New policies introduced to manage China’s northwest Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region will not do enough to improve stability in the region, according to exiled Uyghur leader Rebiya Kadeer.
The policies, put forward by China’s Central Government at the first work conference on Xinjiang held in Beijing last month, promise to focus on bringing “prosperity” and “development” to the region.
They include new regulations on taxation that will supposedly return 5 percent of profits derived by companies from the extraction of natural resources in Xinjiang back to the region.
But Kadeer sees not a change in the underlying principles of Beijing’s policy toward Xinjiang, but “only a change in its shape or appearance.”
“If the nature of the policy does not change, slight modifications will not bring any stability in the region in the short term, let alone the long.”
Kadeer called the new tax on natural gas and petroleum “a progressive step,” but pointed out that the Beijing had not clearly laid out plans for how the tax would be used in the region.
“This step, while in the right direction, is still not where it needs to be because paying a 5 percent tax to the regional and local governments does not mean that Uyghurs will benefit from it. As has happened before, the benefits will likely flow to Han authorities and Han Chinese [migrants to the region],” she said.
Chinese President Hu Jintao said during the work conference that the policies were being introduced to benefit “local population.”
But in the past, efforts to improve the infrastructure of Xinjiang has largely led to improved roads and facilities used by the extractive industries and Han majority migrants that set up businesses and communities that dilute Uyghur cultural heritage, she said.
“There is no official mechanism or specific regulation guaranteeing that Uyghurs will benefit from the 5 percent tax contribution,” Kadeer said.
“The regional and local governments are not elected democratically according to the will of the local Uyghur people. They are not mentally or ethically prepared to serve the Uyghurs, so this empty promise would not provide a profit for Uyghurs.”
She added that the recent appointment of Zhang Chunxian as party secretary to the region would not effectively solve ethnic unrest between Han and Uyghurs in Xinjiang.
“He was appointed, not elected. Regardless of his personality or capability as a leader, I believe that an appointed leader can not solve the ethnic problems,” she said.
“Compared to Wang Lequan’s declaration of ‘hit as soon as they raise their heads, destroy them while they are still a sprout’ and ‘the struggle against spilitism is a struggle of life or death,’ Zhang looks much more ‘liberal.’ But his first announcement for the region was an intent to ‘crackdown on enemy forces.’”
“Which version is the true Zhang Chunxian, we will see in the future.”
Kadeer called on Beijing to end the execution of and release all Uyghur protesters involved in last year’s July 5 ethnic unrest in the Xinjiang capital Urumqi, which left 200 mostly Han Chinese dead.
She also called for a start to talks with the “true representatives” of Uyghurs in Xinjiang and those abroad in exile on how to resolve ethnic unrest in the region.