China mulls moving restive Uighurs to mainland regions
Chinese leader Xi Jinping was quoted as saying that the government state should relocate Uighurs to Han-dominant parts of China for education and work, “to enhance mutual understanding.”
The New York Times
BEIJING — As the Communist Party struggles to tamp down a deadly wave of ethnic violence in Xinjiang, the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, has called for tighter state control over religion and for moving more Uighurs from Xinjiang to other parts of China, where they can be educated and work among the Han, the nation’s dominant ethnic group.
Xi spoke at a two-day work session on Xinjiang in Beijing, attended by the party’s top officials. He said the party and the state should establish “correct views about the motherland and the nation” among all of China’s ethnic groups, so that people of every background will recognize the “great motherland,” the “Chinese nation,” “Chinese culture” and “the socialist path with Chinese characteristics.”
Xi’s remarks were summarized in an article by Xinhua, the state news agency, that was widely printed in state-run newspapers Friday.
Xi also defended the party’s recent policies in Xinjiang, even though those policies have led to frustration among many Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking people who mostly practice a moderate form of Sunni Islam.
“Practice has proved that our party’s ruling strategy in Xinjiang is correct and must be maintained in the long run,” Xi said.
The Xinhua article said Xi spoke of a “special policy” he planned to put in place for the development of southern Xinjiang, which has a large Uighur population. That policy, he said, would use “special measures” to “deal with special things.” The article did not give specifics.
Another state media report Friday detailed extensive new security measures in Beijing, linking some of them to “anti-terrorism.”
Security forces in the Chinese capital have been on high alert in recent weeks for any political activity leading up to the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre on June 4, 1989. The police have detained or questioned dozens of liberal Chinese.
The report on Beijing security said 850,000 civilian volunteers would begin patrolling city streets to help police maintain stability, and 100,000 people would help with information collection. The report said civilians would be paid 40,000 renminbi, or about $6,500, if they turn in information that is critical to security.
Security officials in Xinjiang have also been taking new measures. According to an article Thursday in Caixin, a respected newsmagazine, security forces were taking “temporary control” of popular online messaging services.
Most of China’s Uighurs live in oasis towns in the desert areas of southern Xinjiang, in border areas to the west, or in enclaves in the region’s capital, Urumqi.
The Communist Party’s policies in Xinjiang have included developing natural-resource industries, including oil, gas and coal extraction, an approach that mostly benefits ethnic Han.
Officials have freely used mainly Han security forces to suppress ethnic unrest.
The party has also encouraged substantial Han migration into Xinjiang, including to large settlements called bingtuan, some decades old, that have military ties. The Han, including recent settlers, dominate most industries across Xinjiang.
Xinhua quoted Xi as saying a reverse migration should also be encouraged: The state should relocate Uighurs to Han-dominant parts of China for education and work, “to enhance mutual understanding among different ethnic groups and boost ties between them.”
A similar policy of promoting Uighur internal migration and employment in Han companies was a major factor in setting off the deadly ethnic rioting in Urumqi in 2009, which killed about 200 people, most of them Han.
The deadliest recent burst of violence in Xinjiang took place May 22, when attackers drove two cars into a morning market in Urumqi crowded with older Han shoppers and threw homemade explosives from the cars. At least 39 people were killed, and 94 were injured. The cars exploded, and four attackers died at the scene.
The state media later announced the detention of a fifth person. All the suspects had Uighur names, according to state news reports. No group claimed responsibility for the attack.