BEIJING, March 6 A deadly knife attack at a
Chinese train station last week should not be linked to
ethnicity, a senior government official said, days after
authorities blamed the incident on separatists from the
country's troubled far western region of Xinjiang.
China says militants from Xinjiang, home to a large Muslim
Uighur minority, launched a "terrorist" attack in the
southwestern city of Kunming, killing at least 29 people and
injuring about 140.
It was one of the worst bouts of violence to spill out of
the restive region, where more than 100 people, including
several policemen, have been killed in unrest since last April.
Fear and resentment between majority Han Chinese and Uighurs
have spread after the attack, said Zhu Weiqun, the chairman of
the ethnic and religious affairs panel of the top advisory body
to parliament, which meets this week in Beijing.
"Such sentiments - although not widespread - deserve our
attention," Zhu told the official China Daily, adding that the
"overwhelming majority of the migrant Uighurs from Xinjiang are
"Most Uighurs are with us in the fight against separatism
and violent terrorism," he said, in an interview in the
English-language newspaper published on Thursday. "They
sincerely support the central government."
The comments highlight Beijing's concern over the growing
frictions between Uighurs and Han Chinese and the potential for
After the Kunming attack, many residents voiced ethnic
concerns to Reuters reporters and some businesses and hotels
displayed signs turning away Uighurs.
Online accounts have described growing discrimination
against Uighurs, ranging from their evictions from apartments to
refusals by taxi drivers.
Police in the Yunnan city of Dali were forced to apologise
on an official microblog for helping to evict a Uighur man from
his apartment after being called in for an identity check on
Sunday, the popular Global Times tabloid reported.
Beijing has not explicitly accused Uighurs of carrying out
the Kunming attack, but by calling the perpetrators Xinjiang
extremists the implication is clear.
State media have reported that a female suspect was injured
and captured in the attack in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan
province, which is hundreds of miles southeast of Xinjiang, and
that three suspects, including another woman, had been caught.
Four were shot dead.
Many Uighurs say they are unhappy at Chinese curbs on their
culture and religion, though the government says they are given
China bristles at suggestions from exiles and rights groups
that the unrest is driven more by unhappiness at government
policies than by any serious threat from extremist groups who
want to establish an independent state called East Turkestan.
Authorities say many have links with foreign groups,
although rights groups and some foreign experts say there is
little evidence to support this.
Chinese authorities should stop using the attack to carry
out "extreme propaganda" and "incite racism", Dilxat Raxit, a
spokesman for key exile group the World Uyghur Congress, said in
an emailed statement late on Wednesday.
(Reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)