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Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Division by the Han

Just the article I needed!


China misfires with divisive 'people's war'
By Wu Zhong, China Editor
Source (Date of Access 2 September 2008)

"HONG KONG - Chinese leaders can now let out a long and satisfied sigh of relief: the Beijing Summer Olympic Games have ended safely and without the interruption of any unsightly incident.
But the security of the Games was not achieved without cost. Certain heavy-handed tactics served to polarize China's ethnic groups and the government must now devote greater efforts to establishing solidarity between them. This is particularly important considering the growing distrust of the majority Han ethnic bloc towards the minority Tibetan and the Uyghur people.

China's Han majority accounts for over 90% of the country's 1.3 billion population. Many Han believe the successful Olympics
came at a great national price. They were humiliated and angry when the Olympic flame was dogged by Tibetan independence activists in overseas torch relays. They were shocked and outraged on hearing that the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), an exiled group seeking independence for Xinjiang, had threatened to launch terror attacks against Olympic venues.

A series of terrorist attacks did rock Kashi and Kuqa in Xinjiang before and after the opening of the Games, leaving dozens dead, including policemen. According to Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang, the ETIM is suspected in the attacks.

Still, subsequent terror strikes in Xinjiang were successfully contained and Beijing and China's other venue cities were not attacked. This was due in part to tightened security in Xinjiang, but also to the so-called "people's war" launched by authorities against attempted sabotage of the Olympics.

In the long term, however, the "people's war" may have increased the Han majority's suspicion of Tibetan and Uyghur minorities.

Following the first terror attack on armed police in Kashi on August 4, the Beijing Municipal State Security Bureau, the city's secret police, posted public notices asking citizens to alert them to suspicious persons or anything that "attempts to create ethnic conflicts, instigate national secession and threaten national security", media in Beijing reported. It was unusual for the State Security Bureau to make such a high-profile move. Reading the Chinese text, it was easily understood that Uyghur and Tibetan "separatists" were targeted.

Society in Beijing is well organized. In collaboration with a local police, several community committees (jumin weiyuanhui) are set up to help maintain social order. Members of such committees are normally housewives, retired cadre or workers familiar with the community. They keep an eye on strangers and inform the police of any abnormal happenings. Despite the rapid expansion of the city and increased social mobility, the system remains intact.

And with the recent surge of nationalist and patriotic sentiment, Beijing residents - who are mostly Han - were more than enthusiastic to help contain any attempt to sabotage the Olympics. Tibetans and Uyghurs generally have different physical characteristics from Hans and could be easily identified when arriving in a typical Beijing neighborhood. For ambitious Tibetan and Uyghur activists, the secret police notice must have been, at the very least, a deterrent..."

Full article here...