After March 1 came September 12:
The Internet is another battlefield to fight against terrorists. A few people, including some opinion leaders in the cyber world, have criticized the government and the system for being the reasons behind violent terror. Such voices, undermining the united opinion front against terror, have to be cleaned up.
Well that sounds familiar. Various international media outlets and the US government are also under public attack – thus far from the public, not so much the Chinese government - for failing to condemn the Kunming atrocity either as terrorism or in sufficiently strident terms (the US Embassy released a statement condemning 'meaningless killings', which seems a bit ill chosen). WE saw a version of this over sloppy reporting of the Tibet uprising in 2008, but this seems somewhat more intense. More grassroots Chinese responses here and here.
Interestingly, Beijing seems to be playing down the Islamic terrorism angle – at least in English language reports (all of which are 'Xinhua only') despite the fact that it's usually keen to nail any kind of Uighur violence to ETIM. Instead it's reverted to connecting Uighur terrorism to separatism generally, which in Beijing's purview includes any attemot at all to speak up for any kind of Uighur identity outside the fold of the 'great Chinese family' . ETIM crops up, if at all, downpage. This is may be an acknowledgement that cozying up to the War on Islamic Terror line has served its purpose and acknowledge that this is an element in an anti-colonial war. At any rate, it's bad news for Ilham Toti.
If so, it may be a little late, since the latest attack had indications that the group were advocates of some kind of Islamist ideology. There were black banners left at the scene, suitably inscribed, and the Daily Telegraph reported that that attackers spared one man because they identified him as a Hui Muslim. The Hui are normally just as much as a target for Uighur rage as the Han. This time the man was apparently spared because he was a co-religionist. As James noted in what seems to have become the essential introductory essay to Han-Uighur relations, an element of Uighur rage is to become whatever you hate about me. This may be a case of the face growing to fit the mask.
Given that states often define or refrain to define violent acts as terrorism for self-serving reasons, especially when they happen to others, it's surprising that the US didn't just give the Chinese public the benefit of the T word, which seems to me to cost them nothing in terms of policy. By contrast, not doing so seems to have rapidly undermined the considerable progress the US has made over the past few years in salvaging its reputation in China from the debacle of the Bush years. Minds on other things, perhaps.