“Ethnic confrontation should be definitely prohibited”

Local government officials hold a press conference

Local government officials hold a press conference

This was the message of Wang Lequan, secretary of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) earlier today, who sounded increasingly worried, and unusually conciliatory.

“Neither the people of Han nor Uygur ethnicalities (sic) are willing to see the Han people being attacked. It is the same the other way around. If the Han people attack the innocent Uygur people, it is also heart-breaking. The family members of those who were involved in the violence are innocent. We should be cool-headed and do not be fooled by the enemies…Our targets should be the hostile forces at both home and abroad and criminals, rather than our own brothers and sisters of different ethnic backgrounds.”

He also announced there will be a curfew in Urumqi (and probably elsewhere).

A less conciliatory note was struck by Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang, who denied that the original protest on Sunday had been intended to be peaceful. He described it as “an evil killing, fire setting and looting… Anybody calling the violence a peaceful protest is to turn black into white in an attempt to mislead the public,” Qin told a press conference.

At present, an estimated 1,400 people have been arrested across the province in connection with Sunday’s protest.

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