A casual glance of English news bulletins on the web reveal articles such as the following:
- China cracks down in Inner Mongolia to thwart protests (LA Times)
- China Clamps Down in Bid to Halt Mongolian Protests (WSJ)
- China must avoid force in Mongolia: Amnesty (AFP)
I am dismayed at the tone of the coverage from the West.
If a potentially socially explosive situation arises anywhere in the world – whether it is in L.A. between blacks and whites or between tribes in Somalia – I’d think the responsible thing is to urge restraint amongst the people and for the government to make a show of force. It may even be time to impose some restrictions on movements (as local conditions dictate) for heads to cool down. I’d not call sending in police and guards to keep the peace and urge cooler head “crack down” – or “clamping down.”
The most recent protests apparently have arisen in response to the killing of an ethnic Mongolian herder by a coal driver who was ethnic Han. Tensions are high not just because of ethnic elements, but because of social and economics elements (the person killed was a herder, from a socioeconomic background of someone who may not have benefited generally as much from China’s recent economic development as someone with skills to drive a truck). There may also be tensions arising between communities regarding how much those who benefit from mining should compensate those who suffer most from environment damages that arise from such activities.
In any case, the government appears to be taking the right actions, seeking calm.
The Strait Times repoted:
THE top political leader of China’s vast northern region of Inner Mongolia had a meeting with local students in a bid to placate public anger, state media reported, after the hit-and-run death of a herder sparked six days of protests by ethnic Mongolians.
In the first response from the ruling Party to the demonstrations, Inner Mongolia’s Communist Party chief Hu Chunhua told students and teachers on Friday he was representing the government to seek their views on the situation and said’public anger has been immense’.
‘Please be assured, teachers and students, that the suspects … will be punished severely and quickly, so that the … rights of victims and their families can be resolutely safeguarded,’ the Inner Mongolian Daily cited Mr Hu as saying.
The xinjiang riots of a few years ago arose in large part from ethnic rumors and innuendos of a factory brawl in Shaoguan (fanned in part by outside forces).
This is not time for inflaming tensions, or the urging government to leave a vacuum. This is time for government to step in and take an active role to lead and preserve peace.