New reports suggest that the People's Republic of China (PRC) has sentenced six persons to death for instigating the riots in Urumqi, Xinjiang in July 2009.
Xinjiang, located in China's southwest, has a large indigenous Turkic speaking Muslim population
To many it may seem strange that within five months of the act such harsh penalties are meted out – and that too in a relatively unpublicized trial that probably lacked any courtroom drama (and much evidence beyond a few state witnesses).
The PRC is a large geographic area populated by approximately 1.4 billion people. If Beijing wishes to continue to control the country its behaviour must play to the population at large. The Emperor, whether of royal descent or head of the Communist Party, must be responsive to his citizenry's outcry.
This is not a case of a rich young man running over a peasant in his car. It is about the delicate relations between the Han and Uighur ethnic groups. A swift, intimidating response is how Beijing perceives its interests to be best served.
One may criticize and scream 'human rights violations' but it is the Chinese way. Executions will certainly stop anyone marginally predisposed to fomenting ethnic trouble to think twice before doing so.
At a time when the US economy is being kept afloat by PRC wealth it is difficult for anyone to speak too loudly about fundamental rights – or carry a big stick at the same time.