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"Canada can, within a positive friendly atmosphere, ask the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan situation."

Tensions Widen in China As Police Arrest Uighurs

April 9, 2008

By GORDON FAIRCLOUGH
April 7, 2008 8:40 a.m.

SHANGHAI -- Chinese paramilitary police sealed off a market town in
central China last month and detained dozens of ethnic Uighurs, local
residents and a government official said, in the latest sign of widening
tension with the country's ethnic minorities.

The arrests, which occurred in late March in Henan province but weren't
reported at the time, appear to be part of an expanding Chinese
government effort to prevent dissatisfaction among Turkic Uighurs from
exploding into the kind of unrest that has swept Tibetan areas of the
country.

Witnesses said hundreds of armed police descended on the Henan town of
Shifosi, where there is a significant population of Uighur jade traders.
"About 50 Uighurs were arrested," said a local government official who
asked not to be named.

Word of the Henan incident came as unrest in Tibetan areas continued. On
Sunday, police attempted to prevent a group of Tibetans from joining a
religious procession with Buddhist monks in Sichuan province, sparking a
confrontation, according to a local Tibetan resident.

Tibetans threw stones at police, who responded by firing nonlethal
antiriot rounds at the crowd, injuring several, the resident said. Calls
to the police station in the town where the incident occurred went
unanswered on Monday.

Uighurs (pronounced WEE-gers) are predominantly Muslim and are the
largest ethnic group in the northwest border region of Xinjiang, which
covers about a sixth of China's territory and is rich in oil and other
resources.

Uighurs' grievances with the government are similar to those voiced by
Tibetans. Many complain of restrictions on civil liberties and religious
practices, and say that they also face economic discrimination by
China's majority Han Chinese.

On March 23, before the police arrived in Shifosi, Uighurs in the
southern Xinjiang city of Hotan, raised banners and passed out leaflets
calling on fellow Uighurs to join an independence movement. Those
demonstrators were quickly arrested, the government says. Hotan is the
source of some of China's most prized jade.

The Hotan government says the protests involved a "small number" of
people, but Uighur exile groups say the actual number may have been in
the hundreds.

Uighur activists say that once unrest started in Tibetan areas in early
April, Chinese authorities began rounding up suspected Uighur dissidents
in an effort to forestall similar protests in Xinjiang during the run-up
to the Beijing Olympics in August.

Xinjiang "has so many natural resources, so the Chinese government has
been extremely ruthless when it comes to cracking down on Uighurs," says
Rebiya Kadeer, president of the Uyghur American Association in Washington.

Ms. Kadeer, a Uighur human-rights campaigner who was imprisoned in China
for more than five years, says that China is intent on creating a "very
stable situation" to avoid disruptions to the Olympic torch relay, which
is scheduled to pass through Xinjiang in late June. "Every day, Uighurs
are being detained or arrested. Uighurs are paying a tremendous price
for the Olympic torch relay," Ms. Kadeer said.

The international legs of the torch relay, which passed through London
Sunday on its way to Paris and then San Francisco, has become the focus
of raucous anti-China protests by a range of activists for causes
ranging from Tibet to Darfur. (See related article3.)

Sun Weide, a spokesman for the Beijing Olympics, on Monday criticized
protesters who tried to disrupt the relay in London. "A few Tibetan
separatists attempted to sabotage the torch relay in London, and we
strongly denounce their disgusting behavior," Mr. Sun said.

Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee, who was
in Beijing for meetings Monday, said that the committee "has expressed
its serious concern" about the situation in Tibet and "calls for a rapid
peaceful resolution" there.

Write to Gordon Fairclough at gordon.fairclough@wsj.com4
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