July 8, 2009
Asia Times

Ghost of Marx Haunts China's Riots

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 honor.

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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[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 Norton-Taylor, "No charges but US may never release Guantanamo Chinese," Guardian, November 1, 2008]

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[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]

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[ . . . 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,", July 31, 2009]

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[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,", December 28, 2010]

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[This is a city where growing a beard can get you reported to the police. So can inviting too many people to your wedding, or naming your child Muhammad or Medina.--Megha Rajagopalan, "This Is What A 21st-Century Police State Really Looks Like',", October 17, 2017]

[IT WAS ON September 16, 2001, five days after the 9/11 attacks, that President George W. Bush declared his now-infamous "war on terrorism." Other governments around the world followed suit - but few matched the speed, intensity, and sheer cynicism with which the autocrats in Beijing aligned themselves with the Bush administration.--Mehdi Hasan, "One Million Muslim Uighurs Have Been Detained by China, the U.N. Says. Where's the Global Outrage?,", August 13, 2018]

Ben Norton, " NY Times' pseudo-expert accusing China of genocide worked for far-right cult Falun Gong's publicity arm,", May 8, 2020

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US Col. exposes truth on Uyghur Chinese, numuves, March 14, 2021

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