维族 砍人 (Uyghurs stab people / wéi zú kǎn rén): Though China has officially recognized fifty-six native ethnic groups, all of which have an array of unique concerns and issues, the two most “problematic” for state officials are the Uyghurs in Xinjiang and the Tibetans in Tibet, regions where unrest has broken out in recent years. A mix of ethnic tensions, desires for independence or greater autonomy, and increasing income inequality make these particularly volatile regions, especially as more Han Chinese migrate to Xinjiang and Tibet. Government officials have responded by investing heavily in the regions’ infrastructures and social welfare systems in a sort of effort to buy peace and acquiescence in these border provinces.
Despite these investments, Uyghurs face continued discrimination and economic hardship in the region. There have been a number of collective responses by Uyghurs, including protests and demonstrations, some of which have been violent and some of which have been branded as terrorism. Notable violent events in Xinjiang that have been blamed by authorities on Uyghur sepratists include a 2008 attack on a police station, and attacks in 2011 (in both Kashgar and Hotan) and 2013 featuring knife-wielding terrorists.
In a break from our usual series of highlighting words blocked from searching on Weibo, for the next two days I’ll be looking more deeply at the keywords on chat messenger app LINE’s “bad words” list. For more about this series, see this introductory post.
Uyghurs may face heightened discrimination from the government and ordinary people now that the Jeep crash in Tiananmen Square has been labelled a “terrorist attack” by “Uyghur extremists.” Read more about the crash, Uyghurs, and Xinjiang at China Digital Times.