Example: History and reality have shown that the Communist Party of China is a
loyal representative of the interests of people of all ethnic groups in
Xinjiang. Socialism is a broad road of prosperity for people of all
ethnic groups in Xinjiang. The great homeland is a beautiful home of
happy life for people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang.
The Xinjiang Room is named after the autonomous region of Xinjiang in
China’s northwest, which occupies one-sixth of the nation’s landmass.
Xinjiang is famous for its melons and flatbread, mosques and natural-gas
reserves. If that doesn’t sound very Chinese it’s because Xinjiang
culturally is much more Central Asian
than East Asian. In fact, Xinjiang’s name means New Frontier, and the
region was only given that appellation in 1884 when China’s Qing dynasty
had conquered its population of ethnic Uighurs and other minorities.
Since then, the region has chafed against rule from Beijing, which is
farther from Xinjiang’s Silk Road oases than Baghdad is. Memories of two
short-lived republics of East Turkestan, as some Uighurs prefer to
think of their homeland, have heightened separatist dreams ever since.
For many of us, this was why we were in the room. On March 1, black-clad assailants had unleashed a terrorism spree
in the southwestern Chinese city of Kunming, stabbing and slashing
passersby. By the time their rampage had ended, 29 people had been
killed and more than 140 injured. The government has blamed the attack
on “separatists from Xinjiang” who were also terrorists bent on jihad.
We wanted to know more. Who were they and where in Xinjiang were they
from? Should we expect more terrorism to come from disgruntled Uighurs?
Were the Kunming attackers jihadis or were they more motivated by
separatism? Could there be something else too that triggered this
horrific mass murder? What could the government do to win hearts and
minds in a tense, restive region?
But then, a postscript: as Xinjiang’s party secretary Zhang
Chunxian tried to leave the Xinjiang Room, a media scrum descended.
Zhang, a Han Chinese like nearly all of the men who have held the
highest-level post in the Uighur autonomous region, spoke his mind. The
main reason for the terrorism in Xinjiang was, drum roll: the flow of
information via the Internet. Zhang said that nearly all terrorism in
Xinjiang was aided by terrorists jumping the Great Firewall constructed
by China’s state censors.