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Beijing Review Exclusive
Special> Focus on Xinjiang> Beijing Review Exclusive
UPDATED: July 28, 2009 Web Exclusive
Urumqi Returns to Normal
Social order in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, has been largely restored in the wake of the July 5 riot

Customers shop at the International Grand Bazaar in Urumqi on July 26 (XINHUA)

Commercial sales in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, are rising sharply, as social order in the city gradually returns to normal. On July 26, they reached their first peak since the July 5 riot.

Xinhua News Agency reported that all medium and large shopping malls and supermarkets in Urumqi have reopened and managed to attract customers through promotional measures.

Located on Youth Road, the Goodhome Supermarket is one of the largest supermarkets in Urumqi. On July 26, customers rushed to buy goods that were on sale. Compared with workdays, the discount on weekends was much greater.

"The supermarket usually opens at 9:30 a.m. and closes at 9 p.m. It closed down one and a half hours early on July 6 and 7, and opened as normal starting July 8, " Xu Bin, deputy manager of the Goodhome Supermarket, told Xinhua. "In order to attract customers, we placed promotional advertisements in the newspaper starting July 7. The promotions involved household electrical appliances, articles for daily use, fruits and vegetables, and cooked food; nearly 20 percent of goods were on sale."

"Having been affected by the July 5 riot, sales were terrible on July 6 and 7. But they rose after our promotion, " Xu said.

According to the Urumqi Government, the sales of 20 shopping malls and supermarkets reached 16.409 million yuan (about $2.35 million) on July 26 alone. Sales increased by 52.9 percent against July 25, and 503.3 percent against July 8.

Residents start to relax

By July 26, more and more residents in Urumqi were venturing out of their homes.

Urumqi Red Mountain Park, which is located in the city center, is considered the symbol of Urumqi. Visitors over the weekend increased substantially compared with last weekend.

There were not only ethnic Han visitors, but also ethnic Uygur and ethnic Hui people and other ethnic minorities. People were boating on the lake, enjoying a gentle breeze; couples were relaxing under trees and around the lake; and peddlers had returned to sell their goods.

Mr. Liu, a man who runs a boat rental business, told Xinhua News Agency that the July 5 riot had had a great impact on his business, shrinking his daily income from 200 yuan ($29.4) to 20 yuan ($2.94). "But today is better, the income is more than yesterday," he said. "Things will get better, and I believe it's just a matter of time."

At the top of the mountain, a resident named Huang Jianxin was visiting the park with his wife and daughter. He rarely leaves the house these days except to go to work, he said. The riot cast a psychological shadow over him until he saw that the government had strengthened security measures. "My daughter also needs to relax, so I brought her to the park," Huang said. "I think there will be more people in the park next week."

Although October 1, China's National Day, is still more than two months away, the Red Mountain Park has already been decorated with all kinds of sculptures and colorful lanterns. Rozah Yiming, who lives in Turpan, central Xinjiang, was taking photos with his cousin in front of a picture of ethnic unity. "Turpan is more than 200 km away from Urumqi, and it's not easy to come here," he said. "I came with my cousin yesterday to sell some vegetables, and we'll go back in the afternoon. So we decided to have a look at the Park, the highest place in Urumqi."

At the People's Cinema, which is located in the center of Urumqi, groups of people were standing in line to buy tickets. A cinema employee said that box office sales had recovered to their pre-July 5 level. Theaters were almost full for the first several shows on July 26, and tickets for the new Harry Potter and Ice Age films had sold well.

(Source: Xinhua News Agency, translated by LIU YUE)

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