Sep 06, 2013

East Turkestan: Beijing’s Crackdown on Uyghurs Cast as a Fight Against 'Terrorism'.

China uses the term “terrorist crimes” to describe riots by Uyghurs to avoid highlighting ethnic conflict and to cast the government’s crackdown as a “fight against terrorism.”

Below is an article published by The Asahi Shimbun:


Armed police officers were on high alert around an empty, neglected building with peeling walls in Urumqi, the capital of China’s Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.

“That building used to be very helpful for the livelihoods of many Uighur people,” said a Uighur woman in her 30s who once ran a store in the structure called the Rebiya Building.

The building is named after Rebiya Kadeer, leader of the World Uyghur Congress, an organization of Uighur exile groups based in Munich, Germany.

Rebiya built the commercial building when she was a hugely successful businesswoman in Urumqi. But her life took an unexpected and dramatic turn after she criticized the Chinese government’s policy toward Uighurs in a speech in 1997.

She was arrested and jailed in 1999 and sent into exile in the United States in 2005. She has since been vilified by the Chinese Communist Party for instigating an anti-China secessionist movement.

The Chinese authority used to regard Rebiya as a model member of a racial minority group for the country. She even served as a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).

The CPPCC is a political advisory body that represents the country’s “patriotic united front.” It is the primary political framework used by the Communist Party to incorporate the views and opinions of patriotic figures in minority groups and various fields into the government’s policies under the principle of “multiparty cooperation.”

The top official, or chairman, of the CPCC, however, is Yu Zhengsheng, the fourth-ranking member of the Politburo Standing Committee, the country’s supreme decision-making organ.

Speaking at a meeting with senior local party officials in Urumqi on June 29, Yu urged attendants to “remain prepared to crack down hard on terrorist crimes.”

Three days earlier, 35 people were killed in attacks by Uighurs in Lukqun, a township in Turpan prefecture, in the latest spasm of violence in the region.

China often uses the term “terrorist crimes” to describe such riots by Uighurs to avoid highlighting the ethnic conflict and to cast the government’s crackdown as a “fight against terrorism.”

Yu also heads the Xinjiang Coordination Group, the Communist Party’s policy-coordinating task force for the Xinjiang region.

Under the administration of former President Hu Jintao, the group’s leader was Zhou Yongkang, who as chief of the Central Political and Legislative Committee oversaw the country’s security forces and law enforcement institutions.

Some observers see the appointment of CPPCC Chairman Yu as head of the coordination group under the administration of Xi Jinping as a sign of a policy shift. They say Beijing is switching from suppressing rebellious minority groups to winning them over.

On the night before Yu arrived in Urumqi, President Xi convened a meeting of members of the Politburo Standing Committee and ordered greater efforts to establish stability in the autonomous region.

Yu’s remarks in Urumqi probably reflected the decisions made by the Politburo Standing Committee in its meeting held in the Zhongnanhai walled compound in central Beijing the previous day.

On July 5, the fourth anniversary of the riots that broke out between ethnic Uighurs and Han Chinese in 2009, which left 2,000 dead or injured, security was extremely tight in many parts of the autonomous region.

Obviously, Yu’s order was faithfully carried out.