by Jian Junbo
SHANGHAI - The weekend violence that has left 156 people dead and more than
816 injured in Urumqi, capital of northwestern Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous
Region, is the latest example of growing conflicts between China's majority
Han ethnic group and ethnic minorities.
At the heart of the escalating problem are China's antiquated policies
towards its ethnic minorities - a raft of Marxist measures that are now
pleasing neither the ethnic Han, nor the minorities. As China's gargantuan
economy has advanced, former leader Mao Zedong's vision of political and
economic equality between Han and non-Han has gradually been undermined.
The end result could be seen on the bloody streets of Urumqi.
On Sunday, more than 300 ethnic Uyghurs - mostly Sunni Muslims - staged a
protest in Urumqi's People's Square to demand an investigation into a June
26 brawl at a toy factory in Shaoguan, Guangdong province. Riots began when
police began to disperse protesters, soon spreading across the remote city
of 2.3 million people. . . .
As the influence of Marxism as the dominant ideology is diminishing in
China, the sense of political equality is also abating. Today, common people
aren't really considered the owners of the country, and laborers are no
longer a respected class. Capitalists have become the government's guests of
In China, political equality based on class equality has collapsed. For the
past 60 years, this idea of class equality was a basis on which all common
people, including minorities, could maintain an identity as one member of
the Chinese political community.
Now, the economic and political marginalization of ethnic minorities is
destroying the foundation of some ethnic groups' Chinese identity. At the
same time, this marginalization is deeply misunderstood by many of the
majority Han ethnic group.
The shared identity of the Chinese - as socialist labor - is gradually
falling to pieces. The resulting riots in Urumqi may be just the start of
something much, much bigger.
Dr Jian Junbo is assistant professor of the Institute of International
Studies at Fudan University, Shanghai, China.
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Conform in West China," Christian Science Monitor, September 29, 2003
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Olympics," Sydney Morning Herald, July 27, 2008
Edward Wong, "Wary of Islam, China
Tightens a Vise of Rules," International Herald Tribune, October 18, 2008
[Seventeen Chinese prisoners who have been held for nearly seven years in
Guantanamo Bay will be informed on Monday that they could spend the rest of
their lives behind bars, even though they face no charges and have been told
by a judge they should be freed. . . .
The men, who are Muslims, were in Afghanistan in 2001 and were captured by
Pakistani troops and handed over to the US.--Duncan Campbell and Richard
charges but US may never release Guantanamo Chinese," Guardian, November
Tania Branigan, "Ethnic violence in China leaves 140 dead," Guardian, July 6, 2009
"Muslim states 'silent' on Uighurs,"
aljazeera.net, July 7, 2009
[Aside from being obvious cases of long-term injustice, the rumbles and
occasional roars from Tibet and Xinjiang send out a clear message: one must
keep a constant eye on the ball of China's core domestic
contradictions.--Sreeram Chaulia, "Inside China's
unquiet west," Asia Times, July 8, 2009]
Mona Eltahawy, "If Only the Uighurs Were Buddhist and
China Was Israel," huffingtonpost.com, July 8, 2009
Robert Marquand, "Q&A with
Uighur spiritual leader Rebiya Kadeer," csmonitor.com, July 12, 2009
Andrew Jacobs, "Toy Factory Melee Set Off Western China Violence," New
York Times, July 15, 2009
[ . . . Uighurs from the western Chinese province of Xinjiang were receiving
training from al Qaeda in Afghanistan before 2001, with the expectation that
they might serve as guerrilla forces in the event of US conflict with China.
Edmonds has recently stated that "our fingerprint is all over" recent Uighur
unrest within China.--Muriel Kane, "Whistleblower: Bin Laden was US proxy until
9/11," rawstory.com, July 31, 2009]
Kathrin Hille, "China acts to ease Uighur tension," ft.com, July 2, 2010
[The goal was to deepen Sino-Israeli ties on political, security and
military levels. This is only the latest in a burgeoning security
relationship between Israel and China that includes drone technology, crowd
control training, surveillance, intelligence gathering--Jimmy Johnson, "China imports
Israel's methods of propaganda and repression," uruknet.info,
December 28, 2010]
"Uighurs 'face fight for existence' against
China," Agence France-Presse, May 14, 2012