An explosion in China’s restive Xinjiang province has once again raised fears of a repeat of last July’s violent riots.
The explosion in Aksu city in western Xinjiang killed seven people and injured another 14. It comes hot on the heels of an announcement in June that police had arrested 10 Uighurs accused of plotting a string of attacks in Xinjiang.
It is interesting to note that just before the blasts occurred, the provincial governor of Xinjiang was giving a speech in which he warned that, “I believe we face a long and fierce and very complicated struggle. Separatism in Xinjiang has a very long history, it was there in the past, it is still here now and it will continue in the future.”
Ethnic tensions remain high between Muslim Uighurs and the Han Chinese. Many Uighurs feel that they are missing out on most of the benefits of economic development because of the large number of Han Chinese migrants that flood into the region.
Any new violence in Xinjiang is taken extremely seriously by the authorities in Beijing. Many of the troops stationed throughout the province in the wake of the July 2009 riots will be on high alert over the next few weeks, and any new attacks risk a new spiral of popular unrest and government reprisals.
Interestingly, neither Xinhua nor China Daily have carried the story as of yet.