Chinese news has reported that public security forces have arrested 139 people to prevent the spread of religious extremism in Xinjiang, a province whose capital Urumqi is 1,500 miles west of Beijing in northwest China. Xinjiang’s population is composed of 46 percent Uighurs, a predominantly Muslim ethnic minority. According to state-run media, the arrests, which took place between June 26 and Aug. 31, were aimed at reducing the occurrence of terrorist attacks in the region. Alleged offenders were arrested for disseminating jihadist media, separatism, and spreading rumors. There is some debate, however, that the arrests are a simple matter of cracking down on terrorism. In the BBC’s coverage of the arrests they quote a spokesperson for the World Uighur Congress, who claims that the arrests are part of ongoing government suppression in Xinjiang following regional unrest this summer. The series of clashes included an incident on June 26 in the township of Lukqun, 125 miles southeast of Urumqi, which has been the deadliest incident since riots broke out in the region in 2009 and was labeled a “terrorist attack” by the government. Chinese state media reports that the group that carried out the attack viewed videos promoting religious extremism. (BBC, China Daily, Xinjiang Daily, Oct. 8; South China Morning Post, Oct. 9, 2013)
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SR: The Week’s China Reads
Every week, China Program’s Senior Advisor Dr. Robert A. Kapp compiles a reading list and provides commentary, for you to better understand China.
Robert A. Kapp is senior advisor to the China Program at the Carter Center. He has been principal of Robert A. Kapp and Associates, a business consulting firm, since 2004. From 1994 through 2004 he served as President of the United States-China Business Council…