Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Far from the Truth

President Hu Jintao was in Italy where he was set to attend the G8 Summit, but on the third day after the riots broke out in Xinjiang, now forever named "7.5" or July 5, he decided to go home to control the chaos.

Already hundreds of soldiers have flooded into Urumqi to try to quell the violence that has hit the capital of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in western China.

The city is in lockdown, but that doesn't mean tensions will go away easily.

Now Li Zhi, the party boss in Urumqi has said that those found to have instigated the violence will face the death penalty.

That announcement, while a threat, may even encourage protestors to be even more defiant.

The turn of events in the last few days is just polarizing the situation, with state media in full propaganda mode and not really examining what is at the heart of the issue.

The Chinese have already painted the Uyghurs as violent people, and almost calling them terrorists, but their actions show they aren't -- they are a group of people frustrated in the situation their people are in.

One account I've read on the cause of the events on July 5 stem from killings that occured in a Guangdong toy factory last month. A number of young Uyghur men went down to the southern Chinese city to work at this factory and a small group were accused of raping two Han Chinese girls. While this turned out to be completely false, it didn't save these Uyghurs, many of whom were beaten to death.

What has made the Uyghurs in Urumqi upset is that the government did nothing about the situation, not even an investigation.

On Sunday they were allegedly peacefully redressing the government to properly deal with the incident, but then their protest somehow became violent.

Of the 156 reported dead so far, the government has not released numbers on how many were Uyghurs, and how many were Han Chinese. One suspects most of the victims are probably Uyghur...

The Chinese are desperate to look like they are firmly in control of the situation, especially with Hu flying back to take command.

But this definitely looks like a major bruise, especially in the run-up to the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on October 1.

This is the worst violent clash in decades and it definitely does not show China is a harmonious society.

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