The headline of this New York Times story is “Ethnic Clashes Erupt in China, Leaving 150 Dead.” But they let the cat out of the bag on what the conflict is really about a few paragraphs down in the story. (Thanks to all who sent this to me.)
BEIJING, Oct. 31 – Violent clashes between members of the Muslim Hui ethnic group and the majority Han group left nearly 150 people dead and forced authorities to declare martial law in a section of Henan Province in central China, journalists and witnesses in the region said today.
The fighting flared late last week and continued into the weekend after a Hui taxi driver fatally struck a 6-year-old Han girl, prompting recriminations between different ethnic groups in neighboring villages, these people said.
One person who was briefed on the incident by the police said that 148 people had been killed, including 18 police officers sent to quell the violence.
Chinese media have reported nothing about unrest in Henan. But a news blackout would not be unusual, as propaganda authorities routinely suppress information about ethnic tensions.
Although most Chinese belong to the dominant Han ethnic group, the country has 55 other groups, including several Muslim minorities and others who have ties to Tibet, Southeast Asia, Korea and Mongolia.
Ethnic Muslim Uighurs in China’s northwestern region of Xinjiang have led sporadic uprisings against Chinese rule and authorities maintain a heavy police presence there to prevent an Islamic insurgency.