China Suspects Fatal Tiananmen Car Crash Was Suicide Attack
With China’s version of Twitter, Sina Weibo, effectively silenced, it’s hard to tell if the government is telling the truth, but authorities claim Monday’s car explosion near Tiananmen Square was a suicide attack.
Uyghurs from Xinjiang province are the suspects, according to official reports. But take that with a grain of salt. Given the unrest in Xinjiang, Chinese police may be looking for scapegoats as a pretext for further actions in the province.
In the past, Weibo users would have posted possibly more accurate reports, but new laws imposed in September have effectively suppressed Weibo users’ ability to counter government reports.
Censors on Monday rushed to delete comments on Chinese social media, allowing almost exclusively Beijing police and Xinhua updates to circulate online.
On Tuesday, the Global Times, a Communist Party-run paper, said in its English-language version that police had linked the incident to suspects from Xinjiang. The Chinese language version did not mention Xinjiang.
A police notice circulated widely online on Monday evening asked hotels in Beijing for information on two male suspects with Uygur names and four Xinjiang car number plates in a “major case”.
Hotels were asked to provide information on the two suspects and the number plates “to prevent […] further crimes,” the notice read.
Ilham Tohti, a prominent Uygur intellectual, cautioned against using the Tiananmen incident to stigmatise the ethnic group or imposing tighter controls in the region, according to an article on his web portal uighurbiz.net.