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Chinese and Western Media Bias Claims in Xinjiang “Terrorist Attack”

On April 23 2013, a week after the Boston terrorist attack, another terror incident took place in Bachu County of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in which 15 police officers and community workers were killed and 6 suspects were shot dead. The incident was reported as “terrorist attack” in local Chinese media while some western media namely BBC Chinese [zh] and VOA Chinese [zh] maintained some skepticism on the nature of incident. In response the state controlled media, Global Times, accused [zh] western media of bias against China in their reporting and won many echoes in Chinese social media.

However, the Uyghur community also has their doubts and have pleaded with the Chinese authorities to disclose all the details of what had exactly happened in Bachu.

Screen capture of the Bachu incident by Ifeng.com via Youtube.

Screen capture of the Bachu incident by Ifeng.com via Youtube.

According to a report by Tian Shan Neton [zh], Xinjiang's official media outlet, on April 24, three community workers found some strangers and knives on a regular visit to a family at Bachu county. While they reported the situation to the authorities, the suspects found out and held the three community workers hostage. When the police officers and local government officials arrived, they were attacked by the suspects who also killed the three hostages and burned the house.

The Global Times unveiled more details of the incident on April 25 [zh]. According to the report, the group of suspects were watching terrorist video tapes during the community workers’ visit. There were also many long knives in the house. When police officers and local officials arrived, three hostages had been killed. The head of the police officers used up six bullets in his gun and took shelter in the house. Then the suspects set the house on fire and burned the police officers and local officials to death. The report also criticized western media outlets for avoiding calling the incident a terrorist attack.

Yet, the Uyghur community also cast their doubts upon the “terrorist attack”. Nijatkar from Uighurbiz.net highlighted [zh] some of the questions raised by Uyghur netizens:

随着官媒对案件的公布及其细节的曝光,一部分维吾尔网友提出了质疑。
针对官媒所谓的社区干部“走访”一事,有网友称,社区干部走访的目的何在,他们在这个过程中有没有强制闯入住户家里,过程中有没有出现其他暴力行径。也有网友认为,由于案件发生在居民家中,有关部门必须及时公布案件细节及背景。
网友还对官媒如何定义“极端主义视频”提出疑问,另有网友表示自己家中也有“1.2米长刀”,但是它们是作为装饰品陈列在家中。

As the state controlled media started to unveil the details of the incident, some Uyghur netizens have also raised their doubts.

In reaction to the “visit” of community officials, some netizens questioned their intention and asked whether the officials entered the house with force or used violence in the process. Since the incident took place in an ordinary family home, some netizens said that the authorities should explain the background of their visit.

Some netizens questioned the definition of “extremist [terrorist] video” in news reports while others said that they also possessed a “1.2 meter long knife” at home. Those knives are for decorative purposes.

On Sina Weibo, the biggest micro-blogging platform in China, the mainstream opinion among Han Chinese echoed the Global Times. For example, “Cat-topia” (猫德邦) was very angry [zh] at the U.S response to the Bachu incident:

本来我还挺同情波士顿爆炸的受害者,但是看到美国国务院那个关于中国新疆巴楚暴力袭击事件的哈鸡巴发言,我就觉得美国挨多少次恐怖袭击都应该,就这尿性不多挨几次炸真心说不过去。

I was sympathetic with the Boston Bombing victims at first. However upon reading the U.S. State Department's response [zh] to the Bachu terrorist attack incident, I feel that the U.S deserves all these attacks.

“Blue Sky in Snow region” (雪域碧蓝的天) also questioned [zh]:

在你们西方国家的眼里,难道仅仅是伊拉克、阿富汗、巴基斯坦有恐怖袭击吗?

In the eyes of western countries, terrorist attacks only happen in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan?

Lin Zhibo (林治波), reporter from China Daily, repeated [zh] the Global Times’ criticism of western media:

镇压叛乱分子,维护国家统一,在哪一个国家都是天经地义的事。不必在乎他人怎么说,我们的一个很大的教训就是太在乎洋人怎么说,其结果就是畏首畏尾,迟疑不前,该说的话不敢说,该做的事不敢做。在这方面,中国要向普京学习。

Repression of rebellions and maintaining national unity is a principle upheld by all countries. We should not care about others’ opinions. We have paid too much attention on foreigners’ opinions and kept refraining from taking action and expressing our own thoughts. In this regard, China should learn from Putin.

“Han Youth Association” (汉青社) believed that [zh] China should alleviate anti-terrorist policy in southern Xinjiang:

巴楚暴力恐怖事件再次表明,对暴力恐怖分子不能有丝毫轻敌,更不能有丝毫姑息,必须出重拳给予雷霆般的打击。强力执法部门如此大的牺牲,恐怖分子已达成部分目标。事实是南疆部分地区已成中国“类加沙”地带,反恐斗争应升级为常态化。

The terrorist incident told us again we should not tolerate the terrorists and should strike them hard. The law officers have sacrificed their lives and the terrorists have gained a partial victory. The fact is that the southern part of Xinjiang is now becoming a “Gaza” area in China and the anti-terrorist struggle should be normalized.

However, Ilshat Hesen, a dissent Uyghur writer, blamed the state-run media for their impartial terrorist incident reports that instigate ethnic conflict and hatred:

每次在中国发生‘神秘’恐怖案件。大家不用看报纸就可以知道;第一肯定是维吾尔人干的,所以也肯定是穆斯林;当然是十恶不赦的宗教极端分子、分裂分子。
第二,当然是‘东伊运’操纵的,参与恐怖案件的恐怖分子肯定是在东亚某国受过训练的,至少要有一位恐怖分子是在国外受过训练的。(便于和国际恐怖主义挂钩)
第三,肯定是天山网独家首先报道,而且一定是寥寥几笔,非常短,无细节。(为后续故事的编造留余地)。
第四,当然是侯汉敏在事件发生好几个小时后发布有关‘恐怖事件’的新闻,但细节有待补充。
第五,肯定‘恐怖案件’的详细细节要有《环球时报》记者一两天后进行报道。
第六点,也是最令人难于理解的(大概也令国际恐怖大亨们倍感羞愧的)是:每次,这些和国际恐怖主义组织有联系,在东亚某国受过训练的维吾尔‘恐怖分子’要么是手拿辣椒面、砍刀,要么是汽油、大刀;当然有时还不忘带上拐杖、打火机。

Whenever there is a “mysterious” terrorist incident in China, you don't have to read the papers to know that:

Firstly it must have been done by Uyghur and the terrorists must be muslim. They are of course the villainous religious extremists and separatists.

Secondly, they are certainly controlled by the “East Turkestan Independent Movement“, the terrorists must have some training in one of the east Turkestan countries. At least one of them must have received training overseas. (Thus they are connected to international terrorism.)

Thirdly, the reports are certainly run exclusively at Tian Shan Net very briefly, in a few sentences without much detail. (So that they can fill in the gap later.)

Fourthly, Hou Hanmin [Xinjiang government spokeswoman] will announce the “terrorist incident” several hours after the attack without the details.

Fifthly, the details of the “terrorist incident” will be unveiled by reporters from Global Times one or two days later.

Sixthly, (it is rather embarrassing for the international terrorists) [the weapons] used by these internationally connected terrorists who were trained in some East Turkestan countries are usually spicy noodles, knives, gasoline, big knives; of course sometimes they would not forget to bring their sticks and lighters.

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