China calls Xinjiang riot a plot against its rule
hina has called a riot that shook the capital of restive western Xinjiang region on Sunday a plot by exiled members of the Uighur people, after at least three people died in the latest eruption of ethnic unrest there, Reuters reported.
Locals took to the streets of Xinjiang's regional capital, Urumqi, burning and smashing vehicles and confronting security forces, following a protest there to denounce government handling of a clash between Han Chinese and Uighur factory workers in far southern China in late June, when two Uighurs died.
On Monday morning "the situation was under control", the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
But officials ordered traffic off the streets in parts of the city of 2.3 million residents -- 3,270 km (2,050 miles) west of Beijing -- to ensure there was no fresh unrest throughout the day, Xinhua added.
The Chinese government blamed the riot on exiled Uighur groups demanding independence from Beijing, which they say is stifling their culture and exploiting their homeland's resources.
"The facts demonstrate this was controlled and instigated from abroad," an unnamed leading official said of the riot, according to Xinhua, which also said the "unrest was masterminded by the World Uyghur Congress".
"This was a crime of violence that was pre-meditated and organised."
Representatives of exiled Uighur groups adamantly rejected the Chinese government claim of a plot, and said the riot was an outpouring of pent-up anger over government policies and Han Chinese dominance of economic opportunities.
"This anger has been growing for a long time," said Dilxat Raxit, a spokesman for the World Uyghur Congress in exile in Sweden.
"It began as a peaceful assembly. There were thousands of people shouting to stop ethnic discrimination, demanding an explanation ... They are tired of suffering in silence."
The claims of conspiracy by pro-independence exiles echo the Chinese government's handling of rioting across Tibetan areas in March last year, which it also called a plot hatched abroad.
And the Urumqi unrest underscores that Xinjiang, no less than Tibet, faces volatile ethnic tensions that have accompanied China's growing economic and political stake in its western regions, many thousands of kilometres from Beijing.
Xinjiang is the doorway to China's trade and energy ties with central Asia, and is itself rich in natural gas, minerals and farm produce. But many Uighurs say they see little of that wealth.