The media in the imperialist countries have seized eagerly upon the unrest that recently occurred in Xinjiang in western China, an autonomous region where the single largest nationality are the Uyghurs. Those Uyghurs who are religious are muslims.
Violence in Xinjiang
Violence hit Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region, on 5 July. At least 184 people have been reported killed, most of them Han Chinese, and another 1,680 wounded.
The rioting was sparked on the occasion of a demonstration being held in protest at the deaths on 26 June of two Uyghurs at the Xuri toy factory in Guangdong, in southern China, where it is the Han Chinese who are in the majority. At this factory, Han Chinese workers had gone on the rampage against Uyghur workers as a result of hearing a rumour that a Han woman working there had been raped by six Uyghur workers.
Xinhua, the Chinese state news agency, reported that a man named Zhu faked the information after failing to find another job when he quit his job at the factory. What really happened was described to Xinhua by the woman herself.
On 8 July 2009, the agency released an interview with Huang Cuilian, the ‘Han girl’ who they say triggered the disturbances. The 19-year-old trainee from rural Guangdong, had worked at the factory for less than two months.
She said: “‘I was lost and entered the wrong dormitory and screamed when I saw those Uyghur young men in the room … I just felt they were unfriendly so I turned and ran.’ She recounted how one of them stood up and stamped his feet as if to chase her. ‘I later realised that he was just making fun of me.’ She said she only found out hours later that she was the cause of the violence.”
The result of the Han workers’ rampage, in which they attacked Uyghur workers at random, was that, in addition to the death of two Uyghurs, 118 people were injured. Uyghur workers had to be relocated to another factory for their own protection.
Learning of this incident, Uyghur separatists operating from the USA began working frantically to organise, through their local contacts, an illegal protest demonstration for 5 July, with the aim of fanning anti-Chinese sentiment among Uyghurs.
The incident was exaggerated, with people being told that 60 Uyghurs had been killed while the police refused to do anything, when in fact only two had been killed and the 13 persons suspected of being involved in their deaths had been promptly arrested and detained.
However, the US-based organisation, grandiosely named the ‘World Uyghur Congress’ and led by Chinese Uyghur multimillionaire businesswoman Rebiya Kadeer, who now lives in the US, was determined to spark a riot by calling for a demonstration in the regional capital Urumqi and winding people up by spreading false rumours, especially to the effect that the Chinese authorities had failed to act against the perpetrators of criminal acts against Uyghurs in Guandong.
According to reports published by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), that notorious purported ‘non-governmental organisation’ that spearheads US activities aimed at destabilising regimes in many countries all over the world, the World Uyghur Congress receives $215,000 annually from the NED for “human rights research and advocacy projects”.
The US government supplies even more money to the Uyghur American Association, of which Rebiya Kadeer is president. Despite the night-and-day outpourings into China of black propaganda by these organisations via email and mobile phones, it was nevertheless still only a tiny number who turned up to demonstrate at the behest of these US agents.
When the local police dispersed the few hundred demonstrators, some 800 people set out on a trail of wanton murder of Hans and destruction of their property.
“At 220 sites, the rioters set fire to buildings, smashed or burned vehicles, and killed people … About 260 vehicles were destroyed, including 190 buses, about 10 taxis and around 50 other vehicles. Approximately 203 shops were burned down or smashed, 14 private residences ruined and buildings of various types with a total floor space of 56,850 square metres set on fire by the rioters.” (Some facts and information about the Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region, Chinese Embassy press release, 7 July 2009)
Far from oppressing and exploiting them, China has a policy of developing backward regions. The average growth rate for the Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region has been over 10 percent for the last 30 years. Last year, a year of relative economic difficulty in China, still saw a growth rate of 11 percent in that part of the country.
Furthermore, “The national government has given great support to Xinjiang. According to estimates, out of every 100 yuan of fiscal expenditure in Xinjiang, 60 yuan would come from the central government. Nearly half of Xinjiang’s capital investment in the past 20 years was funded by the central government.
“Back in 1949, there was only one institution of higher learning and 11 secondary schools, and the illiteracy rate reached 90 percent. Fifty years later in 2005, there were 8,600 schools in Xinjiang with a total enrolment of 4.4 million, 60 percent of whom were from minority ethnic groups. The illiteracy rate has dropped to less than 2 percent.” (Ibid)
Yet the so-called World Uyghur Congress is putting it about that Uyghurs face discrimination!
“The Spoken and Written Languages ordinance of the Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region provides that all languages used by various ethnic groups are equal. Both mandarin and minority ethnic languages are taught at primary and secondary schools.
“Minority ethnic people have the right to file lawsuits in their ethnic languages and litigants are entitled to translation services in the trial of their cases. Government officials at all levels are required to handle letters and talk to visitors in the languages they normally use.
“People of different ethnic backgrounds enjoy religious freedom under the law. There are 24,000 mosques in Xinjiang and 29,000 religious clergy. The minorities of Xinjiang have been exempted from the one-child policy and many Uyghur people moved out of Xinjiang to other parts of China, and consequently the percentage of Uyghur people in the total population of China has increased steadily.” (Ibid)
And yet the World Uyghur Congress claims that Uyghur language and culture is suppressed, and is doing its best to spread hatred of China in the muslim world by falsely claiming that religious practice is suppressed in China.
“Organs of self-government in ethnic autonomous areas enjoy extensive self-governance rights beyond those held by other administrations at the same level. These include: enacting regulations on the exercise of autonomy and separate regulations corresponding to the political, economic and cultural characteristics of the ethnic group(s) in the areas concerned; having the freedom to manage and use all revenues accruing to the ethnic autonomous areas; independently arranging and managing local economic development, education, science, culture, public health, protecting the cultural heritage of the ethnic groups, and developing and invigorating their cultures.
“Regional ethnic autonomy, equality, unity, mutual help and common prosperity are the basic principles the Chinese government follows in handling the relations between ethnic groups. Where ethnic minorities live in compact communities, autonomous organs of self-government are established under the unified leadership of the state. The minority people exercise autonomous rights and administer their own affairs.” (Ibid)
And yet the so-called World Uyghur Congress claims that Uyghurs are oppressed!
However, the vast majority of Uyghurs recognise the benefits that they have been receiving as citizens of socialist China and are appalled that fellow Uyghurs should be mobilised supposedly in their name to kill Han Chinese at random. Several workers from the Guangdong factory have denounced publicly the ethnic violence being perpetrated by misguided Uyghurs.
What lies behind the unrest?
As in the case of Tibet, US imperialism is keen to encourage secessionist elements in Xinjiang, with a view to balkanising and weakening China and snatching away from it control of vast tracts of its territory.
It recruits support from antisocialist elements in the national minorities such as Rebiya Kadeer, who, despite having become a multimillionaire in China, resents the socialist constraints on her bourgeois activity (which have included fraud, tax evasion and black marketeering) and would like to see Xinjiang secede and become a haven for unbridled capitalism.
The fact is that in the case of Xinjiang there is even more at stake than is Tibet. According to William Engdahl of the Global Research Project: “The reasons for Washington’s intervention into Xinjiang affairs seems to have little to do with concerns over alleged human rights abuses by Beijing authorities against Uyghur people.
“It seems rather to have very much to do with the strategic geopolitical location of Xinjiang on the Eurasian landmass and its strategic importance for China’s future economic and energy cooperation with Russia, Kazakhstan and other central Asian states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.” (Washington is playing a deeper game with China, Global Research, 11 July 2009)
Besides Xinjiang itself being home to huge reserves of oil, natural gas and mineral resources, China is also offering good deals for Kazakh, Turkmen and Russian oil and gas, and there are several pipeline projects under way at present that will enable energy from these countries to be piped to China – pipelines that will of necessity go through Xinjiang.
If the building and/or working of these pipelines can be frustrated by fomenting unrest in Xinjiang, then China would remain significantly dependent on sea transportation routes for much of its oil, and these could be cut off at any time should US imperialism want to exert pressure on it – or wage war against it.
Xinjiang has been part of China since 60 BC. Since the Chinese Revolution, the vast majority of Uyghur people have seen massive improvements in their lives – both in terms of their standard of living and in terms of culture and quality of life.
China is still a developing country and there is undoubtedly much room for further improvement. However, the fate of the broad masses of Uyghur people is far better served by remaining in China, and this the overwhelming majority of them know and appreciate.
We denounce attempts by US imperialism to import trouble and strife into this proud region and fully support all actions taken by the Chinese government to safeguard the lives and property of its citizens.