The Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, a vast frontier territory in northwest China, has found no peace in the past several months. On April 23, 15 people, including police officers and community workers, lost their lives during an encounter with a local mob in Bachu County. Then, on June 26 and 28, violent riots broke out respectively in Shanshan County and Hotan, killing 35 people and injuring 21.
During the past couple of years, the autonomous region has been plagued by persistent unrest ranging from kidnappings and hijackings to arson and bombings. The most appalling incident occurred in the regional capital of Urumqi on July 5, 2009, when a string of crimes were committed almost simultaneously—shops were looted, buildings and vehicles were set ablaze, and innocent civilians of both Han and minority ethnicities alike were viciously attacked. The turmoil left nearly 200 dead and more than 1,600 injured, as well as huge economic losses and damage to both public and private property.
One must ask why these criminal acts befell upon Xinjiang in such a rapid sequence. Growing evidence suggests the involvement of religious extremist forces inside and outside the country, including the World Uygur Congress and the East Turkestan National Congress, whose ulterior motives comprise fomenting social unrest in Xinjiang and sowing dissent among ethnic groups in order to divide the country.
With a total area of 1.66 million square km, Xinjiang is located in the central part of the Eurasian continent. Its population of 21.8 million consists of 47 ethnic groups, including Uygur, Han, Kazak, Kirgiz, as well as Hui, another Muslim ethnic group. Naturally, it has been a great challenge for authorities to govern the expansive and relatively less-developed land with such complexity and diversity. However, Xinjiang has made remarkable progress over the decades, and maintaining harmony among all ethnic groups and pursuing common prosperity in the region have always been the fundamental goals of the Chinese Government.
To this end, China has been determined to resolutely fight terrorism with a firm hand. This is the only option, one that any country facing a similar situation would adopt in order to secure national unity, and ensure peaceful development and life for the people.