I’ve been given serious thought to the unrest situation in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR) of China. The clashes of ethnic Uighur (Muslim, Turkic-speaking) population and Han Chinese community have an eerie similarity to the Jewish and Palestinian conflicts in the Middle East, which, among other factors, is considered to have stoked worldwide Islamic extremism. Hundreds of Han Chinese armed with bats and other makeshift weapons marched in Urumqi, capital of the XUAR in the far north-west, responding to rioting by ethnic Uighur youths in the City’s People’s Square, where an illegal gathering on July 5th prompted three days of rioting in which at least 156 people were killed and more than 1,000 others injured.
I wonder if China’s undisputed emergence as an economic power make in the world could thrust it into certain stage for future terrorist operations. This scenario is not highly unlikely as there has been evidence (both historical as well as recent) of terrorism perpetrated by Muslim separatists from the XUAR. If such a link develops it would likely be along the lines of groups such as the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM). But as Nicholas Bequelin describes writes in the NYT OpEd aritcle, the backdrop is a bit more complex, resulting from China’s failed policy towards its minorities. Despite the likelihood of emergent terrorist activities, backed by transnational terrorist organizations, the impacts of such attacks are questionable due to crackdown by Chinese authorities. Just take a look at the heavy military presence that descended on XUAR following this most recent unrest.