This Bystander has little idea about what to make of reports that Uighurs in Urumqui are stabbing Han Chinese with hypodermic syringes beyond the obvious observation that tension between the two groups remains taut.
Xinjiang TV reported that 476 people, 433 of whom were Han, has sought treatment for such stabbings. This has brought “tens of thousands” of protesting Han Chinese on to the streets of Xinjiang’s capital where almost 200 people were killed in July’s ethnic riots. Xinhua has reported that 21 people have been arrested in connection with the stabbings.
Xinjiang has the highest rate of AIDS virus infections in China, which makes syringe stabbing particularly heinous. However, there have been no reports so far of deaths nor symptoms of infectious diseases, viruses or toxic chemicals having been administered.
Large numbers of police have been deployed in the centre of Urumqi, and Xinhua was reporting that calm had been restored by Thursday evening. But this is not a comfortable position for the Party boss in the province, Wang Lequan, particularly in the run up to Oct. 1’s 60th anniversary of Communist rule. To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, one riot may be regarded as a misfortune; two looks like carelessness.