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China warns of reprisals in Algeria after unrest

APTOPIX China Protest

China warns of reprisals in Algeria after unrest

URUMQI, China – China’s embassy in Algeria has warned Chinese companies and workers to be on guard for attacks after an Islamist Web site called for retaliation for Beijing’s response to unrest in its predominantly Muslim western province.

A notice posted late Tuesday on the embassy’s Web site follows a torrent of ethnic clashes this month that left at least 184 dead in Xinjiang’s capital of Urumqi. Riots by Muslim Uighurs and subsequent fighting between Uighurs and members of the Han Chinese majority were the worst ethnic violence China has seen in decades.

“In light of the (riots), the Chinese Embassy in Algeria reminds Chinese-funded companies and personnel to enhance security awareness and strengthen security measures,” the notice said.

In recent days, postings on an Islamist Web site in the Arab world suggested killing Han Chinese in the Middle East, noting there are large communities of ethnic Chinese laborers working in Algeria and Saudi Arabia.

Urumqi was calm Wednesday, although security was tight, especially near Uighur areas after Monday’s fatal shooting of two Uighurs by police. The city government says the two — and third man, who was wounded — attacked police trying to break up a fight.

China has been worried that the violence may overshadow its good relations with Muslim countries. Turkey has already called the unrest “a kind of genocide.” The Turkic-speaking Uighurs share cultural and ethnic bonds with Turks.

On Tuesday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang appealed for understanding of China’s handling of the unrest and rejected assertions it would hurt Beijing’s ties with Muslim countries.

“If they have a clear idea about the true nature of the incident, they would understand China’s policies concerning religion and religious issues and understand the measures we have taken,” he told a regular news conference.

An editorial in the China Daily, the official English-language newspaper, said Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan “would be well advised to take back his remarks,” calling them a “groundless and irresponsible accusation.”

Qin said the July 5 riots “were aimed at sabotaging China and sabotaging ethnic unity. It was orchestrated by the three forces (terrorism, religious extremism and separatism) in and outside of China.”

The July 5 riots began when Uighurs who were protesting last month’s deaths of fellow factory workers in a brawl in southern China clashed with police. Crowds scattered throughout the city, attacking ethnic Han Chinese and burning cars.

Uighurs, who number 9 million in Xinjiang, have complained about an influx of Han Chinese and government restrictions on their Muslim religion. They accuse the Han of discrimination and the Communist Party of trying to erase their language and culture.

Han Chinese, many of whom were encouraged to emigrate to Xinjiang by the government, believe the Uighurs should be grateful for the region’s rapid economic development, which has brought schools, airports and oil wells to the sprawling, rugged region the size of Texas.

China blames Rebiya Kadeer, a prominent exiled Uighur activist, for inciting the unrest. It has not provided evidence to back its claim, and Kadeer, who lives in Washington, D.C., has denied the charges. She blames government policies for exacerbating long-standing tensions between the dominant Han Chinese and the minority Muslim Uighur community.

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China bans public mourning in Urumqi

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The Chinese authorities banned public displays of mourning in the western city of Urumqi on Sunday as they sought to prevent further unrest one week after race riots claimed 184 lives.

The police published a notice banning any meetings, especially “assemblies, marches and demonstrations on public roads and at public places in the open air”.

The ban hampered families of the Chinese victims from mourning publicly on the seventh day, in accordance with Chinese tradition. Usually, families visit temples, burn fake money or invite monks to their homes to chant.

Security forces in Urumqi remain deeply concerned about the possibility of further violence, one week after a public protest by Uighur Muslims descended into mass violence and bloodshed. It took three days to restore calm, as mobs of both Uighurs and Han Chinese rampaged through the streets.

The official Xinhua news agency raised the number of injured from the riots to 1,680 yesterday. The government has also clarified that Han Chinese accounted for the majority of the dead.

Zhou Yongkang, the security minister, toured Xinjiang province yesterday, visiting the restive cities of Kashgar and Hotan. The authorities believe that a large number of the rioters in Urumqi, the provincial capital, migrated from these two poorer cities. “A large part of the criminals in the July 5 rioting were from cities 1,500km away, like Kashgar and Hotan, which shows it was organised and planned in advance,” said Li Zhi, Urumqi’s Communist Party secretary.

Mr Zhou called for a “steel wall” of security to “win the tough war of maintaining Xinjiang’s stability”. He said police should “nip all hidden dangers in the bud”, a signal that the region is likely to be subjected to a so-called “strike hard” campaign to weed out anyone seen as a troublemaker.

His words may spell trouble for the local Uighurs, whose plight has roused the sympathy of Muslims from across the Middle East. Iranian clerics became the latest group to speak out against China’s policies in the region, accusing it of “horrible” suppression.

“It is true that the Chinese government and its people have close economic and political ties with Iran and other Islamic countries, but this is no reason for them to horribly suppress our Muslim brothers and sisters,” said Grand Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirazi.

Xinjiang, dotted with oil refineries, is crucial for China’s energy supplies, making control of the province an absolute priority for Beijing.

Abundant supplies of oil and gas lie beneath the sands of the Tarim basin and Xinjiang also forms the apex of a series of pipelines funnelling energy from Russia, Kazakhstan and the rest of Central Asia to the neon cities of Beijing and Shanghai, 3,500 miles to the east.

The latest unrest in Urumqi came only days after the announcement that another pipeline will be constructed, designed to supply the power-hungry cities of southern China. “With the decrease in the oil reserves of Heilongjiang and Shandong, the strategic importance of Xinjiang and its untapped reserves grows every year,” said Ren Xianfang, an analyst at IHS Global Insight.

To capitalise on the region’s wealth, China has steadily moved Han Chinese into Xinjiang, swelling their numbers from six per cent of the population in 1949 to 40 per cent today.

Uighurs are officially banned from working in the oil industry for “security reasons” and complain that they see few economic benefits. Wang Lequan, the hardline Communist Party secretary of the province, has admitted that Beijing gets three-quarters of all the tax revenues from Xinjiang’s oil fields. He noted, however, that the region benefits from large scale central funding.

Even in the countryside, the traditionally-agrarian Uighurs feel marginalised. A quasi-military organisation, known as the Bingtuan, controls huge tracts of farmland across the province, employing more than 2.2 million people, the vast majority of whom are Han.

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China claims embassy protests show Xinjiang riots organised

af.reuters.com

China claims embassy protests show Xinjiang riots organised

BEIJING-july 13- Demonstrations against Chinese consulates in Europe and the United States show that ethnic riots in Urumqi were orchestrated, China’s state-run Xinhua news agency said Monday.

Demonstrators threw eggs, Molotov cocktails and stones at several Chinese embassies and consulates, including in Ankara, Oslo, Munich and the Netherlands, Xinhua said, after reports of rioting in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang province.

“Supporters of the East Turkestan separatists started well-orchestrated and sometimes violent attacks on Chinese embassies and consulates in several countries soon after the riots occurred last Sunday,” Xinhua said.

“The attacks against China’s diplomatic missions and the Urumqi riots seemed to be well-organised.”

Uighurs attacked Han Chinese in Urumqi on July 5 after police tried to break up a protest against fatal attacks on Uighur workers at a factory in south China. Han Chinese in Urumqi launched revenge attacks later in the week.

The official death toll now stands at 184, of which 137 were Han Chinese, who form the majority of China’s 1.3 billion population, and 46 were Uighur, a Muslim people native to Xinjiang and culturally tied to Central Asia and Turkey.

China blamed Rebiya Kadeer, an exiled Uighur businesswoman, for instigating the unrest.

Xinhua also blamed the World Uighur Congress, an umbrella group for organizations of exiled or overseas Uighurs, for the demonstrations at the embassies.

Deadly riots in Lhasa in March 2008, and a subsequent Chinese crackdown across the Tibetan plateau, also spurred a series of demonstrations at Chinese embassies in countries with a significant exile Tibetan population.

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