As if a global solvency crisis and a possible rekindling of the only middle-east conflict that matters were not enough, here is China to remind everyone that keeping 1.3 billion people happy is not very easy. According to AP, "Several attackers, a policeman and three others were killed Monday during an attack on a police station in China's far western Xinjiang region, state media reported. It said other police rushed to the scene and shot dead "a number of thugs." One policeman, two hostages and a civilian were also killed, Xinhua said. A woman from the information office of Xinjiang Public Security Department in Urumqi confirmed the attack, but would not give any details. As is common with Chinese officials, she refused to give her name." To be sure the official explanation is one that breaks down the conflict along ethnic lines: the last thing the Chinese need is a spark to realize that the unhappiness they may feel (especially those without access to off balance sheet bank loans to fuel their gambling habits), is all too real.
Xinhua did not give a reason for the attack. But Xinjiang has been beset by ethnic conflict and a sometimes-violent separatist movement by Uighurs (pronounced WEE-gurs), a largely Muslim ethnic group that sees Xinjiang as its homeland. Many Uighurs resent the Han Chinese majority as interlopers.
Dilxat Raxit, spokesman for the Germany-based World Uyghur Congress, said several sources inside Xinjiang told him the violence erupted when a large group of Uighurs tried to protest in Hotan on Monday morning. A clash broke out between the demonstrators and police, he said, and police opened fire.
More than 100 Uighurs had gathered to demonstrate against alleged illegal seizures of Uighur-held land and to demand information about relatives who they said had disappeared amid a police crackdown that began after riots in the regional capital of Urumqi in 2009, Dilxat said.
Dilxat said he could not identify his sources or say where they were located in Xinjiang for fear they would face official reprisals.
The region has been especially tense since the deadly 2009 clashes erupted between predominantly Muslim Uighurs and Han Chinese migrants. Uighurs attacked Hans, overturning buses and torching shops in the regional capital of Urumqi in a riot the government says killed 197 people.
Alas, we get the feeling that this incident will be repeated elsewhere in China, this time without the benefit of the WEE-gur scapegoating.