Noting that the major autonomous regions have seen growing numbers of protests, riots, and violence over the years, RFA talks about why:
Chinese commentators said the slew of recent attacks in Xinjiang, where many Uyghurs are deeply resentful of Chinese rule, show that Beijing’s policy on ethnic minorities has gone badly wrong.
“Obviously, acts of terrorist violence against ordinary people are completely wrong; there’s no argument about that,” said Wuhan-based veteran democracy activist Qin Yongmin. “Anyone with eyes can see that the ethnic conflict in Xinjiang has intensified in the past few decades.”
But he said the violence shouldn’t be viewed as simply a rise in the amount of “terrorist incidents.”
“There were also serious ethnic clashes in Xinjiang during the 1960s. The government took a much more magnanimous approach towards the Uyghur people at this time, and they suppressed the Han backlash quite harshly,” Qin said.
“But it also set a precedent, which was to take away all the rights that the the entire ethnic group should have enjoyed.”
Qin said that authoritarian government was bound to lead to ethnic conflict, and to turn that conflict into a stalemate.
“From the point of view of the ethnic minorities, they don’t see it as a problem of authoritarianism, but as one of ethnic conflict,” he said. “Their experience is that the Han Chinese government is persecuting them.”
Zhang Ming, politics professor at Renmin University’s school of international relations, also said that Beijing’s ethnic policies “are flawed.”
“They appear to contain a lot of positive discrimination, but actually they are very discriminatory,” he said
“Only policies which give people equal treatment on an equal footing will lead to a relationship of equality,” Zhang said.
Macau-based military affairs analyst Huang Dong said that violent incidents have been on the rise in all of the ethnic “autonomous regions” in recent years.
“There have been outbreaks of violence, one after another, in a number of ethnic minority regions recently,” he said.
“This shows that the government’s ethnic minority policies are inappropriate.”
It’s always nice to see Chinese commentators willing to break with the official explanation of ‘some bad guys from outside China did it.’ That some of them hold positions in schools and universities gives me hope, too.