Locking Down Beijing

Given that the October 1 celebrations are being inflated beyond all imagination in the state-controlled media in China, it seems that Western media coverage of the pre-fete is arriving only in dribs and drabs.

However, with the explosion of a Uighur restaurant in Beijing’s Xinijiekou neighborhood, eyes might begin to turn to the PRC capital with a hint of greater interest. Pulitzer-prize winning reporter Ian Johnson reports from Beijing about the incident here, but his report’s greatest value is to mention the Twitter photos of an American in Beijing who was on the scene. Of course, one has to scroll through all kinds of other random expatriate junk to find them, but the photos are better than those being offered in major newspapers today via Agency France Presse.

After the blast Xinjiekou -- via Maggie Rauch Twitter photo feed (click pic for link)

After the blast Xinjiekou -- via Maggie Rauch Twitter photo feed (click pic for link)

Today’s paper version of the “World Journal” [世界日报] notes that 18 were wounded in the blast and that locals were incredulous that is was, as Xinhua has been reporting, an explosion from the gas stove in the kitchen. World Journal further reports that a public security inspection had been through the restaurant in the prior week. Locals were quoted as saying “Just before ‘October 1st’ a Uighur restaurant is blown up in Beijing, now isn’t that strange?” Yes, it is strange. They attributed this to interethnic violence, e.g., implying that some Han nationalists may have engaged in some foul play to remind the Uighurs they weren’t welcome in the Chinese capital.

One coincidence with the bombing, though it isn’t drawn by the World Journal, is that yesterday was the first sentencing/accusation court session for many of the Uighurs detained in the aftermath of the violence in Xinjiang this past July. World Journal further reports that while Xinhua now quotes Public Security as saying they had detained 1600 people for various illegal riotous acts, the figure contradicts Xinhua’s earlier interview with Urumuqi’s head of public security who had stated last month that 718 had been detained.

No one has reported on it, and I myself have not dived into Chinese BBS to find out, but one would assume that discussion of the explosion in Beijing is being pretty well censored on the Chinese internet in favor of poetry about statistics in the motherland.

And of course Uighur activist Ribiya Khadeer remains bubbling around the edge in the news, having been denied entry to Taiwan.