- Title: CHINA/TAIWAN: Uighur exhile blames Beijing for Xinjiang unrest
- Date: 7th July 2009
- Summary: TAIPEI, TAIWAN (JULY 6, 2009) (REUTERS) TRAFFIC IN TAIPEI TAIWANESE NATIONAL FLAG ON TOP OF BUILDING TRAFFIC IN TAIPEI ETHNIC UIGHUR WU'ER KAIXI WALKING IN A BOOKSTORE (SOUNDBITE) (English) ETHNIC UIGHUR TAIWAN RESIDENT WU'ER KAIXI SAYING: "Especially after 9-11 incident in the U.S., when U.S. has asked China to join the allies in anti-terrorism, Chinese has adopted this method to label all Uighur ethnic demonstration or protest, even if it's very peaceful protest, label it as terrorist act. The very fact that Uighur people being Muslim, unfortunately in the world, is one of the reasons not getting attention and sympathy." VARIOUS OF TRAFFIC IN TAIPEI (SOUNDBITE) (English) ETHNIC UIGHUR TAIWAN RESIDENT WU'ER KAIXI SAYING: "I feel very sad about the fact that the hatred between the two ethnic groups, between Han Chinese and the Uighur people, are increasing day by day, but the Chinese government is not doing anything to ease that, on the contrary, they are pouring oil on the flame." TRAFFIC ON ROADS IN TAIPEI
- Embargoed: 22nd July 2009 13:00
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVACGA90X9PLP2E0ADIND9D128IS
- Story Text: China calls ethnic unrest that killed 140 in China's western Xinjiang region a plot against its power, and a high profile Chinese Uighur exiled in Taiwan says Beijing has "poured oil on the flame" of ethnic unrest.
An exiled Uighur living in Taiwan said on Monday (July 6) that Beijing's policy in Xinjiang, where 140 were killed in clashes on Sunday (July 5), has "poured oil" on the ethnic unrest in the area.
The Chinese government, however, has blamed Muslim separatists for the region's worst case of ethnic unrest in years.
Locals took to the streets of the capital, Urumqi, some burning and smashing vehicles and confronting ranks of police and anti-riot troops, state television showed.
Hundreds of rioters have been arrested, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
The unrest underscores the volatile ethnic tensions that have accompanied China's growing economic and political stake in its western frontiers.
A senior Chinese government official said the unrest was the work of extremist forces abroad, signalling a security crackdown in the strategic region near Pakistan and central Asia.
Xinhua said 816 people were injured and hospitalised.
Police rounded up "several hundred" who participated in the violence, including more than 10 key players who fanned unrest, Xinhua said, and are searching for 90 others.
Security has been tightened in the city and residents were unable to access the Internet on Monday, several said.
The riot in Urumqi, a city of 2.3 million residents 3,270 km (2,050 miles) west of Beijing, followed a protest against government handling of a June clash between Han Chinese and Uighur factory workers in southern China, where two Uighurs died in Shaoguan.
The China Daily put the number of protesters at 300 to 500 while the exiled Uyghur (also spelt Uighur) American Association had it as high as 3,000.
An unnamed Chinese official said the unrest was masterminded by the World Uyghur Congress led by Rebiya Kadeer, according to Xinhua.
Rebiya Kadeer is a Uighur businesswoman now in exile in the United States after years in jail, and accused of separatist activities.
But exiled Uighur groups adamantly rejected the Chinese government claim of a plot.
They said the riot was an outpouring of pent-up anger over government policies and Han Chinese dominance of economic opportunities.
Wu'er Kaixi, an ethnic Uighur from Xinjiang, fled China after leading students in the 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations centered on Tiananmen Square.
Now living and working in Taiwan, Wu'er Kaixi said China uses the U.S. sponsored fight against terror as an excuse to crack down on the China's Uighurs.
"Especially after 9-11 incident in the U.S., when U.S. has asked China to join the allies in anti-terrorism, Chinese has adopted this method to label all Uighur ethnic demonstration or protest, even if it's very peaceful protest, label it as terrorist act. The very fact that Uighur people being Muslim, unfortunately in the world, is one of the reasons not getting attention and sympathy," he said.
Wu'er Kaixi fled to France at the age of 21 and studied at Harvard University before moving to Taiwan.
China has rejected his request to return to the country to visit his aging parents.
Wu'er said that government policy in Xinjiang meant that future unrest was likely even after Sunday's unrest had been controlled.
"After using such a terrorizing force to establish order may not be that difficult for Chinese government, but to have the people's willingness to submit to the government, that is not going to be an easy task. I see similar incident return. It will come back. I feel very sad about the fact that the hatred between the two ethnic groups, between Han Chinese and the Uighur people, are increasing day by day, but the Chinese government is not doing anything to ease that, on the contrary, they are pouring oil on the flame," he said.
The government's claims of conspiracy by pro-independence exiles echo the handling of rioting across Tibetan areas in March last year, which Beijing also called a plot hatched abroad.
Xinjiang is the doorway to China's trade and energy ties with Central Asia, and is itself rich in gas, minerals and farm produce.
But many Uighurs say they see little of that wealth.
Almost half of Xinjiang's 20 million people are Uighurs. The population of Urumqi is mostly Han Chinese, and the city is under tight police security even in normal times.
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