What Listeners Are Saying
Callers to RFA hotlines talk about the deadly ethnic clashes in Urumqi, and the government's response.
- A Shandong woman in her 30s, speaking on RFA’s Mandarin call-in show “Voices of the People” :
“As the saying goes, a year that ends in the number ‘9’ will see trouble. In ’79 there was the Democracy Wall. In ’89 there was the Tiananmen student movement. In ’99 Falun Gong became a target of persecution. And in 2009 there was trouble in Xinjiang. Chinese media say the riots were organized and pre-planned. The CCP [Chinese Communist Party] is a habitual liar. Even if it’s telling the truth this time, it would be hard for us to believe what it says.”
- A stock investor in Jiangsu, speaking on RFA’s Mandarin call-in show “Voices of the People”:
“The Chinese Communist Party will crack down without mercy on anyone—Hans, Tibetans, Uyghurs—if they think the CCP’s hold on power is threatened. The CCP thinks of itself as always being in the right, and that the blame always lies with someone else. They suppress religious freedom. They violate human rights. Xinjiang is a typical case of a popular rebellion against tyranny.”
- A Jilin man in his 50s, speaking on RFA’s Mandarin call-in show “Voices of the People” :
“My heart aches for the disturbance in Xinjiang. The conflict should never have deteriorated like this. I agree with the Shandong caller who said on the show yesterday that the conflict is one between the ruling class and the ruled. The Chinese media say that the riots were orchestrated by external forces. That’s what they said about stuff 20 years ago. One hundred and fifty-six people were killed and more than 1,000 injured. This was a huge event. Where did all that hatred come from? Everyone values their lives. The Chinese Communist Party has not learned a lesson from all those mass incidents that took place over the years. They always turn to the troops to resolve problems. The more you suppress [people], the harder they will rise up against you.”
- A 28-year-old unemployed man from Xi’an, speaking on RFA’s Mandarin call-in show “Voices of the People” :
“As Chinese, each of us has the responsibility to maintain the stability and development of our country and promote unity among all ethnic groups. The Urumqi incident was orchestrated by external forces led by Rebiya [Kadeer]. They are out to ruin ethnic harmony and social development in Xinjiang in order to achieve their unspeakable goal. They are the enemies of our country.”
- A Mr. Zhao from Jiangsu, speaking on RFA’s Mandarin call-in show “Voices of the People” :
“Our TV stations are playing footage of the Xinjiang riots again and again. They have labeled the incident one involving beating, smashing, and burning. This is a serious label to use. Television news reports say that more than 40 bodies were found in a back alley. But it does not say who killed them. Only when the Han and the Uyghurs unite to fight against the CCP can the people be victorious.”
- A Jiangsu man in his 30s, speaking on RFA’s Mandarin call-in show “Listener Hotline”:
“The Chinese Communist Party says that Rebiya [Kadeer] stirred up the riots in Xinjiang from abroad. And last year they said that the Dalai Lama was behind the riots in Tibet. I hope people will not believe such nonsense. Just think about it. Was there someone behind the mass incidents in Guizhou, Yunnan, and Hunan also? The Chinese Communist Party does not reflect upon itself to find the cause of the problem. Its armed police have long engaged in high-handed repression in Xinjiang. Rebellion was therefore expected.”
- A Xi’an man in his 40s, speaking on RFA’s Mandarin call-in show “Listener Hotline” :
“I believe what the Chinese media say—that the smashing and looting and burning in Xinjiang were orchestrated by the Uyghurs living abroad. The riots wreaked havoc on the stability and economic development of Xinjiang. I am furious that foreign media reported that the Uyghurs had engaged in a peaceful march. I would like to suggest to the President of the United States not to meet with Rebiya, who supports terrorism and separatism. I urge the Chinese dissidents living in exile not to associate themselves with the likes of her.”
- A Sichuan man in his 20s, speaking on RFA’s Mandarin call-in show “Listener Hotline” :
“I have been reading foreign press reports on the riots in Xinjiang. I think they have been one-sided. They say that Chinese troops opened fire on the protesters, but they do not mention that the Han Chinese were being killed by the mob. What happened to ‘fair and balanced’? Some people who did not like the Chinese Communist Party before are now wondering if it has been wrongly accused all this time by foreign media. I am extremely angry. I don’t think foreign media have done a good job this time around.”
- A Fujian man, speaking on RFA’s Mandarin call-in show “Listener Hotline”:
“Could Rebiya [Kadeer] be so evil as to incite unarmed civilians to engage in riots and get themselves killed? To say that she is behind this is the one-sided story of the Chinese government. The Chinese government is good at making these pre-emptive strikes. I fear that if more ethnic minorities are killed, there will be even fewer of them left in the vast land of Xinjiang.”
- A Guangdong man, speaking on RFA’s Mandarin call-in show “Listener Hotline”:
“Chinese media say 156 people were killed in the riots. Is the figure believable?”
- A Han Chinese in Urumqi, speaking to RFA’s Cantonese service: “Most of the Uyghurs are friendly people. A few of them are bad. I think only a small number of Uyghur people were involved in the riot. Definitely someone behind the scenes was backing them.”
- A man surnamed Yi from Guangzhou, speaking to RFA's Cantonese service: "The relationship between the Han Chinese and the Uyghurs is always very fragile and dangerous. Their conflict is seen everywhere, even in Guangdong. The status of Uyghurs in Guangzhou is very low. When they commit crimes, the police try to avoid trouble—they handle it casually and don't take it seriously. But if society doesn't operate under rule of law, harmony among ethnic groups is impossible."
- A 58-year-old Manchurian worker from Shaanxi, speaking on RFA’s Mandarin-language call-in program “Voices of the People”: “The riots have deep roots, long in the making. To resolve the issue, the central government must show respect to the will and wishes of the local people. If the Han, as the ruling class, oppress and exploit the minorities, then what we have on our hands is more than clashes between the classes; it is clashes between different nationalities."
- A Shaanxi man surnamed Ma in his 40s, speaking on RFA’s Mandarin-language call-in program “Voices of the People”: "I am against violence. But I am also against Xinjiang independence. Xinjiang is part of China. How can it become independent? The situation requires the wisdom of leaders with a high degree of intelligence...What we have now, ethnic hatred, is bad for the image of the government. The Han Chinese have a nationalistic complex that simply will not tolerate the independence of any province. But we must give ethnic minorities their own space."
- A Shandong lawyer in his 50s, speaking on RFA’s Mandarin-language call-in program “Voices of the People”: "I think that, on the surface, the conflict between the Han and the Uyghurs is an ethnic problem. In reality, it is a conflict between the ruling class and the ruled. Who is responsible for the violence? Who is responsible for planting the seed of the violence? Our TV news says that Rebiya [Kadeer] started it. Who is Rebiya? How can she manipulate events in China? My experience has taught me to believe in the opposite of what our news media say."
- A man surnamed Zhang, a Han Chinese living in Urumqi, speaking to RFA’s Cantonese service: "It is the Hans who initiated the clash yesterday and beat the Uyghurs. But we don’t know the casualties."
- A Uyghur man, Aimu, who lives near the site of the clash, speaking to RFA’s Cantonese service: "The clash happened near my place. The Hans beat the Uyghurs first—500 to 600 Hans were holding clubs. One Uyghur died, and one was injured. But no official is reporting this."
- A Han Chinese man, speaking to RFA’s Cantonese service: “Most of the Uyghurs are kind people … Many Han communities try to organize to protect themselves and keep their homes safe. But they should not vandalize other people’s things. Hans just want to defend themselves.”
- A woman surnamed Zhang in Urumqi, speaking to RFA’s Cantonese service: "The situation is so unstable here. I heard the Uyghurs were trying to fight again on Wednesday. They always bully us. Many Hans died in the riot. I haven’t seen a mess like this for years. I have already stocked a lot of food and water in case of an emergency situation. I’m trying as much as possible not to go out."
- A man surnamed Guo from Young county, Guangxi, speaking to RFA's Cantonese service: "The Chinese authorities now define the Urumqi riot as orchestrated by overseas enemy power and as the violent acts of ethnic separatists. The Communists always use this kind of language to blame ‘some enemies overseas’—they never admit their mistakes might have triggered this tragedy."
- A student surnamed Huang from Beiliu, Guangxi, speaking to RFA's Cantonese service: "I can't believe what the government says, so I wanted to make a phone call to you and get some more objective news information."