Thursday, September 4, 2008

Beijing's Post Olympic Shakedown in Xinjiang and Tibet

By Willy Lam

While the catchwords and slogans of the just-ended Beijing Olympics trumpeted “harmony” and “One World, One Dream,” the traditionally tense relations between Han Chinese and ethnic minorities – particularly Uyghurs and Tibetans – could worsen significantly in the foreseeable future. Four quasi-terrorist attacks in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region (XAR) in August resulted in the death of at least 22 People’s Armed Police (PAP) officers and police. This is despite the fact that since the riots that hit Tibet and four neighboring provinces in March, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) administration has tightened security in the Xinjiang and Tibet autonomous regions. President and Commander-in-chief Hu Jintao, the only member of the Politburo Standing Committee with personal experience in handling ethnic-minority disturbances, has so far said nothing concerning the Xinjiang attacks. Yet indications are that Beijing will amplify its two-pronged approach by employing even tougher strategies to “nip troublemaking in the bud” while at the same time earmarking more funds to win over the support particularly of needy Uyghur and Tibetans.

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