Date
25 September 2017
Paramilitary policemen stand near the exit of the South Railway Station in Urumqi. Photo: Reuters
Paramilitary policemen stand near the exit of the South Railway Station in Urumqi. Photo: Reuters

Media silence after Xinjiang attack intriguing

China’s official media did not report Wednesday’s deadly attack in Xinjiang until several hours later, Ming Pao Daily reported Friday.

State news agency Xinhua did not carry the story until Thursday morning and local media had focused on President Xi Xinping’s vow to take pre-emptive action against terrorists during a visit hours before the tragedy, the report said.

On Wednesday, explosions ripped through the Urumqi South Station, killing three people and injuring 79. Police said two suspects were among the dead, Xinhua reported.

The suspects, described as religious fanatics, attacked crowds with knives and set off explosions. The government said it was a terrorist act.  

Foreign media refrained from calling it terrorism, only using words such as “attack” and “explosion”, suggesting they were being prudent and cautious, Apple Daily said.

Online comments were decidedly tame compared with the aftermath of a massacre in March in Kunming in which more than 30 people died, Ming Pao said. This could have been due to stricter state control of social media. 

The Urumqi attack might have been timed to send a message to the government and embarrass Xi, some media reports said.

Xi reiterated his pledge to fight terrorists relentlessly, saying the battle is complex and long-term.

Meanwhile, the United States said a number of incidents described by China as terror attacks lack evidence and are hard to prove by third parties. The statement came in a recent anti-terror report by the State Department.

– Contact HKEJ at [email protected]

TL/AC/RA

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