Friday, March 7, 2014

Chicoms blame internet for terrorism

For all the (imaginary, real) trappings of prosperity China is never going to be able to afford democracy (forget liberal democracy), even to the point of unbanning youtube or facebook. This may be acceptable for most people, others I imagine simply dont care, and the miniscule number of activists do not count (or will be shouted down). But try as they might the manadarins will not be able to inoculate against derision. You dont have to do much, just quote their own statements verbatim. Mockery truly is the best policy.

Example: History and reality have shown that the Communist Party of China is a loyal representative of the interests of people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang. Socialism is a broad road of prosperity for people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang. The great homeland is a beautiful home of happy life for people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang.

The Xinjiang Room is named after the autonomous region of Xinjiang in China’s northwest, which occupies one-sixth of the nation’s landmass. Xinjiang is famous for its melons and flatbread, mosques and natural-gas reserves. If that doesn’t sound very Chinese it’s because Xinjiang culturally is much more Central Asian than East Asian. In fact, Xinjiang’s name means New Frontier, and the region was only given that appellation in 1884 when China’s Qing dynasty had conquered its population of ethnic Uighurs and other minorities. Since then, the region has chafed against rule from Beijing, which is farther from Xinjiang’s Silk Road oases than Baghdad is. Memories of two short-lived republics of East Turkestan, as some Uighurs prefer to think of their homeland, have heightened separatist dreams ever since.

For many of us, this was why we were in the room. On March 1, black-clad assailants had unleashed a terrorism spree in the southwestern Chinese city of Kunming, stabbing and slashing passersby. By the time their rampage had ended, 29 people had been killed and more than 140 injured. The government has blamed the attack on “separatists from Xinjiang” who were also terrorists bent on jihad. We wanted to know more. Who were they and where in Xinjiang were they from? Should we expect more terrorism to come from disgruntled Uighurs? Were the Kunming attackers jihadis or were they more motivated by separatism? Could there be something else too that triggered this horrific mass murder? What could the government do to win hearts and minds in a tense, restive region?

But then, a postscript: as Xinjiang’s party secretary Zhang Chunxian tried to leave the Xinjiang Room, a media scrum descended. Zhang, a Han Chinese like nearly all of the men who have held the highest-level post in the Uighur autonomous region, spoke his mind. The main reason for the terrorism in Xinjiang was, drum roll: the flow of information via the Internet. Zhang said that nearly all terrorism in Xinjiang was aided by terrorists jumping the Great Firewall constructed by China’s state censors. 


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