Rising Political Violence in India and China

Paul Rogers in openDemocracy:

The exponential growth of the economies of China and India has won for these Asian giants a position of global economic and political prominence. But this process has been accompanied by profound internal discontent, some of which takes violent forms. The respective domestic experiences may be very different, but there are enough commonalities to suggest a lesson for the dominant economic model to which both states now adhere.

The east’s far west

The killing of sixteen police officers and the wounding of sixteen others in an operation in the western Chinese oasis city of Kashgar on 4 August 2008 was the most severe incident of anti-authority political violence in China for many months. The precise responsibility remains to be established, but it is likely to have been perpetrated by a separatist Islamist group which sees itself as acting on behalf of the majority Uighur population of Xinjiang region (where Kashgar is situated). The timing, in the very week of the opening of the Olympic games in Beijing on 8 August – and following an apparently coordinated attack on two buses in Kunming in the southwest province of Yunnan on 21 July which killed two people – further suggests a political motivation.

The nature and timing of these incidents have guaranteed widespread media attention in the ensuing days, both in China itself (where a year marked by the Tibet riots and the Sichuan earthquake has seen more open coverage in the official media, partly a result of its unofficial proliferation) and internationally. This is welcome insofar as greater discussion of such security issues can aid the search for understanding and solutions. At the same time, it is important not to extrapolate too far from the Kashgar attack, as it is a (still) relatively isolated example of paramilitary violence rather than in itself evidence of a long-term campaign.