On June 18, I published an article at SOFREP.com outlining the underlying causes for recent events in Xinjiang, China. Uighur insurrectionist activity has been highlighted in international media only in the past year, having been overshadowed by events throughout Africa, Europe, and the Middle East in the last decade. In the article, I outlined the conflict, assessing the issues of geopolitical value to Beijing, to include resource deposits and trade routes between China and Eurasian states. You can find that article here.
Over the weekend, reports of Chinese government efforts to stem the rising tide of insurgency and violence in Xinjiang began to emerge in international media outlets. Chinese security forces reportedly detained 380 people suspected of ties to the insurrection campaign that has taken the lives of dozens in Xinjiang in recent weeks:
China has arrested more than 380 suspects in the first month of a year-long crackdown on “terrorism”, media said Monday as authorities grapple to curb rising violence stemming from mainly Muslim Xinjiang.
A total of 32 “violent terrorist” gangs were broken up as part of the campaign launched after a deadly attack on a market in Xinjiang’s capital Urumqi, state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) said.
Assailants in two vehicles killed 39 people last month, one of several high-profile attacks blamed on militants from Xinjiang. In recent months these have spread beyond the far-western region and targeted ordinary citizens rather than government or security personnel. (Channel News Asia, June 23)
Chinese government reports indicate that five officers have been killed in the violence, the latest episode stemming from the lifting of a Uighur woman’s veil in Qaraqash, Hotan prefecture:
Five police officers have been killed in a pre-dawn attack on a security checkpoint in China’s restive far-western region of Xinjiang after government officials harassed ethnic minority Muslim women wearing head scarves and men with beards, according to police and residents.
Unknown assailants on Friday stabbed two police officers guarding the checkpoint in Qaraqash (in Chinese, Moyu) county in southwestern Hotan prefecture and then set fire to a room in the building where three police officers were taking a nap, police said. (Radio Free Asia, June 22)
Al Jazeera reports that Uighur prisoners have been confessing to participating in insurrectionist violence:
A suspect of an attack in China has confessed that he had been influenced to carry out a “holy war” in the western region of Xinjiang, China’s state television said.
CCTV reported on Sunday that Mu’er Zhati was one of three attackers that entered a games room in Hotan city last week, and used axes to slash at people playing mahjong.
Mu’er made the TV confession in Uighur, the language of the native Muslim Uighurs who are seeking more autonomy from Beijing.
Mu’er, shown with a bandage on his head, said he was sorry for his behaviour.
A surveillance video, which captured the attack, showed the mahjong players fighting back with chairs, and the three attackers running outside.
The attackers were later stopped from escaping by other people armed with sticks until security forces arrived. The other two attackers were seriously injured and died, while four civilians were wounded, authorities said. (Al Jazeera, June 22)
As Beijing seeks to quell the quickly escalating insurgent movement in Xinjiang, the geopolitical consequences (outlined in my article at SOFREP) will continue to cast a dark shadow over the tactics and strategy.
Essential Intrigue links are below.
- The Silk Road (Business Standard)
- Putin compromises? (The Washington Post)
- Kosovo heats up. (BBC)
- China and Vietnam continue to rattle sabers. (The Wall Street Journal)
Latest posts by Eric Jones (see all)
- Overwatch: the Foreign Intrigue Podcast, Episode 2 (United States Presidential Candidates and Foreign Policy) - 15 February 2016
- Overwatch: the Foreign Intrigue Podcast, Episode 1 (Foreign Policy and the US Presidential Election) - 8 February 2016
- Central Asia at a Crossroads: Introduction and Overview - 30 December 2015