Unrest in China

4 Mar

In order to thrive whilst the economic crisis hit the rest of the world, the Chinese government injected a multi-billion pound stimulus into its economy. However, this investment is purely debt-fuelled and because of this, it is highly unsustainable. The primary aim of this package was to retain China’s growth at 10% and with its growth only decreasing to 8%, it can certainly be classified as a success.

Recently, a massacre took place in Kunming at a train station when Muslim separatists attacked a group of Chinese public and killed 29 whilst injuring a further 130. The attack took place at 9pm on Saturday and police shot dead three male and one female suspect with a further female suspect being captured. The violent attack was described as been ‘organised and premeditated’ and with violent pictures circulating around the internet so soon after the attack, it has without doubt sent shockwaves across China and the rest of the world.

This attack demonstrates the ethnic separation and hostility around the country, and particularly in the different regions of China. This problem has been occurring for many years throughout China and has been attempted to be combatted through various aggressive economic development and tighter controls. Since 2009, the security budget has quadrupled to $1billion and restrictions on religious areas have increased. They appear to have chosen this strategy as opposed to simply trusting the general population which means although security has greatly increased, hostility has also increased as the ethnic minorities feel segregated.

Further examples of these ethnic attacks have been present in recent times when 16 border police officers were killed in an attack just before the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the following year nearly 200 people died when Uighurs assaulted the Han Chinese in revenge attacks. The Chinese government views these incidents as proof that there is a sophisticated and lengthy terrorist network whose aim is to wreak havoc in eastern Asian provinces. This may be true but it seems difficult to associate a few attacks with a generalised plan that may or may not even be in place and many view it as a diversion tactic by the Chinese government.

It is believed that the recent attack that took place in Kunming is not a result of the attackers gaining plans and tactical ideas from overseas due to the limited contact these militants have with foreign groups overseas. It has also been widely suggested that the aforementioned stimulus package injected by the Chinese government has backfired and that the policies that have been enforced to increase incomes have actually created dissatisfaction amongst the population. This huge increase in development since the economic crisis of 2008 has caused much friction across China and what with the constant demolitions as a result of changing environments, this only worsens the tensions between different ethnic communities as it is their old towns that are being demolished.

These ethnic minorities strongly believe that they have not benefitted from the stimulus package/economic growth at all and that the jobs are going to the indigenous Chinese population and as a result of this, this pressured situation is only growing worse. If this state of affairs continues for the foreseeable future, as looks likely, the Chinese government may have to bring in more stringent measures to deal with this yet must be careful as any policies that appear to directly target ethnic minorities may cause further disruption.

            By Joss Woodhead





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