View Full Version : Distant thunder: Separatism stirs on China’s forgotten frontier

17-08-08, 13:57
Distant thunder: Separatism stirs on China’s forgotten frontier

By Geoff Dyer and Jamil Anderlini

August 17 2008 18:03

First Tibet, now Xinjiang. China’s Olympics year has showcased its economic achievements and the resilience of its one-party state, but it has also exposed festering resentments in the country’s far west.

Over the past fortnight, more than 30 people have died in three separate attacks on police or government buildings in Xinjiang that represent the biggest outbreak of political violence in the region for more than a decade. Government officials have been careful not to draw strong conclusions and there is only limited information available. However, the succession of attacks suggests possible co-ordination between the different groups.

In the incident at Kuqa eight days ago, more than a dozen bombs exploded before dawn. Moreover, analysts have been surprised by reports that three young women were involved. “This could indicate that there is a new generation of militants in Xinjiang,” says Nicholas Bequelin, a Hong Kong based researcher with Human Rights Watch, the monitoring group.

“Coming as it does around the Olympics, it appears that some of the locals are sending a message that they do not support the central government’s policies in the region,” says Dru Gladney, a professor at Pomona College in California and an expert on Xinjiang.

Xinjiang – or “New Frontier” – is a vast province that covers a sixth of China and shares borders with eight countries, including Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Uighurs, the biggest ethnic minority in the region, are predominantly Muslim, speak a Turkic language and have close cultural ties with other groups in central Asia.

Like Tibet, Xinjiang has a disputed history. China claims to have exercised effective control over the region since the Han dynasty in the second century BC. Many other accounts describe centuries of waxing and waning Chinese influence and two brief attempts at independent statehood under the name East Turkestan in the 1930s and 1940s.

The depth of resentment in Xinjiang against Beijing comes as a surprise to many Chinese, especially given the region’s economic record. For most of the past three decades, Xinjiang’s economy has grown even faster than that of the country as a whole, expanding by 12 per cent in 2007. Its gross domestic product per capita is well below the prosperous east coast but higher than a number of other inland provinces.

There are plenty of Uighurs who feel they have benefited greatly from the boom. “If Uighurs do not get the good jobs, it is because they do not have the brains or education,” says one Uighur man who works in the construction industry in Korla. “If we were independent, we would be a poor small country that everyone would push around.” China’s population policies allow Uighurs to have more children than most Han Chinese, which encourages a view among many Chinese that they are a privileged minority.

Yet just as in Tibet, rapid-fire economic modernisation has not won the hearts or minds of many in the local population. Mass migration is one reason. In a 1950s census, shortly after the People’s Republic of China reasserted control over Xinjiang, the proportion of the population from China’s dominant Han group was 6 per cent. In the latest estimates, Han Chinese accounted for more than 40 per cent, similar to the number of Uighurs. Hundreds of thousands of migrants have moved to the region to work in the oil industry or in the large state-owned farms that have made Xinjiang China’s main producer of cotton and tomatoes.

Some of these projects have sparked conflicts over land and water rights. Around Kuqa, a dusty town of 400,000 on the edge of a desert, the cotton farms put heavy strains on water resources. A local environmental official says new policies have been introduced to limit the size of the farms and their water consumption.

But a few hours south of Kuqa, in rural Tarim County, long rows of brick houses are being built for Uighurs who officials say are being moved off their land to protect the region’s fragile ecology. Human rights groups attribute the resettlements to the diversion of water to cotton farms. “My new house is nicer than the [traditional mud house] I lived in but I have no way to make a living now,” says one recently resettled resident.

While there are hiring quotas, especially in state-owned companies, many Uighurs feel they are excluded from the best employment. This is particularly true for government jobs; according to the US Congressional-Executive Commission on China, in a 2006 recruiting campaign 800 of the 840 civil servant job openings in 2006 were reserved for Hans. “For Uighurs to get ahead you have to act Chinese and forget your ethnic distinctiveness,” says Mr Bequelin at Human Rights Watch. “People would like to have both.”

Moreover, just as in Tibet, economic modernisation has been accompanied by a hardline political strategy aimed at controlling the religious and cultural life of the province, and this has alienated many Uighurs. Indeed, Zhang Qingli, the Communist party secretary since 2006 in Tibet – who famously called the Dalai Lama a “wolf in a monk’s robe” – was previously deputy head of the party in Xinjiang.

Human rights groups and academics say that, particularly in the aftermath of the attacks in the US of September 11 2001, the Chinese authorities stepped up their interference in religious life. “Political re-education” campaigns directed at imams include regular lectures from party officials and heavy pressure to inform on suspicious activities. The imam at a small mosque on the outskirts of Korla said he would only give an interview if local Communist party officials were present. Anyone under 18 is banned from entering mosques.


Even in the tiny villages in Tarim County, Uighur spies working for the Chinese security apparatus watch for any sign of dissent or criticism of state policies and quickly report to the local police station. Foreign reporters visiting the region are questioned by these spies and followed by security officers. “There is a sort of aggregator effect from all these years of crackdown on the Uighur population,” says Yitzhak Shichor, professor of Asian studies at the University of Haifa in Israel. “Sooner or later it was bound to erupt.”

Although the Tibetan issue is much more high-profile, given the global fame of the Dalai Lama, in some ways Xinjiang is an even more sensitive issue for the Chinese authorities. Xinjiang is now the country’s leading producer of oil and gas and is the conduit for energy pipelines from central Asia. Moreover, a protracted period of unrest could quickly become a regional incident given the strong ties between Uighurs and the populations of neighbouring central Asian countries. The risk of neighbours meddling in Xinjiang was one of the reasons the Chinese pushed for the creation of the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation, a grouping that brings together China, Russia and several central Asian countries and whose charter calls for joint action against separatist groups.

After 9/11, the US and several other countries listed the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (Etim) – the group many Chinese officials name as the main threat in the region – as a terrorist group. However, diplomatic help on other fronts has been less forthcoming. “It makes it hard for the EU to give support to China when most of their diplomatic activities are lobbying us to prevent the activities of groups that have no terrorist links but which China sees as a threat to the Communist party,” says John Fox, a fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

So what sort of threat does China face? In the wake of the recent wave of violence, there is very little agreement between experts either within China or abroad about whether the country really faces a new militant insurgency and if there is any foreign involvement.

Although Chinese officials made a number of high-profile warnings about terrorism before the Olympics – claiming in July to have arrested 82 on suspicion of planning to sabotage the games – the recent attacks have received little publicity in local media and no groups have claimed responsibility. In one of the few specific comments, Qin Gang, a foreign ministry spokesman, said last week that “there is some evidence showing that behind these attacks there might be East Turkestan forces.’’ Other official statements have provided little further detail. Wang Lequan, Communist party secretary for Xinjiang, warned last week that China faced a “life or death struggle” against the “three evil forces” of terrorism, separatism and religious radicalism.

One of the most interesting questions is whether the attackers had outside help. Since 9/11, Beijing has portrayed any conflict in Xinjiang as part of the global war against jihad. More recently, some Chinese officials have said China is being infiltrated by Hizb ut-Tahrir, a group that seeks to create a pan-national Muslim state.

A group calling itself the Turkestan Islamic party has released two videos claiming responsibility for other unexplained explosions in China and – even though there is much scepticism about the existence of this group, let alone its claims – the presence of such videos with heavily jihadist overtones worries some analysts.

Rohan Gunaratna, a Singapore-based terrorism expert, believes that Etim still has a presence in northern Pakistan and links to al-Qaeda, which could leave China vulnerable to militants slipping across the border – although he adds that Chinese policies towards the Uighurs are pushing some of them towards Islamic radicalism.

Li Wei, director of the counter-terrorism research centre at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, says there is no evidence so far that the recent attacks had foreign links. “The attacks are more likely to be by separatist groups,” he says. “Religion might be a cover but separatism is their main purpose.”

Prof Gladneya, of Pomona College in California, says evidence of sympathy for terrorist groups in Pakistan or elsewhere remains thin. “There has definitely been a rise in Islamic conservatism in Xinjiang,” he says. “But I have not seen signs of real support for global jihad or for Islamic radicalism.”

Even the level of co-ordination between the attacks is unclear. Some analysts say the amateur nature of the weapons used – knives and home-made explosives – suggest unsophisticated local groups with little training. While some Uighurs may support independence, they say, many only want more autonomy.

“These do not appear to be acts of some terrorist organisation which is being planned from the other side of the border,” says Prof Shichor at Haifa University. “We do not have a lot of information but it looks more like personal grievances of people who are using the Olympics to do something.” The Olympics have brought attention but little clarity to the fractures running through Xinjiang.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2008

17-08-08, 16:33
第一,西藏,现在新疆。 china s奥运会,今年已展示其经济成就和联合国的应变能力及其一党专政的国家,但它也暴露了不断恶化的不满,在c ountry 据西。

在过去两周内,超过30人死亡,在三个不同的攻击,警察或政府建筑物在新疆的代表最大的爆发政治暴力事件在 该地区十年以上。政府官员已小心,不要制定强有力的结论和有仅提供有限的信息资料。不过,继承,提出了可能 的攻击之间的协调不同群体。

在这次事件中,在库车八天前,十多个炸弹爆炸事件破晓前。此外,分析家们已感到惊讶报告说, 3名年轻妇女参与。 this可以表明,有一个新一代的武装分子在新疆, 说,尼古拉斯别格林,一个以香港为基地的研究员与人权观察,监测小组。

coming因为它周围的奥运会,这似乎有些当地人是发出了一个讯息,他们不支持中央governmen t 政策在该地区, dru格拉德尼说,一位教授在波莫纳大学学院在加利福尼亚州和专家对新疆。

新疆 或 new frontier 是一项宏大的省,包括第六届中国和股份边界与八个国家,包括阿富汗和巴基斯坦。维吾尔族,最大的少数族裔 人士在该地区,以穆斯林为主的,说突厥语的语言和文化有着密切的关系,与其他群体在中亚地区。

像西藏,新疆有一个有争议的历史。中国声称已行使有效控制该地区自汉代在西元前二世纪。许多其他帐户描述百 年的上蜡和日渐缩小的中国的影响力和两个简短企图建立独立国家的名义下,东土耳其斯坦在1930年代和19 40年代。

深度的反感,在新疆对北京来作为一个惊喜,许多中国,特别是考虑到region 的经济纪录。大部分过去30年来, xinjiang 经济增长,甚至速度比该国作为一个整体,扩大了12 % ,在2007年。其人均国内生产总值远远低于繁荣的东海岸,但高于其他一些内陆省份。

有很多维吾尔人谁觉得他们大大受益于蓬勃发展。 if维吾尔人得不到良好的就业机会,这是因为他们没有大脑或教育, 说,一维吾尔族男子谁工程在建造业,在库尔勒。 if我们是独立的,我们将一个贫穷的小国,每个人都将推动around. china 人口政策允许维吾尔人有更多的儿童比一般的汉人,鼓励期,其中许多中国人认为他们是一支享有特权的少数人 。

然而,正如在西藏,速射经济现代化并没有赢得人心,或心中有很多在当地人口。大规模移民是原因之一。在一个 20世纪50年代中期人口统计的资料,不久后people 中华人民共和国重申了中国的控制权,新疆的人口比例从china s主导汉族组的6 % 。在最新估计数字显示,中国汉族占40 %以上,类似数目的维吾尔人。数以十万计的移民移居到该地区的工作在石油行业,或在大型国有农场,取得了新 疆china 主要生产棉花和番茄。

其中有些项目已引发了冲突,土地和水资源的权利。周围的库车,尘土飞扬的镇400000对边缘的沙漠,棉花 农场,把沉重的菌株对水资源。当地环保官员说,新政策已经实施,以限制的大小农场和他们的水消 费。

但几个小时以南的库车,在农村塔里木县,长期排砖房正在兴建,为维吾尔人谁官员说,正在迁往小康他们的土地 ,以保障region s生态脆弱。人权团体属性的重新安置到引水供水棉花农场。 my新房子是美好的比[传统的泥房子] :我住在,但我没有办法,使生活,现在 一说,最近重新安置居民。

虽然有雇用配额,特别是在国有控股公司,许多维吾尔人认为他们被排除在最佳的就业机会。这是尤其如此,政府 职位;据美国国会-行政部门中国委员会,在2 006年招募运动8 00的8 40公务员职位空缺,在2 006年则预留给汉斯。 for维吾尔人获得未来的你必须采取行动,中国和忘记您的民族特色, 别格林先生说,在人权观察组织。 people想有both.

此外,正如在西藏,经济现代化一直伴随着强硬的政治策略,旨在控制宗教和文化生活的省,这已疏离,许多维吾 尔人。事实上,张庆黎,党委书记,自2006年在西藏 谁著名的所谓达赖喇嘛一 wolf在一个monk s robe 以前副组长,党在新疆。

人权团体及学者说,尤其是在后的攻击,在美国的2001年9月11日,中国当局加紧对干扰的宗 教生活。 political重新education 运动,针对伊玛目包括定期讲座,从党的官员和沉重的压力,告知有关可疑活动。伊玛目在一个小清真寺,郊区 的库尔勒说,他只会接受采访时,如果当地的共产党官员出席了会议。人是未满18岁禁止进入清真 寺。


即使在小小的村庄在塔里木县,维吾尔间谍工作,为中国安全仪器观赏的任何迹象异议或批评国家政策,并迅速报 告给当地警署。外国记者访问该地区受到质疑这些间谍,其次是保安人员。 there是一种汇集效应,从所有这些年的打击对维吾尔族人口, 说,伊扎克希霍尔教授,亚洲研究在海法大学在以色列。 sooner或更高版本,它势必erupt.

虽然西藏问题是更为高调,鉴于全球名利的达赖喇嘛,在某些方面,新疆是一个更敏感的问题,中国当局。新疆现 在是country 领先的生产石油和天然气管道是能源管道从中亚地区。此外,长时间的动乱,可能很快就成为一个区域的事件, 由于强烈的维吾尔人之间的联系和人口的邻国的中亚国家。风险邻国插手在新疆的原因之一,中国推动建立了上海 合作组织,编组,召集中国,俄罗斯和几个中亚国家和其宪章呼吁采取联合行动,打击分裂主义组织 。

后9 / 11 ,美国和其他几个国家上市的东土耳其斯坦伊斯兰运动(东伊运) 组许多中国官员的名称作为主要的威胁在该地区 : 作为一个恐怖集团。不过,外交,帮助在其他方面已较少即将举行的。 it使得它很难为欧盟给予中国的支持时,大部分的外交活动,游说我们,以防止活动的团体有没有与恐怖分子 有联系的,但中国认为,作为一个威胁到共产党, 说,约翰福克斯,一位同行在欧洲理事会的外交关系。

因此,什么样的威胁,中国是否面对?在发生了最近的暴力浪潮,是很少之间的协议专家无论是中国还是在国外有 关该国是否真的面临一个新的武装叛乱和,如果有任何外国的参与。

虽然中国官员提出了一系列的高调警告,对恐怖主义的前奥运会 ,声称在七月已经逮捕了82对涉嫌策划破坏游戏 最近的攻击事件已收到很少宣传,在当地媒体和没有群体已声称对此事负责。在其中的一些具体评论,秦刚,外 交部发言人上周说, there是一些证据显示,这些袭击事件背后可能有东突forces. 其他官方报表提供极少进一步的细节。王乐泉,党委书记,为新疆,警告上周表示,中国面临着 life或死亡struggle 反对 three邪恶forces 恐怖主义,分裂主义和宗教极端主义。

其中最有趣的问题是,是否攻击了外界的帮助。自从9 / 11 ,北京已描绘的任何冲突在新疆的一部分,全球战争的圣战。最近,一些中国官员曾表示,中国正在 渗入( Hizb UT斯达康tahrir ,一组旨在建立一个泛民族的穆斯林国家。

一个自称是土耳其斯坦伊斯兰党已发布了两个影片,声称责任为其他原因不明的爆炸在中国和 即使有许多持怀疑态度的存在,这个小组的,更遑论其索赔 存在这种影片大量圣战色彩的忧虑,一些分析师。

专家古纳拉特纳,总部设在新加坡的反恐专家认为,东伊运仍然有存在,在巴基斯坦北部的链接和盖达组织,这可 能离开中国,容易滑倒武装分子越过边界 : 虽然他补充说,中国的政策,对维吾尔人推动他们中的一些对伊斯兰极端。

李伟,主任反恐怖主义研究中心在中国现代国际关系研究院表示,目前并没有证据显示,至今说,最近袭击了外国 的联系。 the攻击更可能是由分裂组织, ,他说。 religion可能是一个涵盖,但分裂,是他们的主要purpose.

教授gladneya ,波莫纳大学学院在加利福尼亚州,说的证据,同情恐怖集团在巴基斯坦或其他地方仍然是薄。 there肯定上升,在伊斯兰保守主义在新疆, ,他说。 but我还没有看到的迹象,真正的支持,为全球圣战或伊斯兰radicalism.

甚至水平之间的协调攻击目前还不清楚。一些分析家说,业余的性质,使用的武器 刀和自制炸药 建议落后地方团体与训练不多。虽然有些维吾尔人可能会支持独立,他们说,许多只是想有更大的自 主权。

these似乎不行为的一些恐怖组织,现正计划从边界的另一边, 教授说希霍尔在海法大学。 we不有很多的资料,但它看起来更像是个人的不满,谁的人所使用的奥运会做something. 奥运会带来了关注,但很少明确骨折,贯穿新疆。