Bloomberg News’ Wenxin Fan reports on one consequence of the mass stabbing of commuters at a train station in Kunming, China, allegedly by Uighur separatists: anti-Uighur sentiments. My sense or at least hope, from the variety of sources quoted (including many Chinese opposed to anti-Uighur sentiments) and the incidents described, is that this is depicting some kind of relatively short-lived shock, as opposed to new systemic discrimination.
Saturday’s rampage at a Kunming train station that killed 29 people and injured 140—an attack that the Chinese government linked to Uighur separatists from the Xinjiang region—hasn’t changed Cheng Lin’s view about the ethnic group.
“All the Xinjiang people are bad. Even before this happened, we didn’t talk to them,” the 36-year-old housewife said from her home in a dark narrow lane in Dashuying, where most Uighurs in Kunming live. She added: “This is not a discrimination against them.”
A Uighur kid tried to steal her son’s bike, she said, while others threatened to beat people standing in their way. For her, it’s personal.
Elsewhere in Kunming, as police singled out Uighurs for registration checks or told them to stay away from train stations, it was more official.
Saturday’s killings spurred fear locally as the separatist violence that has slain dozens since November—mostly in remote parts of Xinjiang, thousands of kilometers away—crept closer to home. Others were concerned that a much more common problem—discrimination against the Uighur minority—is poised to get worse.
Uighurs, whose language, culture, and religion differ greatly from those of the Hans, already face some discrimination. In Shanghai, for example, where Uighur pickpockets were once a well-known annoyance, natives have nicknamed the entire ethnic group “cantaloupes,” after the melon that’s the region’s specialty.