Chinese president visits restive Xinjiang region

 In this photo taken on Saturday, Aug. 22, 2009 and released by China's Xinhua News Agency Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2009, Chinese President Hu Jintao, right,...

China Unrest

In this photo taken on Saturday, Aug. 22, 2009 and released by China's Xinhua News Agency Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2009, Chinese President Hu Jintao, right,...

President Hu Jintao made his first trip to China's restive western region of Xinjiang since last month's deadly ethnic riots, urging government officials and security forces to focus on maintaining stability and warning separatists that they are "doomed to fail."
China Central Television on Tuesday showed Hu meeting with ethnic groups and local residents, visiting factories and talking with military troops.
"You should make upholding social stability the most urgent task and maintain great strength to ensure triumph in the struggle to maintain stability in Xinjiang," Hu told a group of soldiers and police who had been involved in quelling violence that the government says left nearly 200 people dead and 1,700 injured.
The official Xinhua News Agency said Hu also visited villages, farms, a shipping center and an oil base in Xinjiang and met with the widow of a Chinese policemen killed in the riots.
The unrest was China's worst ethnic rioting in decades, exposing deep anger among minority Uighurs (pronounced WEE-gers) and prompting outrage among the majority Han Chinese.
Violence broke out July 5 after police stopped an initially peaceful protest by Uighur youths, prompting crowds to smash windows, burn cars and attack Han Chinese. Two days later, Han vigilantes carried out revenge attacks on Uighurs.
Uighurs have long complained of discrimination and economic marginalization by Han migrants who have flooded into Xinjiang since Communist troops entered the region in 1949. Like Tibetans, another restive minority, many Uighurs say they were independent for much of their history.
The ethnic violence shook China's leadership, prompting Hu to cut short a trip to a G-8 summit in Italy to return home to deal with the domestic crisis.
On Tuesday, Hu said any separatist groups seeking independence in China would not succeed.
"The victory of this struggle fully showed the power of the party and the people," he said. "The splittist forces are doomed to fail and their sabotage activities will not shake the overall situation of the stable development of the reform in Xinjiang."
Hu said China would continue to focus on economic construction, uphold social stability and the development of all ethnic groups.
Beijing has repeatedly accused exiled Uighur activist Rebiya Kadeer of fomenting the recent riots, but has offered little proof.
Authorities have also accused two Web sites of encouraging the violence. The founder of one of the sites, economist Ilham Tohti, said earlier this week that following the riots he was detained for more than a month of questioning by secret police.
Tohti, an ethnic Uighur who teaches economics at a university in Beijing, told U.S.-funded Radio Free Asia that he was released Saturday without charge but was warned he could still be tried and executed. He said police came to his home late Monday and cautioned him against speaking out against the government's handling of the riots.
Calls to Tohti's phone went directly to voicemail Wednesday.
Tohti's Chinese-language Web site, which had became a lively forum about Uighur life and views, was criticized by Xinjiang Gov. Nur Bekri immediately after the riots for allegedly helping to orchestrate the violence and spread propaganda.
Tohti's academic work has focused on the sensitive topic of how Chinese policies that encourage Han Chinese to move into Xinjiang have disadvantaged and marginalized native Uighurs.

Updated : 2021-04-12 03:08 GMT+08:00