URUMQI: The United States is encouraging “terrorism” in Xinjiang, Chinese state media said Monday, also claiming separatists in the region – which has a large Uighur minority – had fought alongside Syrian rebels.
Beijing denies the unrest in the vast region bordering Central Asia – which last week left at least 35 people dead – is due to ethnic tensions between Uighurs and China’s majority Han.
It has vowed to crack down on “terrorist groups”, ordering military exercises ahead of Friday’s anniversary of major riots in 2009 that left around 200 dead.
“For fear of a lack of chaos in China,” it said in a commentary, the US was “conspiring to direct the calamity of terrorist activities toward China”.
It asked if the September 11 attacks and Boston marathon bombings in April meant “America’s ethnic and religious policies also have problems,” while rejecting such linkages in China.
“The violent terrorist incidents in Xinjiang are not an ethnic issue or a religious issue,” it said, calling the “massacres” of officials and bystanders “inhumane”.
According to the official Xinhua news agency, “knife-wielding mobs” attacked police stations and other sites in the town of Lukqun last Wednesday before security personnel arrived and opened fire. At least 35 people were killed.
Two days later, Xinhua said, more than 100 “terrorists” provoked “riots” in the prefecture of Hotan, attacking people “after gathering at local religious venues”.
Last Friday a US State Department spokesman said it was “deeply concerned about ongoing reports of discrimination against and restrictions” on Uighurs in China.