In the evening of 5 July, serious violent crimes involving beating, smashing, looting and arson happened in Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. The Chinese Government and people have expressed strong condemnation and firm opposition to the incident.
The international community has also paid much attention. There were voices of objectivity and justice, but also accusations from people wearing blinkers. China has been open and transparent in presenting the truth to the international community. Resident correspondents in China are invited to visit Xinjiang and get first hand information. As long as one adopts a responsible attitude, it is not difficult to draw an objective conclusion. And two fundamental issues must be made clear.
First, is it a crime or peaceful demonstration? So far, over 150 were killed and 1,000 plus injured. More than 200 vehicles were burned. Most of the victims are innocent civilians. It inflicted heavy loss of life and property. Public order was disrupted. Rule of law was blatantly challenged. The appalling facts expose the lie of “peaceful demonstration”. No government would allow such “peaceful demonstration”, let alone that demonstrators hadn’t filed an application to seek approval. Such would also be illegal in any Western country. A crime is a crime. It cannot be covered under a peaceful cloak, which could only be “the Emperor’s New Clothes” as described by Christian Andersen.
Second, is the incident caused by separatist forces or the government’s ethnic policies? Some comments point to high pressure ethnic policies adopted by the Chinese Government in Xinjiang as the root cause. In Xinjiang, ethnic people make up 60% of its population. 47 ethnic groups have coexisted in this region since long ago. The system of regional ethnic autonomy is practiced. Ethnic groups’ political, economic and social rights are protected by law and in practice. The culture, religion and customs of the Uyghur people are well preserved. Since reform and opening up program started in 1978, Xinjiang has achieved still greater progress. Its rich resources have been turned into economic strength, to the benefit of people of all ethnic groups. Xinjiang’s development is at its best ever period in history. Yet in recent years, religious extremism, ethnic separatism and international terrorism are on the rise worldwide. The World Uyghur Congress, closely linked to East Turkistan terrorist groups, is biding its time to carry out separatist activities. Facts have proven that this incident was directed from abroad and carried out by separatists inside China. It is a premeditated and organized crime that aims at destabilizing Xinjiang and separating it from China. The Chinese Government is committed to ethnic unity and harmony and common development of all ethnic groups. Separatist forces are attempting to provoke ethnic tension and separate China.
The Chinese Government cherishes national unification, ethnic unity and social stability. These are lessons learned from China’s history. They serve as the prerequisite and guarantor of China’s economic development, social progress and improved people’s livelihood. The situation in Urumqi has now been brought under control. Public order has been gradually restored. The vast majority of the Uyghur people and other ethnic groups want stability and oppose separation. Those attempting separatist activities are few in number and should be brought into justice. It is clear that at stake is not an ethnic or religious issue, but rather, major principled issues of national unification, ethnic unity and social stability. Failure to understand this point would make impossible a correct judgment of the incident, still less a holistic and objective understanding of ethnic affairs in China, a country with a long history and multiple ethnic groups.