The situation has deteriorated in Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang Autonomous Region of China. The Chinese authorities admitted on the evening of September 4,2009 that there have been five deaths without specifying when the deaths occurred
and whether they were due to the incidents of needle stabbings or due to the clashes between the Han protesters and the People's Armed Police.
2. Either way, it is a serious development.If the deaths were due to needle stabbings, this would indicate that the needles were poison-tipped. If the deaths were due to clashes, it shows the increasingly defiant mood of the Han protesters.
3. Reflecting the seriousness of the situation, China's Public Security Minister Meng Jianzhu, who is responsible for internal intelligence and internal security, rushed to Urumqi on September 4,2009, for discussions on the situation with the local authorities and to appeal to the Han community to maintain calm.
4. Annexed is a report on his arrival at Urumqi disseminated by the State-controlled Xinhua news agency on the night of September 4,2009. (4-9-09)
( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. He is also associated with the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail:
( Text of Xinhua despatch of September 4,2009, disseminated at 8 PM Beijing time)
China's Public Security Minister Meng Jianzhu arrived in Urumqi, capital of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Friday to direct work to defuse ongoing unrest in the city.
Meng, also a State Councillor, urged local governments and Communist Party of China (CPC) committees at all levels in Xinjiang "to restore social order as soon as possible."
"Maintaining stability is the central task of overriding importance in Xinjiang at the present time," he said in a meeting with local officials.
Meng said the recent syringe attacks, which were premeditated, masterminded and conducted by law-breakers and instigated by ethnic separatist forces, were a continuation of the July 5 incident in the city. He said their purpose was to
undermine ethnic unity.
"Fellow citizens of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang should sharpen vigilance and not be fooled by law-breakers," he said.
The police chief said legal proceedings against suspects arrested in the July 5 violence should be accelerated. Those who were responsible should be discovered and murderers should be punished according to the law.
Meng held discussions with Urumqi residents during which he said traffic controls imposed in the city on Thursday aimed to ensure normal social order and asked for their understanding, support and cooperation.
He also warned "those involved in violence, assaults, vandalism, looting and burning, and those who disrupt social order by different means or undermine ethnic unity, shall be punished according to the law without exception, whatever their ethnicity is."