorities will demonstrate the greatest possible leniency and tolerance in dealing with the aftermath.

"We regret the communal violence in the Urumqi area in the past few days and are concerned about the heavy casualties resulting from the incident, " Liu was quoted as having said at a weekly Cabinet meeting.

The premier further asked that the Chinese government protect the properties and personal safety of Taiwanese citizens living, doing business or traveling in the Xinjiang area.

Noting that both Taiwan and China have signed the U.N.-sponsored International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Liu urged China to observe all of its ethnic groups' basic human rights, such as freedom of religion, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.

Liu's appeal came amid the worst outbreak of ethnic violence in decades in Xinjiang -- a sprawling, oil-rich territory that borders Pakistan, Afghanistan and other Central Asian countries. The region is home to the Uighur ethnic minority, who rioted Sunday and attacked Han Chinese, China's largest ethnic group, after holding a protest that was ended by police.

The crisis was so acute that Chinese President Hu Jintao cut short a trip to Italy, where he was scheduled to participate in a Group of Eight summit.

After three days of rioting, the Urumqi area has settled into tense quiet, as thousands of Chinese troops flooded into the city.

The incident has left more than 150 people dead and hundreds of others injured, according to foreign wire service reports.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet-level Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) issued a statement Thursday, calling on all relevant parties to remain calm and communicate with each other in a peaceful and rational manner.

The council also reminded Chinese authorities that social stability will be maintained only on the basis of upholding popular human rights.

It expressed the hope that China can accelerate reforms in line with the two U.N.-sponsored human rights covenants. "Only through reform and progress on all fronts, not just economic growth, can a harmonious society be achieved," the MAC statement added.

(Newsweek)  Bad Press.  By Mary Hennock.  July 7, 2009.

Last weekend's riots in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang province, represented the worst ethnic tension in China since marches by monks sparked anti-Chinese riots in Tibet last spring: 156 people died, at least 828 were injured, 261 buses and cars were torched, and 203 shops and 14 homes were burned down. Xinjiang's violence seems to have begun with a police crackdown on ethnic minority Muslim Uighurs protesting for justice on behalf of two Uighurs killed in a factory brawl in southern China. Even by the dubious official numbers, the death toll in Urumqi dwarfed last year's toll (22) in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa. Police have detained at least 1,434 people since Sunday, and there are 20,000 security forces patrolling Urumqi's streets today.

Crisis? What crisis? For perhaps the first time, China is managing the PR with aplomb. It moved just as swiftly to justify its crackdown as it did to deploy the crackdown itself. Party officials know that the riots risk tarnishing China's global image the way Lhasa did, so they have undertaken a swift program of public relations, getting the official version of the story out fast and busing in foreign journalists to visit the riot-torn city center. The Chinese are suddenly looking like credible spin doctors.

This is another step in the learning curve for the ruling Chinese Communist Party, accustomed to the one-party state privilege of going relatively unquestioned. Internet and mobile phones have made full news blackouts like after the 1976 Tangshan earthquake—or the 1997 riots and shootings in Yili (also in Xinjiang)—impossible, so the CCP has been forced to learn spin.

That's not to say news blackouts aren't in force. To contain the damage to its reputation, China's government has adopted a twin-track strategy with opposite treatment for old and new media. It swiftly shut off the Internet and mobile phones on Sunday to control news and imagery seeping out, while feeding the press and TV with pictures and information. Web connections were still unavailable late Tuesday in Xinjiang; mobile signals and texting services remained intermittent. Twitter has been blocked, too.

These measures are harsher than during the Lhasa riots, where residents remained able to speak to the outside world, though many were too fearful to say much. The contrast reflects Xinjiang's higher level of development and the government's greater anxiety, says Prof. Xiao Qiang at Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism. "Urumqi is a very wired city. … [If] the government want[s] to control this information, they have no choice" but to enforce a blackout, he says.

Unlike Tibet last year, the riot area remains open to foreign journalists, a sign that Beijing has learned media-management lessons from the globally hostile coverage it got for barring reporters in Tibet. The day after the Urumqi bloodshed, the State Council Information Office set up a Xinjiang Information Office in Urumqi to assist foreign reporters. It went further, inviting foreign media on a trip to Xinjiang to tour the riot zones, visit hospitals, and see the damage for themselves. Journalists were given CDs loaded with photos and TV clips. "They try to control the foreign journalists as much as possible by using this more sophisticated PR work rather than ban[ning] them," says Xiao.

Like Tibet, the presence of foreign reporters triggered a brave protest staged for their cameras. A group of about 200 women surged out of a market demanding the release of detained male relatives. For a moment, violence looked inevitable, but security forces stepped back. It was reminiscent of events in the Jorkang Temple in Lhasa when weeping monks burst in on the foreign press. Whatever the cost to the demonstrators, an unscripted moment was still a major embarrassment for the government.

Beijing has also used the Lhasa experience as a template to shape the message to its main audience, which is domestic. Official media depicts the rioters as thugs rather than people with political grievances. The approach is first to accuse a foreign-based exile group (in this case, the World Uighur Council) of inciting unrest and second to highlight the brutal violence between the region's two main ethnic groups—Uighurs, who make up half of Xinjiang's population and speak a Turkic language, and China's national majority, the Han. At the same time, state media ignores the role of the security forces in the body count.

Journalists on hospital visits have been shown Han Chinese with serious head wounds from beatings, and also Uighurs with bullet wounds. Yet the official Xinhua news agency's coverage has given most of its coverage to beatings of Han Chinese by Uighur rioters, such as taxi driver Zhao, who says he was assaulted by a baton-waving crowd of 20 who "beat me badly." The president of the People's Hospital said 233 of the 291 victims taken there were Han Chinese, while 39 were Uighur and some were from other minorities, according to Xinhua. The presence of Hui Muslims, another ethnic minority, among the victims highlights Muslim-on-Muslim violence, a tactic that could limit sympathy for Uighur separatists and undermine the claims of rights groups in the Arab world.

Another tried-and-true technique follows the script used in Tibet: Beijing has blamed exiled businesswoman Rebiya Kadeer for the violence. Kadeer, who heads a Washington-based confederation of exile organizations scattered through the U.S., Germany, Britain, and Australia, denies involvement. The provincial government has said "violence … was instigated and directed from abroad, and carried out by outlaws in the country." Similar florid language was applied to the Dalai Lama after the Lhasa riots; he was described as a "jackal in monk's robes." The official media "is very unified," says Xiao. "They all point to Rebiya Kadeer, they all have the same narrative, there's no independent reporting—it's a very highly controlled version of the story."

A final piece of spin targets the Uighur population directly and hints that the CCP feels it needs to address Uighur grievances. The Urumqi riot began when Uighur factory workers thousands of miles away in Guangdong province were falsely accused of raping Han women by a disgruntled former workmate. A fight broke out, killing two Uighurs and injuring more than 100. Since Urumqi's protest erupted, the government's Uighur-language TV channel has carried a statement from Xinjiang provincial government chairman Nur Bekri promising "strenuous efforts" to investigate the killings in Guangdong. On Tuesday, Xinhua also reported 13 arrests over the false allegations. This attempt at redress segments the message. Awareness of local grievances is aired on regional TV in the Uighur language, while the wider message of Uighur thuggery plays to a receptive national audience. Prejudice against Uighurs often portrays them as violent criminals. "There's this stereotype of Uighurs, that they're thieves or … involved in the drug trade," says Prof. Barry Sautman, a specialist on China's ethnic policies at Hong Kong's Science and Technology University.

To be sure, the CCP can't answer every uncomfortable development. Whereas the Dalai Lama has raised Tibet's profile over many years, the Xinjiang riots threaten to highlight a previously obscure ethnic issue. Critics of China's treatment of the Uighur Muslim minority had already made headway in the U.S., which is still searching for a country willing to accept 14 Uighurs released from Guantánamo Bay. (U.S. judges agreed with the detainees' lawyers that they risked execution if sent back to China, where the courts deal harshly with anyone suspected of opposing Beijing's rule over Xinjiang, whose 10 million Uighurs make up half the region's population and speak a language close to Turkish.) With 1,434 fresh Uighur detainees, China puts itself back in the cross hairs of international human-rights groups. Beijing may have learned spin doctoring, but it's unlikely to buy the adage that there's no such thing as bad press.

(TelegraphUrumqi: criticism and credit for the Chinese police    By Peter Foster.  July 9, 2009.

For the first time since Sunday’s violence a sense of normality is returning to the streets here.

I went out this morning at 8am immediately after curfew was lifted and things were definitely feeling more relaxed – many more cars on the roads, people doing their tai-ji in the parks, women returning from the vegetable markets laden with fresh produce, even a few dog-walkers.

There is still a very visible police presence - helicopters circling overhead and massive convoys of armoured personnel carriers, water canons and trucks carrying paramilitary police winding slowly through the city as a constant reminder that the forces of law and order are ready to act at a moment’s notice.

A note on the performance of the Chinese police during this crisis: from what I’ve seen they have been highly disciplined and professional under extremely challenging circumstances and deserve real praise for this.

On the one hand, it could be argued that the police failed in the first instance. Certainly that is the view of many Han people we’ve spoken too who are deeply angry that Sunday’s killing was allowed to take place at all.

It seems that the police were taken completely by surprise. Having broken up the original demonstration around the People’s Square and the South Gate on Sunday night between 6pm and 8pm, they failed to anticipate the extreme violence that was unfolded along the side-streets after about 10.30pm.

Perhaps this was because Urumqi, unlike Kashgar, is generally felt to be a stable - I hesitate to use the ‘H’ word (harmonious) - city where relations between Uighur and Han are nothing like as tense as in other parts of Xinjiang.

Then on Tuesday, the police appeared to get caught out a second time when, having focussed on locking down the Uighur areas, they seemed unprepared for the huge number of Han who took to the streets with their clubs and other weapons to show their anger over what they say was effectively an anti-Han pogrom carried out by thuggish Uighur elements on Sunday night.

These are fair criticisms, but equally the Chinese police and paramilitaries must be given huge credit for handling the situations that did arise.

On Tuesday they walked a fine line between confronting the Han protesters - keeping them separate from the Uighur community at a time when there was a real sense of blood lust in the air - and allowing them they chance to vent their legitimate anger and frustration.

In the event, the Han crowds on Tuesday effectively were allowed to go round and round in circles, exhausting themselves in the hot sun while never actually being allowed to reach the objects of their anger. To my mind, this was very smart policing.

Then on Wednesday, after an overwhelming show of force, the police made sure that the Han protestors largely stayed off the streets.

Similarly on Tuesday when a crowd of Uighur women and children of the Sai Ma Chang (Racetrack) district led a protest against the arrest of their men, the police contained the protest - showing force, but judiciously withdrawing a few hundred metres just at the moment when it looked as if things might get nasty.

I don’t claim to be an expert in riot control, but I have reported on mass protests in many different cities around the world - in the UK (football riots in London), in Africa (Harare and Lagos), in Pakistan (Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar) and in several cities in India - and I’m happy to say that China’s police have showed far greater professionalism, discipline and restraint than I’ve observed in many of those places.

Riots are feverish and unpredictable things and it only takes one nervous recruit to lash out (and if you look behind the visors, many of the Chinese police are pretty young) and suddenly a controlled situation can turn very nasty indeed.

All credit to the Chinese foot-soldiers, therefore, who have shown great professionalism and must be applauded for preventing any major further bloodshed after Sunday night.

They are neatly turned out, quiet and orderly when off-duty - for example, they don’t leave a trail of litter after chow-time like India’s police always did. These are small things but they do matter, since they set the tone.

If there is any criticism to be made, as outlined in the two points above, it should be directed at the commanders and officials who failed to anticipate events.

The next test for the police is how they handle the cases of the 1,400 arrested people, mostly Uighurs. The innocent must be returned unharmed to their families, while the guilty must be punished. Both sides, Uighur and Han, need to be satisfied by this process. It won’t be easy.

On that note, I shall shortly be departing for London on a summer break, but my colleague Malcolm Moore will be keeping you up date on China news with tweets and blogs from Shanghai and beyond.

For now, it’s ‘zaijian’ from me.

(The Wall Street Journal)  As Calm Resumes in Xinjiang, China Vows Punishment for Rioters  By Shai Oster and Jason Dean.  July 9, 2009.

Chinese President Hu Jintao presided over a meeting of the country's top leaders who vowed "severe punishment" for those responsible for the deadly unrest in the country's northwest, state media reported Thursday, in the first public account of Mr. Hu's actions since he hurried home from a global summit to oversee the response to the turmoil.

Mr. Hu convened a meeting Wednesday night of the Politburo standing committee, the Communist Party's ultra-powerful nine-man governing group, to discuss "issues relating to the Xinjiang riot," the official Xinhua news agency reported Thursday. The group agreed that stability in Xinjiang, where riots Sunday killed 156 people and injured over 1,000, is the "most important and pressing task," and said the government will "firmly crack down on serious crimes including assaults, vandalism, looting and arson" to maintain stability.

In Urumqi, the Xinjiang capital where the violence took place, some signs of normal life began returning as a heavy security presence maintained a second day of relative calm. Cars were allowed to pass freely on the city streets, pedestrians seemed more at ease and the makeshift weapons wielded by vigilante mobs on Tuesday were nowhere to be seen.

A sweeping deployment of security personnel established tense calm in Urumqi Wednesday, following the deadly clashes on Sunday between ethnic Uighurs and Han Chinese, the country's dominant ethnic group, and the resurgence of violence on Tuesday. Still, there were scattered incidents of unrest. A Uighur man was badly beaten Wednesday afternoon by a Han mob within sight of the local Communist Party headquarters, despite many police stationed nearby, multiple witnesses said. Tuesday night, Uighur residents had set up barricades and armed themselves with clubs and knives, fearing more revenge attacks, said one witness.

Many Han families were still trying to find family and friends they hadn't heard from since Sunday.

The violence has turned a region long plagued by simmering ethnic anger into a major crisis for the ruling Communist Party. Mr. Hu's sudden return early Wednesday, an unusual move for a Chinese leadership that generally sticks to its script, underlined the intensity of official concern.

Mr. Hu had been noticeably absent from public view since he returned, and Thursday's report was clearly aimed at demonstration for the Chinese public that he is firmly in control of the government's response to the Xinjiang violence, as well as to reinforce the government's push for calm. Mr. Hu has personal experience with issues of ethnic unrest, as the top official in Tibet during an uprising there in 1989.

The standing committee blamed the violence on "terrorism, separatism and extremism at home and abroad," its statement said. "The unrest has resulted in great losses to people and done great harm to local order and stability. … Instigators, organizers, culprits and violent criminals in the unrest shall be severely punished in accordance with the law," the statement said. "Those taking part in the riot due to provocation and deceit from by separatists, should be given education."

The comments were similar to those Wednesday of the top party official in Urumqi, Li Zhi, who in a televised news conference called for ethnic unity but promised to deal harshly with those found responsible for the violence. "To those who committed crimes with cruel means, we will execute them," he said, the Associated Press reported. The statements appeared to be intended to quell the ethnic bloodlust as well as warn Uighurs that they would be held responsible.

Wednesday's show of force in Urumqi, which followed an 11-hour curfew beginning Tuesday night, was boosted by an influx of paramilitary police and soldiers from other cities, including Beijing and Lanzhou, the regional military headquarters. Earlier in the week the state-run Xinhua news agency reported 20,000 police and troops had been deployed, and as of Wednesday the security presence in Urumqi was even greater.

Helicopters patrolled overhead and cordons of security forces in riot gear monitored the streets as other troops marched carrying assault rifles fixed with bayonets. The security presence was heaviest in Han parts of the city that saw resurgence of violence on Tuesday.

City officials declared the situation was "under control," and there was no repeat of the official curfew Wednesday night, although police throughout the city broadcast messages on loudspeakers urging people to return home and remain calm.

It remains unclear how Uighur protests Sunday erupted into large-scale ethnic violence. The government hasn't provided a breakdown by ethnicity of Sunday's fatalities. Officials said Wednesday they have identified the bodies of about 100 of those killed.

An uneasy calm also held Wednesday in other Xinjiang cities. In Kashgar, an ancient Silk Road city to the west, shops along main thoroughfares were ordered to close for three days, starting Tuesday, residents said. Large numbers of People's Armed Police paramilitary troops patrolled Uighur neighborhoods there, and on the streets of Hotan, a city in southern Xinjiang, after nightfall.

Officials now face the difficult challenge of trying to reduce ethnic antipathy that was already intense before this week's events, to try to prevent further outbreaks of violence. "It's very hard in such a circumstance to find some kind of ethnic reconciliation," said Dali Yang, a professor of Chinese politics at the University of Chicago.

The government tried to defuse anger over an event that helped to trigger Uighur protests on Sunday that then spiraled into rioting. Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking, mainly Muslim group, have long complained of discrimination by China's Han-dominated government, and were incensed in recent weeks by a clash between Han and Uighur workers in a southern Chinese factory last month.

In that incident, rumors that Uighur migrant workers at the plant had raped Han Chinese women prompted enraged Han workers to attack their Uighur co-workers. State media said two Uighurs were killed and dozens more injured.

The state-run Xinhua news agency Wednesday published an interview with what it said was the young woman at the center of those rape allegations of sexual assault, quoting her as saying that the whole episode was a misunderstanding. The woman, identified as 19-year-old Huang Cuilian, said she accidentally entered the wrong room of a factory dormitory and, frightened at the sight of two young Uighur men inside, let out an "unintentional scream" before walking away, unmolested.

Xinhua said that it was her scream, apparently misinterpreted by male Han workers, that triggered the deadly fight at the plant.

In Urumqi, some Han Chinese, familiar with state manipulation of information, remained convinced that an assault took place and the government is covering it up to avert ethnic strife.

The circumstances of Sunday's violence remain murky. One witness who watched demonstrations from a window of the Urumqi People's Hospital said at first there was what appeared to be a peaceful crowd, with regular police trying to disperse them. But at one point, the crowd set a car on fire and became violent.

Many Uighurs remained in detention early Thursday. One 21-year-old woman said she hadn't heard from her brother since he was detained along with hundreds of others. "They report about Uighur violence, but they haven't reported about what the Han did," she said.

Uighurs aren't the only Muslim community in Urumqi. There are also many members of a separate ethnic group known as the Hui, who have also been swept up in the violence, and several have been killed. "My family has been here for generations," said a 34-year-old Hui man surnamed Wang. "What happened here was caused by the ignorant who can't tell right from wrong."

Chinese authorities have been trying to control the unrest by blocking the Internet, including social networking sites such as Facebook, and blocking texting and international phone services on cellphones. At the same time, police have generally been allowing foreign media to cover the tensions.

In part, controls on the flow of information appear aimed at preventing fresh outbreaks of violence and to hamper the ability of Han or Uighur protestors to organize. On the day of the violence local bloggers posted graphic photos of it online, apparently spurring some of the Han vigilante anger.

(Far East Economic Review)  All Eyes on Xinjiang.  July 9, 2009.

Suddenly, the world’s attention is on Xinjiang in remote western China. This is a welcome development, as it will help to mobilize the kind of change that needs to take place, though it is unfortunate that ethnic strife has had to exact such a terrible cost to life and limb for the region to garner outside interest.

Those who would bear witness to the situation in Xinjiang have long faced barriers to access. I myself have been unable to get a China visa for six years. My offense was to write a chapter on the economy of Xinjiang for an academic volume on this “autonomous region.” Ethnic unrest has been a persistent feature of Xinjiang life under communist rule. But eruptions of violence have always been quickly contained, and passed with little outside notice. This time is different. And when “the whole world is watching,” as the Vietnam War protest cry went in 1960s America, a movement can gain traction.

What makes Xinjiang so volatile is a simmering resentment by the native Uighur people against repression by the Han majority. Uighurs in many respects are denied the opportunity to live the life they desire. They are inhibited in the practice of their Islamic faith. They are limited in their access to economic opportunity. And, not unlike their Han Chinese counterparts, they are denied basic freedoms of expression and assembly.

China’s ethnic-minority problems are deeply rooted, and resolving them will require change of a systemic nature. China is not a society that embraces pluralism. Difference is seen as a threat and little quarter is given to alternative points of view or ways of life. The government controls many aspects of people’s lives and livelihoods, and local officials have a great deal of power within that context, power that is subject to abuse whether toward Han or toward minorities. But minorities suffer more under a system where prejudices can weigh on official behavior. This in turn brews resentment among those systematically victimized. An acrimonious dynamic builds and festers. This can happen with minority groups anywhere, but in China there is more scope for those who have power to abuse it. And there is no voice for those who have grievances.

Han Chinese will point to many special preferences given to minorities—for example, in getting into university or gaining positions in government. Some fault the Uighurs themselves for lacking the wherewithal to succeed economically under China’s market reforms. But Uighurs were some of the most enterprising people in all of China back in the mid-1980s. They fanned out across cities along the eastern seaboard to change money, open restaurants and engage in trade. The curb market in currency trading was so dominated by Uighurs in those days that foreigners referred to it as the “Bank of Xinjiang.” More recently, Hans have migrated to Xinjiang in droves seeking economic opportunity. But part of the reason Han Chinese are so successful in Xinjiang is that Uighurs are blocked from competing. My Xinjiang work originally focused on cross-border trade with Central Asia. Uighurs have a hard time getting visas and licenses, and generally working in a system controlled by a Han-dominated government, so Hans from outside Xinjiang have been able to move in and occupy this niche.

The Chinese government has blamed the recent riots on Rebiya Kadeer, a Uighur woman living in exile in the United States. Ms. Kadeer denies any involvement in the events. But, she is a factor in why the world is now watching, and that is a contribution of sorts. She is being spoken of in the same breath as the Dalai Lama, who has long given global visibility to the plight of Tibet. With her autobiography published in English in May, the Uighurs finally have an appealing figurehead.

Beijing brands Ms. Kadeer—and anyone else who presents a suspected threat—a “separatist.” I’m told by sources inside the Chinese government that I have also been labeled a separatist. Let us consider the situation realistically. Xinjiang is a deeply landlocked region. All its mineral wealth will do the natives no good if they cannot bring these resources to market. The people of Xinjiang need a good relationship with Han China in order to survive. At the same time, many Hans have spent their lives in Xinjiang and the place is their home too. Separating Xinjiang from China is not an option.

So how are the tensions to be resolved? The problem is systemic and the solution will have to be systemic. That is a long-term and wrenching proposition. It calls for a more open society where different viewpoints can be accommodated in the political process and grievances can be addressed through the legal system. Fortunately, there are Han voices advocating for change in this direction as well. Many people of all ethnicities are making great sacrifice for the cause. The world should be watching, and offering its support. And academics like me should be welcomed to do research.

(Telegraph)  China begins the hunt for Xinjiang rioters   By Peter Foster and Malcolm Moore.  July 9, 2009.

Mr Hu who abandoned the Group of Eight summit in Italy to deal with the situation in China's far West, has discussed the riots with the Politburo and labelled them a "severe violent criminal event".

The local government in Xinjiang has already said it will apply the death penalty to the instigators of the clashes between local Uighur Muslims and Han Chinese, which began last Sunday.

Over 1,400 people have already been arrested in connection with the riots, but the authorities stepped up the hunt for those responsible yesterday, pasting notices across Urumqi urging rioters to turn themselves.

The notices, written in both Chinese and Uighur, said that those who hide or protect "criminals" will also be punished In Beijing, a prominent university professor has been detained for "just posting reports on his blog", according to Reporters without Borders, an organisation promoting free speech.

Ilham Tohti, an ethnic Uighur, was arrested after Nur Bekri, the governor of the far Western province of Xinjiang accused his blog of fomenting the riots on national television.

He subsequently disappeared from his home in the capital. Minzu University, where he teaches economics, was unable to comment on his whereabouts.

Mr Tohti was warned last month that his postings about Han Chinese and Uighurs violated the law. In a final telephone call earlier this week, he said he would not publish information about the clashes in Urumqi because the timing was too sensitive.

Li Zhi, the Communist party secretary in the city, said that many people suspected of the inciting riots had now been arrested, including some students."

The small groups of violent people have already been caught by the police. The situation is now under control," he said.

A sense of normality has returned to the streets of Urumqi for the first time since Sunday's violence. Citizens could be seen performing their morning tai chi exercises in the park, walking their dogs and going out to the vegetable markets to stock up on fresh produce.

Many more shops were open and office workers began returning to work after a massive influx of police on Wednesday quelled the threat of further disorder and revenge attacks.

Neighbourhood committees organised themselves to deliver handcarts full of water-melons to the paramilitary police as a 'thank you' for their work preventing further major bloodshed in recent days.

Wang Jun, a 55-year-old housewife, who was delivering melons to the police said she felt finally felt 'safe' after four days of tension.

"The panic and worry that I've been feeling these last few days has subsided," she said, adding that she was optimistic that relations between Han and Uighur communities could be mended in the coming days, weeks and months.

"I was very angry at first, but as the days of gone by I realise that this is a temporary emotion that must pass. I think this violence was done by a small 'separatist' element that do not represent the majority of ordinary Uighurs who, just like us, also want safety and stability." Across the street, a Uighur hotel security guard, Tuoheti, 28, said he also believed that Han and Uighur could heal the wounds inflicted by the events of the last four days.

"This has been a terrible time, the riot controls have imposed great inconvenience on everybody and we're all happy to see that stability is returning." Not everyone was satisfied with the police response. Shopkeepers returning to business for the first time since Sunday expressed anger that the authorities had not moved more swiftly to restore order in the city.

Wang Yu, the 43-year-old owner of a shop selling jade necklaces and carvings, said: "The government and the police could have stopped this on the first day, but their performance was weak. I have lost nearly 10,000 yuan (£920) in these past four days." Mr Wang added that the veneer of normality that had returned to the city could not disguise the deep wounds that Sunday's killing had inflicted on community relations in the city.

"On the surface, everybody is trying to get on. Han and Uighur wave and smile to each other in the street, but deep in their hearts this incident has left a thick knot of distrust which will not be easily or quickly undone."

(Global Times)  Rebiya Kadeer fakes photos of Xinjiang riot.  By Liu Chang.  July 9, 2009.


Rebiya Kadeer, head of the World Uyghur Congress holds a photo
of the Xinjiang riots in an interview with the Qatar Al Jazeera.


A pictures pubished on Nanfang Weekly’s website
on June 26 of an incident in Hubei Province in central China.

Rebiya Kadeer, the well-known Uyghur dissident now living in exile in the US who is believed to be behind the Xinjiang riots on July 5, used an old news photo of a different incident in China when talking about the Xinjiang riots to clarify that she and her organization were not responsible for the incident in Xinjiang.

In a video clip on Youtube, Kadeer was interviewed by the Qatar Al Jazeera. She held a blown-up photo of Chinese policemen standing in lines on the streets to illustrate how the Chinese army dealt with “the peaceful protesters in Urumqi”. “My people are surrounded by the Chinese army. How could they start an attack?” asked Kadeer.

However, the photo she used was found to be another photograph capturing a mass incident that happened in Shishou, Hubei Province in central China, which is thousands of kilometers away from Xinjiang. The photo was first published in Nanfang Weekly’s website on June 26 in a news story titled, Fight over the bodies in Shishou.  
 
In the video, when the Al Jazeera showed a clip of a Han Chinese girl being attacked on a street in Urumqi and asked how Kadeer felt about it, she said, “My people are protesting peacefully. Their actions are peaceful actions.”

The news of the fake photo spreads over China’s Internet quickly, and stirred indignation. A web user commented that Kadeer is “crazily ridiculous in faking the photos”, and the deed is “not only a joke to her ‘peaceful’ mask, but also a humiliation on the IQs of the international community”.

(Yazhou Zoukan)   EastSouthWestNorth blog points out mistakes in western media reports on Xinjiang.    July 19, 2009 ssue

As violence continued to develop in Xinjiang, Hong Kong resident Roland Soong once again caught attention through his EastSouthWestNorth blog ( http://www.zonaeuropa.com/weblog.htm ).  EastSouthWestNorth has collected the major reports from China and overseas new agencies and media on Xinjiang, arranging them in chronological order for comparison.  He also includes a number of translations from Chinese to English and a number of bilingual reports.  During the process, Roland Soong found two obvious mistakes

There was a photo that was cited by overseas media extensive as "confrontation between police and citizens" did not actually come from Xinjiag.  Instead, it was the photo that Southern Metropolis Weekly published on June 26 about the Shishou (Hubei) incident.  Roland Soong said: "As soon as I saw the picture, I recognized it.  But western reporters may not be aware of mistaken photos that come from the Internet."  This mistaken photo was circulated by Reuters which sourced it to Twitter.  Later on, Reuters issued a correction.

Roland Soong also pointed out that another picture was used mistakenly in the Boxun collection of photo of the 7.5 incident.  This photo was a photo of a wounded Xinjiang thief in Shanghai's People's Plaze dated August 2008.

Roland Soong said that it was wrong for media to use "Tiananmen incident" to compare with the Xinjiang disturbance this time.  But Roland SOong also belives that the western media has not been as biased as they were for the 3.14 incident in Tibet last yeat.  "I personally don't think that anyone went overboard with total disregard of the facts.  The reporters were reserved about what they wrote.  They may have absorb the lesson already.  Operationally speaking, the sensationalistic headlines might have been written by editors [back home] who don't even know where Xinjiang is."

(Spiegel)  "The Reality is Far Worse than Television Pictures Suggest"   By Sebastian Fischer.  July 9, 2009.

Corpses litter the streets and hunger and chaos prevail in China's Xinjiang province, claim members of Munich's Uighur community, the largest such group in Europe. In constant touch with Uighurs back home, they allege the death toll is much higher than the official figures.

The headquarters of the World Uighur Congress (WUC) amounts to a couple of rooms, tucked in the attic of a 1960s-era block near Munich's central train station. More than 500 Uighurs live in the capital of the German state of Bavaria, making it the biggest such community in Europe. Asgar Can, the organization's vice president, sits between a German flag and a Uighur one, which resembles the Turkish banner, except it is blue instead of red.

"We assume that the situation in the Xinjiang province is far worse than television pictures suggest," he says. The World Uighur Congress maintains contact with Uighurs in their homeland, "our fellow countrymen who phone us with information are risking their lives," he says.

Dolkun Isa, WUC's general secretary, walks into the room, clutching a piece of paper. It contains the latest reports of the unrest in the giant province in Western China. The group now estimates that up to 800 Uighurs have died, Isa says, adding that he is unable to give a more precise number. Official Chinese figures claim that 150 people have been killed in the clashes between the Chinese and Muslim Uighurs.

Isa claims one attack took place on a medical school in Urumqi, the regional capital. He alleges that four Uighur students were stabbed and beheaded by Han Chinese, "their bodies were hung in the faculty entrance," Isa says, citing eyewitness reports. According to a separate report, 150 Uighurs died during an attack on workers in a tractor factory in the northwestern city.

WUC Vice President Can says Uighurs are too afraid to leave their homes -- they fear they might get killed outside on the streets. In the meantime, they are starving. In Urumqi, "corpses litter the street like bits of furniture," he says. Demonstrations are allegedly continuing in the cities of Kashgar, Aksu, Hotan and Karamay, and curfews have been imposed on the local populations. In many cities, water and electricity supplies have been cut, he says.

Chinese leaders are blaming the World Uighur Congress for the latest escalation. In particular the WUC's Washington-based president Rebiya Kadeer has become a scapegoat for the unrest. "Our initial findings indicate that the separatist World Uighur Congress under the leadership of Rebiya Kadeer has fuelled the violence," the Chinese state news agency Xinhua claims, citing information from the regional government. Can angrily rejects such claims. He is in close contact with Kadeer and spoke to her a night earlier. "She is stunned that she is being held responsible," he says.

Tension Flares

Kadeer, in a recent guest editorial published in the Wall Street Journal, blamed the Chinese for the escalating violence. She also condemned violence by Uighurs and said Han Chinese and Uighurs need to "achieve a dialogue based on trust, mutual respect and equality." She urged the US to take on a key role, saying Washington should condemn the violence in the Chinese province and open up a consulate in Urumqi. That step, she argues, could calm tensions in the area.

For its part, China is taking a tough line on the conflict. The head of the Communist Party in the Xinjiang province, Li Zhi, has threatened that the government will execute those responsible for the latest violence, according to the Associated Press. The wire service reports that many people, mostly students, have already been arrested on suspicion of murder. Early Wednesday morning, the authorities imposed a curfew in Urumqi after thousands of Han Chinese took to the streets a day earlier, armed with sticks, knives and metal poles.

Authorities dropped thousands of flyers from helicopters above Urumqi and called for calm among the 2.3 million residents. Some citizens erected barricades to avert further street fights. "We just want to protect our homes, we don't want to attack anyone," says a spokesman for the Uighurs.

Chinese police swarmed Urumqi on Wednesday in a bid to contain the protests, which have endured for days. The arrests of a number of alleged Han Chinese leaders from among a 1,000-strong group of demonstrators sparked scenes of aggression. "Let them free, let them free," called the demonstrators. The presence of large numbers of security forces calmed the city center at least. Armored military personnel carriers patrolled the streets.

Along with Tibet, the Xinjiang province is one of the most politically volatile regions of China. Bordering on Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, it is strategically important -- with ample oil reserves and China's biggest supply of natural gas. It is so important that Chinese President Hu Jintao cancelled his plans to attend the G-8 summit in Italy due to the violence. German Chancellor Angela Merkel had reportedly wanted to speak to him about the regional unrest.

The World Uighur Congress says the province should be given the right of self-determination. "The people should decide," says Asgar Can. At the moment the conditions are not in place for that to happen. If his people do call for independence one day, he says, then they would establish a democratic system. Can says it could be modelled after the East Turkistan Republic that existed in the region between 1944 and 1949, when it became part of the People's Republic of China. He adds: "We have never had the intention of founding an Islamic country."

Can says he is also appealing to the German government to accept the remaining 13 Uighurs still being held in the US Guantanamo detention center.

(New Statesman)  A legacy of repression.  By Isabel Hilton.  July 9, 2009.

President Hu Jintao’s abrupt departure from what was to be another demonstration of China’s growing importance in the world, the G8 summit in Italy, confirms what the fragmentary press reports have been telling us: that China’s public face of unity and growing prosperity cannot disguise the fissures of a contemporary imperial project that lacks a persuasive narrative or a workable political model.

To hear Beijing tell it, the trouble is down to one leader in exile and a handful of separatists. The evidence – first in the toy factory in Guangzhou where, in June, Han Chinese rampaged through a workers’ dormitory attacking Uighur workers; and this past week on the streets of Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang Autonomous Region – is of ethnic hatreds fed by decades of colonisation and discrimination.

The violence has broken a cherished thread in Beijing’s contemporary narrative: that Xinjiang, like Tibet, has been part of that elastic and untranslatable entity we know as China for 2,000 years, and that its one million Kazakhs and ten million Uighurs are citizens, like any other, of the great motherland, united in a love of the party and, today, of the neo-Confucianism that Han China now wishes to substitute for Maoism as the state ideology.

Most Uighurs do not subscribe to China’s assimilationist state mythologies. Why should they? Like the Tibetans, when Uighurs travel

to the capital they are regarded with suspicion and hotels routinely deny them entry. (Even Uighur government officials have trouble finding lodgings in Beijing.) They know that they are suspected of acts of terrorism at home and abroad, subjected to special measures and repressive campaigns against everything from their historic memory to their language and religion.

The state project that Uighurs are expected to support continues to treat them, like the Tibetans, as backward peoples to whom the Han have extended the benefits of civilisation. Han Chinese saw the militia units (bingtuan), which spearheaded the Han colonisation of Xinjiang in the 1950s, as exemplars of heroic self-sacrifice, “opening up” the frontier, and the continuing ingratitude of the Uighurs and other minorities remains puzzling to many Han.

But the people of Xinjiang (the name means new frontier) see things differently. Only in very modern times has a Han Chinese government in Beijing attempted to rule over this distant part of central Asia. It was conquered in the 18th century by the Manchu, who had also conquered China, and the 19th and 20th centuries were punctuated by repeated uprisings and armed incidents. Xinjiang was incorporated into the People’s Republic of China in 1949, after decades of local power struggles and the deaths, in a mysterious plane crash, of the entire leadership of the putative independent state of East Turkestan. Since then, there has been a continuing rumble of discontent, with intermittent serious episodes, some encouraged by the Soviet Union, others (in the Cultural Revolution, for instance) a reflection of China’s own chaotic politics.

Last year in London, at an emotional public event held to discuss the Tibetan uprising, an Uighur couple asked why Xinjiang received so little attention in the west. Like Tibet, Xinjiang suffered from state repression such as the “Strike Hard” campaign, launched in both regions in the 1990s. Like Tibet, Xinjiang has endured 50 years of state-directed Han immigration and suffered targeted attacks on its languages, religion and cultures, arbitrary detentions and the assassination in exile of prominent figures, and the exploitation of its rich natural resources. As an added injury, it has been China’s chosen nuclear testing ground, a programme that, the Uighurs believe, has left a legacy of contamination, sickness and death.

The answer to the couple’s question is a reflection of the limitations of western perceptions: there is no charismatic religious leader in exile to play the Dalai Lama role for the Uighurs; Xinjiang’s largely Sufi Islam lacks the appeal for the west of Tibet’s Buddhism; add to that the alphabet soup of resistance groups and factions since the 19th century and the result, for those who prefer their Davids and Goliaths clearly labelled, is a confusing story. But it was the US that gave Beijing licence to treat the Uighurs as it wished when, following the 11 September 2001 attacks, it added a Xinjiang grouping to its list of Islamic evildoers. Beijing rapidly adopted a similarly Manichean rhetoric: henceforth, all Uighur discontent would be a symptom not only of “separatism”, but of the contamination of global jihad.

It was a dangerous move for a country largely protected, until then, from radical Islam by its strategic relationship with Pakistan. Beijing has failed to make the case that Uighur terrorism (used to justify repression in Xinjiang) has been a significant threat.

What has happened, however, is that Beijing’s policies and China’s now relatively open borders have allowed increasing numbers of Uighurs to go abroad, where they form an increasingly vocal lobby for Uighur rights. The Chinese state, and the Han majority, blame the troubles on the malice of “outside forces ” and a leader in exile – in this case, the charismatic 62-year-old Uighur businesswoman, Rebiya Kadeer, now based in Washington, DC.

Kadeer was once the poster child of China’s ethnic policies and market reforms. She made a fortune in the first wave of economic liberation in the 1990s and was elevated to national prominence as a delegate to the National People’s Congress. But Kadeer proved insufficiently “loyal” to the assimilationist policies of Beijing: a department store she owns in Urumqi became a cultural centre for Uighurs, and she used her wealth to support education and culture at home, enough to arouse the suspicion, then the hostility of Beijing.

She was finally imprisoned on charges of betraying state secrets. Only if Beijing comes to understand that people like Kadeer are a symbol of what is wrong with Chinese policy, not the cause, will there be hope of a better relationship between Beijing and its unhappy far west.

(People's Daily)  People's Daily frontline reporters attacked by rioters in Xinjiang.  July 8, 2009.

At around midnight on July 8, the People's Daily reporter team had just finished their work gathering news on the 7.5 incident in Urumqi.  They were in two SUV's heading back to base.  In the first car were the team commander Wang Weimin, reporters Wang Nan, Kong Shijian and You Haibi with driver Yang Luxin.  In the second car were deputy commander Dai Feng, reporters Zeng Huafeng and Liu Weitao and driver Wang Guobin.  Since certain roads were closed due to the curfew, they had to take the detour on Hehuai Road to head backwards.

At around 0:15am, the cars reached the bridge at the intersection of Hehuai Road and Xinyi Road.  Suddenly a group of people dashed down from the hill by the road.  These people were armed with axes, machetes and iron rods.  They surrounded the cars and they screamed.  The reporters inside the car yelled: "We are reporters" but the crowd paid no attention.  Instead, they attacked the cars with their weapons.  Within seconds, the bumpers, engine hood, car lights and windows of the first vehicle were vandalized.  There were also multiple dents on the car roof, as someone even attempted to climb and attack the roof window.

Driver Yang Luxin kept his cool and swung his car left and right to force the rioters to back off.  Then he reversed the car quickly.  In the second car, former Special Forces soldier Wang Guobin braked immediately and also used the same tactics to beat back the rioters.  The rioters evaded the cars while seeking for new opportunities to attack.  One wave after another of rioters rushed up and yelled: "Kill them!  Kill them!"

The two cars continued to swing left and right.  Suddenly, the two cars collided against each other.  The two drivers kept their calm and drove their damaged cars in search of escape.  People's Daily frontline reporter team commander Wang Weimin directed the cars to look for weak points while using her mobile phone to call the police.  The veteran international reporter Wang Nan was in the front seat next to driver, and he ignored the axes and rods aiming for him to provide directions to the driver.  Finally, the first car was able to break away.

The rioters continued to attack the second car.  All the windows were broken.  The engine hood were covered with marks left by the axes.  The deputy commander Dai Feng was in the front seat next to the driver.  He directed the driver while reminding his colleagues to evade the blows coming at them.  To Zeng Huafeng's right was a hole in the window made by an axe.  To his back, a knife came through a hole in the window and fell on the seat.  Fortunately, Zeng Huafeng was far away from the window.  Zeng Huafeng suffered injuries of the back of the right hand from the cut glass.

Wang Weimin told the driver: "Let us see if their car made it out.  If not, we have to return to rescue them!"  Through the rearview mirror, the driver saw that the second car also made it out.

When the second car got out, Dai Feng's first question: "What about their car?"

The two cars sped and reached safety.  Everybody finally breathed a sigh of relief.  If the drivers had made a mistake, or did not reverse properly, or the car engines stalled, the consequences would be unthinkable!

Even then, they did not dare to lower their guard: it is entire that there are rioters still ahead.  By this time, there was traffic curfew everywhere in Urumqi.  So they had to park underneath an overpass on Hehuai Road while they wait for the police to come.  The streets after the riots and the bushes look pitch black.  Periodically, they got onto a high spot to observe their surroundings.

During this period, many other cars passed by after experiencing the same kind of attacks.  The cars suffered numerous damages.

By 0:45am, the first police officers arrived at the scene.  By 1:20am, a fully armed contingent of police officers arrived to collect evidence.  At 4:00am, the team finally headed back to base.  During the trip, the reporters observed many broken glass pieces on the road.  At the Xinyi Road overpass, there was an overturned sedan in the middle of the road.  The police told the reporters: "This just happened.  We had already removed the debris during the day yesterday."

(Christian Science Monitor)  Spiritual mother of Uighors or terrorist?  By Peter Ford.  July 9, 2009.

Her followers dub her "the spiritual mother of the Uighur people" and one admirer nominated her for a Nobel peace prize. The Chinese government calls her "an ironclad separatist colluding with terrorists and Islamic extremists."

Until this week, Rebiya Kadeer was the rather obscure leader of the little-known "World Uyghur Congress," which groups exiles from China's restive far-western region of Xinjiang.

She has rocketed to international prominence, however, on the back of accusations by Beijing that she was the "black hand" who instigated the most savage rioting to have hit China in 60 years. In last Sunday's violence in Xinjiang's capital, Urumqi, the Chinese government says 156 people died and more than 1,000 were injured – apparently mostly Han Chinese bystanders.

"She did as much, or more, than the Dalai Lama and his clique to sow resentment among the ethnic Uighur people and instigate their discontent and hatred towards the government," the Peoples Daily, official mouthpiece of the ruling Communist party, charged in a shrill editorial Tuesday.

That was a back-handed compliment. "In a sense, the Chinese have handed her a propaganda victory by suggesting that she has so much authority over Uighurs" in Xinjiang, says Gardner Bovingdon, an expert on Uigher affairs at Indiana University in Bloomington.

Ms. Kadeer, a petite woman in her early 60s who now lives in Virginia, denies the allegations. "It is a common practice of the Chinese government to accuse me for any unrest in East Turkestan" – the name Uighur activists give Xinjiang – she said in a statement earlier this week.

Kadeer, mother to 11 children, former millionaire and ex-jailbird, has a colorful, and painful, past.

Once she was the richest woman in Xinjiang, having amassed a fortune trading commodities with neighboring Central Asian countries and owning Urumqi's largest department store.

Officials would bring foreign visitors to meet her, as living refutation of Uighurs' complaints that Chinese policies relegated them to second-class citizenship.

She was even named to the prestigious Chinese Peoples Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), a parliamentary advisory body. It was on the floor of that chamber that she changed her colors, dramatically.

In her autobiography "Dragon Fighter," Kadeer recalls how she had grown increasingly resentful of China's colonial-style treatment of her fellow Uighurs. At the 1997 meeting of the CPPCC she rose to speak. "Is it our fault that the Chinese have occupied our land? That we live under such horrible conditions?" she asked.

The speech cost her all her official positions and earned her the enmity of the Chinese government. Two years later, she was arrested on her way to meet a US congressman visiting Urumqi, charged with tax evasion and leaking state secrets. She was convicted and sentenced to eight years imprisonment.

She served only five years before she was released on health grounds and allowed to seek political asylum in the United States.

There, she immediately became active in Uighur exile politics, lobbying Congress, making speeches and organizing protests outside the Chinese Embassy in Washington. "She is good at galvanizing a roomful of people and getting them to feel a sense of urgency," says Prof. Bovingdon.

In Chinese eyes, this was a violation of her "pledge never to engage in any activities that could jeopardize national security" in return for her release, as Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang put it on Tuesday. Since her arrival in the United States, two of her sons in China have been imprisoned.

The Chinese government views the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) as a separatist movement bent on independence for Xinjiang, a resource-rich and strategically important region bordering Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Kazakhstan among other nations. Beijing is intensely sensitive to threats to its territorial integrity both there and in Tibet.

The WUC is ambiguous about its ultimate goals, saying on its website that its main objective is "to promote the right of the Uighur people to use peaceful, non-violent, and democratic means to determine the political future of East Turkestan."

As an umbrella group that pulled together a number of smaller exile Uigher organizations, ranging from outright separatists to cultural prerservation activists, the WUC "illustrated that these organizations could be brought into a broad church given a sufficiently vague platform," says Bovingdon.

This week, the Chinese authorities have made renewed efforts to portray the WUC, and its leader, as the front for the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), which the US State Department has classified as a terrorist organization – largely on the basis of Chinese security reports.

That "won't wash," argues Bovingdon, who says he has searched hard for links between the two organizations. "I have seen no evidence of any connection between the WUC and ETIM," he says bluntly.

Allegations that Kadeer was responsible for starting Sunday's riot, at least publicly, are based on a phone call she made to her brother in Urumqi on Sunday during which she said "something might happen in Urumqi tomorrow night," according to the state-run Xinhua news agency.

Kadeer told a press conference in Washington that she had expected protests about the recent death of two Uighur migrant workers at the hands of a Han mob in Guangdong Province, and was merely warning her brother to stay away from them.

(MSNBC)  Anger and Hatred on the Streets of Urumqi.  By Bo Gu.  July 9, 2009.

As we drove through the empty streets of Urumqi, I was immediately reminded of the unrest in the Tibetan capital Lhasa last year – but with one key difference.

Here, in the remote capital of China’s northwestern Xinjiang province, there were few pedestrians, truckloads of armed police, smashed windows, and lots of scared people – just like in Lhasa in March 2008 when 22 people were killed, according to official numbers.

In Urumqi, officials have said that 156 people were killed and more than 1,100 injured as a result of the violent ethnic riots between the Uighurs and Han Chinese on Sunday.

But what separates Urumqi from Lhasa is the deep sense of hate between this region’s two majority ethnic groups: the Turkic-speaking Muslim Uighurs and the Han Chinese, the dominant ethnic group in China as a whole.

"I’d like to kill some Uighurs too! They’ve killed so many innocent Hans!" said one Han passerby when were filming in a downtown street.

In response to Sunday’s riots, hundreds of Han Chinese took up their own weapons on Tuesday and marched through the streets seeking revenge, chanting slogans like "Defend our country!" 

Han Chinese have also been expressing their anger at the Western media that they perceive as overly sympathetic toward the Uighurs in their reporting.

While we were wandering down Urumqi’s main road filming closed shops and armed police, a young Han Chinese man followed us and continuously cursed for about five minutes.

"I hate these f*&%&*% Western reporters," he said with his fists clenched. "They only support the killers, they support separatism and lie all the time."

Another Han Chinese man stepped in while we were trying to interview a young Uighur man. "Why are you interviewing him? He doesn’t represent us!" the Han Chinese man shouted.

When I told him we would interview him after, he refused and told me that Americans, journalists and politicians should not interfere in China’s business.

As we walked down the street trying to resume our previous conversation with the Uighur man, the Han Chinese man became more agitated and started to make phone calls. I was not sure if he was calling his friends to join him, so I abandoned the interview out of safety concerns. I could still feel his furious stares even as we walked further down the road.

The exact number of Han Chinese and Uighurs killed in the violence remains a mystery; officials have not released an ethnic breakdown of those killed.

Han Chinese people and their properties were the main targets when the Uighurs rioted on Sunday, angered over the alleged murder of two Uighur workers at a toy factory in southern China last month.

"You know why there’re so many armed police in the streets now? They want to prevent us from taking revenge!" said another angry Han Chinese man as he shook his head. "I just can’t believe how those Uighurs just murder so many innocent Hans. Are they animals? If they are animals, they ought to be wiped out."

Is Xinjiang – a sprawling, oil rich territory that borders several strategic Central Asian countries and makes up a sixth of China’s land – becoming divided along ethnic lines? Whether its communism, Islam, capitalism, independence or ethnic unity that people believe in, all they can express right now is anger.

And nobody knows how much time Urumqi, an ethnically mixed city just four hours by flight from Beijing, will need to heal from all the violence.

(Deutsche Welle)

中国媒体大规模报道官方指称的"疆独境外领袖"热比娅,称其为七五事件的"海外黑手"。此外,中评社发表标题为"热比娅接受半岛电视台专访用假照片歪曲真相"的文章,报道称热比娅在接受访问时展示了一张军警封锁街道的照片是前不久发生的湖北石首的警民冲突中所拍摄的照片。

德国之声在半岛电视台网站上找到了相关视频,画面显示热比娅7月7日接受采访,否认策划乌鲁木齐骚乱,在采访最后阶段,热比娅取出这张争议照片,并表示在众多军警在场的情况下,维吾尔人的和平示威不可能造成大规模流血冲突。

世界维吾尔代表大会新闻发言人迪里夏提针对中国媒体的质疑做出回应说:"热比娅在进入采访(电视棚)之前手上根本没有任何图片,而是她在进入采访之前,门前突然有人给她提供照片,她提着照片就进入了采访室。接受采访出来以后,本想感谢提供照片的人,但在整个美国就没有找到这个维吾尔人,就找不到这个人了。现在整个美国的所有维吾尔人都在寻找这个人,因为他们见过这个人,但现在找不到了,现在我们很紧急的找这个人。"

迪里夏提表示,世界维吾尔代表大会认为这是中国政府派人策划实施的阴谋,意图败坏世维会和热比娅本人的名声,世维会将追查实施者的身份。

[in translation]

The Chinese media have gone on a large scale to accuse "overseas Xinjiang independence leader" Rebiya Kadeer of being the "overseas black hand" behind the 7.5 incident.  Also, ChinaReviewNews has published an essay titled "Rebiya Kadeer used fake photo to distort the truth during the Al Jazeera TV interview."  The reporter said that Rebiya Kadeer exhibited a photo of civilian-police confrontation during the interview that actually came from an earlier incident in Shishou (Hubei).

Deutsche Welle located the relevant video on the Al Jazeera website.  The video showed that Rebiya Kadeer denied that she planned the Urumqi disturbance.  Towards the final stages of the interview, Rebiya Kadeer took out this controversial photo and said that it was impossible for the peaceful Uighur demonstrators to cause large-scale bloodshed in the presence of so many soldiers and police officers.

The World Uyghur Congress spokesperson Dilshat Reshit responded to these doubts raised by the Chinese media: "Before Rebiya entered the television studio, she did not any photo on her hands.  But just before she walked in for the interview, someone handed her the photo right at the door.  She brought the photo into the studio.  After the interview, she wanted to thank the person who provided the photo.  But this Uyghur person was nowhere to be found anywhere in America.  We cannot find this person.  Right now, all the Uyghurs in America are looking for this person.  They had seen this person, but they can't find this person anymore.  Right now we are urgently looking for this person."

Dilshat Reshit said that the World Uyghur Congress believes that the Chinese government sent someone to plan and execute this dirty trick in order to ruin the reputation of Rebiya Kadeer and the World Uyghur Congress.  The World Uyghur Congress will track down the identity of the person who did this.

[ESWN Comment:  This person (if exists) may have been fooled by Reuters which published the photo sourced to the Internet and "killed" it several hours later.  Here is the "kill" order as published in this week's Yazhou Zhoukan.

(AFP)  China extends hand to foreign media, but tightens grip elsewhere   By D'Arcy Doran    July 9, 2009.

Foreign journalists have been given unprecedented access in the aftermath of deadly unrest in Urumqi, in what China has hailed as a new era of openness to the outside world. At the same time, however, the government has choked the information flow within China, shutting down the Internet in Urumqi, cutting phone lines and blocking Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and other independent websites.

"They're trying to seize the initiative and guide the coverage instead of just reacting passively as they did last year to the riots in Tibet," said Willy Lam, a Chinese politics expert at US think tank the Jamestown Foundation. Beijing's new tactics are not only a response to the anti-China riots in Tibet last year, which gave China a public relations black eye before the Olympics, but also the protests in Iran after last month's election, Lam said. "They have been watching the Iranian situation with a lot of nervousness, particularly this so-called Twitter revolution," Lam told AFP. "Globally, Beijing's image to a certain extent has improved because of this. There has been less criticism of Beijing and total censorship this time compared to last year."

Unlike in Tibet and for other sensitive news stories in China, foreign reporters have been allowed into restive Xinjiang region, of which Urumqi is the capital, and given freedom to interview people on both sides of the unrest. But their access has not been unfettered. Some journalists have been detained for a short time and police have occasionally stopped others from conducting interviews. Other difficulties have been caused by curbs on the Internet, international phone calls and mobile phone lines that the government has said are aimed at cutting Xinjiang residents off from the outside world. Those measures appeared to be a bow to the power of Twitter, Facebook and other Internet forums. Lam said it remained to be seen how long the access for foreign reporters would last. "They are just testing the reaction -- if the end results turns out to be very negative, they will put the brakes on again," Lam said.

During last year's deadly earthquake in southwest China, access for foreign press was initially lauded as unprecedentedly open but was quickly curbed as the focus shifted from humanitarian efforts to corruption and protests.

The openness after the riots may also indicate Beijing is realising it has become increasingly hard to keep information hidden, said David Zweig, a China expert at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. "They know they didn't do very well in Tibet ... rather than journalists not have access and get stories from Uighurs overseas, this way they go in and see for themselves," he said.

Photos of foreign journalists working in Urumqi have appeared in Chinese newspapers alongside daily updates on how many journalists are in the city. Despite the state-run media's attention paid to the presence of foreign reporters, their own reports bear little resemblance to those produced by foreign media and they continue to strictly follow the government agenda. Images in the Chinese media have typically shown bloody Han Chinese injured in the violence along with torched buses and other damaged property.

The state media's focus on Han Chinese victims while not telling the Uighurs' story risks causing longer term damage, William Moss, a Beijing-based PR executive and media commentator, wrote on his blog Imagethief.com. "It inflames the very tensions it attempts to paper over. And, with marvellous efficiency, it inflames them on both sides," Moss wrote. "Uighurs are given the impression that their concerns are considered unworthy of acknowledgement by the State ... Other Chinese, meanwhile, are deprived of any context for the riots."

(China.org.cn)


Dong Yuanyuan was brutally beaten by rioters in Urumqi on Sunday July 5. She was married just three days before, on July 2, and has had no news of her husband since the attack. [John Sexton, China.org.cn]

24-year-old Dong Yuanyuan had been married for just 3 days when she and her husband were attacked by rioters in Urumqi on Sunday July 5. She should be spending the happiest week of her life on honeymoon in Shanghai, but instead she is lying badly injured in Urumqi's People's Hospital.

She last saw her husband just before she was beaten unconscious, and she has no idea if he is alive or dead. She can only pray that he survived; perhaps, like her, being treated in an intensive care unit.

Dong described how the bus they were traveling on was brought to a halt by a hail of stones. The driver told the passengers to get off and run for their lives, but the couple soon found themselves surrounded.

Dong said their attackers were from the Uygur ethnic group. Because she was born in Xinjiang and lived in her home town of Yili until the age of 19, she was able to stall them with a few words of Uyghur. But once they realized she was from China's majority Han ethnic group, they began to beat her mercilessly. She has no doubt she was attacked simply because of her ethnic background.

A Uygur woman saved Dong's life by picking her up and hiding her in a room above a nearby shop. Dong watched, terrified, from the upstairs window as the bus she had been traveling on was set on fire.


Ma Weihong's 6-year-old son was with her when she was attacked by rioters in Urumqi on Sunday July 5. Ma's husband sits silently at her bedside, unable to take in what has happened to his family. [John Sexton, China.org.cn] 

Although Ma Weihong's six year old son is not old enough to grasp just how serious his mother's injuries are, he has clearly been traumatized. Alternately playful and close to tears, it was heart-rending to see him posing for the press cameras.

Ma was attacked by a group of rioters as she was shopping for the family supper. She was kicked to the ground, then beaten and stabbed by five or six men. Her teeth were broken and her face is swollen to twice its normal size, but she is mainly thankful that the rioters spared her son.

Ma's husband sits in shocked silence by her bedside, seemingly unable to come to terms with what has happened to his family.

(Times Online)  Search for Han Chinese sister whose family were butchered by Uighurs.  Jane Macartney.   July 10, 2009.


The family grocery shop yesterday. The bodies of the family were left to burn by the mob

What was once a grocery shop is now a blackened mess. Two boys in shorts and singlets play in the rubble but the usual occupants are absent. Five days ago a Han Chinese family was butchered in this small shop — victims of the Uighurs who rampaged through Urumqi.

Yu Dongzhi described how he clawed through the smoking ruins of the store to search for the family who lived there. He hoped to find his sister, Yu Xinli; her husband, Zhang Mingying; their 13-year-old son; her elderly mother-in-law; and a nephew aged 27.

The police helped him to dig among sacks of flour and bottles of rice wine melted by the heat of the blaze.

He found no survivors, only four bodies. He has yet to discover the fate of his sister.

Mr Yu is a heavily built man in his fifties and more than 6ft, but he almost weeps with despair. “I just hope I can find my sister in an intensive care unit of one of the hospitals. But so far, nothing.”

He has checked the mortuaries and photo galleries of unclaimed bodies held by the police, but his sister was not among them.

He has been refused access to the intensive care units. “I don’t say that I want to go in to disturb these very sick people, but why can’t they show us photographs of the injured? At least then I could find my sister,” he said.

Mr Yu cannot bear to think that she may have been dragged away by the rioters and murdered.

Just coping with the deaths of his sister’s family has almost overwhelmed him. The bodies were among the corpses whose pictures have been carried in local newspapers. So shocking was the family tragedy that one newspaper carried a special report on it. Police have confirmed the killings.

As The Times stood outside what is left of No 447 Zhongwan Street, a Han neighbour approached. She had watched the killings from her home in an apartment block overlooking the store.

“We saw hundreds of Uighurs running down the street on the afternoon of July 5. About ten suddenly rushed into the store. They began to hit the people inside, even the old mother, with bricks and stones. They tried to run outside. Then they were dragged back inside.

“There were terrible screams. Just wordless screams. But then very quickly they fell silent.”

She said that the son tried to hide in a chicken coop but was dragged out and his head was cut off. All the victims were left to burn inside the building. The corpses of the boy and his father were found beheaded. Mr Yu said: “Even the 84-year-old mother was stoned and then burnt. It was terrible, terrible. So cruel.”

Mr Yu made his way yesterday to a temporary emergency centre in an Urumqi hotel. At some desks clerks helped Han and Uighurs to process requests for compensation for damaged cars or destroyed businesses.

In a corner, two women waited at a desk for families seeking missing loved ones or reporting the deaths of relatives. This was where Mr Yu hoped to find help in the hunt for his sister. Officials were unable to explain what he could do next.

He sat in the hotel room-turned-office surrounded by relatives, just waiting. “I still have to keep up my hopes,” he said.

Mr Yu is too busy looking for his sister to organise the funerals for her family. That painful task will come next.

More than a decade ago his brother-in-law moved from central Henan province to run a successful business in a district with a high proportion of ethnic Uighur residents. “Perhaps they were jealous of his success. They clearly targeted the family. It looked as if they had decided in advance to pick on my sister. The police are pursuing the case and they have made some arrests,” said Mr Yu.

Nearby, a Uighur family run a small restaurant. The man shrugged when asked about the family who only a week ago ran a thriving business. He refused to talk about his late Han neighbours.

(Christian Science Monitor)  Why China's ethnic riots help the Communist Party    Editorial    July, 2009.

Just as the new mantra in Washington is "Never let a crisis go to waste," so too did Beijing's leaders find an opportunity this week to take advantage of the ethnic riots between the country's dominant Han and the Muslim minority Uighurs.

Amid disturbing images of protesters killing each other – with more than 150 killed – China Central Television made sure to highlight those scenes in which the Han were victims of attacks by Uighurs. Official images also showed crowds of local Han welcoming truckloads of security forces and denouncing "foreign" influence.

And to make sure millions of overseas Han hear of such attacks, the government allowed foreign media into Urumqi, the capital of China's far western Xinjiang region and the traditional homeland of the Uighurs. Messages of outrage from the overseas groups were then reported in the heavily controlled press.

This is a notable shift from ethnic riots in Tibet last year, when the foreign press was barred from the Himalayan region and China's media played down attacks on local Han by Tibetans.

Perhaps one reason for this difference is that the Han are becoming more restless as the economy worsens. Protests are rising as jobs disappear. China's ruling Communist Party may have decided to try to unify them with scenes of Han as victims.

Keeping the Han majority unified is critical to the party staying in power. Even though they make up 90 percent of China's 1.3 billion population, the Han have stark linguistic and cultural differences among themselves. And China has a long history of rebellions between the various Han groups, such as the Cantonese and Fujianese.

After 1949, when Mao Tse-tung ruled China, the Han were united under communism, or "socialist labor." In fact, Mao tried to curb Han chauvinism against ethnic minorities. But after his death in 1975 and as communism was no longer a social glue, the party began to turn to Han nationalism for its legitimacy – while also remaining wary of historic differences between Han groups.

As the party knows well, any sort of nationalism in China, whether Han, Tibetan, or Uighur, can easily get out of hand. The government recently had to put an end to anti-Japanese protests – which it encouraged – when the protests quickly escalated. It has since tried to define a vague sort of "rational" nationalism.

Yet the party is willing to play with this fire when public outrage against "the other" helps its political survival.

Stoking Han nationalism, for example, helps the party win support and investments from the wealthy Han in other parts of Asia and in North America.

After this week's riots, a prominent and exiled Uighur leader, Rebiya Kadeer, told Radio Free Asia: "Through political brainwashing, the Chinese government purposely induces the Han Chinese to hate the Uighur, painting Uighurs as the enemy of China."

Unifying a China with so many cultural differences wouldn't be easy for any government. But for a party whose ideology is now discredited and instead plays a dangerous game of nationalism, the task will only become more difficult.

Until China is ruled under the universal principles of equal rights and an elected, pluralistic government, no manner of manipulative identity politics is going to work.

Especially for the 10 percent of people in China who are Uighurs, Tibetans, and some 53 other ethnic minorities.

(New York Times)  Migrants Describe Grief From China’s Strife    By Edward Wong.   July 9, 2009.

As young Uighurs rampaged through the streets of this western regional capital on Sunday, Zhang Aiying rushed home and stashed her fruit cart away, safe from the mob. But there was no sign of her son, who had ventured back into the chaos to retrieve another of the family’s carts.

“Call him on his cellphone,” Ms. Zhang, 46, recalled shouting to a cousin. “Tell him we want him home. We don’t need him to go back.”

Her son, Lu Huakun, did not answer the call. Three hours later, after the screaming had died down, Ms. Zhang went out into the street. A dozen bodies were strewn about. She found her son, his head covered with blood, his left arm nearly severed into three pieces.

The killing of Mr. Lu, 25, was a ruinous end to the journey of a family that had fled their poor farming village in central China more than a decade ago to forge a new life here in China’s remote desert region.

Mr. Lu and his parents are typical of the many Han migrants who, at the encouragement of the Chinese government, have settled among the Muslim Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking race that is the largest ethnic group in oil-rich region of Xinjiang. The influx of Han, the dominant ethnic group in China, has transformed Xinjiang: the percentage of Han in the population was 40 percent in 2000, up from 6 percent in 1949.

“We wanted to do business,” Lu Sifeng, 47, the father, said Tuesday, his eyes glistening with tears as he sat smoking on his bed. “There was a calling by the government to develop the west. This place would be nothing without the Han.”

But migration has fueled ethnic tensions, as Uighurs complain about the loss of jobs, the proliferation of Han-owned businesses and the disintegration of their own culture.

On Sunday, Mr. Lu was among at least 156 people killed in the deadliest ethnic violence in China in decades. Raging Uighurs battled security forces and attacked Han civilians across Urumqi.

The riot had evolved from a protest march held by more than 1,000 Uighurs to demand that the government investigate an earlier brawl between Han and Uighurs in southern China.

The government, apparently hoping to tamp down racial violence, has not released a breakdown of the ethnicities of the 156 dead. But Mr. Lu’s father said that of more than 100 photographs of bodies that he looked through at a police station to identify his son, the vast majority were Han Chinese, most with their heads cut or smashed.

Each victim had a number. His son was 51.

“Of course, in recent days, we’ve been angry toward the Uighur,” Mr. Lu said. “And of course we’re scared of them.”

The family came from Zhoukou, in Henan Province, a poor part of central China. They grew wheat, corn and soybeans on a tiny plot of land. There was little money in it, and the parents heard of a way out: friends from Henan had gone to distant Xinjiang and were making enough money to support relatives back home.

It was the late 1990s, and the central government had announced a push to develop the west, promising that investment would soon flow to those long-neglected lands.

Mr. Lu and Ms. Zhang went first. The younger Mr. Lu followed after graduating from junior high school.

Others from Henan were selling fruit and vegetables, so the Lu family bought wooden fruit carts. They got a spot at an open-air market off Dawan North Road, on the border between Han and Uighur neighborhoods. Every day, they pushed their carts to work at 8 a.m. and did not shut down until midnight. In a good month, the family earned $300.

“He wasn’t so satisfied with life here,” Ms. Zhang said of her son. “He was so tired here, and there wasn’t so much money.”

Not a day went by that they did not miss their hometown, Ms. Zhang said. But until this past winter, they had never returned for a visit. They wanted to save the cost of train tickets.

They live in bare concrete rooms on the ground floor of an apartment block opposite the market. The kitchen has a makeshift two-burner stove a few feet from the parents’ bed. Most of their neighbors are fellow settlers from Henan and Sichuan.

At the market, about three-quarters of the 200 vendors are from those two provinces, the parents said. A handful of Uighurs sold fruit or raw mutton.

“Relations with the Uighurs were pretty good,” Ms. Zhang said. “There was a mutton stall beside the cart where my son sold fruit. On nights when my son didn’t want to bring his fruit home, he would ask the Uighur neighbor to keep the fruit inside his stall.”

This past winter, the family took the nearly 40-hour train ride home for the first time. The parents had arranged for Mr. Lu to marry a 23-year-old woman from home. The couple had photographs taken: Mr. Lu in a white turtleneck lying beside his bride-to-be in front of a beach backdrop; the smiling couple sitting on a white bench, each holding teddy bears in their laps.

The family returned to Xinjiang after scheduling the wedding for the end of this year.

On Sunday, as on any other day, Ms. Zhang, her son and a young cousin pushed four carts to the market. Mr. Lu’s father had gone to another province to buy fruit wholesale.

Abruptly at 8 p.m., the manager of the market told people to shut down. Hours earlier, more Uighurs had begun marching through the streets to protest government discrimination. Street battles erupted when riot police officers armed with tear gas and batons tried to disperse the crowd.

The first wave of the rioters arrived minutes later, metal rods and knives in hand. The younger Mr. Lu dashed home first. Ms. Zhang followed. When she got home, she found that he had gone out again to rescue another cart.

She cried for three hours until she dared go out to look for him.

“I thought, if I don’t find a body, then maybe he’s in hiding and still alive,” she said. “But I quickly found the body.”

Security forces arrived at 1 a.m. to collect the bodies. On Wednesday, Mr. Lu’s father identified his son from a photograph at a police station.

“After we cremate the body, we’ll go home with the ashes,” Ms. Zhang said.

The father stared at cigarette butts strewn across the floor. “We’ll never come back,” he said.

(Yazhou Zhoukan)  More than 100 Hans killed in Xinjiang, western media misread tragedy.  By Yang Gang, Wai Zhongxiao and Zhang Jieping.  July 19, 2009 issue.

(in translation)

Traffic in Urumqi has been restored and the armed police has taken charge in the city.  But the Hans are still scared.  On the afternoon of July 8, there were still unconscious patients at Friendship Hospital.  The doctor said that all those who could not be saved after the incident were Hans.  "The casualties were mostly Hans, but also other ethnic groups.  There were Uighurs but very few of them."  Among the Han dead was someone whose head was almost chopped off.  It was just awful.

At 8pm on July 5, the most serious riot in Xinjiang for decades took place in its capital Urumqi.  The rioters targeted Hans.  They assaulted, vandalized, looted and committed arson.  It was a scary scene.  The number of casualties kept rising.  As of 10pm on July 6, the authorities said that there were 156 deaths, 1,018 injured persons, more than 260 burnt cars (including 11 police cars) and 209 shops plus two buildings set on fire.

But inside information claimed that the number of deaths is more than 380.  According to eyewitnesses, the dead were mainly Hans.  This deadly attack caused more than 10,000 Hans to march in the streets on July 7 to demand punishment for the terrorists.

The authorities were clearly ill prepared for this terrorist attack perpetrated in the name of opposing ethnic discrimination.  The Beijing authorities did not disclose details about the casualties.  They only released a small number of videos.  Therefore, the majority of the Chinese people do not have good understanding of what happened in this faraway place called Xinjiang.

But avid Internet users kept obtaining live information via Twitter and Fanfou.  They found that the international media reports were diametrically opposite to the truth, including misusing the Shishou photo and defining the incident as violent armed suppression by the Chinese Communists when the truth was not yet clear.  Yazhou Zhou's on-location investigation showed that the situation was different.

The locals recalled that the young Uighur women of Urumqi began to wear scarves on the afternoon of July 5.  According to local custom, this means that something big was about to happen.  At around 6:20pm that evening, more than 200 persons gathered at People's Plaza.  They were persuaded to leave.  This group included many Uighur students.  Eyewitnesses said that the proceedings was controlled by certain Uighurs persons who clashed frequently with the Hans.  The police was only interested in clearing the streets and they did not interfere with the march.

More than seventy troublemakers were taken away by the police and the rest dispersed.  Those Uighurs who were chased away re-grouped in Erdaoqiao at Liberation Road South and Shanxi Lane.  They chanted slogans and caused chaos at the scene.  At the university with the most number of Uighurs -- Xinjiang University -- the Uighur students chanted slogans, assembled in the canteen and charged into the streets.  Amidst the chaos, the rioters set two cars on fire in front of the Xinjiang University entrance.  By 7:30pm, more than one thousand Uighurs gathered in front of the Women and Children Health Care Hospital on Shanxi Lane; at 7:40pm, more than 300 people blocked the road at People Road and South Gate.

The assaults, vandalism, looting and arson began around 8:18pm.  The criminal elements overturned the guardrails in the street and smashed the windows of three buses.  At 8:30pm, the violence escalated.  The rioters began to set police cars on fire in Liberation Road South and Longquan Road.  They assaulted passersby.  About seven or eight hundred people headed towards the People's Liberation Army Entering Xinjiang stele in People's Plaze.  They organized groups of marauders who engaged in assaults, vandalism, looting and arson along the way.

In the long and narrow lane of Beiwan Street, the rioters attacked a car and overturned it in the middle of the road.  Trapped in this long and narrow lane, the ensuing eleven cars could not turn back and were set on fire until they burned down to hulks.  The rioters set a food oil store on Heijiashan Front Street on fire.  The family of four including the store owner were incinerated alive.  At the Blind Persons' School on Erdaowan Road, more than 100 residents picked up poles and sticks and stood up against the berserk Uighur rioters in order to defend their homes.

This was a violent and criminal mass incident directed against the Hans.  All shops except those belonging to Uighurs were destroyed.  The raging rioters even attacked other ethnic groups, as Hui stores were destroyed too.  An Uighur taxi driver said that he left his car parked near Shanxi Lane and it was vandalized too.

By after 9pm, about 200 Uighur young men were chanting slogans near the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region Party Office near East Gate.  They did not succeed in gaining entry.  The government mobilized ten thousand police officers to deal with the situations at the major trouble spots of the People's Plaza, South Gate, Unity Road, Race Track, Xinhua South Road, Xinjiang University, Honghui Battery Factory and elsewhere.  By this time, violence was occurring in those other spots that the police were unable to cover.  The rioters divided themselves into small groups to cause bloodshed.  Many pedestrians were trapped in back streets with nowhere to escape.  A citizen said: "The Uighur rioters dragged the Hans into the alleys to kill."  The official death toll showed that at least 57 bodies were found in the back streets.

There were hints that violence was being planned several days ago.  After the armed fight in Shaoguan (Guangdong), the bodies of the two deceased Xinjiang workers were sent back on June 29 for burial in Xinjiang.  But in Xinjiang, another version of the story was being circulated.

According to a local Urumqi taxi driver, the local version was that a Han worker seduced a young Xinjiang girl in the Shaoguan factory.  When some young Uighur men asked for justice, they were beaten to death.  The rumor circulated among the local Uighur population.  By July 7, Uighur female demonstrators were claiming that four hundred Uighur women had been raped in Shaoguan.

World Uighur Congress spokesperson Dilshat Reshit told reporters said that the Shoguan incident "showed that the Chinese Communist had inflamed hostility against the Uighur people."  The World Uighur Congress was established in Munich (Germany) in April 2004.  It is the umbrella organizational leader for the East Turkestan movement.  The current chairwoman is Rebiya Kadeer.  Previously, there had been two different organizations, one called the World Uighur Youth Congress and the other called the East Turkestan People's Congress.  In December 2003, the World Uighur Youth Congress was designated by the Chinese Ministry of Public Security as an East Turkestan terrorist organization.

Websites such as Uighur Online International kept making posts that the Shaoguan 6.26 incident was an pre-planned, organized effort by he Chinese government for ethnic cleansing.  Such rumors can still be found at the Chinese version of Uighur Online International.  Website users said that they are willing to testify to that effect as insiders.

According to information obtained by the local government: In the evening of July 4, many persons with "ulterior motives" used QQ groups, BBS's and personal spaces to post messages to encourage Uighurs to demonstrate at the People's Plaza and South Gate in Urumqi at 5pm on July 5.  People also sent out information to support the international demonstrations organized by the "three forces" (separatists, extremists and terrorists).

Overseas, World Uighur Association chairman Rebiya Kadeer said from her exile in America that something big will happen in Urumqi on July 5 and she asked that those in China pay attention and collect information about that incident.  According to intelligence obtained by the relevant departments, Rebiya Kadeer even called on July 5 to ask those inside China "to be braver" and "make it bigger."  When Rebiya Kadeer was interviewed by Al Jazeera TV, she admitted that she called for overseas Uighurs to demonstrate against the Shaoguan incident.

The XUAR government said that the serious violent crimes (including assault, vandalism, looting and arson) that occurred on July 5 in certain areas of Urumqi were directly instigated by the "three forces" of the "World Uighur Congress."

There are questions about the government as well.  One government official wondered: "If the government knew beforehand, why did they not control it in time?"

Various signs indicate that both the action leaders and the operational plans were well-trained and well-prepared.  "In Urumqi, it is hard to find bricks.  The bricks that the rioters used that day were carted over in trucks."  A wounded woman said, "How could the government not be aware of these obvious moves?"

Obviously, these terrorist attacks used "peaceful demonstration" as cover.  The government was ill-prepared and split up the police forces.  This enabled the rioters to do whatever they wanted, causing a large number of casualties.

Beijing scholar Jiang Shaoyong has been interested in border issues and he said that someone was trying to increase Uighur-Han conflict through the Shaoguan incident.  "From a random incident of armed fighting, they extracted the symbol of ethnic suppression and set up the framework to mobilize and create a riot."  "One important gpal of the riot is to transgress the Uighur-Han relationship and create enmity."

Ever since the founding of the People's Republic of China, the central government has set up balances of the administrative regions (such as the Xinjiang military division) to effectively ensure the stability of Xinjiang.  In recent years, the entrenched party-government system has turned into a special interest group which blames all ethnic problems on "separatist forces" and manipulate the central government policies.  At the same time, they distrust the cadres who are ethnic minorities, which only exacerbates ethnic conflicts in Xinijang.

In order to control opinion and information, the Xinjiang authorities have shut down the Internet in Urumqi.  Mobile phone signals are intermittent.  Dialing a local number might result in a recorded message for a non-existent or non-working number.  Urumqi party secretary Li Zhi said: "Information showed that the overseas separatist forces and those in China had been communicating over the Internet.  In order to disrupt their communication with each other, Internet control has been imposed until the situation is stabilized and settled.  On July 7, the authorities have arrested 1,434 persons, of which 1,379 are men and 55 are women.

Afterwards, the Xinjiang authorities allowed overseas media and designated Chinese media to gather news.  All other Chinese media received ban orders.  When the overseas media went out on July 7 to gather news, they met several hundred Uighur women who were protesting the arrests.  The overseas media kept publishing news stories that day about the crying Uighur women.  The Han citizens said angrily: "They want their arrested husbands, but whom do the families of the murdered persons ask for to get their loved ones back?"  On that day, it was said that Uighurs were attacking people in Han areas.  Thus, the Han people of Urumqi could not restrain their anger and stepped into the streets.

After the 7.5 incident, there were many stories and photos on the Internet about suppression, including one photo of the Shishou incident.  Someone told the international media that the Chinese Communist armed police applied brutal suppression.  The World Uighur Congress spokesperson even told the media: "During the Xinjiang incident, the People's Liberation Army used semi-automatic rifles."  Many international media made one-sided reports based upon such information without verification from the scene.  They also erroneously used the fake photos.  This drew strong protests from the Chinese netizens.  Once again after the Tibet incident, the international media are facing another public trust crisis in China.

Earlier, CNN reported in <Riot in Xinjiang, China> citing only a Uighur witness and an interview with the World Uighur Congress spokesperson to the effect that the police-citizen clash that Sunday afternoon evolved from the peaceful Uighur demonstration.  This created the impression that the Uighurs were the victims.  This report was roundly criticized by many Chinese netizens.  On the day after the riot, Radio Free Asia and Reuters released a photo from the Shishou incident last month as if it was the Xinjiang riot.  This photo was quoted by the Daily Telegraph (UK), and certain Hong Kong and Taiwan media.  More absurdly, this "erroneous" photo was even used by World Yighur Congress chairwoman Rebiya Kadeer during her interview with Al Jazeera TV on July 7 as evidence of the Chinese People's Liberation Army entering the city to suppress.

The pro-independence Liberty Times in Taiwan used the headline "blood suppression in China" in an article which only cited data and information from the World Uighur Congress.  On July 6, there was a report that "a tank rolled over students" in Urumqi.  On July 6, there was an Internet photo of a Uighur student fallen on the ground, but Chinese netizens later determined out that this photo had been taken in Shanghai's People Plaze in August 2008.

The latest news is that 5,000 special police officers were airlifted from Shenzhen and elsewhere to Urumqi on the afternoon of July 8.  Presently, the armed forces are either armed police officers or regular police officers, without any People's Liberation Army soldiers in sight.  At Friendship Hospital, our hospital found that the deceased and the wounded have knife injuries, slash injuries and blunt trauma.  There were no bullet wounds.  Telegraph (UK) reporter Malcolm Moore stated via Twitter on July 7 that there were "very few bullet wounds."

Faced with the unabated erroneous reporting by the international media, the Beijing authorities published some of the 7.5 incident photos on the afternoon of July 7.  The bloodiness of those photos were shocking.  It is intriguing that these photos were only released to the overseas media, while the Chinese media and websites did not publish those photos.  Fanfou users think that the Beijing authorities have been deliberately vague about the casualty figures as well as their ethnic identities.  This is not done just because of their custom to control news, but more so because they are afraid that when Han people learn about the bitter truth, they will go and take revenge against the Uighurs around them.  While the Beijing authorities intended well, the international media only made more inaccurate reports.

Other media exploited possible variations of how to interpret this ambiguity.  They added terms such as blood suppression and violent oppression.  Many readers thought that this was another "Tiananmen incident."  On July 7, the BBC reporter Chris Hogg said that this Xinjiang riot is a violent incident that is like the Tiananmen incident.  But these words were later replaced by "the most serious violent incident in several decades in China."  Many international media and human rights organization only cared about how many Uighurs were arrested by the Chinese authorities but they did not probe about the butchered victims.  This raised questions about their fairness.

The hesitancy of the Beijing authorities and the intentional or unintentional biases of the international media will leave the thousand plus dead and injured restless.  The ethnic conflict in Urumqi is now in its fourth day.  Although the authorities have basically established control, an atmosphere of terror continues to envelop the entire region.

On July 7, the sirens are blasting again and again in Urumqi.  This is the hotel on Altair Road, eight kilometers from the airport.  The travelers were worried and terrified.  The road to the airport was blocked.  All traffic into the city was restricted.  Various kinds of news were coming in.  This was like an isolated island.

The female hotel manager was trying to dissuade the guests from heading to the airport.  She said: "You should not go anywhere because it is dangerous everywhere.  If they dare come here, the hotel has high-pressure water hoses.  We have prepared sticks and bats.  We will guard this door.  You are safest inside."  There is a big car repair shop behind the hotel.  A dozen workers came with iron rods from there and stood by the roadside looking at the scene of the siege two kilometers down the road.  These young men had angry looks: "We are not easy to bully.  If the Uighurs come here, we will beat them to death."

The Hans came out of their homes.  They wielded wooden sticks, steel shovels, hammers and anything else that can be used for self-defense.  They rushed into the streets.  In Xinjiang, the Hans and the Uighurs have been divided by their physical appearances, but now the 7.5 incident has sowed more seeds for discord as a result of the bloodshed.  "We have to take revenge for the 150 plus persons.  More importantly, we have to protect ourselves."  A Han person who was born and raised in Xinjiang said.  "This is the first time in my life that I have seen the Hans become so unified.  In the past, when the Uighurs beat up the Hans, everybody just walked past.  It will be different from now on."

During that whole afternoon, they did not see many Uighurs.  Without targets, they had nowhere to vent their emotions.  The Hans in the streets gradually dispersed by sundown.  "The Uighurs got the news beforehand and they went into hiding," said this man.

Although the government claims that the situation is under control, the people were not reassured.  Their hatred against Uighur rioters only got deeper.  Around noon that day, the majority of the Han people in Urumqi were on the streets to demand blood for blood from the Uighurs.  PUblic opinion has merged into a powerful river.  At People's Plaza and South Gates, which were the centres of the 7.5 incident, the Han marchers held sticks and poles and chanted: "We oppose violence."  The government had to send in large numbers of armed police officers to maintain order.  But in the reports of certain international media, these Han demonstrators were characterized as a "mob" where as they kept using the more neutral "demonstrators" for the Uighurs.  Associated Press released a report: "On Tuesday in the streets of the Xinjiang capital Urumqi, mobs of Han Chinese waved cleavers and sticks while groups of Muslim Uighur men were assaulting people."  This clearly differential treatment of Hans and Uighurs was called "reversal of black and white" by Chinese netizens.  The foreign correspondents in Urumqi found that the Han demonstrators distrusted the western reporters while the Uighurs were hostile those overseas reporters who look like Han Chinese.

At the press conference that day, the XUAR party chief Wang Lequan disagreed with this view.  He criticized the Hans in some places for being too emotional, and thus providing support for the separatists.  "I think that this is totally unnecessary." He said: "The goals of the enemies are to disrupt ethnic unity and create ethnic enmity.  We must be vigilant and not be fooled.  We must steer our target towards the overseas hostile forces and not against our own ethnic brothers."

"Not all Uighurs are bad," a Han demonstrator said.  "On the night of the riot, some Uighurs were wrecking havoc but others were trying to offer aid."

"The problem is, How do you know who is good or bad?"  In the videos, it can be seen that some Uighur students, women and even children were participating in the demonstrations.

Among the more than 1,000 suspected criminals detained by the government, a number of them have been identified as students.  Wang Lequan said: "Most of these young people did not know the truth and they were tricked.  As long as as they did not participate in the more serious assault, looting, vandalism and arson, they will be handed over to their schools for disposition."  He also emphasized that he will not be lenient on any rioter.

In the afternoon of July 7, the government was worried that things would worsen.  They announced that a traffic curfew would be imposed from 9pm that evening to 8am the next morning.

By July 8, the Chinese authorities have moved special police officers from elsewhere in China.  These police officers were greeted with applause by the Han citizens.  They said: "They should have been here earlier.  They would be letting us down if they didn't come."  They said that the tragedy of having more than 100 Hans killed on July 5 was due to the slow reaction of the authorities who did not have enough forces.  One Han resident said: "We shouldn't need to carry knives and sticks to protect ourselves in the streets."  They said that the people's soldiers should be protecting the lives of the people and curbing the lawlessness of the terrorists.

It is all quiet in Urumqi with all business activities basically coming to a halt.  You can see that most stores have chosen to shut down, whether they are within the trouble zone or elsewhere.  Many big shopping malls such as Baisheng and New World close around 6pm.  In Xinjiang, night does not fall until after 9am.  In normal times, night life would just be beginning.

By this time, the people standing by the roadside are anxiously waiting for the buses or taxis to arrive.  Everybody wants to be home before darkness falls.  But their wishes may not be fulfilled.  By night, the taxi drivers stop operating.  Fewer and fewer cars are on the road as night comes; those cars that are out there are going faster and faster.

Within the trouble area, the city cleaners have removed the debris.  The burned cars have been towed away.  The fallen road signs have been erected again.  If not for the appearance of the armed police, this seems relatively safe.

Around the Erdaoqiao, the Uighurs continue to sit by the roadside or wander around the streets.  This is where they congregate.  It is quiet as if nothing has happened.  The roadway still had burn marks and broken glass.  The Geely car shop has been burned out and the 33 cars parked in front have been set on fire and overturned.

These memories hurt the Hans.  A middle-aged man said that he has not been driving for the last two days.  He has stayed home but found it intolerable.  Finally, he drove his car in the street but he felt the impulse to run over any Uighur that he saw.

Urumqi is a city that is a big melting pot for various ethnic groups.  Superficially, the ethnic groups get along with each other.  The streets may look prosperous but there is still inner estrangement.  "The most horrible thing is that these people are your neighbors and colleagues and then suddenly they become vicious enemies in one day," said one man.

At the present, the public security bureau has arrested more than 1,000 suspected criminals.  But this number is in flux, as the detainees are being examined one by one.

By July 7, the demonstrations by either the Uighurs or the Hans are under the control of the government  There is a division of armed police officers patrolling and defending the city.  Many shops have not resumed normal business, and the Han people are still emotionally worked up.  Many people called the radio stations for help.  One man called and explained his frustrations.  He said; "I would like to ask: What can we do?"

Inaccurate Western Media Reporting.  By Lin Cheng.

Reuters (July 6, 2009) : During the Shishou (Hubei) mass incident, the armed police organized layers of human walls to hold off the demonstrators.  The photo was misclassified as a photo from the Xinjiang riot and released.  It was used by the Daily Telegraph and some Hong Kong and Taiwan mainstream media.

Financial Times (July 7, 2009): The article "Beijing is unwise to play with fire" describes the incident as "clashes between Muslim Uighurs and armed police" and called it "China's bloodiest crackdown on protestors for 20 years."

BBC (July 7, 2009): In the article "Scores killed in China protests", this disturbance was compared with the 1989 Tiananmen incident as "this looks like the bloodiest suppression of protest in China since Tiananmen Square 20 years ago).  When challenged by Chinese netizens, the BBC website quickly rewrote this as "the violence is some of the worst reported in the country since Tiananmen Square in 1989."

Associated Press (July 7, 2009): In the article "Uighurs stage protests in Turkey, Norway," the Han demonstrators were demeaned as "mobs of Han Chinese" while the Uighur assaulters were "Muslim Uighurs who had earlier beaten up people."

New York Times (July 6, 2009): In a photo published on the New York Times website, the caption was "Uighurs injured at a hospital in the city during a media tour by the authorities on Monday" but the sign over the bed clearly labeled the patient as "Number 32 bed, Liu Yonghuo" which is clearly a Han family name.

(Reuters blog)

Here is the original Reuters release with text:


People who were injured during riots in Urumqi, rest in a hospital in the city during an official government tour for the media, Xinjiang Autonomous Region July 6, 2009. At least 140 people have been killed in rioting in China’s northwestern region of Xinjiang, with the government blaming exiled separatists for the Muslim area’s worst case of unrest in years. REUTERS/ Nir Elias (CHINA CONFLICT HEALTH POLITICS)

(The Economist)  Is China fraying?    July 9, 2009.

IT BEGAN as a protest about a brawl at the other end of the country; it became China’s bloodiest incident of civil unrest since the massacre that ended the Tiananmen Square protests 20 years ago. The ethnic Uighurs in the far western city of Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang province, accused Han Chinese factory workers in the southern province of Guangdong of racial violence against Uighur co-workers. By the time Urumqi’s Uighurs had finished venting their anger, more than 150 people were dead and hundreds more injured.

Much is still unknown about what happened on the afternoon of July 5th. A protest by several hundred people in the city’s central plaza, People’s Square, moved southward into Uighur areas, including the Grand Bazaar, a large shopping centre. Somehow—perhaps, overseas Uighur activists say, because the police opened fire—it became an explosion of anger, in which random Chinese were clubbed and stoned to death.

Xinjiang is no stranger to unrest among its more than 8m Uighurs (about 45% of the population according to official figures, which tend to undercount Han Chinese migrants from elsewhere in the country). Many Uighurs resent rule by China, which they accuse of trampling on their Muslim Central Asian culture. It is not clear why the police failed to stop the killings, nor how many of the deaths were caused by the security forces themselves. Uighur exiles gave far higher estimates of the numbers killed, which they said included many Uighurs.

The suddenness and scale of the violence, and its racist nature, were reminiscent of rioting in Lhasa on March 14th last year that triggered sympathetic protests by Tibetans across the Tibetan plateau. The government fears that Xinjiang could face a similar convulsion. Both Tibet and Xinjiang are sparsely populated, with vast areas of mountain and desert. But together, and including Tibetan-inhabited areas bordering on Tibet proper, they make up 40% of China’s territory—in an area of enormous strategic importance, bordering on South and Central Asia.

Chinese officials were quick to accuse an overseas group, the World Uighur Congress (WUC), of having “masterminded”, “instigated” and “controlled” the unrest in Urumqi, but have yet to offer proof. They have particularly attacked the WUC’s leader, Rebiya Kadeer, a former member of Xinjiang’s political elite. Ms Kadeer was one of the region’s wealthiest entrepreneurs until she fell foul of the authorities because of her sympathies with Uighur nationalism and spent six years in prison on state security charges. She now lives near Washington, DC.

Remarkably for an incident so politically sensitive, the authorities let foreign journalists go to Urumqi to cover the aftermath. (After last year’s unrest in Lhasa, Tibet was all but barred to foreigners, journalists included.) The government was also unusually quick to provide casualty figures—156 dead as The Economist went to press, and another 1,080 injured. It seemed confident that journalists would confirm official accounts suggesting that those killed were overwhelmingly Hans. But oddly, since hospitals keep records of the ethnic origin of patients, the authorities have provided no racial breakdown.

Foreign journalists who arrived on July 6th found the riot area full of broken shop windows, fire-damaged buildings and scores of burned-out cars. The manager of a car showroom said several hundred rioters had attacked his business late on Sunday night, damaging or destroying more than 50 vehicles. Among the dozens of riot victims admitted to the nearby Urumqi Friendship Hospital was Huang Zhenjiang, a 48-year-old Han-Chinese taxi driver, who described how he was attacked by rioters with stones and clubs at the end of his shift. It was, he said, “terrifying” and “unimaginable”. Many residents spoke of rioters smashing rocks on the heads of victims as they lay on the ground, and even cutting off a girl’s leg.

The authorities may have been remarkably inept at preventing and curbing the violence (especially since, as officials admit, they had evidence that a protest was being planned). But they were swift to start rounding up suspects once the rioting had died out later that night. More than 1,400 people have so far been arrested. Urumqi’s Communist Party chief, Li Zhi, said those who had used “cruel means” during the rioting would be executed. Xinjiang’s governor, Nur Bekri, who is a Uighur, said officials would use “all means” to maintain control in the city.

They failed. On July 7th thousands of young Han Chinese rampaged through the streets, calling for vengeance against Uighurs for the earlier riot. “This is no longer an issue for the government,” said one man, with a club in his hand. “This is now an ethnic struggle between Uighur and Han. It will not end soon.” Carrying meat cleavers, axes, clubs and shovels, Han demonstrators roamed in packs of 20-200, swiftly changing direction whenever someone claimed to have spotted a Uighur. “Kill Uighurs!”, they cried. “Smash Uighurs!” and “Unity!” One self-styled leader called out, “Don’t break things!” as he exhorted a large group towards an area surrounding a mosque. His call was met with cries of “Don’t smash things, smash Uighurs!” Police often made only half-hearted attempts to stop these crowds.

More unrest boiled up on July 8th, even as President Hu Jintao flew home before the G8 meeting in Italy to handle the crisis and thousands more armed riot police poured into Urumqi’s city centre in trucks, troop-carriers and marching ranks. Many Urumqi residents believe the new arrivals, though kitted out as members of China’s paramilitary police force, include regular army troops. Groups of angry Han Chinese, mostly unarmed this time, ignored government warnings to stay at home. They surrounded one-on-one fights between Hans and Uighurs and urged on the Hans. Crowds also snatched away Hans who had been detained by the police and set them free.

Closing the mosque

The Uighur side of the story has been slower to emerge. Many Uighurs dismissed the government’s account that the July 5th riot was part of a separatist plot. But very few—such was the terror of police or Han recrimination—were willing to say much. One Uighur owner of a clothes shop, who claimed to have witnessed the riot from the beginning, said it started as a demonstration calling on Xinjiang’s governor to come out and talk about what had happened in Guangdong. In the fracas there on June 25th, Han Chinese workers had accused Uighurs of rape. At least two Uighurs were killed in the fight.

After about 90 minutes the police told Urumqi’s protesters to leave, said the man from the clothes shop. The police then began shoving and pulling demonstrators who refused to go. When some Uighurs responded by smashing windows, the police used greater force, beating people and firing their weapons. Violence by Uighurs then began to flare across the city.

The response to the rioting elsewhere in Xinjiang has so far been less explosive than the authorities feared. On July 6th in Kashgar, 1,080km (670 miles) south-west of Urumqi, a group of Uighurs tried to stage a protest in front of Idh Kah mosque, a city landmark. Two Western tourists who witnessed the event said as many as 100 people took part, shouting slogans and jabbing their fists in the air. Security forces dispersed the gathering in less than an hour, without obvious violence, and took away several protesters. The plaza in front of the mosque was sealed off by riot police carrying clubs, and the mosque was closed.

The authorities may well have been better prepared in cities like Kashgar. These places have more of a history of Uighur unrest than Urumqi, which has long been dominated by Hans. The police say they have “clues” that efforts have been made to organise protests in Aksu and Yining. Yining, on the border with Kazakhstan, was the scene of rioting in 1997.

The likelihood is that, as in Tibet, the authorities will clamp down hard, and that this will fuel anger across a broad swathe of the population. Xinjiang’s most powerful official is a Han Chinese, Wang Lequan, who is also a member of the ruling Politburo in Beijing. He has held the post of Xinjiang’s party chief since 1994, outranking Nur Bekri, and has impressed fellow Chinese leaders with his tough approach to Uighur nationalism. (One of his deputies, Zhang Qingli, went on to become party chief of Tibet in 2005, an appointment that, in Tibetan eyes, doomed any prospect of a softer government hand in their region.) President Hu is no liberal on such issues himself. As party leader in Tibet in the 1980s, he imposed martial law in Lhasa after protests there in 1989.

Repression had already been stepped up in Xinjiang long before the rioting. The escalation dates back to the launch of America’s anti-terror campaign in 2001. China then began linking long-simmering separatist tensions in Xinjiang with the same forces of extremism that America faced. It said one Uighur group, the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, was part of al-Qaeda. America backed this assertion, but Western human-rights groups said there was little evidence of al-Qaeda’s involvement in Xinjiang. China was playing up the connection, they said, in order to justify harsher measures against Uighur nationalists.

Twenty-two Uighurs were indeed caught by the Americans in Afghanistan and sent to Guantánamo Bay. Four of them were freed in June and resettled in the Bahamas. The Pacific island of Palau has offered to take 13 others. The Uighurs insist they were not involved in any anti-American operations in Afghanistan. But their capture helped to bolster China’s argument that it too faced an organised terrorist movement backed by foreigners, even though occasional attacks in Xinjiang hardly seemed well organised. Only primitive weapons were involved in the two bloodiest incidents last year that were blamed on terrorists—one against police in Kashgar that left 17 officers dead in August, and bombings in Kuqa the same month that killed two people. Suicide attacks, a hallmark of Muslim militancy elsewhere, are hardly known in Xinjiang.

Economic jealousies

Since 2001 the authorities have banned private visits to Mecca and insisted that those making pilgrimages there must go on organised tours. The authorities have tightened controls on mosques in Xinjiang and rules that ban children from receiving religious education. They have warned students and civil servants not to observe Ramadan. A group of Uighur women staged a protest in Khotan last year against local government efforts to ban head coverings. (The niqab is often seen in Xinjiang, especially on older women.)

But there is little evidence that Xinjiang’s Muslims have been widely affected by extremist movements elsewhere in the region. In the rioting in Urumqi, racial discrimination is likely to have been a bigger source of grievance than religious repression. Uighurs have faced more such discrimination in the past year as a result of security measures in the build-up to the Olympic games in Beijing in August. Police harassed Uighurs then because of their perceived potential links with terrorism. Hotels had to report the registration of Uighur guests to the police.

Security is again being tightened across China as the authorities prepare to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the country’s founding on October 1st. This will involve a huge military parade through central Beijing, which the authorities fear could become a target for discontented minorities. The event coincides with the 60th anniversary of communist rule over Xinjiang. Even without Urumqi’s unrest, Uighurs had been likely to feel the pressure as the celebrations draw near.

Economic factors come into play, too. Many Uighurs resent what they see as the business advantages enjoyed by Han Chinese immigrants, whose clan, commercial and political networks extend across China. The recent economic crisis may have exacerbated problems faced by Uighur migrant workers in other parts of China, such as those in the skirmish in Guangdong. Millions of people have lost their jobs as a result of China’s recent export slump.

Many Uighurs feel that their culture is being threatened by a massive influx of Han migrants in recent years. China has stepped up investment in the western region to give the area a greater share of the prosperity that the east has enjoyed. The government denies it is trying to change the ethnic mix of Xinjiang, but Uighurs complain that Hans have enjoyed the lion’s share of dividends from the investment drive. Some of them also worry about China’s efforts to promote the use of Mandarin in Xinjiang’s schools. Uighurs complain that the Han Chinese tend to look down on them as uncultured ruffians. The violence in Urumqi is likely to reinforce both these stereotypes—and the Uighurs’ vivid sense of alienation.

Who to talk to?

After the unrest in Tibet, China could at least placate Tibetan and Western opinion by talking to the Dalai Lama. It failed to pursue this option effectively, holding three rounds of discussions with the Dalai Lama’s representatives but offering no concessions. In the case of Xinjiang, China is even less likely to open a dialogue.

Ms Kadeer, the figure with greatest clout among the Uighur diaspora abroad, also commands some respect in Xinjiang itself. But she has been so vilified by China that contact is barely imaginable. She also lacks the Dalai Lama’s political clout. Nicholas Bequelin of Human Rights Watch, an American NGO, says she is hardly known in the Xinjiang countryside. China’s official media have heaped scorn on what it says are her ambitions to gain the kind of respect that the Dalai Lama enjoys in the West. Even though President George Bush met Ms Kadeer in 2007, few outside the Uighur nation have heard of her.

With the West itself preoccupied by the threat of Islamic extremism, China is even less reticent about cracking down in Xinjiang than it is in Tibet. Journalists have long been largely barred from visiting Tibet. But after the attacks of September 11th 2001 China became increasingly willing to allow foreign media to travel around Xinjiang, even without official permission (though some were still stopped by the police). It may have calculated that media visits would reinforce images in the West of a China beset by Islamist militancy. In Urumqi this week, the authorities set up a press centre and organised visits to affected areas for foreign journalists.

The government, however, was unusually quick to restrict internet and mobile telephone communications. It has been spooked by the role of the internet during recent unrest in Iran. The Iranian opposition has sparked considerable online discussion in China, as well as disapproving coverage in the official media. Within hours of the Urumqi riot, internet access was cut across Xinjiang (the first time such a wide outage has been reported anywhere in China, even during the unrest in Tibet). International telephone calls were blocked. Within 48 hours text-messaging services were also suspended. A few broadband lines were kept open in an Urumqi hotel for the media.

But China could be heading for the same spiral of anti-Western sentiment that followed the unrest in Tibet. Urumqi’s unusual openness to foreign media contrasts with an outpouring of contempt for Western media coverage of the event in the Chinese press and on the internet. A similar response last year fuelled nationalist anger among urban Chinese and strained China’s ties with some Western countries. (A few foreign journalists in China received death threats because of their coverage of Tibet.) The Western media have been accused of being too sympathetic to the Uighur rioters. The Global Times, an ardently nationalist publication published by the party’s main mouthpiece, the People’s Daily, has been among the leaders of the anti-foreign-media charge.

Last year public anger over Tibet was particularly aimed at France, because of the disruption of an Olympic torch parade through Paris in April by pro-Tibetan protesters and a suggestion by President Nicolas Sarkozy that he might boycott the Olympics. Mr Sarkozy turned up in the end, but relations between China and France were soured for months, and were further aggravated by a meeting between Mr Sarkozy and the Dalai Lama at the end of the year. In the Xinjiang case, America is more likely to be in the line of fire as the host of Ms Kadeer, who sought asylum there after being released from prison on medical parole in 2005. China has long been grumbling about America’s refusal to repatriate Uighur detainees at Guantánamo Bay to China because they might be mistreated.

China can count on strong moral support from its Central Asian neighbours, with which it is co-operating closely to try to combat cross-border militancy. In the old alleyways of Kashgar, now being rapidly torn down as part of an urban-renewal programme that is fuelling yet more resentment among local Uighurs, official painted slogans condemn Hizb-ut-Tahrir, an Islamic group calling for a universal caliphate. The group, which has roots across China’s borders, has started to gain recruits in Xinjiang, but is not thought to be widespread. China’s efforts to establish common cause with its neighbours, and to encourage them to stamp out Uighur militancy in their own territories, may partly explain the prominence that Kashgar’s authorities give the organisation.

America feels these closer ties with Central Asian countries are being forged at its expense. But it appreciates China’s quiet support for the anti-terror campaign, including intelligence-sharing. America has no interest in supporting Uighur nationalism and exacerbating instability in an already volatile region. Xinjiang for now is one unstable Muslim area of the world where America is not a public enemy, at least among its Muslim population. It will require a skilful balance between the preservation of crucial ties with China and support for the rights of an aggrieved minority to ensure that this remains so.




(CCTV 9 in English)

 

(CCTV 9 in English)

 

(AFP in English)

 

(France 24 in English)

 

(The Wall Street Journal)  The Urumqi Effect    By Hugo Restall.    July 10, 2009.

The rioting by Uighurs in Xinjiang's capital Urumqi in early July has put the spotlight back on China's handling of its ethnic minority regions. Coming just over a year after a similar outburst in Lhasa, the incident shows that hardline policies designed to suppress dissent have fostered bitter resentment. However, it would be a mistake to interpret this as a sign that China's control over Tibet and Xinjiang are unraveling. Rather the incidents should be put into a broader context of rising tensions within Chinese society.

Certainly Tibet and Xinjiang pose their own unique challenges. The seeds of the current unrest were planted in the mid-1990s, when government strategy toward the restive regions shifted to a more hardline approach. That has shut off avenues for the expression of discontent, bottling up tensions until they explode.

Despite the obvious costs of this policy, Beijing apparently regards them as worth paying to maintain a tight grip on its sensitive border areas, which are regarded as vital national interests. From its perspective, the policies may even be regarded as a success because the migration of Han Chinese into the sparsely populated regions enhances government control over the longer term, regardless of the friction it may create.

However, seen in the context of the wider Chinese society, the upsurge in unrest raises some worrying questions for Beijing. Despite the strictest possible control, the spread of information and rights consciousness has encouraged Uighurs and Tibetans to take to the streets in spontaneous demonstrations, and violent repression has stoked further unrest. This mirrors events taking place elsewhere in China, where potent fault lines within society are bursting into the open, despite the government's best efforts to foster a "harmonious society."

This suggests that China may be entering a period similar to that in the late 1980s, when demonstrations began to break out over a variety of issues. As during that period, the Chinese economy is under stress, with rising expectations running up against the reality of limited opportunities. Add in anger about corruption and abuse of power by local officials and the stage is set for what are euphemistically known as "mass incidents." While the government may be able to manage localized riots, there is a danger of a repeat of 1989, should an event provide the impetus for the formation of a wider national protest movement.

Widespread use of the Internet and mobile phones accelerates the spread of unrest beyond the capacity of the authorities to respond. The proximate cause of the rioting in Urumqi on July 5 happened thousands of miles away in Guangdong province. At a toy factory in Shaoguan, Han Chinese attacked young Uighur workers after rumors spread that they had raped several women. The state media reported that two Uighurs were killed, but graphic pictures and rumors of a higher death toll spread quickly over the Internet to Xinjiang. Complaining that the authorities were not doing enough to protect their compatriots, Uighurs took to the streets of Urumqi in an initially peaceful protest. Although the details are murky and the truth may never be known, the incident turned violent quickly after confrontations with the police.

This contagion effect must give Chinese leaders pause because it presages an era in which national stability is held hostage to the mistakes made by local leaders. When information flows were easier to control, violence in one area had little impact on the rest of the country. Today, by contrast, the Xinjiang violence dominates the consciousness of the whole Chinese population.

In part that's because propaganda authorities are under pressure to be proactive about reporting incidents in order to pre-empt the spread of rumors. Even then, as we saw recently, this coverage itself may not be accurate or effective in reassuring the population. And in any case, the net effect may be to undermine confidence in the government's ability to maintain law and order. It also tends to inflame Han nationalism, which, as with anti-U.S. and anti-Japanese protests in the past, can quickly spin out of control.

Paradoxically, the government's strict control over the official media combined with underground channels for information of dubious origins can prove to be a combustible mixture. Because Chinese netizens do not trust the media, they are more inclined to believe reports passed along the electronic grapevine. In this case, the spread of rumors quickly polarized both Uighur and Han communities.

Moreover, even though the state has extensive mechanisms to censor online communications, it has never been able to develop the "surge capacity" to stop the flow of information during a crisis. This also tends to make the system more unstable, as people discontented over other issues latch on to the issue of the moment.

Economic considerations are also coming into play -- it is significant that the initial rape rumors were spread by a Han Chinese angry that he lost his job in the factory where the Uighurs were working. While the macroeconomic statistics suggest China has been relatively insulated from the global financial crisis by massive government spending and new loans from the state-owned banks, on the ground the picture is more mixed. Privately owned export-oriented factories have closed, the fresh credit has tended to go into speculative investments, and infrastructure spending takes time to ramp up. The net effect may be to actually exacerbate tensions, as the poor struggle to find jobs while the rich and politically well-connected have access to government contracts and easy credit.

Several recent incidents suggest that society is becoming more volatile. Most dramatically, rioters fought a pitched battle with police in Shishou, Hubei, province, in late June after the suspicious death of the chef in a hotel with connections to the mayor. As is often the case in these incidents, the extent of the violence can be attributed largely to mishandling of the initial protest by local officials.

But it is not hard to conceive of circumstances that could lead to a wider protest movement. For instance, the scandal over melamine-contaminated milk powder last year was handled relatively well by the central government, with punishments handed down to those responsible and compensation paid to the victims. But were such an incident to implicate the family of top leaders, or the government fail to resolve it expeditiously, the same mechanism that spread protests from Guangdong to Xinjiang could come into play.

As the government increases its involvement in the economy through stimulus measures, there is an increased risk that corruption will again become a source of public anger. This would parallel to some extent the late 1980s, when a dual pricing system allowed Party officials in state enterprises to profit by buying commodities at state prices and then selling them on the open market. Today the mechanisms are different, such as the "land grabs" in which officials take plots from farmers and urban residents with minimal compensation and sell them on to real estate developers.

Another parallel to the 1980s is the increasing activism of intellectuals after decades of being silenced and coopted by the Party. Over the last five years, a loose grouping of legal professionals and academics haved tried to protect the rights of ordinary citizen against abuses of power by Party officials, a movement known as "Weiquan."

The pressure for political change today differs from the 1980s, however, in its emphasis on bottom-up activism, using a combination of the courts, media and other channels to put pressure on local officialdom. The late Party Secretary General Zhao Ziyang's recently published memoir highlights how the liberal wing of the Party that once pushed for political reform was eliminated after 1989. After that, he noted, the Party elite became increasingly enmeshed in the business world, creating vested interests that seek to preserve the Party's monopoly on power.

How this shift will affect social stability remains to be seen. On the one hand, the leadership split within the Party in 1989 was one of the key contributing factors to the protest movement gaining momentum and the ensuing crackdown. Today the Party elite is relatively united at least on policy issues, and the main intra-Party conflict is between the center and the regions, as local officials seek to cover up their misdeeds at the risk of spreading instability.

In other ways, the current situation could prove more volatile. As the Xinjiang experience shows, when dissatisfaction reaches the point where people no longer feel they have much to lose, even a massive security force cannot deter violence. Tensions may be highest in the minority areas, but the feeling of marginalization and victimization by Party officials is widespread.

(South China Morning Post)  Thousands in scramble to leave Urumqi   By Choi Chi-yuk and Al Guo.  July 10, 2009.

Tens of thousands of people - Han Chinese and Uygur - are streaming out of Urumqi even as authorities try to restore a semblance of normality amid a massive show of force following Sunday's ethnic violence, which left 156 dead and more than 1,000 injured.

Dishevelled passengers thronged the city's long-distance bus stations and train station, desperate for a ticket out of the once-booming industrial centre, capital of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region . Han and Uygur mingled together - something that has become rare since Sunday's riots and the angry protests which followed them.

One bus station director, who gave his name as Ask, said 200,000 students alone could take buses home this week.

Outside the train station, a miner from Anhui province said 12 of the 20 colleagues who had come with him to Urumqi for work had left in the wake of the riots, and he would not be back. "At home we make at most 150 yuan (HK$170) a day and here we get 200 yuan. But [this place] is not as peaceful as home," he said.

A Uygur going back to Kashgar agreed. "I just come here to make a living. I still have parents at home [in Kashgar] to support. It's not worth risking your life for a job."

Most Uygurs are heading to southern Xinjiang to take refuge in cities such as Kashgar - where they are still in the majority; three-quarters of Urumqi's population is Han. Migrant Han workers are returning to the inland provinces from whence they came.

Urumqi, a city of 2.3 million, was mostly quiet after authorities sent in thousands of troops and riot police threw a cordon around Uygur neighbourhoods. Nevertheless, sporadic violence continues, and a Han man was found killed early yesterday. Most parts of the city are now deemed safe enough to travel.

Queues have been forming at bus stations since Wednesday morning. Bus tickets had sold out by noon yesterday, and scalpers were making a fortune - a ticket to Kashgar that would normally cost 170 yuan was selling for 400 yuan, equivalent to a month's salary for some people.

Ask, the station director, said they had put on an extra 10 buses for Kashgar, on top of the usual 14, but that "the long waiting and overcrowding are unavoidable".

Twenty-two-year old Ao Zi Gul, a technology student, said: "I prefer to wait for the promised extra buses since I don't have money to buy the 400 yuan ticket [from scalpers]."

The authorities appeared happy to help the students leave, summoning hundreds of extra buses from across the region to take them away.

Witnesses said Sunday's violence followed a protest called by Uygurs over a brawl last month at a Hong Kong-owned factory in Shaoguan , Guangdong, which left two Uygurs dead and 118 people, most of them Uygurs, injured. Uygur students attending colleges in Urumqi are believed to have played a big part in Sunday's protest, and to have used the internet to spread stories about the ethnic clashes which followed.

A Xinhua report said Xinjiang transport authorities had arranged 108 buses and sent 3,850 students home by late yesterday.

A teenager who had just graduated from a city high school and who gave her name as Wang said now was the perfect time to head home. She was among the first to arrive at one of the bus stations yesterday, but still found a long queue ahead of her at the ticket booth. Tickets to her hometown, Turpan in eastern Xinjiang, had long sold out, but people were still hanging around in the hope the government would help arrange extra buses. "My parents were worried to death," she said. "They told me to take a bus home as early as I can."

(South China Morning Post)  Riot city gets back to business but few are venturing out.  By Will Clem.  July 10, 2009.

A sense of tentative order returned to the streets of central Urumqi yesterday, following days of ethnic violence that had rocked the Xinjiang region. Shops and banks near Renmin Square reopened in the morning, after having been mostly closed since Sunday's bloody riots, which left at least 156 dead from clashes between Han and Uygurs. "I think the problems are over now," said Wang Long , owner of a sports equipment shop. "We were closed for the past two days, but it is safe now. The government has the situation under control."

The clashes this week have been the country's worst ethnic violence in recent history. But yesterday, shoppers began returning to the main shopping district. Public transport was running again, but most buses and minibuses were fairly empty.

Staff in the Yanjing Optical Shop on Zhongshan Road said they had opened at 10am but had not had a customer in the first two hours. "Of course it is quieter than usual, but I think things are gradually returning to normal now," said one sales assistant, who declined to give her name.

Neighbourhood groups posted handwritten bills along main streets, calling for stability. The strips of brightly coloured paper carried slogans such as "strengthen ethnic unity" and "Xinjiang has been a part of the nation's territory since antiquity". "We have written more than 3,000 posters," the leader of a group in Tianshan district, who identified himself only as "Old Li", said. "Neighbourhood groups like ours are the foundation stone of party structure, so it is important for us to make an effort to restore stability. "I came to Urumqi from Hebei province in 1976, and I have never seen a situation like this."

However, the tension had not completely dissipated. A Muslim of the Hui minority said violence would erupt again unless the government changed its approach to minorities. "We have to be very careful what we say to foreign media," he said after retreating to a narrow backstreet. "If we're overheard not toeing the party line, we will be arrested. The problem is that there is so much pressure on Islam in this region. The government tries to control us, so of course, there is resistance to that. If people were not angry, why would you have tens of thousands taken to the streets?"

Security remained tight across Urumqi, albeit with a slightly lower profile than in previous days. Black-clad riot police surrounded Renmin Square, standing to attention along the pavement at 10-metre intervals. On Wednesday, platoons of troops marched through the streets and guarded intersections, but at lunchtime yesterday they appeared to have retreated to stand in readiness.

Military trucks lined Renmin Road and filled a small square where it joins with Jiefang Road a short distance from the provincial government headquarters. Soldiers were camped out in their hundreds along both streets, doing their best to stay cool. They crouched under trees and in the shade of commercial buildings trying to escape the searing midday sun, but the stifling heat was clearly taking its toll, particularly on those dressed in full body armour.

Access to information remained severely limited, with internet access blocked for the region and intermittent even in the official media centre. Text messaging was blocked and mobile phone coverage was unstable.

The newsagent at the Hoi Tak Hotel - the base of operations for the army of reporters who have descended on the city - had a two-day-old copy of the South China Morning Post on sale. Its four pages of reports on Sunday's riots and their aftermath - originally published on Tuesday - had been left uncensored.

(Irish Times)  Uighurs continue to flee as fears of violence persist.  By Tania Branigan.  July 10, 2009.

HUNDREDS OF Uighurs fled the capital of China’s northwestern region of Xinjiang yesterday, many fearing further violence after days of vicious inter-ethnic conflict.

Life appeared to be returning to normal in Urumqi, albeit tentatively, with businesses in the centre reopening for the first time since unrest began on Sunday night.

But the south bus station on Xinhua South Road – in a predominantly Uighur area – was packed with students and families scrabbling for tickets to other parts of the region. Police had to step in to tackle the crush in the ticket hall.

Urumqi’s population is predominantly Han Chinese, while in many towns in the south Uighurs dominate.

“We are going because we are all scared. We don’t have any alternative,” said a young mother waiting with her seven-year-old son as her husband fought his way through the crowd. They were not sure what work they could find in their home town.

A student from Kashgar said: “I’m afraid. [There’s] so much violence – Chinese people and Uighur people just fighting. I want to go back to my home. My parents are afraid for me.”

Han Chinese also remain frightened.

At least 156 people died and more than 1,000 were injured in the violence, the authorities say. Witnesses reported brutal attacks by Uighurs on Han, but the authorities have yet to identify victims.

On Tuesday, a vengeful Han mob armed with meat cleavers, shovels and other weapons headed for a Uighur area, trashing stores and throwing rocks at a mosque. Resulting injuries or deaths remain unknown, but paramilitary and riot police dispersed them with tear gas.

Several students at the bus station were leaving because the university ended the academic year early following the unrest, but said they expected to return in autumn.

But many travellers said they did not know if or when they would come back.

“It’s not safe now. When it’s stable I hope I can come back,” said a man who came to Urumqi to work but who was now returning to his southern hometown. The authorities posted up signs at the station and elsewhere urging rioters to surrender and warning that those hiding or protecting criminals also faced punishment.

(Reuters)  China's Xinjiang braces for Muslim day of prayer    By Chris Buckley.  July 9, 2009.

Ethnic tensions in China's far-west Xinjiang shift from the streets to mosques of the regional capital on Friday, with many Uighur Muslims saying the authorities would not let them observe their main day of prayer.

Security forces have imposed control over Urumqi, but the prayers after midday will be a test of the government's ability to contain Uighur anger after Han Chinese, China's predominant ethnic group, attacked Uighur neighborhoods on Tuesday.

Those attacks were in revenge for the deaths of 156 people in Uighur rioting on Sunday, the region's worst ethnic violence in decades.

Several mosques throughout an overwhelmingly Uighur bazaar district of Urumqi displayed notices that usual prayers were suspended, and men at other mosques said they thought there would be no prayers on Friday, the main day of worship for Muslims.

"It won't be open," said a man keeping watch outside the big Dong Kuruk Bridge Mosque, with its minarets jutting out above an adjacent expressway. Troops and armored vehicles were stationed beside the mosque.

"The Communist Party won't allow us," said the man, who would not give his name.

"Under instructions from superiors, normal prayer will be suspended from today," said a notice at the gateway of the nearby Guyuan Mosque. It was dated Wednesday. "Anybody wishing to pray ... please do so at home."

China's ruling Communist Party may fear that big Uighur religious gatherings could become another catalyst for unrest after a week of ethnic strife.

"URGENT TASK"

Uighurs, a Turkic people who are largely Muslim and share linguistic and cultural bonds with Central Asia, make up almost half of Xinjiang's 20 million people.

President Hu Jintao, forced to abandon a G8 summit in Italy by the ethnic violence in Xinjiang, has said maintaining social stability in the energy-rich region was the "most urgent task."

Hu described the Sunday riots as a "serious violent crime elaborately planned and organized by 'three forces' at home and abroad."

"Three forces" is a term China uses to refer to religious extremists, separatists and terrorists it says menace Xinjiang.

The decision to silence collective prayers could rankle Uighurs, but thousands of troops and anti-riot police appeared ready to quell any fresh protests. Nearly all Uighurs are Muslim, but few adhere to the strictest interpretations of Islam.

"Jumu'ah is the time of the week when we must pray. For us, it would be an insult to shut it down," said Ahmed Jan, a Uighur resident near the Dong Kuruk Mosque. "If we're not allowed to hold normal religious activities, there will be a lot of anger."

(BBC News)  China bans Urumqi mosque prayers    July 10, 2009.

China has ordered mosques in its restive western city of Urumqi not to open for Friday prayers.

The order comes after several days of ethnic violence between Uighur Muslims and Han Chinese. At least 156 people have been killed so far.

...

An unnamed government officials told the Associated Press news agency that people in Xinjiang should "stay at home and pray", rather than gathering in mosques.

The official said the order had been given on public safety ground.

(China Daily)  Be true to all citizens    July 10, 2009.

Exactly like what we witnessed in the wake of the March 14, 2008 incidents in Lhasa, the Chinese government is inundated with passionate pleas and exhortations from compassionate Westerners: Exercise restraint. Respect the "human rights" of minorities. Be nice to these suspects who are in custody. Observe international standards in weighing criminal liabilities

There was a show of sorrow, though half-hearted in some cases, over the loss of lives. Yet the emphasis unanimously is on admonitions to make the government "behave".

Some went even further, attributing the Urumqi rioting to "discriminatory" government policies, and portraying the perpetrators as victims.

What is wrong here? We have no idea what makes our Western "instructors" so bold and assured in saying what they have. And, we wonder how they are so sure that it is the government violating "human rights". And, why they do not even bother to condemn the acts of terror that resulted in innocent citizens being killed and injured by the hundreds.

Sure. The authorities should respect the "human rights" of the perpetrators. But, what about those of the people who were killed or wounded? Why should their human rights be so inconsequential and worthy of neglect? Is it just because they are members of a majority group? If they are truly concerned about "human rights," we suggest our Western critics be a little more generous and divert some of their sympathy to the true victims of the Sunday carnage. That way they will at least look unbiased.

As to the conduct of the Chinese government, there is no cause for worry. As has been evident from the very beginning, the government could not have been more restrained.

To those accusing the Chinese government of fanning Han animosity against Uygurs, we can only say: Use you brains, and open your eyes. We know, just as they do, that there are people who dislike a peaceful Xinjiang, or the Han and Uygurs living together in happy harmony. But the Chinese government is not among those. What good will a restive Xinjiang do to China? No government in the world is that stupid.

The Chinese people and government share a long and deep-rooted desire for stability. The government, in particular, sees stability as an overriding priority. Some Western critics may disbelieve this, but many frustrated Han residents of Urumqi are complaining that government policies have shown disproportionate favors to the Uygurs.

Our Western friends are more comfortable with the counterclaims.

But, if any of them do care about the truth, it is not difficult to find out. A plethora of official policies and documents are there for all to study.

Right now, the imperative in Urumqi is to restore order and to prevent tensions among local communities. Which is precisely what the authorities have been doing all these days.

To be true to their "human rights" rhetoric, our Western friends should at least demonstrate due respect for truth, and stop sowing the seeds of discord.

(ABC News)  Propaganda battle begins as troops tame China riots.  By Tom Iggulden.  July 10, 2009.

The decision by China's President Hu Jintao to leave the G8 summit in Italy and return home to attend to the communal crisis in western China appears to have paid dividends.

The city of Urumqi, in the restive region of Xinjiang, is quiet, although the underlying tension between ethnic Uighurs and Han Chinese appears to be simmering beneath the surface.

According to Chinese officials 156 people died in the rioting, but this figure is disputed by Uighurs who say the figure could be 600.

China's top leadership has vowed that rioters will face severe punishment.

The military is now firmly in control of the streets and determined to keep it that way.

It's not just the 'traffic control measures', as the officials call the road blocks manned by soldiers with automatic weapons scattered around the city, or the detachments of riot police stationed at every major intersection day and night.

Every afternoon shift change hundreds of soldiers are trucked into the city's main square, then march through the streets back to their barracks.

Their patriotic songs can be heard from blocks away. It's a powerful reminder of who's in charge as citizens line the streets and gaze in wonder at the platoons of body armour-clad soldiers marching past, trying to outdo each other.

In their wake, police cars broadcast messages through roof-mounted loud speakers, calling for unity and stability.

Streets apparently under control, the propaganda battle has begun.

State TV nationwide is broadcasting pictures of prosperous Uighur and Han Chinese working side by side in harmony.

It's a far cry from the smouldering suspicion and recrimination the ABC witnessed in the slums and alleyways on the outskirts of Urumqi this week.

The ABC joined a Government-organised tour to a local Uighur mosque.

We arrived at one of Urumqi's biggest mosques with about 80 journalists in a convoy of about six or seven mini-vans.

Almost every journalist still left in Urumqi was there, because there was almost no violence on the streets. There's very little else left to cover.

The mosque's imam is a senior Communist Party official and a former representative of the National People's Congress, China's Parliament.

"The riot has affected the stability and unity of our society. Through prayer we'll explain to people the nature of this riot, and the damage it's caused to society." he said.

Outside the mosque we ask an old Uighur man for his opinion about the hordes of journalists there.

He says "the media tour is the first time the mosque has been open since the riots began, because people are too afraid to come."

Today all the city's mosques will open for Friday prayer, the most important religious day of the week for Muslims.

Imams will be under heavy pressure to ensure they don't incite further violence, which the Chinese Government says is punishable by death.

(China Daily)  Separatists "used Web to promote plot"   By Zhao Huanxin.  July 10, 2009.

Separatist groups "intentionally manipulated hatred" among young Uygurs over a dispute in Guangdong province to plot the deadly Urumqi riots, a Xinjiang government official said Thursday.

Rebiya Kadeer, the leader of the separatist World Uyghur Congress (WUC) group, is believed to have used the June 26 Guangdong factory brawl between ethnic Uygur and Han workers to "create chaos" in China, officials said.

The factory brawl left two people dead and 118 others injured, while the latest riots in Urumqi killed at least 156 people and injured more than 1,000 others. Hou Hanmin, director of the information office of Xinjiang, said the WUC had named June 26 as a "memorial day" to incite Uygurs and planned to use the incident as an opportunity to seek support from the international community for its separatist causes.

Kadeer and the WUC had spread the message calling for massive protests both within and outside Xinjiang, by sending messages through Web portals, telephones and cellphones, Hou said.

According to the authorities, on July 1, the WUC held a special meeting, plotting to instigate unrest by sending messages via the Internet, telephones and mobile phones.

On July 4, some people inside the country began to flood the Internet with posts encouraging people to go to Renmin Square in Urumqi to stage protests on July 5.

At 1:06 am on July 5, police in Urumqi were tipped off that some people were posting illegal information calling for a gathering at Renmin Square at 7 pm on July 5.

Phone recordings showed that at 11 am July 5, Kadeer called her younger brother in Urumqi and said, "A lot of things have happened, and we all know something might happen in Urumqi tomorrow night."

On July 6, Kadeer held an emergency meeting with some senior members of her group to make plans to further stir up both domestic and overseas demonstrations, and to call for intervention from foreign governments and human rights institutions.

Their plans were carried out through the subsequent attacks on China's consulate in Munich, Germany, on Monday morning, as well as the violence staged by more than 150 separatists in front of the Chinese embassy in the Netherlands that afternoon.

On July 7, Dorikun Askarjiang, a senior leader of the WUC, was also believed to have said: "Urumqi is merely just the beginning of the success."

(China Daily)  Separatists' modus operandi.  By Wu Chaofan.  July 10, 2009.

It was a sheer slaughter of civilians, men and women, old and young, in an otherwise tranquil, peaceful and charming land. Overnight, Urumqi was turned into hell on earth.

The deadly riots in the capital of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, which on Sunday night claimed 156 lives and left 1,080 wounded, is the most serious outbreak of violence in the region since the People's Republic was founded 60 years ago.

It is by no means a simple expression of a people's grievance arising from a criminal case in a Guangdong toy factory on June 26, in which two Uygur workers were killed in a clash with their colleagues.

It is deliberately planned and organized carnage aimed at putting the autonomous region in the spotlight of the international community to serve the ulterior political purposes of terrorists and separatists.

Evidence so far has fully demonstrated that the overseas separatist group of World Uygur Congress (WUR) masterminded the bloody riots from the very beginning. To synchronize with the Urumqi riots and thereby generate more publicity, the separatists outside China also launched protests in front of Chinese embassies in Germany, the Netherlands and other countries, and even attempted to break into the embassy premises in The Hague the next day. On Tuesday, as they demonstrated in Washington, they called on foreign governments to support their cause to "liberate" "East Turkestan" that has never existed.

Sunday's Urumqi riots reminded Chinese people of the Lhasa violence that took place on March 14 last year. In that event, the rioters did resort to the same ploy of indiscriminate killing, smashing, looting and burning. That, too, was carnage in which innocent people died.

Indeed, there are astonishing similarities between the two separatist groups. They have repeatedly used the same tactics as if fellow pupils who graduated from the same insurgence crash course.

Both the bloody riots were depicted by certain persons and media as "peaceful" rallies aimed at pursuing "lost" democracy and human rights, which, without explanation, somehow quickly evolved into violence that spread harm and terror among the innocent and peaceful citizens and their properties.

Also, the rioters were portrayed as victims. To catch international attention and solicit sympathy from the Western world, all propaganda resources were mobilized in an attempt to bring criminals to the fore as representatives of a just and fair cause.

Both the groups, while using the local people as cheap sacrificial lambs for their personal ambitions, also appoint themselves as the natural, political and spiritual representatives of the local communities. And both have never let slip a chance for "political occasions" and meetings with foreign political figures.

However, no excuse can justify the atrocities against innocent people, be it in Urumqi or Lhasa. And, democracy and human rights should in no case be abused to provide legitimacy for acts like smashing and burning privately-owned shops and beating and killing men and women in broad daylight.

But the bloodstains in the market streets, both in Urumqi and in Lhasa, have laid bare the lies concocted by separatist propaganda agents such as commitment to peace and non-violence, care for human rights, and willingness to talk.

In the latest Urumqi riots, not only the Han people, people of Uygur or other ethnic groups were also the victims. The same holds true of the Lhasa violence last March.

The facts clearly show that all that Xinjiang and Tibet secessionists have done are for their own political ambitions and purposes rather than for the well-being of their people.

As a country where the rule of law prevails, China will under no circumstances tolerate civil and societal order being trampled. The bloodshed in Urumqi serves a reminder that some anti-China forces are still active outside the country and would stoop to any level to disrupt the country's stability and harmony.

The more all the ethnic groups in China share from its economic development, the more the separatists will try to instigate violence.

But blood should not be shed in vain. The perpetrators must be ferreted out and put on trial, and justice must be done.

As a big family of 56 ethnic groups, China and the Chinese people have long cherished peace and unity and abhorred those who work against it. Ethnic unity turns out to have been an endless source of strength for the building and development of the Chinese nation although the country did experience ethnic strife and conflict in history.

A peaceful, stable and developing China is the country's largest contribution to the world. Uninformed people in the West should not let themselves be deluded by the hypocritical nature of the Xinjiang and Tibet secessionists, and become their tools for their dangerous but futile cause.

(China Daily)  Using wrong photo, Kadeer pleads case.  By Cui Jia.  July 10, 2009.

Rebiya Kadeer, leader of the separatist World Uyghur Congress, has attempted to gain public sympathy for the Uygur ethnic group in Xinjiang -- using wrong news photos.

Kadeer, whom police say is the mastermind of the deadliest riot to strike China in decades, displayed a news photo in an interview with the Al Jazeera news outlet Tuesday that she asserts was taken in Xinjiang.

In actuality, the photo depicted a protest in Shishou, Hubei province, on June 26. The photo was first published on Nanfang Weekly's website the day of the incident. The Xinjiang riot occurred on July 5.

Kadeer explained Tuesday that the World Uyghur Congress was not responsible for the recent violent clashes in the Uygur autonomous region, in which at least 156 people were killed and another more than 1,000 were injured.

In the photo, police officers are lined up in seven rows on the street to stop a group of people from moving forward. "This is how the peaceful protesters in Urumqi were treated by the police," said an emotional Kadeer. "How could my people attack anyone under that circumstance?"

One of Kadeer's followers used a similar tactic Tuesday as he was demonstrating in front of the Chinese Embassy in Ankara, Turkey.

In a picture released by the Uyghur American Association, the demonstrator is seen holding a photo depicting the "victims of the violence of the riot in Urumqi". The photo, however, shows the scene of a traffic accident in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, on May 15.

"How stupid is Kadeer and her organization to make such mistakes?" said a netizen after news of the misleading photos spread over the Internet.

Riot not spreading

Officials refuted Kadeer's claims that riots have been spreading across the region.

"There were signs of unrests in Kashgar and Yarkand, northwest of the region, but we had the situation under control before they escalated," Chen Li, director of the information office of the Kashgar region, told China Daily Thursday.

Information officials in Aksu, Khotan and Karamay said there were no sign of unrests after security had been tightened following Sunday's riots in the region's capital of Urumqi.

On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal published an article by Kadeer in response to the Urumqi violence. In the article, she writes: "The unrest is spreading. The cities of Kashgar, Yarkand, Aksu, Khotan and Karamay may have also seen unrest, though it's hard to tell, given China's State-run propaganda".

Kadeer also alleges that police had killed more than 100 Uygurs while breaking up mass demonstrations in Kashgar. She said troops had entered Kashgar, with two Chinese soldiers posted to each Uygur house.

In a written statement to Xinhua, the public security bureau of Kashgar denied the allegations. The bureau's statement said that more than 200 people gathered at the Id Kah Mosque, the largest mosque in China, and created a "disturbance" at approximately 5:15 pm on Monday.

Local security forces and armed police rushed to the scene, "using vehicles mounted with loudspeakers to disperse the masses", the statement said. The authorities "reacted immediately to round up troublemakers and quell the incident", it said. Police said they also dispersed the crowd at about 6 pm with no deaths or injuries.

(Outlook (India))  The Psywar Boomerangs   By B. Raman.  July 10, 2009.

In a report carried on July 10,2009, the China Daily has projected the situation in Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang province of China, as a "relative state of normalcy" after two days of violent rioting by the Uighurs followed by two days of communal tension due to retaliatory attacks by sections of the Han Chinese. 

No major incident of violence or protest was reported on July 9, 2009. Most shops have re-opened, the government servants have reported back to work and the public transport system which was very badly damaged during the initial rioting by the Uighurs is functioning again. 

However, there have been complaints from Uighurs that shops owned by Han Chinese are not selling them provisions and that Han drivers of buses and taxis are not prepared to take them. The public transport system in Urumqi is dominated by the Han Chinese. Practically all taxi-drivers are Han Chinese. While there are no more reports of protests by the Han Chinese, reports indicate a kind of undeclared social boycott of the Uighurs being observed by many Han Chinese residents of the city. While administrative normalcy might have been restored, it might take a long time to restore social normalcy. 

"Restoration of stability"--that has been the key theme of a statement issued after a meeting of the nine-member Standing Committee of the Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party held on the evening of July 8 under the chairmanship of President Hu Jintao. That has also been the theme of discourses by other Chinese leaders and editorials and comments in the Government-controlled media. 

The policy of transparency continues. Chinese journalists say that the Chinese authorities have allowed about 400 journalists to go to Urumqi. However, they do not specify how many of them are foreign journalists. 

The Chinese have kept up the focus of their psywar on the World Uighur Congress (WUC), allegedly funded by the National Endowment For Democracy of the US and helped by the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO) of Holland. The Munich-based WUC and its US-based President Ms Rebiya Kadeer have played into the hands of the Chinese authorities by making exaggerated statements about the fatalities and by unwittingly disseminating or using documents and alleged pictures of the Chinese security forces using force against the Uighurs. In at least two instances, the Chinese authorities have been able to prove them to be fake. 

For example, during an interview with Al Jazeera on July 7 , Rebiya Kadeer showed a picture of what she claimed was Chinese security forces massed against peaceful protesters in Urumqi. The Chinese have claimed that the picture which she said was taken in Urumqi was actually carried by the Nanfang Weekly in its online edition on June 26. According to the Chinese authorities, the picture had been taken by the weekly during a public demonstration at Shishou in the Hubei province. 

According to the Chinese, the Uighur American Association had also disseminated a photograph purporting to be of a scene of the riots in Urumqi. According to them, it was actually a photograph taken when sections of the public in Hangzhou in the Zhejiang province had protested on May 15, 2009, after a traffic accident. 

The WUC had initially alleged that 600 Uighurs were killed during the use of force by the security forces on July 5 and 6. They subsequently changed the figure of Uighur fatalities to over 800.

These figures have not been corroborated so far. Similarly, the WUC's claims of violent incidents in Kashgar have not been corroborated. 

Till now all Uighur reactions have come from the WUC, its leaders and spokesmen. There have been no reactions from the Islamic Movement of Eastern Turkestan (IMET) headed by Sheikh Abdul Haq, which operates from the Waziristan area of Pakistan and is allied to Osama Bin Laden’s Al Qaeda in the International Islamic Front (IIF). 

The CBS News of the US had reported on April 15,2009, that the media wing of the IMET called Sawt al Islam had recently disseminated a 43-minute video entitled "Persistence and preparation for Jihad". To quote the CBS: "It includes a statement by the group’s current leader Sheikh Abul Haq, as well as its late leader Hassan Makhdum, whose alias is Abu Mohammed al Turkistani. Abul Haq said "jihad" was a duty that falls on all Muslims just like any other religious duty. He also pledged more attacks against Chinese forces." 

While the Chinese are not yet openly talking of any role of the IMET in the Urumqi riots, they are reported to have reiterated once again to the Pakistani authorities the need to act against its terrorist infrastructure in Pakistani territory. Neither Al Qaeda nor the Afghan or Pakistani Taliban nor any of the Pakistani jihadi organisations have so far commented on the Urumqi uprising. 

However,the only comment in Pakistan has come from the Jamaat-e-Islami (JEI), which has many members from the Uighur diaspora in Pakistan. It had in the past protested against the refusal of the Saudi Embassy in Islamabad to issue Haj and Umra visas to Uighurs living in Pakistan. The Saudis were insisting that they should apply for the visas to the Saudi Embassy in Beijing. 

(People's Daily OnlineUrumqi killing is barbaric   By Li Hong.   July 10, 2009.

By whatever calculations, the blood-thirsty maiming and slaughtering of civilians, as young as six years old, in Urumqi, northwestern China's Xinjiang on July 5, is heinous homicide, barbarity against humanity, and terrorist act on China.

A look into the aftermath of the bloodbath found it bore the hallmark of secret and well choreography aiming at innocent human lives, identical to Al Qaeda's killing of thousands of office workers at the World Trade Center twin towers on September 11, 2001. The terrorists this time did not use flying petrol bombs to detonate tall buildings, they brandished steel rods and wielded knives to end lives.

They really did something "big": Up to 160 civilians were killed, and hundreds more seriously injured and lying now on hospital beds hardly breathing. Police-released pictures show that most of the victims were brutally killed, their chests stabbed, heads smashed to pieces or cut off. The terror plan was perfectly implemented, within three hours, the city, a pearl in the ancient Silk Road, was in flames, many fallen forever.

The barbarity has astonished China and the world. Thanks to the authorities' revised policy of free on-spot reportage, in sharp contrast to previous media controls, more people on the globe have got to know the senseless killing. Some said that even during New Stone ages, our ancestors, though barely dressed, did not do this to each other while chasing nuts and edibles in the woods.

There are overseas reports alleging this is ethnic strife rooting in Uygur residents' loathing of Han people who are running better businesses and have become more affluent in the past years, which is refutable. Deng Xiaoping's reform and campaign for prosperity has lifted all boats. Besides, many preferential policies, including ethnic minority couples could give birth to more than one child, are not accessible to Han people.

And, the fact that many beautiful Uygur moms emptied their living rooms and even rest rooms to hide Han people for a whole night, who were fleeing the chasing thugs, and thus saved their lives, tells a ton: This is not ethnic feud. The terrorists did this ugly act in the guise of ethnic difference, to stir up ethnic hatred and fan an ethnic war on scale.

Like Bin Laden who wanted the United States on fire and in ruins, the masterminds and ringleaders of "July-5" killings, hidden in China and abroad, are dreadful of and loath a strong and unified China. They maneuver to harm the country by trying to chipping away the bedrock of it – stability and tranquility. They have dreamt of a destabilized, raucous, chaotic and strife-torn China. And, they want to pitch the Uygurs against Han people.

Beijing has been resolute and unwavering in enforcing law and restoring stability in Urumqi. Time will be needed to heal the inner scars and wounds, especially for those whose beloved ones were lost. To turn back to a normal life sooner, the law should be upheld and justice be done. All the thugs who took part in the killing of innocent lives should be subject to due punishment in accordance with the law.

Like "September 11" to Americans, "July 5" will serve as a reminder to all Chinese people. The government must be ready and steadfast in a heightened alertness to combat fanaticism and terrorism, all the time. The information departments must be enhanced to prevent breeding and grooming of more terror plans, nipping their acts in the bud. Meanwhile, China's anti-terrorism efforts ought to integrate with world's collective anti-terror regime to terminate terrorist financing, and trace every terror element to its roots, and rid it off.

(The Globe and Mail)  Beijing lets media see Xinjiang, up to a point    By Carolynne Wheeler.  July 9, 2009.

With images of deadly riots emerging from the remote western Xinjiang region of China, the country's normally media-shy authorities did something that previously would have been unthinkable: They invited journalists in to take a look.

That's a significant change from Beijing's past practices in times of crisis, but it's is not to say reporting has been free and journalists able to investigate the situation as they wish.

Camera crews have been harassed and reporters encouraged to stick to official tours. And early Thursday morning, The Globe and Mail's Beijing bureau chief, Mark MacKinnon, was told that he'd be expelled from the ancient city of Kashgar in the same region where ethnic clashes between Muslim Uyghurs and Han Chinese have killed at least 156 people and injured more than 1,000.

An English-speaking man in plain clothes, claiming to be from local government, rang three times at Mr. MacKinnon's hotel room door about 8 a.m., telling him he had to board a morning flight to Urumqi for his “own safety” because “the security situation is not good.” When Mr. MacKinnon attempted to protest, four other men appeared, three of them in uniform.

“It might appear safe but no one knows what may happen in the next second,” the English speaker said.

The men said they had a plane ticket arranged for the Globe reporter, and they informed him that they would wait outside and drive him to the airport as soon as he was ready. The men were very polite, but firm, Mr. MacKinnon said in a telephone call.

The Associated Press reported Thursday that travel for foreigners in two Xinjiang cities has been suspended; the report did not specify the cities.

It may not be a sign of the free press that westerners are used to, but that journalists are in the region at all is a tentative step forward from the aftermath of rioting in Tibet in March, 2008, when Chinese authorities went to extraordinary lengths to prevent media from reporting on ethnic clashes that led to looting, burning and at least 19 deaths.

“We disclosed information shortly after the incident. We welcome domestic and overseas journalists to come and see what happened,” Hou Hanmin, deputy head of publicity for the Communist Party's Xinjiang regional committee, said in a comment that was widely circulated by what purported to be a non-profit media group – presumably government-linked – offering assistance to foreign journalists.

Observers call the move progress, though they remain cynical about the reasons behind it.

“In general, opening to the press is to be applauded and so I don't want to be too cynical about this,” said James Millward, a history professor at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service and the author of two books on Xinjiang.

“I think maybe one of the reasons for this is, this seems initially to have been a case of Uyghur violence against Han Chinese and I think they were not concerned about hiding that…[it fits] under the narrative of Uyghurs as violent and prone to terrorism and ungrateful.”

While the unrest in Xinjiang bears similarities to that in Tibet, there are important differences. Isolated in China's far northwest, where it borders half a dozen Central Asian countries, including Pakistan and Afghanistan, Xinjiang lacks a well-known and respected leader in the mould of Tibet's Dalai Lama, who from his exile in India regularly meets world leaders, making China's Communist Party chiefs apoplectic each time.

It does have its own restive Muslim population, a minority within China, struggling with discrimination and calling for increased rights and autonomy. But while it has produced little evidence to support such claims, China has consistently sought to link Uyghur separatism with al-Qaeda and to portray it as its own home-grown terrorist problem.

All of this adds up to Xinjiang being a less sensitive region than Tibet, and easier for Chinese authorities to manage as they manoeuvre to get their view across.

“Tibet is the Dalai Lama and human rights and many things. But this was presented as terrorism, and so it was easier to use a different approach,” said Qiao Mu, director of the Centre for International Communication Studies at Beijing Foreign Studies University. “It's hard to hide. Xinjiang is quite different from Tibet. It's not so isolated and it's easier to connect with the rest of China,” Prof. Qiao continued. “I think it would be stupid for them to hide the truth.”

Urumqi, Xinjiang's capital, remained tense but largely calm under a heavy security presence Wednesday, though there are concerns that violence could flare again today after Friday prayers in the city's mosques. In Beijing, Chinese President Hu Jintao led an urgent meeting of the Politburo Standing Committee and promised rioters would be punished.

“Preserving and maintaining the overall stability of Xinjiang is currently the most urgent task,” the committee said in a statement, according the official Xinhua News Agency.

It's a message that has been reflected in the Chinese media, where the rioting has received front-page coverage emphasizing the need to return to harmony and stability. Xinjiang state-backed television has repeatedly broadcast clips from official press conferences maintaining the fighting involved a small number of people and that there is no ethnic or religious dispute involved. From Beijing, newspapers including the state-run China Daily have run stories about Han Chinese and Uyghurs living and working together peacefully elsewhere in the country. Other stories praise the increased media access and repeat government claims that the U.S.-based World Uyghur Congress is behind the violence.

While the new approach to journalists generally suits the government's aims, the authorities have been quick to revert to form if they perceive themselves losing control of the message, as evidenced by Mr. MacKinnon's expulsion.

Some Uyghur neighbourhoods of Urumqi have been declared off-limits, journalists and camera crews have reported being detained or harassed by police after striking out on their own, and the clampdown on communications has been draconian. Internet service is completely cut off, save for around two dozen connections in a single hotel business centre that are the sole links for an estimated 150 journalists from more than 80 news organizations. Outgoing international calls from journalists' private cellphones – thought to be routinely monitored in any case – are blocked, and incoming calls are patchy at best.

As a result, even the death toll cannot be independently confirmed, nor is it known how many of the dead were Uyghurs, blamed for starting the riots on Sunday, or Han Chinese, who mounted their own vigilante-style retaliation until soldiers moved in.

Just as they did during June's anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, authorities have blocked access to popular online forums, including Facebook and Twitter, in most of China.

More ominously, a leading Uyghur academic who had criticized government policy in Xinjiang has disappeared and is thought to have been arrested. Ilham Tohti, a professor of economics at Beijing's Central Nationalities University, told a friend late Wednesday night he had received formal notice he would be detained, and disappeared shortly afterward.

At Georgetown, Prof. Millward said the Chinese are still not ready to let go of their traditional propaganda approach – in this case, blaming Rebiya Kadeer, head of the Washington-based World Uyghur Congress, with the unintended result of heightening interest in the woman and her cause.

“There's an almost knee-jerk reaction to blame outside agitation,” Prof. Millward said, adding that while China is moving away from its old habit of censoring foreign media, the country is still not able to discuss what it feels are “deeply sensitive national secrets that need to be whitewashed.”

China, he said, is not yet ready for the “simple recognition there are problems between ethnic groups. This would not be so shameful for China to acknowledge.”

(The Malaysian Insider)  A rude lesson on unity and stability — Ching Cheong   July 10, 2009.

Decades of bad blood over inter-ethnic ties, official missteps and external influences boiled over into violence last Sunday in remote Xinjiang province in northwest China.

Unlike the rest of the province, which is predominantly Muslim, the capital city Urumqi is populated by mostly Han Chinese.

To the Han Chinese, Xinjiang — so named by Qing Dynasty rulers and whose name means “new frontier” — has been a part of China since 1884. Before that, China and 36 small kingdoms in the region had maintained a kind of suzerain relationship for some 2,000 years. But in the eyes of the Uighurs, their homeland was taken away from them.

It was, in fact, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) that first spurred the Uighurs' separatist aspirations. In its bid to weaken the ruling Kuomintang government in the 1940s, the CCP encouraged Xinjiang to break away from China.

Led by CCP member Bao Erhan, himself an Uighur, the Uighurs succeeded in 1944-45 to declare the establishment of an East Turkestan Republic (ETR) covering the present-day lands of Yili, Tacheng and Aishan in northern Xinjiang. Bao, who later became deputy chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), admitted in his memoirs that the independence movement received strong support from the Soviet Union. ETR's success resulted in the growth of similar movements in southern Xinjiang and Tibet.

At the time, CCP leader Mao Zedong fully endorsed the separatist movement. In his congratulatory message to the newly established ETR, Mao said that the ETR movement “was an integral part of the Chinese people's democratic revolution”. But the CCP did an about-face after it won power in 1949, cracking down hard on separatism. General Wang Zhen was dispatched to suppress the disgruntled and his iron-hand rule earned him the nickname Tiger Wang. So while he was able to restore stability, albeit at gun-point, his heavy-handed ways only bred greater ethnic hatred.

The Uighurs felt betrayed. Subsequent missteps by the CCP served only to deepen the rift between the Uighurs and the Han Chinese. These included promoting class struggles between social groups, depriving people of basic human rights and freedom, and destroying cultural relics of all sorts during the period from 1949 to 1976, which covers the 10-year disastrous Cultural Revolution.

Tens of millions of people died across China, Han Chinese and minority people alike. But to minority groups such as the Uighurs, atrocities on such a scale were akin to ethnic cleansing. No thanks to these missteps, Xinjiang and Tibet are now ticking ethnic time bombs.

The communist government has invested huge amounts of funds in recent decades to modernise their economies, in the belief that material progress would take the people's minds off separatist sentiments and ease ethnic tensions.

Progress has improved lives but, in the case of Xinjiang and Tibet, the people still hanker for autonomy. The late communist leader Hu Yaobang devised a six-point policy in 1985 as a way to accommodate these demands for autonomy in Xinjiang and Tibet.

Under this policy, the central government in Beijing would, for example, retain powers in only three areas: defence, diplomacy and right to veto certain domestic policies.

But Hu's fall from grace in 1987 meant that his benign policy was never implemented.

The Chinese authorities have blamed Uighur-related organisations operating abroad for instigating the current unrest.

In his paper on the Dangers of Balticisation of China's periphery this week, B. Raman noted the close links allegedly maintained by the Munich-based World Uighur Congress with the US National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO) in Holland. The UNPO had played an active role in promoting the separation of the Baltic States from the erstwhile Soviet Union.

“It (UNPO) had trained people from the Baltic states for many years. It has a similar active programme for the training of Uighurs from the diaspora. This training programme is allegedly being funded by the NED,” wrote Raman, who is director of the Institute For Topical Studies in Chennai and is also associated with the Chennai Centre for China Studies.

He concluded: “The Lhasa uprising of March 2008 and the Urumqi uprising of July 2009 have brought home a rude lesson to the Chinese — namely, that they cannot take China's unity and stability for granted.

“What happened in the Baltic states of the USSR can happen in China's periphery inhabited by non-Han minorities if they do not pay attention to their grievances, anger and political and cultural aspirations.”

Perhaps President Hu Jintao's surprise decision to drop the G-8 summit and rush home to attend to the Xinjiang crisis was not only a sound one, but also a first step in the right direction.

(The Wall Street Journal)  Ethnic Anger Festers Amid Calm in Urumqi   By Shai Oster and Jason Dean.  July 10, 2009.

Zhang Weiyi grew up in Urumqi, the capital of China's Xinjiang region, a second-generation Han Chinese resident living alongside the ethnic Uighurs native to Urumqi. Today, he is afraid to go home, after ethnic riots Sunday that left 156 dead, many of them Han killed by Uighur mobs. Among the dead is his father, a man who had embraced the city's ethnic diversity.

"We never thought something like this could happen," the 24-year-old Mr. Zhang says, sobbing. "We buy vegetables together, we eat the same food," he says, referring to his Uighur neighbors. "They were my classmates."

Among the victims of this week's violence in Urumqi were many Han who have lived for years or even decades in the region, people who arguably represent the government's best hope for its ethnic integration efforts. Whether people like Mr. Zhang and his Uighur neighbors can find a way to reconcile will be a key factor in determining whether peace can hold in the region.

Mosques in the city were ordered to stay closed for Friday prayers. But at least several mosques were later opened, after crowds of Uighurs gathered outside wanting to get in. "We decided to open the mosque because so many people had gathered," a Uighur policeman guarding the White mosque in the Uighur neighborhood of Er Dao Qiao was quoted as saying by the Associated Press quoted. "We did not want an incident."

On Thursday, Urumqi experienced a second straight day of relative calm, and some signs of normal life began returning amid the presence of huge numbers of armed troops and police. Cars were allowed to pass freely on city streets, pedestrians seemed more at ease, and the makeshift weapons wielded by vigilante mobs on Tuesday were nowhere to be seen.

State-run media said that Chinese President Hu Jintao held a meeting of top leaders Wednesday in which they vowed "severe punishment" for those responsible for the recent violence. The reports were the first public account of Mr. Hu's actions since he hurried home from the Group of Eight summit in Italy early Wednesday to oversee the government's response to the turmoil.

The meeting late Wednesday of the Politburo standing committee, the Communist Party's ultra-powerful nine-man governing group, also called for calm and ethnic harmony. "The Han people are inseparable from the ethnic minorities, and the ethnic minorities are inseparable from the Han," it said.

The Uighurs are a Turkic-speaking, mostly Muslim people who number fewer than 10 million, and who have lived in the Xinjiang region for centuries, albeit under various identities. Han, who make up more than 90% of China's 1.3 billion people, have been migrating to Xinjiang in ever larger numbers since China's Communist Party took control of the region in 1949. The government has encouraged the trend, in part to develop the economy and in part to help maintain control. Today, Hans account for at least 40% of Xinjiang's roughly 21 million people.

Many Uighurs resent the Han influx, which they see as an effort to dilute their culture and usurp economic opportunities. Those frustrations were aggravated this month by reports of a deadly clash between Uighur and Han workers far away, in the southern province of Guangdong. Uighurs in Urumqi staged a protest Sunday that, for reasons that still aren't clear, erupted into the large-scale ethnic violence.

While the government hasn't given any official breakdown by ethnicity of Sunday's fatalities, it appears that most of the dead were Han. Fury over the deaths and injuries erupted into vigilante violence Tuesday by Han gangs roaming the city with steel rods and other crude weapons. No figures have been released for casualties from that violence.

For some Hans and Uighurs, anger over the violence -- fanned by gruesome pictures on the Internet -- has yet to subside. "They came into our neighborhoods trying to kill us," says a Uighur woman. "When they beat us, they shouted, 'We welcome the death of the Uighurs.'"

But among others in Urumqi, there are hints that some sort of reconciliation might be possible. Wu Peiqing, a Han who teaches at a tourism trade school, joined a club-wielding mob Tuesday out for revenge.

"It was something I had to do," says the 32-year-old, who works with Uighurs, speaks their language and relies on the allure of their culture for his industry.

Mr. Zhang, a 24-year-old university graduate in biotechnology, says his grandparents moved to Xinjiang decades ago in search of new opportunities. His father, a 49-year-old logistic manager at a trade company, grew deep roots in the city, believing that Han and Uighur could live together. His parents lived in a mostly Uighur neighborhood, and learned to speak the Uighur language. "We were just like them except for [their] religion," Mr. Zhang said.

On Sunday, Mr. Zhang was at a hospital in a Uighur neighborhood, where his mother was recovering from a leg ailment. He heard protests outside, saw police trying to disperse a crowd of Uighurs. Then he heard a noise and saw a police car erupt in flame. Other explosions followed, and columns of smoke rose into the evening sky.

He called his father, who was about to leave his office. "I'll be home soon," the elder Mr. Zhang said.

They were the last words the younger Mr. Zhang heard his father say. When he rang his father again later, a stranger answered, and the cellphone line went dead.

Mr. Zhang spent days looking in hospital after hospital. On Thursday, he found his father. Authorities told him they had found the family's abandoned car about 200 meters from their home, and his father's badly beaten body 100 meters away.

"He was just outside our home. He was almost there," Mr. Zhang said.

(AFP via The Standard 200,000 yuan compensation for families of 'innocent' victims.  July 10, 2009.

Families of ''innocent'' people killed in unrest in Urumqi, Xinjiang, will each receive 200,000 yuan (HK$228,540) in government compensation, state media reported.

The family of each ''innocent civilian'' killed in the violence in the capital of Xinjiang region will get the money, Xinhua News Agency reported, citing Wang Fengyun, director of the Urumqi Civil Affairs Bureau.

Urumqi's government will also provide 10,000 yuan towards each funeral.

At least 156 people died and more than 1,000 were injured in the unrest, authorities have said, after a protest by the city's Muslim Uygur population turned violent

(Christian Science Monitor)  Urumqi unrest: China's savvier media strategy.  By Peter Ford.  July 10, 2009.

Chinese riot police arrested several Uighurs Friday after breaking up a small demonstration in Urumqi, the capital of China's western Xinjiang Province and the scene of a riot Sunday that killed 156 people and injured more than 1,000.

Authorities arranged extra bus services out of Urumqi after China's worst ethnic violence in decades, but demand outstripped supply Friday as thousands of people poured into bus and train stations to flee the violence-wracked city.

Still, Chinese police this week succeeded in averting a major interethnic bloodbath after initially failing to control Sunday's riot.

Similarly, on the Internet, over the airwaves, and in the written media, Chinese propaganda officials utilized new and more sophisticated tactics to overcome early impressions that the authorities were to blame for the carnage and to paint a more nuanced picture.

"Officials are certainly studying the media-management techniques that are practiced elsewhere in the world," says Rebecca Mackinnon, an expert on the Chinese media at Hong Kong University. "And they actually don't work too badly."

A combination of censoring the Internet, providing Chinese readers with a wealth of reportage (however one-sided), and allowing foreign reporters to work on the ground represents a new Chinese model for handling the media, says Ms. Mackinnon.

"We've moved out of the realm of trying to control everything," she says, "and into a more subtle realm of manipulation and spin."

How Beijing changed tactics since 2008 Tibet unrest

Eighteen months ago, when unrest broke out among Tibetans, the government banned foreign reporters from a huge swath of Tibetan-inhabited western China. Denied the chance to offer firsthand accounts of events, most Western media relied heavily on exile Tibetan sources.

The result was an unmitigated international public relations disaster for Beijing, although at home few Chinese questioned the official version that the Dalai Lama had instigated the trouble that left 18 ethnic Han and Hui Chinese dead.

Last Monday, in contrast, after a demonstration by Uighur protesters had spun out of control, the government invited foreign journalists to visit Urumqi to report for themselves on what had happened. A press center was put at their disposal, and tours of the violence-stricken quarters of the city were provided.

The initial assumption among most Western observers was that most of the dead must have been Uighur demonstrators, cut down by police gunfire. Although the authorities have not given an ethnic breakdown of the victims, reporters interviewing eyewitnesses began to suspect that in fact the majority of the dead may well have been Han Chinese, killed by Uighur rioters.

"We are certainly seeing a more varied and nuanced set of reports out of Xinjiang than we saw about Tibet," says Ms. Mackinnon.

Blocking search terms on the Web

Chinese news consumers, meanwhile, both on the Web and at the newsstands, were treated to a steady and unvaried drumbeat of official reports blaming the violence on Uighur exiles, with nary a mention of the economic and social grievances that have been fueling Uighur discontent for years.

Internet portals were ordered by the propaganda department to fix their search engines so that searches for phrases such as "Xinjiang Uighur dogs riot" or "Politburo silence" or "Beijing, assimilation policy" would yield no results, according to a "blacklist" leaked by a search engine technician.

Bulletin boards – often the site of lively debate on the Chinese Internet but which are required to censor their content – either deleted all posts related to Xinjiang or allowed through only those ones conforming to government policy. The only video visible was from official TV stations. Twitter and YouTube were blocked.

The approach appeared to mark a further step in Beijing's efforts to manage the news more subtly, taking a page from the Western public relations playbook and getting ahead of the news so as to spin it, rather than impose a total blackout.

Internet censorship ensured that there was virtually no independent commentary or reporting of the news, but blanket coverage in official sources (all that Internet portals were allowed to carry), such as the state news agency Xinhua and the state-run China Central Television, gave average Chinese citizen enough news to satisfy them.

Why one Chinese editor disavowed the Wall Street Journal

Foreign reporters were allowed to travel around Urumqi and interview local people, which gave rise to a number of stories sympathetic to Han victims of Sunday's riot, and those articles that raised questions about the official account came in for heavy criticism in the official Chinese press.

"As of today I will no longer be a reader of the Wall Street Journal," senior editor Ding Gang wrote Friday in the "Global Times," a tabloid belonging to the ruling Communist party. "In reporting the Xinjiang riot, the paper stood publicly at the side of the terrorists and became their representative," he charged.

(The Guardian)  Uighur crowds force opening of Urumqi mosques.  July 10, 2009.

Riot police broke up a small group of Uighur protesters after Friday prayers in the troubled capital of Xinjiang, in the first sign of fresh unrest after this week's ethnic violence.

Hundreds of Uighur men gathered at the gates of mosques in Urumqi, forcing officials to relent on a decision to cancel the prayers. Several mosques in Uighur areas had carried notices saying services were suspended. Officials cited "safety" reasons after brutal inter-ethnic attacks which began on Sunday.

Police had begun DNA testing to identify 156 people killed that day, thought to be primarily Han Chinese targeted by Uighur rioters, state media reported. The official news agency Xinhua said authorities would pay the families of "innocent" victims 200,000 yuan (about £18,000) compensation.

More than 1,000 people were injured in the riots. Subsequent days saw revenge attacks on Uighurs by Han Chinese, but no details of resulting fatalities or other casualties have been offered. Several Uighurs told the Guardian they believed at least four people had died.

The mood in the city appeared to have calmed but a heavy security presence remained, with armoured personnel carriers parked at the Grand Bazaar – where the violence began – and trucks full of troops touring the streets. Loudspeaker vans drove around the city urging people not to be swayed by "criminal elements".

The attempt to close the mosques appeared to be prompted by the authorities' anxieties about large crowds. At the Yang Hang mosque, Uighurs applauded and up to 400 worshippers carrying prayer mats flooded in as the doors were unlocked. A notice cancelling the day's service disappeared from the front gate.

About 100 men won the day at the popular White mosque after demanding that guards allow them in for prayers. A Uighur policeman guarding the building, who declined to give his name, told the Associated Press: "We decided to open the mosque because so many people had gathered. We did not want an incident."

At the Dong Kuruk Bridge mosque, one of several to remain closed, a young man told Reuters: "We feel we are being insulted. This is our mosque. But we are not allowed in, while they let in non-believers."

He said Chinese security forces had been stationed inside and even in the minarets.

At another mosque, used primarily by Hui Muslims, Uighurs were among those allowed to enter but there was no formal service. "It's a shame they don't allow us to practise our religion," said a passer-by.

Many people prayed at home instead, residents of Uighur neighbourhoods said.

The secretary-general of the Urumqi Islamic Association, who gave his name as Ma, denied the authorities had ordered the closures. But an official at the Urumqi Administration for Religious Affairs said only mosques in areas not affected by the violence were allowed to remain open.

Barry Sautman, an expert on China's ethnic policies at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, said the 23,000 mosques in Xinjiang gave it the highest mosque-to-Muslim ratio in the world. "It's impossible to control such an extensive number of religious personnel," he told AP.

About 30 or 40 Uighurs launched an impromptu march near the White mosque this afternoon, crying and pumping their fists in the air and demanding the release of men detained this week. One begged foreign reporters to stay with them as they walked.

"Every Uighur people are afraid," Madina Ahtam told AP. "We are afraid ... The problem? Police."

Security forces initially stood back, but when the demonstration continued they surrounded and detained protesters. Footage shot by the BBC showed riot officers kicking one demonstrator and punching another in the face. They detained journalists filming events.

In Kashgar, a mainly Uighur city in southern Xinjiang, officials ordered foreign media to leave, escorting some journalists to the airport. They had earlier prevented them from leaving their rooms.

"There are no conditions for interviews in Kashgar, so we hope the foreign reporters will leave for their own safety," said Chen Li, a media officer with the city government.

(Reuters)  Chinese police break up Xinjiang protest.  By Chris Buckley.  July 10, 2009.

Chinese riot police broke up a small demonstration by Uighurs leaving Friday prayers in a Muslim Uighur neighborhood of Urumqi, arresting several who were taken away with hands above their heads.

The action came as the United States urged Chinese leaders to act with restraint in tackling the unrest in the Xinjiang region.

A crowd of several hundred gathered near the White Mosque in the regional capital Urumqi along with riot police with submachine guns as armored police vehicles blocked roads around the building and a helicopter hovered overhead, the first sign of unrest days after deadly rioting in the ethnically divided city.

"You see, this is how they treat Uighurs -- like animals," said one woman of what appeared to be only a localized flare-up.

Hundreds of Uighurs crowded into the mosque after authorities relented on a decision to close mosques for the main day of prayer to minimize ethnic tension.

Security forces have imposed control over Urumqi, but the afternoon prayers were testing the government's ability to contain Uighur anger after Han Chinese, China's predominant ethnic group, attacked Uighur neighborhoods on Tuesday.

Those attacks were in revenge for the deaths of 156 people in Uighur rioting on Sunday, the region's worst ethnic violence in decades.

The initial decision to try to silence collective prayers could rankle, but thousands of troops and anti-riot police appeared ready to quell any fresh Uighur protests. Nearly all Uighurs are Muslim, but few adhere to the strictest interpretations of Islam.

Beijing cannot afford to lose its grip on the vast territory that borders Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, has abundant oil reserves and is China's largest natural gas-producing region.

Local authorities in Kashgar, a Uighur city in the south of Xinjiang, told foreign reporters to leave on Friday, citing "safety" reasons. In some cases the journalists were escorted to the airport.

U.S. National Security Adviser Gen. James Jones urged Chinese leaders on Friday to act with "appropriate restraint," a senior U.S. official said in L'Aquila in Italy where G8 leaders were gathered.

SUSPENSION NOTICES

Other mosques in Urumqi frequented by Hui, a Muslim group culturally akin to Han Chinese, opened their doors on Friday after crowds of a few hundred worshippers began shouting.

Mosques in the overwhelmingly Uighur bazaar district of Urumqi earlier displayed notices that prayers had been suspended.

A cluster of Uighurs outside the big Dong Kuruk Bridge Mosque said they were angry and disappointed it hadn't opened.

"We feel we are being insulted. This is our mosque. But we are not allowed in, while they let in non-believers," said a young man, pointing out that Chinese security forces had been stationed inside and even in the minarets jutting out above an adjacent expressway.

China's ruling Communist Party may fear that big Uighur religious gatherings could become another catalyst for unrest after a week of ethnic strife.

Uighurs, a Turkic people who are largely Muslim and share linguistic and cultural bonds with Central Asia, make up almost half of Xinjiang's 20 million people.

President Hu Jintao, forced to abandon the G8 summit in Italy by the ethnic violence in Xinjiang, has said maintaining social stability in the energy-rich region is the "most urgent task."

Hu described the Sunday riots as a "serious violent crime elaborately planned and organized by 'three forces' at home and abroad."

"Three forces" is a term China uses to refer to religious extremists, separatists and terrorists it says menace Xinjiang.

There appears little likelihood China will slow its drive to punish those found guilty of killing Urumqi residents in the Sunday mayhem, when cars and buses were burned.

On Tuesday, thousands of Han Chinese, shouting for vengeance, attacked Uighur neighborhoods, and many Uighur residents said people died. The government has not released any numbers.

Authorities have posted notices in Urumqi urging rioters to turn themselves in or face stern punishment.

Xinjiang has long been a tightly controlled hotbed of ethnic tensions, fostered by an economic gap between many Uighurs and Han Chinese, government controls on religion and culture and an influx of Han migrants who now are the majority in most key cities, including Urumqi.

(The Age)  The Uighurs have a right to decide their fate    By Wu'er Kaixi.  July 10, 2009.

AS AN ethnic Uighur, I am horrified by the riots, deaths, injuries and arrests in Urumqi, the city my parents call home. I have lost contact with them, and rely on reports filtering out of Xinjiang. I have to accept the Chinese Government figures of 156 people dead, more than 1000 injured and more than 1400 arrests.

Of course I am sceptical about such figures. I was a student leader in the 1989 protests; I am still waiting for reliable government figures as to how many people died at the weekend. It makes me wonder why today — when so little has changed politically in my homeland and I, like many others, remain in exile — the numbers are so high and so exact.

The only conclusion I can come to is that the Government wants to send a brutal zero-tolerance message to the Uighur people of Xinjiang, to the greater Chinese population and to the outside world that Uighur dissent will be met with force. Beijing also no doubt expects that, when it releases statistics on the civilians it has shot in the streets, it will have the support of China's predominantly Han population. The broad consensus is that the Han Chinese occupation of formerly Uighur and Tibetan territories has brought prosperity and liberty from feudal regimes to the subjects of "liberation". In this sense, all opposition to Chinese cultural dominance and rule is viewed as a kind of betrayal.

The dominant Han culture of China is quick to react to any perceived attack on national pride, which is often conflated with ethnic notions of what it means to be "Chinese". Despite this, average Chinese have a patronising attitude to the "minorities" to whom they bring enlightenment and prosperity.

There is very little sensitivity about minority ethnic groups who feel politically oppressed and squeezed out by the mounting numbers of Han "immigrants" who, in cities such as Urumqi and Lhasa, have come to outnumber indigenous populations.

I live in exile because I stood up for political reform in 1989. I regret I am not able to be with my parents in this difficult time. But I still believe democracy is an eventual means to gain freedom from political oppression. I also believe democracy should not serve the interests of nationalism. I do not argue that independence for Xinjiang or Tibet is the answer to our problems. But I do say ethnic self-determination is. By this, I mean a fundamental right: that the ethnically distinct Uighurs have the right to decide if they want to be part of China.

People in Xinjiang have never been offered this choice. Those in Urumqi now live in a city that is 70 per cent Han Chinese. They were in hiding on Tuesday as thousands of armed Chinese roamed the streets crying, "Exterminate the Uighurs." The Government response to the Uighur explosion of frustration that sparked this crisis was to label them "separatists" and "terrorists" and to shoot them.

I am of China. But I cannot be a nationalist in a country where nationalism trumps democracy and is an excuse for brutal suppression of protest and dissent. The Uighur people are a politically oppressed minority and, from that political oppression, cultural and economic oppression follows. I cannot help but think that the prompt release of casualty numbers reflects an official attitude that the indigenous people of Xinjiang are not entitled to even the rights of regular Chinese citizens — or, to put it more simply, the domestic outrage they deserve.

I can only hope the world understands that China has, in effect, declared war on an oppressed minority group within its own borders.

(Washington Post)  The Right Way To Help the Uighurs    By Ellen Bork.    July 10, 2009.

Unrest in China's far western region, known as Xinjiang, should not come as a surprise. The communist authorities maintain intense and unrelenting pressure on Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking Muslim minority group. Over the past week, the violence that has killed at least 156 and injured hundreds more came after the ethnically motivated murder of two Uighur migrant workers late last month. Communist Party control of the media makes it difficult to know what actually happened when initially peaceful protests became riots. Chinese authorities have arrested hundreds, sent in troops and begun a propaganda campaign against the Uighurs. While majority Han Chinese have been photographed armed with baseball bats, axes and pipes, government control of the media ensures that most Chinese will absorb official propaganda depicting Uighurs as terrorists.

Comparisons to the uprising in Tibet last year seem apt. In Tibet, peaceful protests by monks were met with force, and demonstrations proliferated throughout the region. Like the Tibetans, Uighurs experience harsh repression of their religion and language. Like those of the Tibetans, Uighurs' efforts at asserting their identity are smeared as subversive by Chinese authorities and used as justification for further repression.

Unlike the Tibetans, though, Uighurs do not benefit from a well-defined U.S. policy supporting their political rights, autonomy and cultural identity.

In fact, the United States has distinct policies toward all of the major territorial or ethnic conflicts in China except in Xinjiang, which Uighurs call East Turkestan. Tibet's importance in American policy began with support for the Tibetan resistance in the 1950s and '60s and now takes the form of support for the Dalai Lama and the democratic government in exile as they seek autonomy under communist rule. The high-level post of special coordinator for Tibet was created at the State Department a decade ago. Taiwan has a defense commitment from the United States and unofficial but substantive relations through a quasi-diplomatic entity, both of which are underwritten by the Taiwan Relations Act. Hong Kong benefits from U.S. law setting out support for its autonomy, rule of law and limited democracy, as well as the considerable interest of the American business community.

None of these policies is perfect. Nevertheless, each reflects the U.S. interest in supporting autonomy, democracy, religious freedom and cultural identity, and each has enjoyed significant congressional support among members of both parties.

The task of supporting Uighurs has become more difficult than it should be. After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, China capitalized on the American desire for cooperation in fighting terrorism -- and general suspicion of Muslims. The State Department's designation of the small East Turkestan Independence Movement as a terrorist organization was derided by human rights activists, who saw the danger of approving a freer Chinese hand, as well as scholarly experts on Xinjiang. Moreover, the detention of fewer than two dozen Uighurs at Guantanamo Bay dominates American perceptions of this ethnic group. Testimony before Guantanamo review panels and press interviews have indicated that the detained Uighurs were focused on China, not the United States, and most were cleared for release in 2003. Nevertheless, their cases, and the domestic political battle over closing Guantanamo, have unfairly stigmatized all Uighurs.

The U.S. priority on counterterrorism efforts has distracted Washington from the need to support a secular, democratic movement as a counterweight to potential radicalization. Traditionally, Uighur nationalism was secular and led by intellectuals. But Chinese communists, who consider any opposition as "splittist" or "terrorist," have sought to repress Uighur language and education. Moreover, the Communist Party's religious policies, along with a reaction to non-Muslim rule that scholars have noted in many countries, have led to a growing role for Islam in Uighur nationalism.

It is in America's interest to cultivate democratic, secular political thinking among Uighurs no less than among Iraqis or other Muslim populations.

At a modest level, America already supports this. In 2005, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice helped secure the release of Rebiya Kadeer, a Uighur businesswoman who lives in Fairfax County and leads the Uighurs in exile (even as two of her adult children are in prison in Xinjiang). Kadeer has condemned acts of violence by Uighurs as well as Han Chinese, and while Chinese officials reportedly blame Kadeer for the recent riots, she has said the Chinese police provoked the riots. The National Endowment for Democracy, an independent organization funded by Congress, supports the Uyghur Human Rights Project, which documents and disseminates information about Chinese abuses. Radio Free Asia broadcasts in Uighur one hour a day. These programs should be expanded and new initiatives undertaken.

The choice in Xinjiang is not between Chinese communist repression of the Uighurs and radical Islamism. It is time for the United States to choose another option and develop a Uighur policy rooted in democracy and secularism.

The writer is director of Democracy and Human Rights at the Foreign Policy Initiative

(Xinhua)  Victim's relative: Shaoguan, Urumqi violence have no link    July 10, 2009.

A family member of a Uygur man who died in a toy factory brawl in Shaoguan, south China's Guangdong Province, condemned the Xinjiang riot and rejected some reports that the two incidents have any link.

    The brawl between Han and Uygur workers which killed two Uyghurs is said to have sparked Sunday's riot that left 156 people dead and more than 1,000 injured thousands of kilometers away in the Xinjiang capital of Urumqi.

    Patigul, 20, is an elder sister of Aximujiang Ahmad who was killed in Shaoguan. She told Xinhua she was heartbroken to learn the loss of many families in the violent crimes in Xinjiang.

    "The murders must be punished", she added.

    Patigul said the local government of Shufu County in Kashgar had been funding Aximujiang and the other younger brother's education ever since their parents' death. Therefore, the people who used the death of her brother to stage the violence have ulterior motives, she said.

    Soundbite: Patigul, sister of Shaoguan incident victim Aximujiang Ahmad What happened in Guangdong has nothing to do with the riot in Xinjiang. It is the conspiracy of a few violent criminals and those having ulterior motives that lead to the unrest in Urumqi.

    Patigul said she is satisfied with the way the government handled the aftermath of the Shaoguan incident. The body of Aximujiang Ahmad was sent back to his hometown by plane on June 29, and was buried on the same day according to the local tradition, said Patigul.

    Soundbite: Patigul, sister of Shaoguan incident victim Aximujiang Ahmad It is those stupid, ignorant people who instigated the incident. I sincerely hope that Urumqi, Kashgar and other places would return to peace and tranquility and our government would calm the Xinjiang violence as soon as possible.

(The Globe and Mail)  The bum's rush out of Kashgar    By Mark MacKinnon.  July 10, 2009.

Kashgar, China -- I was in deep sleep when I heard someone ringing the doorbell of my room at the Tian Yuan Hotel. I looked at the clock, saw it was only 8 a.m. and rolled over to go back to sleep. Whoever it was could come back later. There was a “do not disturb” sign hanging in the door.

The bell rang again, then a third time. If it was housekeeping, they obviously thought some sort of emergency cleaning needed to be done.

Groggily, I put my glasses on and opened the door a crack. A short man in a red shirt peered back earnestly. He told me he was from the local government, and that I had to leave the city on an 11 a.m. flight. There were four other men in the hall, two of them in blue police uniforms.

“I'm sorry, but the security situation is not good,” the man in red told me. “You must leave the city for your own safety.”

I told him that I had a flight back to Urumqi the following morning. (I had been in the city for less than 24 hours, reporting on the local government's plan to demolish most of Kashgar's historic Old City.) The man in red seemed to know this already.

“No, you must leave today,” he said firmly, shaking his head.

Arrangements had been made for me to be on the 11 a.m. flight out.

After awkwardly gobbling down my breakfast under the supervision of two police officers, I was taken to the lobby where Elizabeth Dalziel, a photographer with the Associated Press, was already waiting with her own security entourage. Together we were driven to the airport and instructed to book flights back to Urumqi.

That's when it descended into farce. Elizabeth and I sat down and waited for the security men who were escorting us to buy us tickets and put us on a plane. That's how it goes in the movies after all.

But the security guys did nothing for the sort. They stood at the other end of the ticket counter from us, expectantly us to buy our own way back to the provincial capital, Urumqi. (Why they thought we'd be “safer” in Urumqi – where 156 people died in riots this week – than Kashgar was never explained. The best answer I got was from the man in red, who said that while Kashgar appeared safe, that “it could change at any second.”) The 11 a.m. flight took off without us, and the standoff dragged on.

The police instructed Elizabeth and I to buy tickets for the next flight out, just after 2 p.m. We called the Department of Foreign Affairs in Beijing, as well as the government media office in Urumqi, looking for clarification of our situation.

Were we under arrest? If not, could we return to the city? Why hadn't we been put on a plane, as the man in red said we would be?

Revealingly, the answers were different depending on which government department we called. Officials in Beijing had no idea we had been detained or why. The propaganda officials in Urumqi – who had made a show of being accommodating to the media this week, a clean break from a year ago when foreign journalists were completely barred from Tibet in the wake of riots there – told us that the officers in Kashgar had made a mistake and that we were free to go.

We passed that on to the officers guarding us, who retorted that they had been ordered to take us to the airport, and that those orders hadn't changed. An official from the local government promised to come out and mediate the situation, but never showed up.

“It's not possible to arrange interviews today,” she said. “You should leave.”

Even if we wanted to, we couldn't have. After the 11 a.m. flight, commercial air traffic in and out of Kashgar was stopped, apparently so that a succession of military planes could land and offload more troops.

Though Xinjiang is Chinese soil, both Urumqi and Kashgar have the feel of occupied cities this week.

Elizabeth got frustrated and – noticing that our guards had long since stopped paying attention us – made a daring run into the city to photograph afternoon prayers at one of the city's many mosques.

She was eventually found by police and brought back to the airport. Our fates were sealed, so rather than spend the night in Kashgar Airport, we gave up and bought tickets to the next flight out to Urumqi.

What happened in Kashgar today that they didn't want the foreign media to see?

To the best of my knowledge, nothing major. But with foreign journalists kicked out of the city, the Internet switched off and international calls blocked, we may never know for sure.

(Huffington Post)  Delahunt Urges Administration To Condemn China's Uighur Crackdown   July 10, 2009.

The Chinese government's crackdown against Uighurs living in Xinjiang province now has the full attention of the House human rights subcommittee, chair Bill Delahunt (D-Mass.) said Thursday night.

"At this point in time what we want is for the People's Republic of China to stop abusing and repressing the Uighur people," Delahunt told the Huffington Post. "We're going to be introducing a resolution, which we hope receives broad bipartisan support."

This past weekend, Uighur protests in the provincial capital Urumqi turned violent when Chinese authorities fired on the crowds, leaving at least 156 dead and more than 1,000 wounded. Massive protests were incited by a Han Chinese attack on Uighur workers at a toy factory dormitory in Guangdong province, which resulted in two deaths and 118 injuries. Police arrested 1,434 Uighurs early this week and shut down Uighur mosques Thursday, leading to more arrests of protesters.

Delahunt said he and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), the ranking member of the Foreign Affairs International Organizations, Human Rights and Oversight Subcommittee, began focusing on the plight of the ethnic Muslim community in China during the investigation they began last year into abuse of Uighur detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison. A delegation from the People's Republic of China brutally interrogated and threatened those men for more than a week back in 2002, Delahunt said, and he and Rohrabacher have sought answers from the Department of Defense since the Bush administration denied their request to meet with the Uighur detainees in July 2008.

"I find it outrageous," Delahunt said. "Since when do we allow Communist agents to interview detainees and particularly when they were members of a minority that historically has been persecuted, tortured, threatened, intimidated and in some cases executed by the Chinese? And yet two duly elected members of Congress were denied (access) despite the full consent of their lawyers and the willingness of the detainees to meet with us."

Since then, Delahunt's subcommittee has held hearings on the plight of the Uighurs held at Guantanamo Bay -- four of whom were released to Bermuda last month, with 13 still in custody -- but broadened its focus in June to the Uighur people generally. The House subcommittee has not communicated with the Obama White House regarding the Uighurs, Delahunt said, but he and Rohrabacher sent Secretary of State Hillary Clinton a letter Monday urging her to condemn the Chinese government's actions.

They have not received a direct response, but Clinton has publicly expressed caution. "[W]e are deeply concerned over the reports of deaths and injuries from violence in Western China," she said Tuesday. "We are trying to sort out, as best we can, the facts and circumstances from the region, and we're calling on all sides to exercise restraint. We know there's a long history of tension and discontent, but the most immediate matter is to bring the violence to a conclusion."

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu asked Clinton Thursday to take a more active stand, while Japanese diplomats urged their Chinese counterparts at a bilateral human rights meeting in Tokyo to guarantee the Uighurs their human rights.

Though the current violence has taken center stage, Delahunt said he and Rohrabacher remain interested in hearing from the Department of Defense why they were barred from Guantanamo Bay. "It's not the Pentagon that defines what our oversight responsibilities are," he said.

DOD claimed Chinese intelligence treated the detainees humanely and helped them authenticate individual identities, Delahunt said. "That's just beyond absurd," he said. "Is this the message of tolerance that we want to send to the Muslim world?"

(Al Jazeera)  Uighur group 'regrets' photo error.  July 10, 2009.

An official of the World Uighur Congress has admitted that their exiled leader used an incorrect photograph to illustrate riots in China's western Xinjiang region, during an interview with Al Jazeera.

Alim Seytoff of the Uighur American Associaition said he and other Uighur leaders regretted the error.

Rebiya Kadeer, a former Uighur businesswoman who was jailed in China for several years and now lives in exile in the US, used the photograph during an interview earlier this week. She said the photograph showed Chinese forces lined up on the streets of Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang.

However, the image was not of Urumqi, but is believed to be of an unrelated riot in the city of Shishou a month earlier.

Several news agencies including Reuters issued the photograph - apparently originally sourced from Twitter - last Monday, a day after riots broke out in Urumqi that Chinese officials say left more than 150 dead. The mistake was picked up by several Chinese websites, China's state-run China Daily newspaper and by readers of the Al Jazeera website.


The disputed photo, originally portrayed as showing the
Urumqi riot, is said to actually show an unrelated 
protest in the Chinese city of Shishou

Apology

Speaking to Al Jazeera on Friday, Alim Seytoff of the Uighur American Associaition apologised for the error.

"We deeply regret using this wrong photo, that was not our intent," he said, speaking from Washington. "Later we were able to find out that the photograph showed Han Chinese protesters in Hubei province in a protest which took place a few days before the Urumqi unrest."

Seytoff said the photograph was one of hundreds of images and pieces of video that had been obtained from a variety of sources following Sunday's unrest. "This picture happened to be one of them," Seytoff said. "The image quality is better than the others so we thought we thought this was a better image to use."

Nonetheless he said the mistake over one image should not cast doubt on the credibility of other images released by his organisation.

"With this photograph, because it was taken from a distance, you can only see protesters and Chinese army or soldiers – you cannot identify whether the protesters are Uighurs or not," he said. "With all the other photographs you can see clearly they are Uighurs."



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