World View: China Clamps Down on Uighurs in Xinjiang Province

KASHGAR, CHINA - JULY 31: Chinese soldiers march in front of the Id Kah Mosque, China's largest, on July 31, 2014 in Kashgar, China. China has increased security in many parts of the restive Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region following some of the worst violence in months in the Uyghur dominated …

This morning’s key headlines from

  • China commands Xinjiang Uighurs to install tracking devices in all cars
  • China stages massive show of military force in Xinjiang

China commands Xinjiang Uighurs to install tracking devices in all cars

Thousands of armed police, public security officers and militia fight terrorism in the city of Hotan in Xinjiang province last week on Thursday (Global Times)
Thousands of armed police, public security officers and militia fight terrorism in the city of Hotan in Xinjiang province last week on Thursday (Global Times)

Officials in northwest China’s province of Xinjiang on Tuesday ordered that all car owners install devices that will permit authorities to track the cars at all times. The cars will be tracked by means of the Beidou Navigation Satellite System, which is China’s homegrown system to reduce reliance on the US global positioning system (GPS).

The devices will have to be installed by June 30. After that date, owners will be unable to purchase petrol for their cars. Installation of the devices is free, though the owners will be charged for the devices’ internet access that continually reports the car’s position to the Chinese authorities.

According to a Chinese official explaining the demand, possibly making a little joke:

All vehicles must install the system, so that they can be tracked wherever they go. It also helps car owners to find their cars quickly if it’s been stolen or taken [by terrorists].

This is only the latest in a series of seemingly desperate attempts by China’s authorities to bring the region’s ethnic Uighurs under control.

The Uighurs are a Turkic ethnic group who are almost all Sunni Muslims. Since 1949, when China crushed the short-lived state of East Turkestan, China has been promoting large-scale immigration of Han Chinese from other parts of China into Xinjiang province. In addition, Chinese authorities have marginalized the Uighurs, giving the best homes and jobs to the Han Chinese. Today, the Uighurs make up about 45% of Xinjiang’s population, while 40% are Han Chinese.

This forced massive migration of Han Chinese into their cities, marginalizing the Uighurs in their own homeland, has infuriated the Uighurs, and has led to a jihadist separatist movement.

In July, 2009, thousands of Uighurs rioted and demonstrated against Chinese rule. The riots were triggered when two Uighur migrant workers, working in a toy factory in southeast China, were accused of raping a Han woman, a charge which appears to have been fabricated. The two Uighurs were killed in a Han Chinese mob attack on their dormitory. In Xinjiang, Chinese officials Chinese officials accused the Uighurs of attacking Han Chinese in their home, and struck back against the Uighurs brutally. Shanghaist and BBC and Global Times (Beijing)

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China stages massive show of military force in Xinjiang

In a massive show of military force, thousands of black-clad, heavily armed troops have paraded through cities in Xinjiang province. On Saturday, hundreds of troops staged a mass “anti-terror rally” in Urumqi, the capital city of Xinjiang.

Zhu Hailun, the region’s deputy Communist party chief, promised an unflinching campaign against the Islamic terrorists and separatists:

We shall load our guns, draw our swords from their sheaths, throw hard punches and relentlessly beat, and strike hard without flinching at terrorists who must be brought down a peg or two.

With the caring and strong leadership of the Communist Party Central Committee, where President Xi Jinping serves as the core … the strong support of 23 million people from all ethnic groups in Xinjiang, and with the powerful fist of the People’s Democratic Dictatorship, all separatist activities and all terrorists shall be smashed to pieces.

On Thursday of last week, a similar military parade was held in the city of Kashgar. A special forces operative said, “We are ready for [combat] and we definitely will win.”

This massive show of force, as well as the demand to install tracking devices in all cars, follows two terror attacks in Xinjiang in recent weeks. Two weeks ago, three militants attacked Han Chinese with machetes, killing five and injuring five more, before they were shot by police. In December, five people were killed when attackers drove a vehicle into a government building.

It is possible that the terror attacks were triggered by a program by China’s government in the last three months of 2016 to destroy thousands of mosques in Xinjiang under the pretense of protecting the public from unsafe buildings. One police officer was quoted as saying:

Convincing the people that one of the purposes for demolishing the mosques was for the safety of the worshipers was a bit difficult. Some of them laughed at us when we explained the purpose, and some of them stared at us to show their disagreement.

Government officials in Kashgar confirmed that 70% of the mosques that city were demolished. South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and Guardian (London) and Radio Free Asia (19-Dec-2016)

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KEYS: Generational Dynamics, China, Xinjiang, Hotan, Urumqi, Kashgar, Beidou Navigation Satellite System, Zhu Hailun
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