Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan would be well advised to take back his remarks on what has happened in China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.
Mr Erdogan's description of the riots in Xinjiang as "a kind of genocide" is an irresponsible and groundless accusation. The fact that 137 of the 184 persons killed in the riots are Han Chinese speaks volumes for the nature of the event.
There is no doubt that the riots were plotted by Uygur separatists outside the country to split the unity of different ethnic groups in the region. The rioters just attempted to sow seeds of animosity between the Uygur and the Han Chinese, which they expected would carry forward their conspiracy of separating Xinjiang from China.
Turning a blind eye to what the Chinese government has done to restore order in Urumqi, Mr Erdogan said "we have difficulty understanding how China's leadership can remain a spectator in the face of these events".
Chinese leaders are the last people who want to see happenings like these in the largest ethnic autonomous region. The harmony of different ethnic groups has been the top priority of what both the central and local governments have been making unremitting efforts to consolidate for many years. And, so has been the steady improvement of living standards of ethnic minority groups all over the country.
These are evidenced by the preferential policies of the central government for ethnic minority groups. For example, the family planning policy applies only to the Han Chinese and never to ethnic minority groups. Candidates for national college entrance examinations from ethnic minority groups get an extra 20 points for their enrollment.
It is quite common in the increasingly globalized world for people from different ethnic groups to live together in the same land. So it is insensitive and ridiculous to interpret the co-inhabitance of the Uygur and Han Chinese in Xinjiang as the Han people's assimilation of the Uygur ethnic group.
Actually, the Uygur people have also spread across the country during the past three decades, in pursuit of their fortune. It is the economic reform that has made such migration possible. So how can Mr Erdogan accuse the Chinese government of assimilating the Uygur ethnic group?
It is the rioters' venting of racial hatred, the atrocities committed by them and the rumors spread by separatists that have created misunderstanding between the Uygur and Han communities. As a result, people from both communities suffered great loss of lives and property. Obviously, such turmoil is in the interest of neither community. Nor is it in the interest of the region's economy. More than 80,000 tourists cancelled or delayed their trips to the region last week.
The efforts the central and local governments have been making to restore order and clear the misunderstanding between the Uygur and Han communities are what local residents of different ethnic groups really want and need for leading a peaceful and happy life.
Mr Erdogan's remarks, which constitute interference in China's internal affairs, are the last thing the Uygur and Han Chinese would find helpful when they are looking forward to lasting peace.
(China Daily 07/14/2009 page9)