More on the Kashgar violence, this time from the Xinjiang Review. They attribute the problems to a growing gap between Han and Uyghur citizens which bridges the gap between ethnic conflict and class war:
During a recent trip to various cities and counties in southern Xinjiang, I heard many Han businessmen had repeatedly stated that Kashgar, as a special economic zone, is the last to get rich. It is said that within two years, the housing price has doubled in good locations in Kashi. This may explain why, in addition to political reasons, local officials and businessmen are eager to tear down old Uyghur communities and build skyscrapers in the name of economic development and ethnic harmony, a fortune-seeking pattern popular seen in many interior cities.
Since most Uyghurs are unable to “upgrade” to new apartments or to “re-model” their old houses, they have increasingly become marginalized even in their “town:” not only does the destruction of their tradition houses and business worsen their current economy, but also the coming of large number of Han officials, volunteers, merchants, police, workers, and others who benefit from the development contribute to rising prices, from housing to food.
Several Chinese scholars in Beijing have actually noticed the dilemma in state-sponsored development that on the one hand, economic development is expected to reduce ethnic tension between the Han and Uyghurs, while on the other hand, the beneficiary are mostly Han, which actually increases economic gap between the two groups and generates more ethnic problems.
In other words, violence in Xinjiang cannot be interpreted only in ethnic terms. From an economic perspective, it is also a class struggle between the poor Uyghurs and the rich Han. What complicates the Uyghur-Han relation is that it is a mixture of ethnicity and economy. The Chinese Communist Party was proud of overthrowing oppressive classes and liberating oppressed classes within the Han ethnic group in the past. Today, the class issue in Xinjiang (embodied in ethnic tension) between oppressed Uyghur and oppressor Han, coupled with international forces and influences, is a real test for China’s proletariat party if it truly represents the oppressed people, be it Uyghur or Han.
I don’t want to entirely undersell the ethnic dimension to this, but parts of that analysis certainly ring true. I have to laugh about the ‘proletariat party,’ though. It’s been some time since the Party has even pretended to aspire to anything like that, outside of downplayed rhetoric and old politics lessons.