One week after the riots in China’s far west, tension remains high. Officially, 184 people died when Uighur Muslims rampaged through the Xinjiang provinvial capital Urumqi. They were protesting the deaths of two Uighur workers elsewhere in China, and vented their anger on ethnic Han Chinese. Most of the victims were Han, but at least one Han said things are calm now:
“There is no problem now. I have been walking around, even playing badminton. Relations between the two communities are OK. Everything is fine.”
A Uighur Muslim agreed:
“It has been alright this week. We have gone back to work, and I don’t think it will happen again. Look at all the police and soldiers on the streets. It won’t happen. We are all back at work.”
It may be calm now, but Uighurs say many more of their people died in the rioting, and in the security crackdown which followed. It was a test of China’s ability to keep the lid on ethnic tensions in this vast, diverse land. Xinjiang borders many central Asian states, and Afghanistan and Pakistan. Beijing cannot allow the unrest in those two countries to spill over into its troubled western regions.