After the terrorist attack in the United States in 2001, China joined the US-led ” fight against terrorism “. This is also seen from the Chinese side as a legitimation of the regime’s struggle against the Xinjiang separatists, who are alleged to be at war with the al-Qaeda terrorist network. In 2004, for the first time, China and Pakistan held a joint military exercise in Xinjiang. Since the turn of the millennium, tensions in Xinjiang and the conflict with the Uighurs have increased. In 2009, riots broke out in the capital Ürümqi lasting several days. This first began as a relatively large demonstration against Chinese authorities, but evolved into violent attacks on the Han-kinesere. Authorities believe a total of 127 people were killed and over 1,700 injured.
In 2011 and 2013, there were also riots in the cities of Hotan, Kashi / Kashgar and Turpan with fewer deaths or injuries. In addition to demonstrations in Xinjiang, activists from Islamist groups or separatist groups, such as East Turkestan’s Islamic Movement, have carried out several terrorist attacks among ethnic Chinese elsewhere in China in the form of bus bombs or deadly attacks with knife-stabbing in crowds.
Tibet and Inner Mongolia
The tensions in Tibet increased after the turn of the millennium and peaked in the demonstrations in Lhasa in March 2008. The reason for the time was, in addition to a general dissatisfaction with social conditions and the ethnic Chinese immigration to Lhasa, that the world’s media attention was focused on China and Tibet in the forefront. of the Beijing Olympics later in 2008. The demonstrations started as a mark of the Tibetan uprising in 1959, but quickly developed into violent riots where Tibetans attacked Han Chinese and Han Chinese stores. The riots eventually spread to ethnic Tibetan areas in neighboring provinces of Gansu, Qinghai and Sichuan. Between 15 and 20 people are believed to have been killed in the riots, while the number of injured was almost 400 of which over half were police.
In Inner Mongolia, in 2011, ethnic Mongols protested against the authorities and a mining company believed to have destroyed traditional pasture lands and therefore posed a threat to the economic rights of the shepherds. This led to the authorities declaring that the policy for the mining industry in grazing areas should be changed in order to better protect the grazing areas.
Since 1999, there have been a growing number of demonstrations or riots among ethnic Chinese as well. Some of these have been directed at foreign governments, as was the case with the anti-American demonstrations in 1999. These arose after aircraft from the US NATO force, by what the US authorities thought was an accident, bombed the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade. Three Chinese nationals were killed, triggering major demonstrations in many cities in China. In some provincial capitals, stones and fire bombs were thrown at US or other NATO consulates.
In 2005, China experienced extensive and partly violent anti-Japanese demonstrations. Among other things, these were triggered by the publication of a new history book approved by the Japanese authorities for the high school. The book was considered a “laundering” of Japan’s role in East Asia before and during World War II. Japanese businesses or businesses related to Japan were attacked and vandalized in several cities in China. Several Japanese nationals were injured, but no deaths were reported. Other factors that helped strengthen the demonstrations were Japan’s application for permanent membership in the UN Security Council, as well as Japan’s demands on Diaoyutai or Senkaku Islands.
Since the turn of the millennium, there has also been an increasing number of demonstrations against local authorities, party members, police, officials or employers. In 2007, there were major riots in Guangxi due to the authorities’ strict enforcement of the one- child policy. The demonstrations ended in two kills, an unknown number of injured and several administration buildings set on fire. In 2008, there were protests in Sichuan against alleged corruption by government and building contractors, which had resulted in poor quality of school buildings collapsing during the earthquake, killing nearly 5,000 students.
The number of larger and less spontaneous or planned demonstrations in China has, according to Chinese researchers, increased from less than 10,000 in the early 1990s to 90,000 in 2006 and possibly as many as 180,000 in 2010. However, it is uncertain how big a threat these are to the Communist Party, since they have no unifying factor or ideology. The protests include demonstrations in rural areas, most often against expropriation of agricultural lands and poor working conditions, or for environmental protection. There may also be ethnic protests and pro-democracy demonstrations. Internet demonstrations have also become commonplace; These are often aimed at censorship and surveillance by the authorities. The Chinese authorities face these protests with more surveillance and censorship, often including imprisonment. In many cases, however, they respond with campaigns against corruption or measures against economic inequalities.
One of the biggest riots that garnered some international attention was the demonstrations in Wukan, where local officials and police were forced to leave the city.