Friday, September 4, 2009



The authorities of China's Xinjiang Autonomous Region have issued a notification banning all public demonstrations with immediate effect.Anyone, who holds or organises a public demonstration without the prior permission of the authorities or
participates in such a demonstration will be liable to be arrested and prosecuted. The notification says: "In case of violations,the public security department will disperse those gathered, and detain those who disobey the order."

2. Zhang Hong, the Deputy Mayor of Urumqi, held a press conference on September 4,2009, to give details of the situation. From the details given by him, it appeared that the five persons, whose deaths were reported earlier, had died during the demonstrations on September 3 and not due to the syringe attacks. He did not clarify whether the deaths occurred due to the People's Armed Police opening fire on the
demonstrators. However, he said that of the five who died, two were found to be innocent. There have been unconfirmed reports that some Uighurs, whom Han mobs suspected to be needle-stabbers, had died due to lynching.

3. The following are some of the details given at the press conference

On September 4, the situation was basically under control in the city.Small crowds gathered "in a few locations" , but soon dispersed and nobody was killed.

Syringe attacks have resulted in panic and resentment from the public.Suspects were caught on September 2 when attacking members of the public. They were beaten by an angry crowd and one was seriously injured.

Five people have been confirmed dead and 14 others injured and hospitalized following the protests of September 3.Of the five dead,two had been confirmed as innocent civilians, while police are trying to identify the remaining three.

Investigations showed those carrying out the syringe attacks were from the Uighur ethnic group while the attacked included Han Chinese and other ethnic groups.By September 3, local hospitals had dealt with 531 victims of hypodermic syringe stabbings, 106 of whom showed obvious signs of needle attacks.The attacks were premeditated and organized to create terror in society.

"The 'three forces' (separatism, terrorism and extremism) at home and abroad are not willing to see ethnic unity and their failure when he July 5 violence died down quickly.So they are using 'soft violence' to disrupt social order and instigate ethnic hatred."

4. The Government-controlled Xinhua news agency disseminated the following report at 10 PM Beijing time on September 4: "According to the directive of superiors, a quarantine experts team from the PLA Military Academy of Medical Sciences arrived at Urumqi by air on the evening of September 3, to join local authorities in the examination and identification of the injuries by syringe attacks on some of the local people." ( 5-9-09)

( 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: )



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."



Less than a month before the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China, President Hu Jintao and the Chinese Communist Party face a serious challenge to their authority from the Uighurs as well as the Hans of the Xinjiang Autonomous Region.

2. The repressive measures taken by the local authorities of the province against the Uighurs following the disturbances of July 5/6,2009, at Urumqi in which 197 persons---the majority of them Han Chinese---were killed, have not brought the situation totally under control. After a lull of about six weeks, large numbers of Uighurs---including some women--- reportedly motivated by the pro-Al Qaeda Islamic Movement of Eastern Turkestan (IMET) have again succeeded in creating a growing feeling of insecurity among the Hans by organising a large number of stabbing incidents with hypodermic syringe needles on Hans ---including children--- in public places. These attacks started on August 17,2009, and are continuing during the present holy fasting period of Ramadan.

3.There have been over 470 reports of such attacks, but only about 80 of them have reportedly been confirmed by doctors who did a physical examination of the complainants. The large number of confirmed attacks indicates that a number of Uighurs have been operating autonomously of each other, but their actions are being co-ordinated by a common command and control. The much larger number of
unconfirmed cases speak of the panic prevailing in the Han population. This panic is making many believe that they have been stabbed by a passer-by with a syringe needle. Despite the arrests of a number of suspects---including one or two allegedly caught red-handed while stabbing Hans with needles---- the local police have not been able to establish who is behind this wave of strikes and identify and arrrest their ring leaders.

4. The ineffectiveness of the police in dealing with the situation has led to a recrudescence of the anger of the Han residents of Urumqi. This is similar to the anger witnessed after the violent disturbances of July when thousands of Hans protested in the streets against the inefficiency of the police. Unnerved by this anger, President Hu Jintao, who was then in Italy to attend the G-8 summit, cancelled his participation in the summit and flew back to Beijing to order the despatch of Army and People's Armed Police reinforcements to Xinjiang in
his capacity as the Chairman of the Central Military Commission. This led to the Han anger subsiding.

5. The expectations of the Hans that an enquiry will be held to establish responsibility for the acts of negligence which led to the July disturbances and take action against those found negligent have been belied. On the contrary, during his visit to Xinjiang last month President Hu Jintao extended his backing to the local Government and party leaders for the way they had handled the situation.

6.The wave of needle stabbings and the failure of the local police to stop this and identify and arrest those responsible have led to a fresh eruption of anger among the Hans. They have been demonstrating in the streets of Urumqi since September 2. The demonstrations started on a small scale on September 2. Thousands joined the demonstrations the next day, but they obeyed the instructions of the local officials
and dispersed peacefully without creating any incident.

7. On the night of September 3, the authorities imposed an undeclared curfew by banning vehicular movements and gatherings of people on the main roads under the guise of regulating traffic.They also inducted a large number of People's Armed Police units from outside Urumqi who took up positions at sensitive points of the city and outside main government and party offices. They ordered the closure of all
educational institutions on September 4 and the local mosques to cancel their Ramadan Friday prayers. Police vans fittled with public address systems moved around the city appealing to the people to stay in their houses.

8. Despite this, hundreds of Han residents of the city started coming into the streets around mid-day in different parts of the city to demonstrate against the failure of the authorities to protect the lives and property of the Hans. Apparently afraid of a 1989 Tianenmen Square type of incident, the authorities have banned the people from gathering in the main square of the city. When a crowd of about 1000 young Hans tried to defy this ban, the People's Armed Police units dispersed them ny using tear-smoke.

9. According to reports from reliable sources, for the first time since the protests began on September 2 slogans are being shouted demanding the sacking of Wang Lequan, the head of the Communist Party of the Xinjiang Autonomous Region, who is considered a protege of President Hu. There were no slogans against Hu, but if Beijing continues to back Wang there is a danger of the Han anger turning against
Hu himself and the Central Government and party leaders.

10. The situation in Urumqi is increasingly delicate for the Central Government and party. ( 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: )