Xi confers honorary counterterrorism title on Xinjiang armed police
Monday marks 12th anniversary of July 5 riots, showcasing deterrent to terrorists, foreign interference
Published: Jul 05, 2021 10:03 PM Updated: Jul 06, 2021 09:22 AM


Xi Jinping, chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), signed an order to confer an honorary counterterrorism title on a special operations squadron of the armed police forces in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, which comes 12 years after the deadly terrorist attacks that took place in Urumqi, regional capital of Xinjiang, on July 5, 2009. 

Against the backdrop of the US and some Western countries' anti-China campaign by hyping Xinjiang-related topics, China's policies in its Xinjiang region have yielded achievements: No violent attacks happened in four years and local residents' lives have greatly improved. It presents a stark contrast to 12 years ago when the terrorist attacks took place. Analysts said the conferring of the honorary title is also a deterrent to violent and terrorist forces in the region and recognition of the contributions made by border soldiers to maintain the country's unity and security.

On July 5, 2009, terrorists gathered on Jiefangnan Road and Heping Road in Urumqi. They smashed shops, turned buses and cars over and set them on fire. They beat and attacked people in the areas, according to witnesses reached by the Global Times.

The terrorist attacks, which were engineered by the "East Turkistan" terrorists inside and outside of China, caused 197 deaths and injured 1,700. A total of 331 stores and 1,325 vehicles were smashed and burned, and many public facilities were damaged, according to a white paper released by the State Council Information Office in March 2021.

In the past years, the Xinjiang regional government has taken various measures in fighting against terrorism and extremism, including setting up the vocational education and training centers, which have been proven to be effective. However, the US and some Western countries, out of political purposes, had attributed the July 5 riots to "conflicts" between Han people and ethnic minority people to sow discord and exonerated separatists. They also smeared China's anti-terrorist measures as "oppression" of ethnic groups in the Xinjiang region, analysts said. 

In recent years, achievements in poverty alleviation and vocational training in Xinjiang have consolidated the peace and stability of the region. But in a still challenging environment at home and abroad, a strong anti-terrorism campaign and intelligent armed forces can never be absent, Wang Jiang, a research fellow with the Institute for Frontier Region of China at Zhejiang Normal University, told the Global Times on Monday.

"The honorary title to armed police forces also comes on the heels of the centennial celebrations of the Communist Party of China [CPC], which shows how the CPC's leadership recognizes the special operations squadron's indelible contributions to safeguarding sovereignty integrity and national stability," Wang said.

Wang also noted that "it also warned those foreign forces who have attempted to whitewash the terrorist nature of the July 5 riots that their efforts are doomed to be futile."

Twelve years after the deadly July 5 riots in Urumqi, regional capital of Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, survivors and their families are invited to a memorial press briefing held in Beijing on Monday. Photo: cnsphoto

Twelve years after the deadly July 5 riots in Urumqi, regional capital of Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, survivors and their families are invited to a memorial press briefing held in Beijing on Monday. Photo: cnsphoto

Also on Monday, the Xinjiang regional government held a press conference in Beijing with victims of the July 5 riots and their families and also raised the alarm at a time when external forces are trying to send Xinjiang once again into a state of social unrest.

Zhao Aiqin is the wife of a victim who was a bus driver in Urumqi. The bus driver was seriously attacked by a mob on his way to work, leaving him with a lacerated upper lip, a collapsed nose and a blow to the head, and all his front teeth knocked out.

"He used to love to talk and laugh, but he became taciturn after the incident… As a result of living in this environment for a long time, my youngest son also developed autism," Zhao said.  

Sawutjan Sawur, a police officer in Urumqi, on Monday recalled an incident he experienced. "Around 8 pm [that day], we were suddenly attacked by hundreds of rioters, who also chased innocent members of the public along the road, and smashed and burned shops along the street." 

Sawur said that he and his colleagues formed a human wall to protect tourists and the public, but the mob broke through the defense line. Rioters pelted him with stones and bricks so hard that he fainted from bleeding and exhaustion.  

"They [rioters] are the enemy of the people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang, and are also the enemy of our Uyghur people…" Sawur said. "Now we are living a stable life in Xinjiang, and we cherish today's life."

Elijian Anayit, a spokesperson for the Xinjiang regional government, said that Xinjiang has had zero cases of violence and terrorism for four straight years, and the number of criminal and public security cases, including dangerous security incidents, has declined significantly. The infiltration of extremism has been effectively curbed. 

"Do anti-China forces in the US and the West really care about human rights in Xinjiang? Are they really concerned about the real situation? Not at all!" Xu Guixiang, spokesperson of the Xinjiang regional government, said at the press conference. 

"Their fundamental aim is to use the so-called Xinjiang issue as a tool and the 'protection of human rights' as an excuse to undertake political manipulation, promote hegemony, attempt to undermine the stability and development of Xinjiang, and undermine the basic human rights of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang. This will once again send Xinjiang into frequent violent and terrorist activities and social unrest," Xu said.