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Ethnic Unrest in Urumqi

 

I've been back from China for nearly a week now. I'm readjusting to the time difference once again and slowly but surely getting back to my normal routine. Upon seeing my colleague for the first time since returning to Concordia, I was made aware of riots and unrest in China. When I checked out the story online I was shocked to find out the unrest was in the exact city that we were in while in China, only a few miles from Xinjiang University.

 As I read more and more about the clashes between the Han Chinese and the Uyghurs in Urumqi I couldn't believe I was actually in same area were cars and buses were now being fire-bombed and riots taking place on the streets. My immediate concern was for the people that we met at the university, in the hopes that none of them were among the dead or injured.

I was reminded by Christine Kao, who heads the Global Education Program at Concordia, of the time we were in the downtown market in Urumqi a few weeks ago. While walking through a section of the market we were approached by a man, who I later found out was an undercover police officer, and warned that the area might not be the safest for us. I thought because we were foreigners we were making people uncomfortable, but now I realize that things must have been brewing and we were being told to leave for our own safety. The unrest in China reinforces the idea that things are not always as they seem.

The violence and unrest in Urumqi has reminded me of just how small the world has become and how all of us are connected in some way to events and things that are happening in the world.

As I move forward, I tell people of my time in China and share stories about the wonderful places and individuals that I met. There's already talk of me returning to China again next year for another visit to the university. It would be nice to return and to see some of the same people again. In the meantime I'm looking forward to a reunion we're planning in September. The hope is for as many people who were on our recent trip to gather and attend a Brewers game and have a barbeque and reminisce about the time we spent together.

I will continue to post updates on this blog for as long as it's up. Thank you for taking the time to read this. I welcome your thoughts and any comments you want to share. I can be reached at craig.mccarthy@cuw

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