By B. Raman
According to a belated report disseminated by Radio Free Asia, there has been a suicide attack in the interior areas of Xinjiang.
Coinciding with the observance of the Chinese National Day on October 1, 2012, an unidentified motorcyclist reportedly drove into a post of the People’s Armed Police at Kargilik (in Chinese Yecheng) in the Kashgar Prefecture causing an explosion which killed a number of policemen. A local villager has been quoted as saying that the PAP post suffered about 20 casualties, but there has been no confirmation of the details of the attack from the local authorities.
This area had seen three incidents since December last. In the December incident, the Chinese border authorities allegedly shot dead seven Uighurs-including some women and children– who were trying to illegally flee to Pakistan through the Guma area. After the incident, they projected them as terrorist suspects.
In the second incident, believed to be in retaliation for this, 20 persons, mostly Han Chinese, were stabbed to death in the Kargilik area in February. The third incident on October 1,2012, is also believed to be in retaliation for the December incident.
For the last one month, the Chinese authorities have stepped up physical security in the Xinjiang province as a precautionary measure before the forthcoming 18th Congress of the Communist Party of China on November 8. Despite this, the suicide attack of October 1 has taken place. Following this suicide attack, more PAP units from outside the province have been inducted into Xinjiang to further tighten security.
Meanwhile, like the Tibetan diaspora, representatives of the Uighur diaspora have also held on October 1 a brain-storming session at Munich in Germany to discuss the likely policies of the new CPC leadership which will be taking over on November 8 towards the Uighurs. Mr.Xi Jinping will be taking over as the General Secretary of the Party from Mr.Hu Jintao. He will take over as the State President from Mr.Hu in March next year.
Xi is the son of liberal-minded former Vice Premier Xi Zhongxun, who was purged from the CPC ahead of the Cultural Revolution. Before his purge, it used to be said that he was sympathetic to the ethnic minorities and had a close personal friendship with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Moreover, the wife of Mr.Xi Jinping is reported to be a practising Buddhist.
Despite these factors, Mr.Xi Jinping has till now subscribed to the party’s two-pronged policy of firm enforcement of law and order in Tibet and Xinjiang and a rapid economic development of these areas in order to bring them on par with the economic development in the Han areas of China. He has also been subscribing to the policy of stepped-up Han migration to these areas to give the Hans an effective control.
In view of this, any hopes among members of the Tibetan and Uighur diaspora abroad that Mr. Xi Jinping might soften the policy towards the ethnic minorities may not be based on reality.