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  • Dec 24, 2014
  • Updated: 7:54pm

Kunming railway station attack

On March 1, 2014, dozens of commuters were killed and more than a hundred others injured when a gang of knife-wielding attackers rampaged through Kunming railway station in Yunnan province, China. Authorities blamed "separatist forces from Xinjiang" for the deadly attack. Four of the alleged assailants were shot dead by police at the scene.

CommentInsight & Opinion

No cause can justify the cowardly attack in Kunming

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 March, 2014, 4:32am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 March, 2014, 12:04pm

Twice now in the lead-up to key national political meetings that attract international attention, terrorists have targeted civilians not remotely connected with their cause. A shocking suicide car-bomb attack by an ethnic Uygur family in Tiananmen Square last October, killing two tourists, pales in comparison the latest outrage - a mass knife attack that left 29 innocent people dead at Kunming railway station in in the country's southwest.

The first came ahead of the third plenary session of the 18th party congress. The latest came ahead of this week's CPPCC and NPC meetings. The authorities have blamed both attacks on Uygur separatists from the autonomous northwestern region of Xinjiang , which has been wracked by continuing unrest since ethnic clashes with the majority Han Chinese in the capital Urumqi left about 200 dead in 2009. What set the latest atrocity apart was the unmitigated, indiscriminate savagery of the attack by knife-wielding men and women on everyone in sight, including the elderly and children.

These two incidents apart, previous attacks have largely focused on government offices and law-enforcement personnel within Xinjiang - typical of terrorists operating on their home turf. Operations against civilians outside their home areas are cowardly attacks seen as aimed at spreading panic and sowing uncertainty about security.

The Tiananmen Square car bomb might have been an aberration of the separatists' usual tactics, but the latest frenzied assault on civilians represents a significant escalation. It must be condemned in the strongest terms.

Sadly if Uygur separatists are responsible, such attacks can only isolate their cause in the hearts and minds of the wider community. That is not to say the Muslim-majority Uygurs do not have outstanding legitimate grievances. Beijing has been more open to their concerns since the 2009 disturbances with policies that have improved incomes and infrastructure, political representation and access to education. If underlying reasons for discontent can still be found in economic inequality, ethnic prejudice and religious repression, among others, they can only be addressed through dialogue and negotiation.

Violence will surely entrench negative sentiment, at the cost of cohesive economic development of a poor region at the crossroads of central Asia.


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This article is now closed to comments

It's absurd to say that Beijing has been "more open to their concerns since the 2009 disturbances with policies that have improved incomes and infrastructure, political representation and access to education." This statement shows a complete ignorance of the situation in Xinjiang. The reason violence is increasing in the area is because the government has failed to be more open to the people of Xinjiang.
Have you ever been to Xinjiang? Do You know Uigur minorities are exempt from many restrictions facing the Han majority, such as one child policy and looser quota for higher education?
In the US, there are unspoken quotas for Asians in university admissions and some professions.
Now compare the race riots in China with those in the US and elsewhere.
In Xinjiang and Tibet, rioters target the innocents, among them are women and children. Death tolls are overwhelmingly majority Hans and police.
Thanks to Chinese leaders, we never hear the official press demonizing the minority for heinous crimes.
Let’s turn the camera to inner city race riots in the US during the 60s. The 1965 LA Watts riot alone counted 34 dead and 1,032 hospitalized and 3,438 jailed. They were all minorities. The 1967 Newark race riot killed 26, seriously injured 725 and arrested 1,500. In US riots, the National Guards (soldiers) are called. Need I say more? During Hurricane Katrina, the governor ordered guards “shoot to kill” looters. Wonder why Thai and Russian governments are not allowed this exclusive Western 007 privilege.
So stop those persistent hateful diatribes from your rear end.
Beijing must redouble its effort to disseminate majority good will to minorities. Bringing them into full participation in all walks of professions will be a long slog -- at least 2 more generations.


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