Source: USA Today
On September 22, 2004 USA Today reported, "Amid a crackdown on alleged terrorist groups that accelerated after the Sept. 11 attacks, Beijing appears firmly in command of its sometimes restive Muslim northwest. 'Chinese authorities have the situation pretty much in hand. The degree of control in Xinjiang is at its highest point ever,' says Nicolas Becquelin, a Hong Kong-based analyst with Human Rights in China. In the 1990s, the Chinese government blamed a series of bombings and shootings in Xinjiang on groups promoting an independent Uighur (WEE-ger) homeland. But Beijing has remorselessly repressed advocates of independence or even greater autonomy, using widespread arrests to drive resistance groups deep underground. China also hopes to swamp ethnic discontent in a rising tide of economic activity, abetted by a massive influx of Chinese migrants. To China's rulers, intent on avoiding the national fragmentation that befell the former Soviet Union, maintaining command of mineral-rich Xinjiang is non-negotiable. Among some Uighurs, however, the thirst for greater control over their own lives is equally compelling."