Jul 07

Details And Time line of the Urumqi Riot

Written by Charles Liu on Tuesday, July 7th, 2009 at 5:03 am
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Details and time line of the incident as reported by China News Service:

Details of Urumqi violence: rioters kill Han people on sight

In the afternoon of 7/5, a crowd gathered in Xinjian’s capital Urumqi, attacking pedestrians, torching vehicles. They toppled street dividers, causing traffic to stop. Police have arrived to maintain order.

On 7/5, violent incidents involving vandalism, arson, murder occurred in the City of Urumqi. Up to now, 140 people have died, 816 injuries, 196 vehicles torched and vandalized, some store fronts and two buildings were torched. Police have arrested over 100 people suspected of assault, vandalism, robbery, and arson. Right now, Urumqi traffic and social order have returned to normal.

On 7/6 local authority reported the situation during a news conference. Preliminary investigation indicates this incident is premeditated. Separatist element headed by Kadeer’s “World Uygher Congress” has exploited the Guangdong Shaoguan incident to incite, organize, and coordinate these severe violent crimes in China.

On 6/26, a group brawl between Uygher and local workers occurred in Shaoguan, Guangdong. It is an ordinary public safety case being handled carefully. After the incident “World Uygher Congress” used it to denigrate China’s ethnic and religious policy, using it to foment unrest, create disturbance. Some inside China also started inciting on the Web.

Since the evening of 7/4, some netizens on QQ, forums and blogs, started calling for gathering on 7/5 5pm at Urumqi Square’s south gate, to coincide with “World Uygher Congress” demonstration overseas. Large amounts of text messages were sent to gather people towards Urumqi. “World Uygher Congress” leader Kadeer publicly announced that a large incident will occur in Urumqi, and asked people within China to observe and collect information pertaining to this incident.

As directed by outside, two hundred some people gathered at the Square at 6:20pm on 7/5, and was dispersed by the police. Around 5:40pm, around 300 people were on Renmin Road, South Gate area blocking traffic, was again dispersed by police. Around 8:18pm, people started vandalizing, tipping over street dividers, destroying three buses, the police again dispersed them. The incident escalated around 8:30pm, rioters started burning police cars along Jiefan Road South, Longchuan street, chasing and assaulting pedestrians. 700-800 people moved toward West Gate area from the Square, looting, burning, killing along the way. Initial investigation at 11:30pm shows, 3 people were killed, 26 injured, including 5 police, as the incident escalated for the worse.

In order to protect Urumqi’s social stability, local government and police headed towards People’s Square, South Gate, Tuanjie Street, stable district, Xinhua Road South areas according to law. At 10:00pm, rioting in the main streets and business districts were under control. But the rioters altered their course and split down multiple streets, acting out outside the patrolled area, in streets and alleys in the fringe of town. Han people were killed on sight, cars were trashed, torched. Local authority immediately adjusted tactic, organizing a mobile teams to rescue citizens and arrest rioters district by district.

Right now there are still people on-line inciting, plotting to create, expand this incident. Local authority is strengthening prevention and control, resolving to ensure societal stability, protecting citizen’s life and property.

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27 Responses to “Details And Time line of the Urumqi Riot”

  1. S.K. Cheung Says:

    The timeline and some of the other details seem reasonable enough, barring other sources. But paragraphs 3 and 4, and the first 4 words of paragraph 6, suggest the utilization of some “editorial license”.

  2. FOARP Says:

    If this were an article on Wiki I’d fill the whole damn thing with ‘citation needed’ notices, delete sentences like “denigrate China’s ethnic and religious policy, using it to foment unrest, create disturbance”, “It is an ordinary public safety case being handled carefully.” as POV, and blast in more details about Shaoguan and the current Han backlash. Not a great effort I’m afraid Chuckie-poo. Hell, since these are all just CNS rifs, why didn’t you just post the link?

  3. Chalres Liu Says:

    Foarse, the link was posted on top. I decided to translate this as “an alternative voice to the prevailing, seemingy controlled news reporting in the West”.

  4. FOARP Says:

    @Charles Liu – Yes, it must be controlled, I mean, they’re all reporting these things as if they were seeing them with their own eyes . . .

  5. Chalres Liu Says:

    The news have been reportng that unlike Tibet riot, the Xinjiang riot were open to foreign media.

  6. raventhorn4000 Says:

    Interesting Idea FOARP,

    Perhaps we should scrub all Medias through the Wiki citation standard.

  7. Steve Says:

    Charles, it’s good to hear both sides but where’s the proof? I see accusations but no proof so far. Wasn’t it reported that Kadeer’s phone calls were targeted and she said such and such? Why don’t they release the recordings? Why don’t they release the instant messages, tweets, etc? It’s fine to accuse but eventually you have to back it up. That’s why all these accusations seem very preliminary to me; not necessarily false but just preliminary.

    You are correct that the foreign media was allowed into the area on a guided tour, unlike what happened in Lhasa. That was smart. China lost control of the message by barring reporters. However, the guided tour led the reporters right into that other demonstration of the mothers and wives and the image of that one older lady seems to be the “keeper” in the media, since it made for such great video.

    We’ve seen both Chinese and western videos so far, so maybe we ought to try one that isn’t either. This is what Al Jazeera (whom some have claimed previously is a good independent source) has to say about it:

    Do you think their approach is fair?

  8. S.K. Cheung Says:

    “The news have been reportng that unlike Tibet riot, the Xinjiang riot were open to foreign media.”
    —probably one of the best things China has learned since 3/14. There are, of course, ironies on so many levels. In trying to control the message last year by banning foreigners, China in fact lost said control. And this year, China’s response to the riots is seen in a better light because of the availability of “facts” that can be corroborated, rather than rumours that couldn’t. Of course, netizens last year were quick to excuse China’s banning of foreigners because foreign reporters were apparently untrustworthy and only out to sensationalize the story…so either that was a lame excuse (which it certainly was), or the extra year and change has made those folks much better journalists.

  9. reese Says:


  10. Richie Sun Says:

    Obviously,opinions are divided.This is good.We can learn more things through differient view–both the incident itself and culture differences between east and west.Scenery described by others is always the most beautiful.So without turth,everything is nothing.The best way to check out is to go to urumqi yourself.Then you will find your own answer.There are really great differences between Occident and Orient.So something is hard to comprehend to each other,and media’s commercial interest and politicians’ greed also contribute to the embarrassed situation.

  11. raventhorn4000 Says:

    I think we can acknowledge the extent of Western “Cultural Genocide” on some Chinese living abroad. Obviously, many of these Chinese have no understanding of China.

  12. Steve Says:

    @ R4K: Can you explain western “cultural genocide” on Chinese living abroad more thoroughly? I’m not sure what you mean by that. What exactly does this genocide entail? Do you mean speaking Chinese is forbidden? Or celebrating any Chinese cultural tradition is forbidden?

    Are you talking about Chinese expats living abroad while at university or on an expat work assignment? Or are you talking about Chinese immigrants who have emigrated to other countries permanently? If you are talking about permanent immigrants, who judges whether these people have or do not have understanding of China? How is it obvious? I’m just curious since I’m guessing you have had experience with such people.

  13. raventhorn4000 Says:

    “What exactly does this genocide entail?”

    Good question, Steve.

    I never could fully understand “Cultural genocide”, since it’s technically a made up term that has no legal meaning.

    So I guess we can make it mean whatever we feel like, and hence, whatever we say is “cultural genocide” is “cultural genocide”.

    For example, I will just assert that US immigration policy is committing “cultural genocide” on all immigrants, because of shear number of English speaking people in US, all laws are written in English, Roadsigns, etc.

    But let’s not talk about what China is doing, let’s just stick to a made up definition and apply it to US.


  14. raventhorn4000 Says:

    But perhaps we can say what “cultural genocide” is not.

    For example, a bar in Daximen district of Urumqi, named the “Bird’s Nest”, (hmm… reference to what, I wonder?), primarily frequented by Uighur youths.

    They play Rap in Uighur, interjected with occasional Mandarin and English.

    1 group, the “Six City”, named after the 6 ancient cities of Uighur Kingdom.

    Their song is hosted on Chinese net, tudou.com.


  15. Steve Says:

    @ R4K: Man, that rap is baaad!! 🙁

    I’m with you on cultural genocide in that it really has no defined meaning so anyone can label anything that way by waxing or waning the definition to fit the situation. However, I’m not sure how you can label US immigration policy as cultural genocide under even a broad definition in that Spanish is almost our second language here and you can vote in a variety of languages. In fact, the language thing is quite a controversy with some people. I would think CG would be if languages besides English were forbidden and no cultural festivals were allowed, etc.

    BTW, I don’t buy the CG argument in China either. Though I might not agree with everything the government does, I think they’ve been relatively accommodating to other cultures within China provided those cultures toe the political line. I’ve never seen it as a problem over there. In fact, I think it’s been getting better over the years and will continue to do so.

  16. raventhorn4000 Says:

    Unfortunately, with the mounting outside criticisms against China, many Chinese now would become supportive of a Hardline policy on minorities, especially Uighurs and Tibetans.

    Liberal CCP’s would be hard pressed to advocate any more liberal policies in Tibet and Xinjiang.

    While Hu and Wen (and the future leaders) are pragmatic enough to see that liberal policies are still necessary in Tibet and Xinjiang, not just for the minorities, but also for Han Chinese too, I doubt any more liberal policies will come any time soon.

    What will most likely happen is more securities, and probably more military presence.

    It’s not what anyone wants, but it is the inevitable escalation.

    And with more people and more development and more military in Xinjiang and Tibet, “assimilation” will happen even faster.

    That’s happens when ethnic policies become a National security concern.


    I am sometimes amused by Westerners who talk about giving Democracy to Chinese and then lamenting Chinese Nationalism.

    What they do not understand is Chinese people are quite Nationalistic. That’s how we keep coming back as 1 country.

    What they also fail to understand is that, historically, the Chinese government is often LESS Nationalistic than the average Chinese people, for pragmatic reasons.

    They think that somehow the Chinese Government is fanning nationalism among the Chinese people. That’s just wrong.

    Often time, the Chinese government is the one reacting to Street level Chinese nationalism, by trying to control and contain it, and prevent it from going out of hand.

  17. Steve Says:

    @ R4K #16: You wrote, “Unfortunately, with the mounting outside criticisms against China, many Chinese now would become supportive of a Hardline policy on minorities, especially Uighurs and Tibetans.”

    Why do you think there is MOUNTING outside criticisms against China? From what I read, most of the articles blamed the recent riots on the Uyghurs. They acknowledged that current minority policies have problems and need to be adjusted, but for the most part were sympathetic to the Han Chinese who were murdered for no reason. Of course, you can always find critical articles but you can find that about any subject from any country. I’m talking about the majority coverage. Everyone here knows I’m up on things Chinese yet no one has criticized China to me lately. In fact, no one has even mentioned the riots. I don’t think they’ve had much of an impact, to be honest. I think they’re seen more as an internal matter. Xinjiang has never had the impact of Tibet here. In fact, Xinjiang didn’t even have a “face” (equivalent to the DL) until the Chinese government pushed Kadeer on to the international stage. Even now, no one I know over here has ever heard of Kadeer.

    The government should not push liberal or conservative policies in either Tibet or Xinjiang. They should push practical, realistic policies that are effective.

  18. raventhorn4000 Says:


    It’s not merely isolated to Kadeer or the Xinjiang riot.

    It has been a long running series of events from Pre-Olympics to today.

    One can see the rise of the anti-CNN and other similar groups in Chinese population.

    “The government should not push liberal or conservative policies in either Tibet or Xinjiang. They should push practical, realistic policies that are effective.”

    Yes, except “practical and realistic” depends on what problems they are trying to solve.

    What’s good for “National security” may or may not be egalitarian or fair.

  19. FOARP Says:

    @RT4K – Or maybe this has been rising since just after 1989, a steady radicalisation of Chinese youth against the west in every instance where something happened in which people might have been inclined to blame the CCP. From 1998 onward we’ve seen every piece of cack-handedness by the US or any other western government converted into propaganda gold by the CCP, although the US often made it very easy for them to do so. Tell me, just what did the students who took to the streets in 2001 to protest the US, in 2005 to protest Japan, or 2008 to protest France achieve? Nothing concrete – but their protests were tolerated because they suited the CCP’s interests, directing anger away from the CCP and towards the outside world. Had they not done so they would not have been tolerated. In reality this has been going on for much longer than the past couple of years, back to the mid 90s, a time when most both in China and outside expected the CCP to fall and China to go democratic. This didn’t happen, the CCP proved itself a great survivor and western pro-democracy sympathisers proved themselves indescribably complacent.

  20. raventhorn4000 Says:


    Give yourself a rest on the “steady radicalisation of Chinese youth against the west in every instance where something happened in which people might have been inclined to blame the CCP”.

    Chinese young people complain about official corruption all the time on the net. They hardly blame them on the West. What “radicalization” program is the CCP conducting? Just a few state controlled media programs that portrays West in some bad light? Gee, hmmm… Is that what you would call “radicalization”?

    I guess we are going back to discuss NED’s “radicalization” program of Uighurs and Tibetans and Western Youths.

    Oh yeah, “2005 to protest Japan”?

    Hello? Have you seen South Koreans protest Japan? They do it far more often than Chinese students do. Finger Chopping: A group of South Korean nationalists protesting against the Yasukuni Shrine in 2001 by chopping off some of their fingers. Hmm… Awfully radicalized?

    You have truly “culturally genocide” a perfectly average English word.

  21. Steve Says:

    @ R4K: You’re doing it again, one sentence paragraphs. Could you PLEASE take less space so people don’t have to scroll so much to get through the posts? I’d clean up the blog immensely since you leave a lot of long comments.

    FOARP kept his comment entirely to China and you took that from China to NED and South Korea, which have nothing to do with his comment. It’s not sarcasm and it’s entirely off point. There are arguments to be made against what FOARP wrote, but bringing up other countries or organizations has nothing to do with them.

    BTW, big international corporations in Beijing were told by the CCP government in advance not to schedule any meetings around the time of the Japan protests there. It’s no secret that the government was aware of them in advance. I heard that right from the source, and before the protests occurred. Incidentally, the corporation I was involved with was grateful to the CCP for the warning because they had a corporate meeting scheduled for that time and were able to reschedule it and avoid the protests.

  22. raventhorn4000 Says:

    “It’s no secret that the government was aware of them in advance.”

    And you are implying what? Government organization just because of knowledge? OK, I’ll bite. Kadeer had advanced knowledge of the protest in Xinjiang, didn’t she?

    And I was asking a simple question by examples, What was this “radicalization” that FOARP was talking about? It is like NED’s program, or like the South Korean protests? (Since obviously, he was being very vague with the use of that word.) 🙂

    Last I looked, “radicalization” is not a word reserved for China. 🙂

  23. Steve Says:

    @ R4K: I’m not implying anything, I’m talking about the Japan protests. Both you and FOARP mentioned them. This has nothing to do with Kadeer and nothing to do with radicalization.

    Sometimes there are no double meanings.

  24. cat Says:

    “Around 5:40pm, around 300 people were on Renmin Road”

    This should read: “Around 7:40pm….”


    Also, although this is one of the official timelines, it appears to be incomplete. Other sources say the students gathered in People’s Square at 5pm, not 6.20pm. 6.20 appears to be when security forces took action to disperse the crowd.


  25. admin Says:

    NYT: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/18/world/asia/18xinjiang.html

    NYT: how the urumqi riots developed

  26. tanjin Says:

    More detailed evidence of Urumqi “7.5” riot organization and execution

    “The backstage and frontstage of Urumqi “7.5” riot”

    “”WUC planned 7-5 riot” Xinhua News Agency reports the complete process”

  27. tanjin Says:

    YouTube VIDEO: Detailed evidence of Urumqi “7.5″ riot organization and execution

    1. 新疆 Xinjiang 乌鲁木齐 Urumqi 7·5事件始末 1 of 3



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