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Special> Focus on Xinjiang> Beijing Review Exclusive
UPDATED: July 30, 2009 Web Exclusive
Dong Manyuan: Unbalanced Development Not To Blame for Urumqi Riot
Expert refutes untrue facts about Urumqi riot

ORDER RETURNS: Residents of Urumqi, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region's capital city, shop at a Carrefour supermarket on July 23 (XINHUA)

Dong Manyuan, a senior research fellow with the China Institute of International Studies, refuted the claim that the deadly July 5 riot in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, was rooted in the country's unbalanced development among different ethnic groups and areas.

Dong said there is a gap between Xinjiang and coastal cities in terms of economic development, but the region's annual economic growth rate has averaged 10.2 percent during the past three decades of reform and opening up, which is higher than the national average.

"The problem of unbalanced development does not exist in Xinjiang alone, but is a common challenge faced by all parts of China," Dong told Beijing Review. "We still have a long way to go to improve people's livelihood and realize sustainable development."

Dong noted that Xinjiang has been an inalienable part of China since ancient times, and it has always been home to various ethnic groups. It is normal to see people flow, which is helpful for fusion and communication between different ethnic groups and pushing forward economic development. The spirit of China's ethnic policy is improving unity, equality and harmony among all ethnic groups. Equality and unity among ethnic groups has been stipulated in the Constitution and the Law on Regional Ethnic Autonomy as, "The state will do its utmost to promote the common prosperity of all ethnic groups."

"The relations among ethnic groups in Xinjiang are characterized by the three 'cannot live withouts,'" Dong said. "Ethnic Han cannot live without ethnic Uygurs, ethnic Han cannot live without other ethnic groups, and ethnic Uygurs cannot live without other ethnic groups. Otherwise, Xinjiang could not be what it is today."

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