China’s western most Xinjiang province is the gateway to the new Silk Road and is also believed to be rich in many natural resources. With sustained migration from other parts of China and the stationing of People’s Liberation Army troops, the previous majority of Uighur Turkic who follow the Islamic religion, are now believed to be a minority. There is a pretty long history of unrest in the region as the central government has tried to consolidate its control over this vast region. Uighur terrorists have struck at both home (within Xinjiang) and other parts of China (including Tiananmen Square in Beijing) with increasing ferocity. The response from the Chinese government has typically been brutal and swift with tight controls on what information it lets out.
A mastermind of violence in China’s Xinjiang region in which almost 100 people were killed sought to establish an Islamic state, official media said on Wednesday, reinforcing government warnings about an Islamist threat.
A court in the far western region sentenced 12 people to death on Monday for an attack in Xinjiang’s southern Yarkant county on July 28, in which the government said 59 “terrorists” were gunned down by security forces, while 37 civilians were killed.
The incident was one of the bloodiest bouts of unrest in the region that has seen hundreds of people killed in the past two years, most in clashes between ethnic Uighur Muslim people, who call Xinjiang home, and ethnic majority Han Chinese.