Ethnic (Separatist?) Riots in Urumqi

One of our frequent commenters, Wahaha, pointed us to this very recent news story.

Details are still a bit sketchy. According to the report, “On July 5th at around 8:00 P.M., incidents of rioting and beating occurred in Urumqi. People in People’s Square, Jiefang St., the bus station, Xinhua South Street, Outer Ring Road, etc, illegally assembled and rioted, looted, and burned.” It also says the local government is currently “dealing with” the situation. Currently, three deaths have been reported, as well as countless injuries and much property destruction.

The report blames Rabiye Qadir, Uighur businesswoman and separatist, alleging that her group posted internet messages inciting chaos, such as “[we should] be a bit braver” and “[we should] do something big”.

Far West China, Xinjiang’s finest English blog, has more details. A curfew has been set for everyone in the city and, as one might expect, videos are being blocked nearly as fast as they make their way onto the Chinese internet. Josh speculates that the riots stem from the earlier Shaoguan incident, a brawl in a toy factory between Han and Uighur workers in which two Uighurs died.

As usual, ESWN also has a great roundup of the news and some videos (for anyone with uncensored access to Youtube, anyway):

Further bulletins as events warrant. And, as Josh put it: “If you are planning on traveling to Xinjiang anytime this week it might be wise to reconsider your plans.”

UPDATE: (via CDT) Interestingly, Chinese blogger Yang Jie theorizes that the rioters in people’s Square came from outside of Urumqi because of their poor Chinese. If this is true, it would certainly support theories that this event was planned beforehand.

UPDATE 2: The story is now everywhere. According to this New York Times story (and confirmed here), Xinhua now has the casualties as “at least 140 people were killed and 816 injured.”

UPDATE 3: Xinhua is so weird sometimes. As of right now, their English story reports the death toll has risen to 156 people, although their Chinese language story still lists the deaths at 140. The English story has a newer timestamp than the Chinese one so that makes sense, but is anyone else surprised that they’re filing these stories in English before they file them in Chinese? Does this indicate they care more about shaping the way this plays internationally (at least right now) than internally, or that they feel the internal story is already suitably controlled? Interesting stuff.

Anyway, the English story also notes that 700 suspects have already been detained in connection with the riots and that police have also foiled 200 would-be rioters gathering at a mosque in Kashi, Xinjiang.

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0 thoughts on “Ethnic (Separatist?) Riots in Urumqi”

  1. I’d have to say that at this point in the game it’s not quite right to call them ethnic *separatist* riots. Since, after all, in your words, the details are sketchy. That would be giving the riots intentions and motivations that have in no way, shape, or form been substantiated beyond governmental state media organs alleging a really questionable link to Rebiya Qadeer. Though this is all hearsay, the leading theory posits that the unrest occurred because of the incident that happened in Shaoguan. That being said, calling these riots “separatist” riots would be as odd as calling the 1992 Los Angeles riots “separatist” riots. Such a label should be reserved until solid evidence surfaces that the protesters and rioters today specifically sought to *separate* Xinjiang from China. It hasn’t.

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  2. Fair enough. The title was actually sort of vestigial; I was originally just going to translate that story directly, and the main thrust of the story was the separatism angle so I thought it would be a fittingly descriptive title. As I was writing it, the post sort of spread out into much more than a translation, but, as usual, I forgot to go back and edit the title.

    If anyone obsessively checked this site for updates (or compared permalink text with actual article titles) they would notice this happens pretty regularly. I always forget about the title.

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  3. I agree that it’s unwise to pigeonhole it as “separatist” yet.

    As someone who works with words, I can’t help but notice that the NYT and AP and Reuters and the AFP (an agency devoted to disproportinate coverage of ethnic minority issues in China) all used the word “riots,” except CNN which calls the events “public protests.”

    It’d be interesting to see how the diction evolves the next couple of days.

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  4. Update on the wording: CNN has so far refused to use the word “riots,” even with 140 killed, and featured disproportionate coverage of how the World Uyghur Congress sees the riots without ever mentioning the statement from the commies or the reaction among ordinary Chinese folks elsewhere in China.

    Compare this: http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/07/06/china.uyghur.protest/index.html

    with this:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/07/world/asia/07china.html?ref=global-home

    and you understand why some people in China hate CNN. 140 people died (almost all of them Han, I assume. Is there anybody who doesn’t?) and CNN still used the word “peaceful” and “ethnic cleansing” of Uyghurs. Seriously?

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  5. While Custer moderates away, I have a very close friend who’s in Xinjiang right now doing, accidentally, research on journalism, and he just called. He said his news sources said the rioters had guns and bombs, apparently fully prepared. Indeed I read on the London Times (which ridiculously linked this to TAM) that there was report of a bombing going off.

    I believe this friend much more than the CCP and the CNN and NYT. If you’ve read my comments on this blog, you know my contempt for the commies, but in this case I believe what they say about the murderous riots being instigated by external sources and highly organized. I don’t agree that they aimed at overthrowing the commies (seriously, nobody is able to do that, not even the US military), I believe revenge for the two dead men in Guangdong and world attention was the goal.

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  6. And I have to strongly condemn the CCP for blocking the news. Posts on Tianya have disappeared for fear that remarks made by the bloggers would inflame ethnic tensions.

    The people are not children. The rioters targeted at ordinary Han people and the government should not hide that fact. Show the nation, and the world, every gory detail of how the rioters murdered innocent civilians. Ethnic tensions will not subside under a mask of smiling “harmony.” Let the people know that there are tensions and start from there.

    A day has passed, and there hasn’t been a report in the western media about how the commies “brutally” suppressed the mobs except for a preposterous statement issued by some Uyghur organization in the US, and considering how western reporters would absolutely kill for a story like that with many westerners and potential witnesses living in Urumqi, I think it’s safe to assume that a bloody crackdown didn’t really happen. So why not just be transparent this time? I could give a flying rat’s ass about the image of the Chinese government, but from a PR angle, wouldn’t it be the rational choice to go as open as possible? Xinjiang is not like Tibet where geographical conditions make it very hard to get information in and out, and western reporters have not been banned from the region, so instead of trickling out information, why not try a more sophisticated way to win the commies damn “news battle.” I despise the commies for their corruption and past crimes, but sometimes it’s the sheer stupidity that makes my head explode.

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  7. @ wooddoo: I’m not moderating anything. Once again — why do I have to explain this once every three or four posts? — any comment with more than one link, or sometimes even just one, gets automatically held up in the system because it’s suspected of being spam.

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  8. Wooddoo,

    On public relations, government officials in China are idiots. … and this riot gives government legitmate reason to block internet, for gd sake.

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  9. Woodoo,

    You make a bunch of good points. I would dispute, though, the assumption that most of the dead are Han. Are you basing this on the Lhasa experience? If so, the dead in Lhasa were a pretty small portion of the people killed across the plateau in 2008, though they were the most prominent thanks to a skillful propaganda effort by the government. The PAP seem quite capable of shooting at demonstrators or rioters, especially in the minority hinterlands where they can count on less sympathy from urban netizens (who tend to cheer on Han rioters in place like Weng’an) and where, perhaps, they are themselves less well-trained.

    What I don’t get about this riot is the sequence. Some of the videos at ESWN look like a pretty orderly march. Was it orderly first and then spiraled into violence? Why did it turn violent in that case? Was it a riot and was there then an orderly procession in memorial (less likely) ?

    I also wonder if the CCP’s new propaganda technique will work here like it did in Lhasa: promptly release as much footage of violence by non-state actors as possible, acknowledge things got out of control, restrict independent sources, and blame hostile outsiders. It seems like they might be relying too much on this just because it worked once.

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  10. @ Wahaha,

    Thanks for the link. It does, then, seem like things got out of hand when the people protesting in the square (peacefully) refused to disperse.

    That doesn’t rule out Woodoo’s point about others preparing for violence., but the fact that some didn’t speak good Chinese doesn’t mean that there was therefore necessarily a great plan from the get-go; the rural folks could have just been in town for the day and joined in. I would imagine lots of people enter and leave Urumuqi and that an outsider would have less to lose, really, by joining a protest underway than someone who has to go home a few blocks away at the end of it.

    But all of this—the peaceful initial protesters, the prepared rioters, etc.—are unconfirmed right now.

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  11. But I don’t think it worked even once… The CCP lost the “news war” over Lhasa, well primarily because nobody in the West cared what they said no matter what they were trying to say (I also blame people in the West for it), but also because their clumsy, childish and medieval PR models.

    As I said, so far, there’s no report about western reporters being banned and even though the Internet was cut off, cellphones still work (I can’t say about Urumqi; my friend is in another part of Xinjiang). The commies can “win” this “news war” because 1) too many people died, with graphic reminders rolling on TV screens all over the world, making it hard to justify the riots even though the western media is trying its best to, and 2) let’s face it, it’s the Muslims, not the angels on earth Tibetans, so this won’t draw as much sympathy from the West as last year.

    And I do believe the victims are mostly Han, not because I’m Han so I naturally assumed, because the commies would never publish the number of rioters they killed that swiftly, if at all. And let’s not forget the Huis were attacked too because they’re ethnically Han but religiously Islamic. So I’d say almost all of the 140 victims were Hans and Huis. Speaking of which, the London Times and BBC are trying to blur the line between the riots and the crackdown by saying those people were killed during the crackdown instead of the riots, leaving an impression that the security forces killed all the Uyghurs. And you know why in addition to contempt for the commies, I also have no good things to say about the western media.

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  12. @ Woodoo,

    It may also be that it had become so obvious that a lot of people were killed in Xinjiang that they went ahead with the numbers, even if most of the victims were Uighur. After all, the government could spin the thing as, “The rioters even attacked their own kind….” Besides, as you say, there is simply not as much sympathy for Muslims in China or the West as there is for Tibetans . A fair number of readers, especially in China, would be completely fine with a tough response by the police.

    I think the Lhasa propaganda DID work for its primary target, the domestic population. Images of killed or wounded Han book-ended by academics on CCTV discussing the nefarious plots of the TGIE—along with the godsend of an image of a wheelchair-bound torch bearer being attacked—pretty much cemented the deal at home. The Western media’s clumsiness only played into this. Zhang Qingli’s statements were stupid, especially when seen abroad, but even they served a purpose: reminding folks in China that the Party would return to its old, absolute language when provoked, that there wasn’t a new “line” on disturbances

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  13. @ wooddoo
    “I believe what they say about the murderous riots being instigated by external sources”

    That comes as no surprise. Define ‘external’.

    “…the London Times and BBC are trying to blur the line between the riots and the crackdown…”

    A leap of fantasy, that one.

    “The rioters targeted at ordinary Han people and the government should not hide that fact.”

    Whether it’s true or not, that is exactly what you’ll be getting from CCTV. They’re already doing it.

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  14. “…that is exactly what you’ll be getting from CCTV.”
    ********************************************

    Lame excuse to ignore the facts.

    Like I once read a BBC report about Tibet, it said “communist China said ….”, the funny thing is lot of well educated people in West are willing to be fooled by this cheap trick.

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  15. To Stuart:

    Now I see you don’t even believe the rioters targeted Han and Hui and there’s absolutely no sympathy from you for the dead. So I’m not going to talk to you again.

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  16. @ Wahaha,

    The truth is, no one really knows the facts yet. Yes, there was documented violence against Han citizens. What does that say about the overall incident? It doesn’t say what ethnic group made up the majority of the victims, it doesn’t give a clue to who started the violence, and it doesn’t speak to the underlying issues of the protest.

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  17. To OTR,

    And that’s what I hate about the commies. I don’t care how the world sees them, but their clumsy information control itself has become a focal point in the western media. And as a result, the deaths of civilians were put on the backburner, which is such an insult that inevitably will make some here wonder if for the West it’s no big deal so many Chinese died because there’s a billion more where they come from.

    But the good news is, the Chinese blogosphere already went through last year and if you go to anti-cnn you’ll see many people expressing much less rage and saying “I’m used to it.”

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  18. Someone said. . . “Xinjiang is not like Tibet where geographical conditions make it very hard to get information in and out”

    Can somebody explain exactly why “geographical conditions” make Tibet such a special case?

    I mean, I had some Chinese moron living overseas tell me last year that the western media were barred from Tibet out of concern for their health. . . High altitude etc. . .

    People commenting on this site actually take that rubbish seriously?

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  19. OTR,

    By the same reasoning, no west reports about China can be trusted.

    Simply cuz westerners trust their media report on China doesnt in any way prove their media can be trusted.

    Maybe you can argue you saw in China what west media reported, that again doesnt mean that west media is not biased. Clearly, the NYT magazine report about this riot IS obviously biased. If even Wikipedia lied about Tibet, what information source from West can you trust about China ?

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  20. To Think Ming!

    What rubbish? By geoligical conditions I mean it’s very easy for the government to cut off communications. It was statement of geological facts, not an apology for the government. Before you accuse people of something, look in the mirror and ask yourself if you can read.

    For example:
    1) There’s only one direct railway, so it’s easy to cut off.
    2) High altitudes make cellphone and landline communications vulnerable to government control because the cables mainly go through only a handful of places easy to dig tunnels. It’s the same with Internet connections.
    3) High atltitudes and the difficult roads leading to Tibet make ordinary travellers unable to go there once the government tries to put up checkpoints.

    So yes, geological conditions make it hard to get information in and out of Tibet, and it’s the exact reason for the mystery surrounding that place for centuries. Last year the NYT did an article explaining what I just said.

    Sometimes I wonder why I talk to morons like Think Ming! who easily digress and distort the orginal meaning. But hey they too need education.

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  21. “Lame excuse to ignore the facts.”

    Translation: I have no counter-argument of substance so I’ll throw a few words together and hope they form a sentence.

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  22. “Now I see you don’t even believe the rioters targeted Han and Hui and there’s absolutely no sympathy from you for the dead.”

    A common and ineffective ploy to misrepresent someone who disagrees with you. I said no such thing. Read again, carefully.

    “So I’m not going to talk to you again.”

    Are you five years old?

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  23. “… what information source from West can you trust about China?”

    Tell me, what are the media sources that you DO trust?

    I’ll help you a little bit: you can safely omit all state-controlled outlets in those countries ruled by unelected leaders.

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  24. A common and ineffective ploy to misrepresent someone who disagrees with you. I said no such thing. Read again, carefully.

    =================================

    ALL your comments were sarcastic remarks in reply to what someone else said except the 7th comment which was just a number 140. You don’t really have an original thought to be put out there for other people to comment on, do you?

    Now, what is your opinion about the whole thing, including the rioters, the CCP, the western meida? State it openly and squarely, insteading of hiding behind your snide replies to others.

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  25. @ Woodoo,

    Yes, I think it is encouraging how sites like Anti-CNN.com have evolved in some ways. And I agree that what is lost in all these arguments is consideration for the victims. I’d say that another thing that is lost is discussion of the root causes of unrest—not the few sentences slapped on at the end of a NY Times article about religious freedom and economic opportunity and not the ridiculous idea that Rebiya Kadeer masterminded thousands of people, but a real examination of the ethnic, religious and class dynamics in places like Tibet or Xinjiang.

    @ Stuart,

    I think you’re jumping to conclusions a bit about some other commentators here. Let’s keep things civil.

    @ Wahaha,

    All I was saying was that the information we have is incomplete. Separating out the victims and aggressors in Urumuqi based solely on tapes supplied by a state news agency with an interest in the case (and that is actively blocking other sources of information) does not make any sense . Nor does relying only on a two-page article in the New York Times that interviews one foreign resident of the city again and again, for that matter.

    There are questions that none of these reports cover. Most importantly, we don’t know who all the victims were, who was arrested, or the exact sequence of events. And, again, there’s the broader issue of the obvious grievances that many have in the city.

    The natural focus of any discussion after a riot—whether in Xinjiang or in Paris or in Los Angeles—should be why was everyone so angry. This doesn’t mean that the rioters are always right (though they tend to have legitimate concerns in my opinion), but it does mean that the story doesn’t stop when the troublesome folk are locked up, shopkeepers get to go back to business and the media turns to other subjects.

    That some Chinese netizens don’t seem to care about this but seem more concerned with defending the police against critics and identifying evil protest puppet masters (at least when a riot involves minorities—Weng’an, Shishou, etc. are a different matter, presumably because the rioters involved are Han) is a serious shortcoming.

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  26. To OTR,

    I agree. The minzu zhengce (ethnic policy) for the past 60 years has been a disaster in Tibet and Xinjiang, but I have to say very effective for other 53 ethnic minorities, including the largest ethnic group, the Zhuang.

    Let’s talk about the 53 groups first. I have Miao, Yao, Tujia, Manchu and Mongol friends, and
    1) What’s good: We really do feel we are one big family. You go ask a Tujia person, and they will say proudly that they’re both Tujia and Chinese (not Han, of course, but zhongguoren).
    2) What’s bad: their ethnic cultures have been diluted, but I blame more on modernization. Hello, we Hans don’t live as we did in the imperial times either. Few Manchus speak their language today, and it’s likely that it will go extinct, but the process started when the KMT pushed the Manchus back to Manchuria in the first half of the 20th century and began assimilating them so the Communists only shoulder part of the problem.

    I’ve been reading reports on how ethnic groups are increasingly ashamed of speaking their own languages because they are not “modern” or “hip.” It’s tragic, but it’s the same as a Han village in a remote area gradually abandon their dialect because they’re poor and it doesn’t sound as fashionable as Mandarin or Cantonese. Even natives in Shanghai speak less and less Shanghainese (yeah I know it’s hard to tell for foreigners). My Taiwansese friends say that even with the Pan Green’s push for Taiwanese identity, fewer and fewer young people speak Minnan, too. Language surivival along with other traditions have much to do with economy.

    But should the commies start paying more attention to fostering ethnic diversity? Absolutely yes. I’m sometimes quite conservative but for this I am as liberal as it gets.

    As for the policy in Tibet and Xinjiang, well, I’ve been talking to my intelligentsia friends for the past two days, and everybody believes there’s deep problems, but our solutions differ.

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  27. @ Woodoo,

    I suppose one of the key differences between Tibetans, Uighurs and the other minority groups is geography. Tibet and Xinjiang constitute huge sections of land, however you measure them. All the other historical arguments aside—and I’m not coming down on one side or the other of these in this post for convenience’s sake—these lands give the people there a stronger sense of their own, separate history and cause the Chinese government to worry more about the consequences of every loosening its policies than in, say, a small pocket of Yunnan. This fear of loss of control has, perhaps, led to tough policies, hardened feelings on all sides and, perhaps, paradoxically loss of control.

    I agree (did you write it here? on another thread?) that arguments about Islam have little to add to the debate. I’ve heard the same thing from friends in China and it sounds remarkably like some of the right-wingers back in the States who mutter about “Islamo-fascism” or portray Israel as the innocent victim of Palestinian religious zealots.

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  28. To OTR,

    Yes, I agree. And such things haven’t happened in Inner Mongolia, also a large place, because of economic development, absolute majority of Han immigrants and other reasons. I remember a McClatchy article said something about today’s Inner Mongolia being Xinjiang in 20 years, marginalization wise.

    Whether we like them or not, let’s list the facts and opinions can start from there:
    1) Han immigration will continue to be encouraged by the government.
    2) Xinjiang and Tibet will not be able to fight the commies for independence.
    3) Security will be tighter than ever in the aftermath of such unrests.

    So how do we solve the problems… I don’t know… I remember the Dalai Lama once said Free Tibet depends on Free China (Or somebody else said it? I’m not sure). So unless the Han areas are free enough and turn democratic, I’m kind of pessimistic about remote minority regions.

    And I just went to your nice blog. Why don’t you move it to somewhere else that’s accessible from the mainland? More people will come.

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  29. Stuart,

    It is not good that state controls the media, you are absolutely right. But have you thought if state doesnt control the media, who can afford buying those TV station and media enterprises ? Answer : only the rich.

    Let me give you a hint : your government is a shield between the rich and ordinary people. You can mess up with the government (the so-called freedom), but dont even think you can do anything on those syndicates (THE people who benefit most from the system) no matter how you replace your government by election …. and theose syndicates own media.

    (In China, the rich and the government, THE people who benefit most from the system, are bound together as one group. Hence, chinese are not allowed to mess up with government.)

    Enjoy your freedom.

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  30. OTR,

    Let us face it, this is politics.

    What is politics ? Politics is mostly about the privileged class leading (or misleading) people to believe what they want people to believe. There are lot of facts and lot of reasons, the privileged class pick up SOME of them, NEVER all of them, to convince people what they want people to believe, like the Great Leap in 1950s in China, like the Stimulus plan in US and Europe.

    How do the privileged class convince people ? remember, Most people are driven by fear, envy, greediness, hatred and love, intelligence is not even on top 3 of the list when most people judge the situation. Convincing people is about how to use those emotions and manipulate them (that is what an activitist is about). West media knows how, Chinese media doesnt know how.

    I wont go any further, you know what I mean.

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  31. @ Woodoo,

    Thanks for visiting the blog! I hadn’t considered taking it off Blogspot before, but maybe I will now, or at least try to make a mirror site. Any suggestions for a hosting service? WordPress?

    I’m not sure that the facts you list are all so set in stone. Migration might actually be slowed. There were strict policies in place in the past and these can be revived to some degree. At the very least, the government might make more of an effort to hire local people for infrastructure projects and the bureaucracy. Much as I’m a lefty, loans to small, locally owned businesses would also make sense.

    Security will certainly be tighter in the next few months or years, but a new, Xi Jinping government might eventually order a reevaluation of China’s policies in those regions and find a way to accommodate local aspirations—I don’t mean a dramatic reversal, but at least some recognition that cultural autonomy, not just top-heavy development is needed to win people’s trust.

    As to independence… that’s unlikely, of course. But a Free China might be able to accommodate a Free Xinjiang (“free” in the sense that some Tibetan activists have meant the word: “autonomous”).

    But then, a Free China might adopt Free India’s approach to Kashmir or Free Turkey’s approach to Kurds or Free Sri Lanka’s approach to Tamils, namely armed suppression of a minority backed by votes… there will have to be a new kind of empathy, not just political freedoms for positive change, I fear.

    @ Wahaha,

    I share some of your cynicism about the Western media. I assume you’ve read recent reports about the Washington Post offering paid “salons” with journalists to the health care industry? But, if we debate the media forever or the interests of nations, then we lose track of the heart of the matter, which is basic fairness for human beings.

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  32. “But, if we debate the media forever or the interests of nations, then we lose track of the heart of the matter, which is basic fairness for human beings.”

    Absolutely.

    There are a host of personal jibes and misperceptions about where I stand and what I’ve said in the comments above, so I’ll reply to one that makes sense.

    Many innocent people have died. For all we know they are still dying. Hundreds, possibly thousands have been jailed and we can only imagine the brutal conditions that await some of them. An already fractured community, simmering with mutual distrust, has boiled over into terrible violence. Those scars are going to take longer to heal than anyone here will live to see.

    The challenge is to facilitate that healing process while avoiding a repetition of the same kind of unrest. How can this be achieved? Not very easily, I would suggest, largely because any solution tendered will be offered by the only power broker in the game – and Uighurs don’t trust the CCP. It would be far better for some respected community leaders on both sides to be encouraged to get together and start to demonstrate those qualities that my former students insisted were common to all Chinese people: peace, harmony, and tolerance. But that’s a hard sell in China, because you need an arbiter trusted by both sides.

    The alternative is to continue marginalising the minority by systematically deconstructing their culture and demonising the group as terrorists bent on splitting China. There’s a breaking point when this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. And the public are largely ignorant of an alternative narrative because the vast majority only get to hear one side of the story. Thus, the violence is merely seen as proof positive that terrorists and splittists are at work and must be stopped. No nuance; no digging deeper for root causes and grievances; just a propaganda drive that incites a lust for revenge within the Han community (as was evident after last year’s Lhasa troubles). And so the cycle continues.

    About the media, China first. Despite claims that many Chinese are sceptical of what’s presented through state media and are immune to its content, the influence of the rhetoric and CCP-spin is all too evident. I hear and read evidence of the tiresome sound bites all the time. And being anti-CCP doesn’t preclude people from falling into the traps that propaganda sets for them.

    One of the clearest indicators of this is the knee-jerk scrutiny of ‘western’ media for signs of hypocrisy, bias, and error (which exist for sure) in their reporting of major events in China. Newsflash: China is BIG news. The world wants to know what’s happening there and incidents like the ongoing unrest is BIG news. Information is sketchy to begin with; reports get filed; inaccuracies occur. This is NOT evidence of a ‘western’ plot against China. It’s just the nature of things. And hoping that ‘western’ media don’t notice or fail to take an interest in such tragedies is a bit unrealistic.

    If you subscribed exclusively to FOX news before the US election, you’d be forgiven for believing that Obama is a terrorist. And if you expose yourself too much to CCTV and People’s Daily you believe the Dalai Lama is a terrorist. Neither are true, nor anything close to being true. In America, and other ‘western’ countries, alternatives and critics of FOX news abound. Alternatives to – and critics of – Chinese state media are not nearly so readily accessible.

    This is one reason why I take exception (quite rightly) when the conflicted feelings of some commenters gets channelled into misdirected anger towards anything perceived as ‘western’. This happens all too often, as can be seen in some earlier replies. And yes; my own responses are often a little inflammatory.

    Sometimes we all need to take a step back and see what’s going on for what it really is. And in this case, at this moment, China is facing serious social unrest along ethnic lines. Finding a solution that doesn’t involve overwhelming force and suppression of human rights is going to be the real challenge. The world is watching; and so they should be.

    “But, if we debate the media forever or the interests of nations, then we lose track of the heart of the matter, which is basic fairness for human beings.”

    Old Tales Retold, 08 Jul 2009 at 3:15 am

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  33. To OTR,

    Sorry I have no idea where to mirror your blog. I don’t visit blogs that often and those I do visit are usually Sina or QQ (thanks to the sensational headlines on the front pages), easily susceptible to cencorship.

    I doubt Xi Jinping will be more Gorbachev like, but with Hong Kong going democratic in 2017 and then 2020, maybe things would change. And technology. You have to love technology. But I think the actions of Free India and Free Turkey you listed would be highly likely in a Free China. The conservative Chinese public would absolutely back harsh actions (I think it’s somehow linked to conservatives’ preference for capital punishment). You know, many on the anti-cnn-ish sites often say this, “The commies are doing the West a favor. If the Chinese public could vote they would elect an anti-western and conservative politician.” Someone more along the lines of Putin I guess. I don’t want that to happen.

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  34. I also doubt Xi Jinping will be a major reformer, but he might be looking for ways to contrast himself with his predecessors and put his own stamp on things, as Hu and Wen did before him. If Tibet and Xinjiang continue to be problems for China, as they likely will be, then Beijing think tanks and Party schools will have drafted all kinds of papers full of action plans, which will be waiting around for new leadership, leadership for whom announcing some fresh plan wouldn’t be an embarrassing turnaround or betrayal of close comrades.

    Maybe I’m being rosy (and maybe I’m flipping back and forth from rosiness to a rather cynical view of violence and change). But there do seem to be gaps that can be filled. Your example of Hong Kong is a good one.

    On Putin: me neither!

    Like

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