As this Bystander expected, official heads have started to roll over the revival of unrest in Urumqi. Li Zhi, party boss in Urumqi, has been sacked, Xinhua reports. So, too, Xinjiang police chief, Liu Yaohua. These sackings represent relatively rare cases of regional party leaders being held responsible for social unrest, but even Tibet hasn’t seen the same sort of Han backlash that Urumqi has experienced, and that backlash is deeply troubling for Beijing.
The next question is whether Li’s dismissal will be sufficient to take the sting out of the demands for axing Xinjiang’s party secretary Wang Lequan. Wang is also a member of the Politburo and an ally of President Hu Jintao, who visited the region late last month with Wang accompanying him on his inspection tour, so Wang’s firing would reverberate far beyond the region.