Xinjiang: Reassessing the Recent Violence
Image Credit: Reuters/stringer

Xinjiang: Reassessing the Recent Violence


After a brutal attack on a police station in Lukqun left 35 people dead, Xinjiang and the Uyghurs have once again made the headlines. This massive chunk of land (one-sixth of China’s total territory) and this regionally, linguistically, and religiously complex minzu (ethno-national) group are back in the spotlight following an explosive episode of violence. And both Chinese and Western news outlets, respectively framing the event as an “act of terror” or as part of a continuous struggle against an oppressive regime, have once again oversimplified their narratives.

Perhaps because Lukqun, unlike Kashgar, Hotan, and Turpan, was never a major post on the famed Silk Road or perhaps owing to its sheer remoteness, analyses of the event have overlooked some critical “local” details.

What do we know about the June 26 violence in Lukqun?  Reports circulated by Chinese and US news agencies agree on the basics. Just before 6 AM, a group of Uyghur men armed with knives attacked a local police station killing 24 individuals. Police then opened fire on the attackers, killing 11.

Predictably, the similarities in reporting end here.

News outlets operating within China’s massive state-run media quickly labeled the event a “terrorist” attack. An article posted by The Global Times that has caught the eye of several foreign observers claims that nearly 100 Uyghurs have received crash courses in military techniques in remote areas of Syria and some have even fought alongside Syrian rebels. The connection drawn between the Uyghurs and Syrian rebels implies a direct link between the acts of violence committed in Xinjiang and global terror networks – specifically Al-Qaeda.

A report from Xinhua’s Chinese language website makes similar use of the “global terrorism” theme. According to Xinhua’s account of the events leading up to the June 26 violence, Ahmetniyaz Sidiq (Ch. Aihemaitineyazi Sidike) and Ali Ahmetniyaz (Ch. Aili Aihemaitineyazi), began convening an illegal religious organization in Lukqun in January. The seventeen members of this organization regularly viewed and listened to “jihadist” (Ch. shengzhan) propaganda distributed by the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), a group the U.S. has identified as an international terrorist organization, and “other” terrorists groups. These activities, the article asserts, “gradually engendered religious extremism” among the group’s followers.

The two reports stick closely to almost every official explanation of any violence in Xinjiang. That is, malicious foreign groups have infiltrated Xinjiang and have influenced a very small (and misguided) segment of Uyghur society to commit heinous acts of violence (or terrorism) in an attempt to disrupt social order. In other words, the problem originates from the outside and in no way reflects broader grievances the Uyghurs hold against the government.

Western observers have meanwhile clung to their own scripts. After the most recent episodes of violence, Western commentaries have once again reminded readers that Uyghurs have yet to benefit from China’s economic boom; they cannot compete with the growing number Han Chinese who are flooding the job market in Xinjiang; and they are victims of religious repression. While these issues are prevalent in many regions of Xinjiang and can certainly breed mistrust between some Uyghurs and the CCP, this narrative may not adequately explain the violence in Lukqun.

March 16, 2014 at 22:15

a_canadian_observer: please do not use Canada in your name… you are just a troll here.

trigger-happy pinoy coast guards killed Tawanese fisherman
August 9, 2013 at 15:53

As a long-time China observer viewing from SE Asia,being able to speak and write Chinese, make regular trips to China, I think the CCP learnt from the Tiananmen incidence whereby letting western media a free hand in China would lead to disaster.In deed,in 1989 a.d,we saw the students demonstrators became more daring day by day as they we given full and also live coverage by western media, they must be thinking since the whole world was watching, the national police or military won’t dare to take harsh action on them.Besides making their own model of Statue of Liberty that was carried in their parade which signified their wanting for change to western democracy literally over night.Premier Zhou zi Yang tried to convince, some say begged them to disperse but they refused to do so and continued to occupy the square for days, much the same way as the Occupy Walls Street movement.The PLA and public opinions was devided, the former was in the brink of openly oppose each other, some warned of a civil war.In the end, after being paralysing the Central Government for half a month or so, the then Chairman Deng Xiao Ping was left with no other option then ordering the forceful dispersal of the students, admit fearing of outbreak of a civil war

August 9, 2013 at 04:39

@little helmsman:  I'm ashame to see those who chased after the Chinese Olympic torch are still alive today.  They, including you, should have immolated themselves long time ago to demonstrate their utmost sincerity and unquestionable dedication to the so-called sufferings of Tibetans  under Chinese rule

August 9, 2013 at 00:57

@thmak:  There were reports that chinese torch bearers assaulted local demonstrators in many countries they passed through.  I guess only people boasting 5000+ years of civilization can behave as such.  Shame!

August 9, 2013 at 00:54

@thmak:  Whatever you said, buddy!  But can you dispute my comment?  Feel embarrashed to be CCP 50-centers now-a-day, doesn't it?

August 9, 2013 at 00:51

@trigger-happy pinoy coast guards killed Tawanese fisherman:  I bet this "news" was released by china, right?  If it indeed happened, why did china block independent, international media/investigator from coming to Tibet to find out the truth?

uncle Sam rear snake (Japan) in his chicken farm
August 8, 2013 at 21:54

Pls elaborate how Chinese oppressed the minority ethnic group? Do you mean allowing them easy entry to public universities, can give birth to more than 1 child,free to pray 5 times a day, having taught their mother’s tongue in public schools, turning the Falun wheels all day long,allowed by the authority to carry their traditional long knives to public places, get light or no punishment when caught for commiting crimes?pls get your facts right before condemning others
Recently British PM reiterated Tibet is legally Chinese,

trigger-happy pinoy coast guards killed Tawanese fisherman
August 8, 2013 at 18:55

In the 314 incidence which happened in the run up to Beijing Olympics, it was clearly an arson and slash mob carried out by the Tibetant terrorists which resultes in some Han Chinese shop assistants burnt and some stabbed to dead but the Western media turned the story upside down and accused the PLA of brutality. When things like this happens else where,it’s a terrorism, but when the innocent Chinese are killed, they call the attackers freedom fighters. What a sheer double standard and lies.

August 8, 2013 at 10:55

@litttle Helmsman: I'm deeply ashame to see all those who chased China's Olympic torch are still alive today.  They are enjoying the benefits derived from the sacrifices of those immolated.

August 8, 2013 at 10:44

I'm deeply ashame to see all those who chased China's Olympic torch are still alive today.  They, including you, should have immolated themselves to show their utmost sincerity and total dedication to the sufferings of Tibetans under Chinese rule.  They are just enjoying the benefits derived from the sacrifices of those immolated.

August 8, 2013 at 10:19

@ a_canadian_observer:  According to Oro Invictus, you also have successfully projected yourself.

August 8, 2013 at 01:59

I think thmak is a reincarnated John Chan, with half the brains.  I'm starting to miss the better source of entertainment such as John Chan and vic.  Now we're left with minnows such as thmak, Bankotsu, Mishmael….sigh!

August 8, 2013 at 01:00

@Oro Invictus: PRC's pollutant=EU's pollutants, but EU has been polluting at that rate much longer than China. The total amount of EU pollutants (which never disappear) over the years far excedes that of China.  The pollutant related death is related not only to the rate but also to the total amount deposited over the long years in the environment.  In this case USA and EU far excede that of China. In the West, the "world" means  Western European countries.  Since you used words such as 'irrational', 'troll','lack of dignity','peddling','overtly duplicitous',etc, you have successfully projected yourself psychologically.

little helmsman
August 7, 2013 at 13:12

Why would China care about the world? Remember the the Olympics torch relay when Tibetan activists were chasing Chinese commies all over the world? Just wanna remind you how it looks to the international community! My sympathies are with Tibet. Too bad they have to live with such nasty people!

Oro Invictus
August 7, 2013 at 10:21

@ thmak

“According to the graph in your first reference, China's pollutants per capita(7.5 tonnes) is way lower than USA (17.5 tonnes) and is still less than EU (12.5 tonnes).”

Did you actually look at the graph? The graph shows the EU per capita levels and the PRC’s per capita levels to have met up. India’s level remains below the EU while Russia’s is at around 12.5 tonnes of CO2 per capita, which leads me to believe you mixed up “China [PRC]” and “India”, “Russia” and the “EU”; that you did not properly read the graph, much less the entire reference, is telling.


“If death is pollutant related, then death should increase with increase in pollutants and not decrease.”

That’s not an argument, that’s a personal opinion, and one which is extraordinarily misinformed. Not only did you utterly fail to provide any information to support your point, it doesn’t even make any sense. Not all pollutants are as lethal as each other; CO2 is much less harmful than SOx pollutants and the like, hydrocarbons far less so heavy metals. What’s more, solely using relative total amounts to determine societal health effects also utterly fails to take into infrastructure to mitigate the health effects of this pollution.

All of that’s beside the point, because your “more pollution=more death” point falls flat out of the gate given that the PRC not only produces more pollutants total than the US, but the per capita and total amount from the PRC has been increasing sharply while the US’ total and per capita have been decreasing (something you would have also understood from the graph had you actually read it properly).


“The USA murdeer rate cannot be compared among the murderous nations.  It should be compared among .  similarly developed nations.  In that case, USA murder rate of 4.8 is highest among Japan, France, UK, Canada, Germany, Spain, Italy, India, Poland, China(1.0).”

Now you’re just being overtly duplicitous; if you had meant the rate among “developed nations” (which would actually exclude India and the PRC from those rankings), you would have said that. Instead you said, quote, “Remember, USA has the highest murder rate in the world”; there’s precious little equivocation on what you were attempting to say. As such, you’ve now gone from just peddling a categorically incorrect statement to also displaying a lack of dignity to admit what your patent falsehoods.

Still, all that is once again beside the point, because the US doesn’t even rank first among developed nations; Estonia (5.2), Argentina (5.5), Lithuania (6.6), the Republic of Seychelles (8.3) and Barbados (11.3) all rank above the US.


“You categaorically shoot your own feet.”

I’m just going to leave this link here; you probably won’t understand why, but any others unfortunate enough to have read your posts will.


Since I assume any future posts by you will be more of the same, I’m just going to note I’m not going to leave another reply here unless you can actually provide a sensible, cohesive, and supported post; so, effectively, I’m leaving things off here. My parting advice is the same I’ve given to so many irrational posters and trolls before you: Unless you radically improve, any additional posts you leave here or anywhere will just serve to embarrass yourself further.

August 7, 2013 at 04:43

@Oro Invictus: According to the graph in your first reference, China's pollutants per capita(7.5 tonnes) is way lower than USA (17.5 tonnes) and is still less than EU (12.5 tonnes).  If death is pollutant related, then death should increase with increase in pollutants and not decrease.  The USA murdeer rate cannot be compared among the murderous nations.  It should be compared among .  similarly developed nations.  In that case, USA murder rate of 4.8 is highest among Japan, France, UK, Canada, Germany, Spain, Italy, India, Poland, China(1.0).  You categaorically shoot your own feet.

Oro Invictus
August 6, 2013 at 09:39

@ thmak

“China produce air pollutants per capita far less than the developed nations”

Actually that’s utterly false; the PRC has reached per capita consumption levels on par with European levels (they do produce a good deal less [read: not far less] than the US, Canada, and Russia, though).


“So if you said that PRC's air pollution kills millions of Chinese, then the developed nations' air pollution, specially USA, would kill more.”

Once again, completely wrong; the US suffers 50,000 premature deaths per year due to air pollution, compared to the PRC’s 1.2 million. Relatively speaking, the per capita death rate is six times higher for the PRC than the US (and about three times as high when compared to the US during its industrialization). What’s more the, US’ death rate due to air pollution has been decreasing while the PRC’s has been increasing… A lot.


“Remember, USA has the highest murder rate in the world.”

… What did I just say about these sorts of “contests”?

In any case, that one is also ridiculously incorrect; the US murder rate is ranked 52nd globally at 4.8 per 100,000 individuals.


I have to ask, are you trying to satirize pro-CPC commentators or something? Because I haven’t seen comments that catastrophically laden with misinformation here for quite a while.

August 6, 2013 at 01:47

@Kim's Uncle:  You are illusioned to say USA overthrew a tyrant Saddam Hussein. USA replaced Saddam as a tryrant, imposing USA's rule of law on the Iraq's people in violation of their freedom of Choice.  Iraqi people didn't request or vote for USA to invade their country.  USA invaded Iraq under variuous false pretenses of WMD. US overthrew the Taliban for their educational policy.  Can a foreign country overthrow US government because that country doesn't like USA's allowance of same sex marriage.  This will certainly upsetting you more.  Saddam didn't invade, occupy, threaten and interfere militarily other countries for a long time like what USA has been doing for the past 10+ years under various pretenses.

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