Comments on Michael Clarke “Beijing redoubles counter-terrorism efforts in Xinjiang” 26/02/2014, http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2014/02/26/beijing-redoubles-counter-terrorism-efforts-in-xinjiang/Undoubtedly there have been serious ethnic problems in Xinjiang and some of them may have been caused by policies and/or implementations of policies and administration. However, attribute most problems in Xinjiang as ethnic problems may mask other causes to the problems. For example, there are many serious problems in areas that are mainly Han ethnic people - the dominant and the largest ethnic group in China, such as demolishing properties for new construction in cities or new urban areas. Some reports indicate that there are tens of thousands of mass unrests a year in China, a reflection of general problems as opposed to ethnic problems.
In terms of the pipelines linking Xinjiang to Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan, it probably paled in significance when compared to the Three Gorges Dam that caused/forced millions of people to move and migrate to other new settlement areas.
Were the problems of the Three Gorges Dam project mainly an ethnic problem perceived by people outside China? Probably not.
Development may cause some destructions and China has not been skilful in dealing with many issues associated with development, such as dislocation of people and destruction of some historical, cultural, religious and ethnic heritages.
Development can and often does involve changes. No one can promise no changes to anything while making development a reality at all occasions involving either natural or man-made things. The key issues include costs and benefits any potential development means and how to protect those that should be protected and prioritise things and how to handle sensitive issues.
While that is a fact, exaggerating issues that may be general but at the same time involving minority ethnic groups does not necessarily contribute positively to finding better solutions to resolving them.
For example, here in Australia there are issues and different views of how the economy in Tasmania is going and how to balance the need for development and growing the economy and protect the environment. Such issues, while differing in degrees, are not too dissimilar to some of the development issues in China.
Having made the above comments, I would say that the arrest of Uyghur scholar Tohti was a regrettable event. There should ideally be greater freedom of speech for everyone in China.