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Chinese and Western Media Bias Claims in Xinjiang “Terrorist Attack”

On April 23 2013, a week after the Boston terrorist attack, another terror incident took place in Bachu County of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in which 15 police officers and community workers were killed and 6 suspects were shot dead. The incident was reported as “terrorist attack” in local Chinese media while some western media namely BBC Chinese [zh] and VOA Chinese [zh] maintained some skepticism on the nature of incident. In response the state controlled media, Global Times, accused [zh] western media of bias against China in their reporting and won many echoes in Chinese social media.

However, the Uyghur community also has their doubts and have pleaded with the Chinese authorities to disclose all the details of what had exactly happened in Bachu.

Screen capture of the Bachu incident by via Youtube.

Screen capture of the Bachu incident by via Youtube.

According to a report by Tian Shan Neton [zh], Xinjiang's official media outlet, on April 24, three community workers found some strangers and knives on a regular visit to a family at Bachu county. While they reported the situation to the authorities, the suspects found out and held the three community workers hostage. When the police officers and local government officials arrived, they were attacked by the suspects who also killed the three hostages and burned the house.

The Global Times unveiled more details of the incident on April 25 [zh]. According to the report, the group of suspects were watching terrorist video tapes during the community workers’ visit. There were also many long knives in the house. When police officers and local officials arrived, three hostages had been killed. The head of the police officers used up six bullets in his gun and took shelter in the house. Then the suspects set the house on fire and burned the police officers and local officials to death. The report also criticized western media outlets for avoiding calling the incident a terrorist attack.

Yet, the Uyghur community also cast their doubts upon the “terrorist attack”. Nijatkar from highlighted [zh] some of the questions raised by Uyghur netizens:


As the state controlled media started to unveil the details of the incident, some Uyghur netizens have also raised their doubts.

In reaction to the “visit” of community officials, some netizens questioned their intention and asked whether the officials entered the house with force or used violence in the process. Since the incident took place in an ordinary family home, some netizens said that the authorities should explain the background of their visit.

Some netizens questioned the definition of “extremist [terrorist] video” in news reports while others said that they also possessed a “1.2 meter long knife” at home. Those knives are for decorative purposes.

On Sina Weibo, the biggest micro-blogging platform in China, the mainstream opinion among Han Chinese echoed the Global Times. For example, “Cat-topia” (猫德邦) was very angry [zh] at the U.S response to the Bachu incident:


I was sympathetic with the Boston Bombing victims at first. However upon reading the U.S. State Department's response [zh] to the Bachu terrorist attack incident, I feel that the U.S deserves all these attacks.

“Blue Sky in Snow region” (雪域碧蓝的天) also questioned [zh]:


In the eyes of western countries, terrorist attacks only happen in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan?

Lin Zhibo (林治波), reporter from China Daily, repeated [zh] the Global Times’ criticism of western media:


Repression of rebellions and maintaining national unity is a principle upheld by all countries. We should not care about others’ opinions. We have paid too much attention on foreigners’ opinions and kept refraining from taking action and expressing our own thoughts. In this regard, China should learn from Putin.

“Han Youth Association” (汉青社) believed that [zh] China should alleviate anti-terrorist policy in southern Xinjiang:


The terrorist incident told us again we should not tolerate the terrorists and should strike them hard. The law officers have sacrificed their lives and the terrorists have gained a partial victory. The fact is that the southern part of Xinjiang is now becoming a “Gaza” area in China and the anti-terrorist struggle should be normalized.

However, Ilshat Hesen, a dissent Uyghur writer, blamed the state-run media for their impartial terrorist incident reports that instigate ethnic conflict and hatred:


Whenever there is a “mysterious” terrorist incident in China, you don't have to read the papers to know that:

Firstly it must have been done by Uyghur and the terrorists must be muslim. They are of course the villainous religious extremists and separatists.

Secondly, they are certainly controlled by the “East Turkestan Independent Movement“, the terrorists must have some training in one of the east Turkestan countries. At least one of them must have received training overseas. (Thus they are connected to international terrorism.)

Thirdly, the reports are certainly run exclusively at Tian Shan Net very briefly, in a few sentences without much detail. (So that they can fill in the gap later.)

Fourthly, Hou Hanmin [Xinjiang government spokeswoman] will announce the “terrorist incident” several hours after the attack without the details.

Fifthly, the details of the “terrorist incident” will be unveiled by reporters from Global Times one or two days later.

Sixthly, (it is rather embarrassing for the international terrorists) [the weapons] used by these internationally connected terrorists who were trained in some East Turkestan countries are usually spicy noodles, knives, gasoline, big knives; of course sometimes they would not forget to bring their sticks and lighters.

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