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Western China: The Internet is restored, but repression continues

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A restoration of the Internet

Now the Chinese government is attempting to show a benevolent face with announcements of large-scale investment, comprehensive work forums, the removal of reviled officials such as Wang Lequan, and most recently the restoration of the Internet. This benevolence must be taken with a degree of skepticism not only because the decisions are not being made for the welfare of the Uighur people, but also because they show a lack of original thinking among Chinese officials.

Since 2000, large injections of capital into East Turkestan through the central government's Western Development initiative merely exaggerated the economic inequality between Uighurs and Han Chinese rather than benefit impoverished Uighurs. Future investment, as far as it can be gleaned, will come once more in the form of more money for mineral extraction that does not aim to employ the local Uighur workforce or engage Uighur businesses.

The appointment of Zhang Chunxian as party secretary of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region has been interpreted as a break from the hard-line policies of former party chief Wang Lequan. However, in recent comments it appears that Zhang will bring nothing to the table but the same tired rhetoric on smashing the three evils of separatism, extremism, and terrorism.

What true introspection on the performance of the Chinese Communist Party in East Turkestan reveals is that the real three evils in the region are Han chauvinism, party-state despotism, and bankrupt communism.

Old ideas of the Chinese communists toward East Turkestan have merely been repackaged and recycled and do not address the economic and political tensions that underpinned the unrest in Urumchi. There is much work to do and many grievances to address. I am willing to help the Chinese government resolve them.

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