Terror attacks stifle Uygur businesses

Updated: 2014-07-14 07:35

By By CUI JIA in Urumqi (China Daily)

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Criminal acts make it hard to 'operate at ease'

The businesses of Uygur entrepreneurs in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, especially in traditional Uygur foods, have suffered serious setbacks since the series of terrorist attacks that happened this year, businessmen said, who jointly condemned the violent acts.

"Our hotel's occupancy rate dropped by 60 percent in the first half of the year, compared with last year. Our banquet hall, which caters to tourists and offers traditional Uygur foods and performances, has seen hardly any customers since the terrorist attack in Kunming in March," said Xoket Abulat, the manager of Xinjiang Tumaris Hotel in Urumqi, the regional capital.

He said that because of the poor sales, the hotel had no choice but to let some employees go and reduce the salaries of those stayed. "The shockwave from such attacks will gradually hit every one of us, especially those selling Uygur food and engaged in the leisure industry. "

On March 1, a group of knife-wielding assailants attacked civilians at a railway station in Kunming, capital of Yunnan province. Police shot four attackers dead at the station, and the other four were arrested and detained by police. All were from Xinjiang.

Two separate terrorist attacks were carried out in Urumqi in April and May. The violence prompted the central government to launch a nationwide yearlong campaign against terrorism.

"The restaurants have had considerably fewer customers since March, and it is not getting any better," said Abudulkeyim Rejip, the manager of the Xinjiang Bodun Uygur fast food chain.

The less optimistic situation of his business actually has fueled his ambition to open new branches outside the region. "There are so many misunderstandings about Uygurs. I hope the restaurants will serve as platforms to create mutual respect," he said.

Xoket and Abudulkeyim are among the 566 entrepreneurs and their employees - most of them from Uygur ethnic group - who jointly drafted and signed an open letter addressed to fellow Uygurs to denounce terrorism a week ago.

"The terrorists' criminal acts have wronged us and made us unable to operate at ease," said the letter. "Whenever terror happens, our hearts hurt. Our enterprises have been affected by the terrorist attacks."

The letter called on all Uygurs to unite to fight terrorism.

On July 10, the Xinjiang regional government sent a work group to Guangdong province assisting local government to provide services and manage the workforce from Xinjiang. More teams will be sent to other provinces where many people from Xinjiang make their living.

Contact the writer at cuijia@chinadaily.com.cn