(Reuters) – An explosion at a railway station in Urumqi, capital of China’s restive far western region of Xinjiang, on Wednesday injured some people, state media said.
The blast happened at Urumqi’s south railway station, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
The People’s Daily said on its official microblog that some people had been injured and taken to hospital.
Neither of the media outlets said what caused the blast.
Pictures on China’s Twitter-like Weibo service, which Reuters could not independently verify, showed blood on suitcases and debris on the ground in front of the station.
Another picture showed what appeared to be a small blast area near a police post, though it was unclear if there were any casualties in the photograph.
Calls to the Xinjiang government seeking comment were not answered.
More on the blast at Urumqi can be read here.
When I visited Xinjiang in 1997, my only regret was that I only had one month to travel on the Silk Road and Xinjiang was just one of the stops. I told myself that I would definitely be coming back. I loved the snow on Tianshan and the sand dunes in the deserts, the stunning, contrasting landscape, the bustling bazaars with their exotic goods and the beautiful and colourful people. I remember developing a taste for mutton-filled dumplings, BBQ lamb, pillow-sized naan, “hand-held rice” and salt butter tea. I slept in yurts, rode on horseback and basically did all the things that backpackers would do.
Family and work commitment prevented me from visiting Xinjiang again until now. But from the tragic news I’ve been reading all these years, I’m well aware that the Xinjiang today is not the Xinjiang I saw in 1997. Restive? No way! But violence and bloodshed are real. Thanks to rapid progress, Xinjiang is no longer in the backwaters, but thanks to George Bush’s “War On Terror”, terrorism no longer has a central command. Al Qaeda wannabes are sprouting up everywhere.
Urumqi now has a new airport, very different from the one I used in 1997. I believe the demographics in the larger cities like Urumqi must have also been drastically transformed. “Upgraded” in cold, pragmatic terms. The rapid influx of the majority ethnic group into a minority-ruled “autonomous region” already sounds like a recipe for disaster. I’m not sympathising with terrorists, but what makes the consequences of rapid immigration in ethnic minority regions in China worse, is the self-centred, arrogant and insensitive attitude that these immigrants hold. Let me illustrate with an observation I made in Singapore.
When I was working at Orchard Road some years ago, I encountered a situation which may explain a lot of unpleasant encounters with Chinese people inside and outside China today.
I was chilling out at a bistro in the heart of Orchard Road when the waiter, a mainland Chinese, was serving an Indonesian gentleman. The latter communicated with the waiter in English. The waiter, seeing that the Indonesian gentleman looked Chinese, assumed that he would understand Mandarin. The Indonesian apologised for not being able to speak Mandarin and continued the discussion in English. The waiter’s response was not so polite. He became visibly frustrated with the customer for not being able to speak Mandarin!
Regardless of how good my Mandarin is, I wouldn’t want to be that waiter’s neighbour. Indeed we all need to reflect – on how to manage this social time bomb at home.
Knapsack Books by Chan Joon Yee