"It was interesting to meet and find out how much we share in common with Urumqi" Salford City Mayor
In February, a delegation from Urumqi visited Salford as guests of Scarborough International Properties Limited (SIPL) and Hualing Group, the companies behind the massive Middlewood Locks Development behind the Islington Estate.
The Middlewood Locks development will include 2,215 homes, none of which are affordable, and over 750,000 sq ft of offices, a hotel, shops and restaurants. The developers have already avoided over £6million in planning fees, according to official Salford Council reports (see previous Salford Star articles – click here and click here).
The Hualing Group arranged for the delegation from Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang province, to visit Salford to see its 'investment', while Salford City Mayor, Paul Dennett, signed what the Council calls "an agreement of cooperation and friendship" with Ilham Sabir, the Mayor of Urumqi Municipal Government in China.
As the Chinese delegation hit Salford, Urumqi was also hitting the world's news regarding its over the top treatment of the minority population of Xinjiang. The Guardian reported that, in the wake of two terrorist incidents, every car owner in Bayingolin - hundreds of thousands of people – had been ordered to install GPS tracking devices in their vehicles so the authorities could keep tabs on their movements. Anyone failing to do so was banned from buying petrol.
Ilham Sabir, the Mayor of Urumqi, said: "Cracking down on terrorist activities is listed in the work report as the region's top task this year because a stable social environment is the foundation for other tasks".
Urumqi also saw 10,000 armed Chinese army troops stage a 'mass anti-terror parade' after the attacks which were by...well, no-one is really sure. The Guardian reported that "The move comes amid an apparent spike in killing that authorities blame on Islamist extremists and separatists but experts say is also fuelled by ethnic friction between Han Chinese migrants and members of the predominantly Muslim Uighur minority to whom Xinjiang is home." (see here)
The Shanghaiist, carrying spectacular photos of the army crackdown (see here), reported that "China has blamed Uighur separatist groups for regular episodes of violence in the region, sometimes cracking down on militants with deadly force..." but added "Uighurs have complained about a number of measures that they say discriminate against their religion by cracking down on religious holidays, customs, and even long beards..."
Meanwhile, Amnesty International is currently promoting a human rights campaign to free university professor, Ilham Tohti, after he was jailed for life in Urumqi ... "Ilham has worked tirelessly to build bridges between ethnic communities in China" states Amnesty "He always opposed violence in his writing and lectures, and sought to encourage cooperation and understanding. But he's been jailed for life – supposedly for stirring up ethnic hatred." (see here)
Salford, with its pioneering history of democracy, would have nothing to do with such a place, one might have thought. But the Council gleefully reports Salford Mayor Paul Dennett saying "It was interesting to meet and find out how much we share in common with Urumqi"...
* See also previous Salford Star article - Salford Girl's Granny Imprisoned in China in Human Rights Atrocity - click here
*See also: 9,000 Salford People Gagged By Council - click here
Read the full Salford City Council 'friendship' press release - click here
Main photo shows Ilham Tohti from the Amnesty campaign film