Chinese paramilitary are flexing their big red muscles in Xinjiang after more clashes last week left 35 dead.
According to Agence France-Presse, the central government is making sure residents of Urumqi don’t get any revolutionary ideas.
“Tanks, military vehicles, and armed personnel blocked access to streets in Xinjiang’s capital Urumqi, where at least 1,000 personnel carried out the exercise, an AFP reporter present at the scene said, with large sections of the city’s center shut down.”
The show of force comes days ahead of the fourth anniversary of the July 5 riots in Urumqi between Uighur minority and Han residents, which left almost 200 dead.
Since the 2009 riots, racial and political tensions between Uighur minorities and local police have spurred attacks on journalists, dump-truck-machete-grenade ambushes and a rash of stabbings using hypodermic needles.
Besides the July 5 riots in 2009 and “needle riots,” Xinjiang has seen bombings and other “terrorist attacks” that are usually hastily labeled as religious extremism by the central government.
They also reinforce the stereotype that Xinjiang is the “wild west” of China. From the state-run Global Times:
“Two days after the attack in Turpan, a popular tourist site with few media reports of riots or terrorist attacks in the past, more than 100 people riding on motorcycles and wielding knives attacked a local police station in Moyu county, Hotan in southern Xinjiang.”
It’s a big mess, but you may go a bit crazy too if you hadn’t been independent in hundreds of years.