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Generational Dynamics Web Log for 7-Jul-2009
China's Xinjiang province is scene of violent anti-government protests

Web Log - July, 2009

China's Xinjiang province is scene of violent anti-government protests

Xinhua reports that 156 people have been killed in Urumqi, Xinjiang's capital city. Over 1,000 people were injured in the riot, according to the official Chinese government statement.


China's Xinjian province is scene of violent riots and demonstrations <font face=Arial size=-2>(Source: CS Monitor)</font>
China's Xinjian province is scene of violent riots and demonstrations (Source: CS Monitor)

The rioting occurs across an ethnic fault line. The Muslim Uighurs, of Uzbek origin, have historically occupied the Xinjiang region. However, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) government has been relocating Han Chinese into the Xinjiang region in order to dilute the Uighur population. The CCP has used the same policy to dilute the Tibetans in Tibet (the province just south of Xinjiang), with equal success.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this can never work. You cannot resolve an ethnic fault line in a region by flooding the the region with the favored ethnic group. Has this ever worked throughout history? I'm not aware of any example. All that this does is inflame the fault line so that it's worse than ever, leading to a crisis civil war.

The event that triggered the violence occurred on the other side of China last month. Two Uighur migrant workers, working in a toy factory Guangdong province in southeast China, were accused of raping a Han woman, a charge which appears to have been fabricated. The two Uighurs were killed in a Han Chinese mob attack on their dormitory, and nobody has yet been charged with the two murders.

This Sunday, thousands of Uighurs rioted and demonstrated against CCP rule in Urumqi. Xinhua reports that the Uighurs killed the Han in their homes, and that the Han are astonished by the ferocity of the attack by people who have been their neighbors. Apparently the CCP security forces struck back against the Uighurs violently.

Interestingly, the CCP has said that 156 people have been killed, but the casualties haven't been characterized, as to being Uighur or Han or security forces. The CCP is characterizing the riots as an uprising against Chinese rule, while the Uighur Congress in Exile is claiming that the police had opened fire on the demonstrators.

The Uighurs say that the CCP discriminates against them. They resent the flood of Han Chinese "colonizing" the region, taking all the good jobs, leaving the menial jobs for the Uighurs. They also point out that there's language discrimination, since few Han speak the Uighur language.

There are a lot of cross accusations, but they're probably all true on both sides. This is a generational crisis era for China, and a violent ethnic attack leading to a major civil war would not be a surprise to anyone familiar with Generational Dynamics.

Whether that happens this time cannot be predicted, and remains to be seen.

China has tens of thousands of "mass incidents" every year, but everyone is describing this one as "unprecedented," because of its severity and because it appears to be organized. There are late reports that it's spreading to Kashgar, in the southern part of Xinjiang. There were violent Uighur terrorist incidents in Kashgar just prior to last year's Beijing Olympics.

There's no doubt that the CCP is frightened. This was already obvious last month when China commemorated the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. Now they've shut down mobile phones and internet access in Xinjiang, and they've arrested 1400 people. China has a history of violent rebellions and civil wars, and the senior citizens running the CCP in Beijing are very well aware that the government could collapse quite easily.

As I wrote in 2005 in "China approaches Civil War," and many times since, Generational Dynamics predicts that China is headed for a new civil war with absolute certainty.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the China thread of the Generational Dynamics forum.) (7-Jul-2009) Permanent Link
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