The recent violent crackdown on the protestors belonging to the Uygur Muslim minority in the Western Chinese province of Xinjiang is extensively covered in the state-run Chinese press. China Daily emphasises the fact that order has been restored to the region. It then goes on to mention the 140 dead, 800 injured.
It says the unrest was masterminded by the World Uygur Congress led by Rebiya Kadeer from Washington. The paper points to appeals made online for Uygurs to protest after an incident in a toy factory where two Uygur workers were killed after a brawl between Han Chinese and Uygur workers.
Inside, the focus is on shops and businesses that were targeted by the rioters. “Many store owners said they felt lucky just to be alive.” It cites the number of Han and Uygur people injured: 233 Han and 39 Uygur… tragic but not as tragic as the 140 plus killed largely through police violence, one would think.
Say no to riots, the editorial reads. It goes onto say Xinjiang - the autonomous region with a high Muslim population where the riots occurred - “will never be separated from China.” It is highly critical of separatists and their “quick-tempered youth”. “Their destruction is evidence of how these elements pursue their hideous cause… all nationalities in Xinjiang will appreciate the need for…stronger security to protect their peaceful lives.”
The Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post provides a more comprehensive and balanced picture of Sunday’s violence in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang. It says 156 were killed in the lockdown, calling it the worst explosion in ethnic tensions in the region in decades.
Inside there is more coverage with one article titled, “How a peaceful protest turned into a bloody ethnic vendetta.” There are differing accounts of how the violence started; some say Uygur protestors started the violence while others say it sparked by the police as they tried to disperse the demonstrations.
Another article says tension has been brewing below the surface for some time. A policy of encouraging the majority Han ethnic population to “Go West” to Xinjiang and other provinces in the 90s has left many local ethnicities feeling discriminated against. Despite a rising GDP in Xinjiang, many Uygurs say they feel no happier than before.
The editorial also picks up on this saying this is the worst case of innocent lives being lost to unrest in China since Tiananmen Square. It says there are serious problems with Beijing’s manner of governing the province – tensions are inevitable with the Uygur feeling they’re not treated as equals. The editorial is also quite severe regarding the violence of the protestors themselves – “there is never an excuse to resort to violence,” the editorial concludes.
The Russian press has wall-to-wall coverage of Barack Obama’s visit.
Vremya leads with the headline, ‘Restart Button’, a reference to the diplomatic efforts being made during this trip to give Russian-American relations a fresh start.
In the Moscow Times, there are two opinion pieces worth noting. One is written by Mikhail Khodorkovsky, an oligarch jailed by Putin. He says that democracy will come to Russia eventually but in its own good time. As regards the American attitude that Russia needs to be ruled by a strongman and will never make the transition to open democracy, he says “Nobody has the right to say that Russians are genetically unfit for democracy.”
However Khodorkovsky says that regardless of this, one of the big problems today in Russia is a lack of trust by the citizens in state institutions. He has faith in Medvedev but says he needs to make good on his pledges to reform the judiciary. This would include freeing thousands of prisoners unjustly convicted of crimes. Both Obama and Medvedev are positive leaders he says and he hopes these problems will be discussed.
Another opinion piece says there is no chance of the US and Russia resolving their strategic differences. Obama will not give Medvedev carte blanche in their spheres of influence and tensions will remain over who controls what in the former Soviet states.
Finally, all the papers are covering Michael Jackson seeing as today is the day he will be laid to rest in LA. The Daily Mirror in the U.K. has an article which says Jackson wanted to be cloned! He reportedly attended a conference on cloning with his long-time friend Uri Geller and told him, “I really want to do it Uri, and I don’t care how much it costs!”
As it turned out, there was and always will be only one Michael Jackson…