I re-submit that what's happening in Urumqi now is something that could not happen in the United States today, and has not happened in the U.S. since prior to the 1950s. During the worst Watts riots, were there gangs of white thugs cruising the streets and police officers refusing to take reports from, or protect, black Angelenos? The point is that, at this stage, the behavior of the Chinese government shows that it is not a modern, secure nation. Any country its size is necessarily multiethnic, and this is not a fact that they've been able to digest. What's the chance of a free, peaceful election in China choosing an Uighur or Tibetan leader? Like our president or not, we just did the equivalent here. The CCP's continued grip on power is holding back a great civilization, and like all non-consent based dictatorships, their supposed ideology of socialism inevitably degenerates into nationalism. Search Das Kapital and the Communist Manifesto for a single instance of Marx saying that the Han are the Asian master race, and you will (not surprisingly) do so in vain.
During the Cold War, CCP-China played the card of kind uncle to the Third World, and in this decade they've been parlaying it into mineral development ventures, particularly in Africa. As their influence grows and their treatment of ethnic groups whose boundaries extend outside China continues to be shameful, they're going to find themselves increasingly on the moral defensive.
For my money, the AP's summary of the viewpoints of the two sides in the unrest is appropriately question-begging:
Uighurs, who number 9 million in Xinjiang, have complained about an influx of Han Chinese and government restrictions on their Muslim religion. They accuse the Han of discrimination and the Communist Party of trying to erase their language and culture.
Han Chinese, many of whom were encouraged to emigrate to Xinjiang by the government, believe the Uighurs should be grateful for the region's rapid economic development, which has brought schools, airports and oil wells to the sprawling, rugged region the size of Texas.
Was China grateful when European powers established spheres of influence and developed the Chinese economy and trade ties with the outside world? Does this mean we're invited back?
The official CCP answer will be, of course, that this is different, that Xinjiang is and always was part of China. I wonder when they'll start saying that about Burma and North Korea?