China ramps up efforts to stop deadly ethnic violence
This is unusual in China.
3o years ago there would
have been tanks in the streets,
mass arrests. It seems China is
slowly moving away from the
past, while still using force at times.
Uighurs are a Turkic ethnic group who follow Sunni Islamic
religion. They are the native eople of Xinjiang, a province in
north west China. Communist China took control of the
region in 1949. 18 million people living in Xinjiang, 47
percent Uighurs, 40 percent Chinese with other smaller
ethnic groups. Chinese were 6 percent in 1949 but large
numbers have moved there.
Reporting from Urumqi, China, and Beijing -- In an escalating campaign to stamp out ethnic violence, Chinese forces saturated the city of Urumqi, helicopters dropped leaflets urging calm, and the local Communist party boss warned of the death penalty for rioters convicted of killings.
"We're determined to maintain social stability," said Urumqi's Communist Party chief, Li Zhi, at a press conference today. "To those who committed crimes with cruel means, we will execute them."
China seems determined to restore peace.
Thousands of Chinese troops flooded into this city Wednesday to separate feuding ethnic groups after three days of communal violence left 156 people dead, and a senior Communist Party official vowed to execute those guilty of murder in the rioting in western China.
Long convoys of armored cars and green troop trucks with riot police rumbled through Urumqi, a city of 2.3 million people. Other security forces carrying automatic rifles with bayonets formed cordons to defend Muslim neighborhoods from marauding groups of vigilantes with sticks.
Military helicopters buzzed over Xinjiang's regional capital, dropping pamphlets urging people to stay in their homes and stop fighting. Special police from other provinces were called in to patrol the city.
The crisis was so severe that President Hu Jintao cut short a trip to Italy, where he was to participate in a Group of Eight summit. It was an embarrassing move for a leader who wants to show that China has a harmonious society as it prepares to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Communist rule.