China blogger Fear of a Red Planet discusses the events in Xinjiang:
Whilst the Muslims of Xinjiang are no less oppressed than the Muslims and Christians in any other part of China, the regular outbursts of violence in Xinjiang as compared to other Muslim-majority regions requires explanation. The first and foremost cause is the distinct ethnic identity of the Uyghur, whilst Muslims in other parts of China are either ethnically Han or can pass as Han, the Uyghur remain a visible minority to whom the worst characteristics and stereotypes are applied. Outside of Xinjiang the Uyghur constitute a poor minority who seemingly make their living through the running of kebab stalls and Xinjiang-themed restaurants. Perhaps driven by poverty or alienation, some drift into petty crime, and it is the stereotype of Uyghurs as pick-pockets and violent knife-wielding thieves that is most prevalent in China today. Otherwise respectable Chinese lawyers, teachers, professors, and accountants think nothing of repeating these stereotypes in polite conversation, or of loudly complaining about the positive discrimination policies applied to all ethnic minorities in selection for university or government positions, and this attitude informs Uyghur-Han relations both inside and outside Xinjiang.
Dave Schuler describes how China is squashing protests.