Hu looks for stability after riots

Hu looks for stability after riots

President says Sundays violent crime was elaborately planned by three forces

 Hu described Sunday’s riots in the regional capital Urumqi, where 156 people were killed and 1,080 wounded when minority Muslim Uighurs attacked majority Han Chinese, as a “serious violent crime elaborately planned and organised by ‘three forces’ at home and abroad,” an apparent reference to religious extremists, separatists and terrorists.

Hu, who doubles as Communist Party chief, told the decision-making Politburo late on Wednesday that local authorities should “isolate and deal a blow to the small group” of rioters and to “unite and educate the majority” of Uighurs.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang shrugged off Turkey’s call for the UN Security Council to discuss ways of ending the violence, saying Xinjiang was an internal affair.

Show of force

Thousands of Chinese troops took up position in the riot-damaged streets of Urumqi in a show of force aimed at stifling ethnic violence.

State television showed Zhou Yongkang, China’s top official in charge of security, and Public Security Minister Meng Jianzhu, reviewing camouflaged troops in Urumqi. Meng and Zhou were active in the crackdown on Tibetan areas after widespread demonstrations there last year. Some residents worried about how the two sides could ever coexist again.

Beijing cannot afford to lose its grip on Xinjiang, a vast desert territory that borders Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, which has abundant oil reserves and is China’s largest natural gas-producing region.
“This whole thing may go on for a few days, but eventually the government has to use force, there’s no question about that,” said Bo Zhiyue, senior research fellow and China politics expert at National University of Singapore’s East Asian Institute.

“Because if you don’t use force, the whole thing will snowball. It would spin out of control. Any government would have to do something about it.”

Han Chinese, who have said they feel threatened after Sunday’s violence, cheered Thursday’s show of military might as the trucks rolled into the city and took pictures. Uighur residents looked on with strained faces.

“This makes me scared and I think it’s meant to,” said a Uighur woman called Adila. “What can we do against so many soldiers?”

Authorities have posted notices in Urumqi urging rioters to turn themselves in or face stern punishment. Li Zhi, Communist Party boss of Urumqi, said he would seek the death penalty for rioters who resorted to murder in a city divided between Uighurs and Han, the country’s predominant ethnic group.

Those who gave themselves in would be treated more leniently or even avoid punishment, the notices said. Anyone who provided evidence or turned in suspects would be rewarded and protected.

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