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Special> Focus on Xinjiang> Opinion
UPDATED: July 14, 2009
Fu Ying: Unity Rooted Deep in China's Blood

The July 5 violence in Urumqi, capital of China's northwest Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, has been horrific, but it is wrong to frame it as an ethnic conflict, said Fu Ying, the Ambassador of China to the United Kingdom.

In an article titled "Unity is deep in China's blood" carried by the Guardian newspaper on Monday, the ambassador said that different ethnic groups in Xinjiang have lived side by side for centuries like one big family.

Xinjiang's 21 million population now comprises 47 ethnic groups, the largest being the Uygurs, who account for 45.7 percent of the population of the region, followed by the Hans, and many others such as Kazaks, Huis, Kyrgyz, Mongolians, Tajiks, Sibes, Manchus, Uzbeks, Russians, Daurs, and Tartars.

Millions of Muslims live there and there are 23,000 mosques. There are also Buddhist temples and churches.

The relationship between the ethnic groups has been generally amicable, though, as in all families and multi-ethnic communities, frictions occasionally happen, said the ambassador in the article.

"We call such frictions 'problems among people', meaning they can be solved through coordination and are not a life-or-death struggle. That is why the violence in Urumqi on July 5, leaving more than 180 people dead and more than 1,000 injured, came as a shock," said the ambassador.

Some blamed it on an earlier criminal case in the southern province of Guangdong, which was largely fanned by a rumour, but that case had been handled and the suspects detained, and this can in no way justify the horrific acts of rioters in Urumqi who, armed with sticks, knives and big stones, went on a killing rampage against innocent people, she said.

A brawl between Han and Uygur workers at a toy factory in Guangdong on June 26 was suspected to have been used by rioters to create chaos.

There is well-grounded concern that external incitement and organization played a big part in orchestrating the violence, and therefore, framing it as "ethnic conflict" is a wrong way of looking at the issue, which may also drive a wedge between ethnic groups, she said.

Instead, "the incident was reminiscent of terrorist violence in Urumqi and other cities in Xinjiang in the past decade or more. Some of these terrorists were sent to train and fight in Afghanistan. A few ended up in Guantanamo Bay. Investigation into the July 5 incident is ongoing and those who committed crimes will face the law," she said.

Now calm is being restored. People of all ethnic groups including the Uygurs are firmly against violence and long for resuming normal life.

Xinjiang has been growing as fast as the rest of China. With its history, its scenic beauty, and most of all, its diverse culture and warm, jovial and hospitable people, Xinjiang fascinated people from all over China and the world. Last year it was visited by 22 million tourists, including 360,000 from abroad, said the ambassador.

Many people from other parts of the country work there, especially during the cotton harvest, and people from Xinjiang also work, trade and study all over the country. Xinjiang restaurants are very popular in Beijing, she said in the article.

Freedom of movement and migration is a basic human right and a sign of China's development and progress, she added.

"Throughout the centuries, China has been a multi-ethnic society connected by a commitment to unity, prosperity and harmony. Unity is deep in the blood. That is where our strength lies, and forms the basis for China's interaction with the international community," the ambassador concluded.

(Xinhua News Agency July 13, 2009)

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