URUMQI, July 5 (Xinhua) -- While the whole world was watching
the Germany-France FIFA World Cup game in the early hours of
Saturday morning, people in Urumqi were more concerned about what
might happen at daybreak.
On the same date of 2009, nearly 200 people were killed and
another 1,700 injured in fatal rioting that broke out in the city,
capital of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in northwest China.
Terrorism has ever since become an outstanding matter in Urumqi,
as fatal attacks have never ceased. Hard-line actions have been
carried out in the city, as an effort to secure stability and
A terrorist attack on a downtown open-air market on May 22 left
31 people dead and 94 others injured. According to the city
government, it is impossible to eliminate potential security risks
at such cramped and crowded venues.
The city has tightened security checks to the highest level at
airports, railway and bus stations, shopping malls, schools and
kindergartens. One has to go through a body scanner before entering
a public square or park.
"We are getting used to it and totally understand the
complication. After all, we are a part of the city and have to
accept what is going on in front of us," said Chen Huaming, a
In another attack in the city on April 30, three people were
killed and 79 injured at a railway station. Local authorities have
stepped up controls on the mobile population, rental homes and
"Though it is tough, we are trying to lead a life as normal as
before," said a supermarket cashier wearing a bulletproof vest.
Terrorist attacks carried out by separatists and extremists from
Xinjiang have also become more frequent outside of the region. A
string of violent attacks including one at a train station in the
southwestern city of Kunming this March and another at Tiananmen
Square in Beijing last October have frightened tourists away from
visiting Xinjiang, a region with incomparably abundant tourism
"You never know how calm and safe it is in Xinjiang until you
really visit it," said Yang Guang, a tourist from Shanghai who
could not resist the temptation of rock-bottom hotel prices and an
air ticket sold at a discount of 70 percent.
"Local Han people are no different to us while Uygurs are more
welcoming and enthusiastic than you think," Yang added.
Out of an approximate 20 million population in Xinjiang, Han
people account for about eight million and the rest are mainly
composed of Uygur and other ethnic minorities.
Like most backpackers, Yang took many pictures of local food and
scenery and posted them on his WeChat account. The convenient and
ubiquitous WiFi access in today's Xinjiang contrasts with the
Internet-free 10 months in the wake of the 2009 riot.
"We have been there -- having no access to the outside world and
just sitting there doing nothing, so we cherish the current
Internet access more than anyone," said a Urumqi resident.
However, for those who run businesses in the city's Grand
Bazaar, which was the epicenter of the rioting, a sharp drop in
customer flow has hit them hard.
"I used to receive over 200 customers with an average spend of
500 yuan (80 U.S. dollars) a day, but now I have almost no
customers and a meager turnover," said Gulnar, a Uygur shop
But she is confident about the future. "No one feels insecure or
threatened here. I believe tourism in Xinjiang will pick up, so I
come to open the shop early every day," Gulnar said. Enditem