Chinese Rioters Ignore the Police State

I thought we would put up a link to this piece from the New York Times, as it highlights how the situation in Urumqi, China has spiraled out of control – in a way that has the Russian leadership very concerned.

“Where were the police while people were being killed?” said Cheng Wei, 41, a landscaper whose neighbors, poor fruit vendors from Henan Province, lost a son in the riots. “They were completely useless.”

Large street protests that turn violent, and that officials and security forces have been powerless to stop, have been on the rise in recent years, analysts say. The government usually avoids reporting the number of protests or riots in China, but an article in January in Outlook Weekly, a policy magazine published by Xinhua, the state news agency, said there were 90,000 such events in 2006, up from 60,000 in 2003.

The central government still can completely lock down areas when it anticipates protests, as it did across the Tibetan plateau in the spring or for the 20th anniversary of the student rallies at Tiananmen Square in June. But increasingly, security forces seem to have been caught unaware.

The rampage by Uighurs on July 5 was followed for days by reprisal killings by Han vigilantes who defied police orders to refrain from violence. At least 192 people were killed and 1,721 injured in all of the violence, most of them Han, according to the government. Many Uighurs say the Uighur casualties have been severely undercounted. The Han, who dominate China, are the majority in Urumqi, even though the Uighurs, a Turkic people largely resentful of Chinese rule, are the biggest ethnic group in this western region of Xinjiang.