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China Tries to Calm Urumqi as Mobs Take to Streets

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Bloomberg News
Tuesday, July 7, 2009

July 7 (Bloomberg) — Hundreds of Chinese from rival ethnic groups fought each other with machetes, metal pipes and bricks in the northwestern city of Urumqi, overcoming police attempts to quell the deadliest clashes in decades.

Police fired tear gas to prevent a mob of Han Chinese from avenging rioting by ethnic Uighurs that left at least 156 dead. The fighting came after thousands of Chinese armed with knives and steel bars clashed with police in Urumqi, capital of the westernmost province of Xinjiang.


The violence illustrates China’s failure to address simmering grievances among its minorities, who complain of restrictions on religious and cultural practices. Beijing’s policy of investing billions of dollars to placate the restive territories of Tibet and Xinjiang has also led to migration by the Han, who make up more than 90 percent of the country’s population, exacerbating tensions.

“Beijing is insistent that Xinjiang, like Tibet, is an integral part of China,” said Jonathan Fenby, director of China research in London at Trusted Sources, a research group. “It’s very difficult to see how either side is going to give way. The prognosis must be for continued unrest, continued tension, and, I’m afraid, outbreaks of violence like this.”

Full story here.

This article was posted: Tuesday, July 7, 2009 at 8:23 am

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