URUMQI: Residents in the capital of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region have been rushing to donate blood for victims of the city's riots that have claimed more than 150 lives and injured more than 1,080 others, healthcare workers said on Wednesday.
"The number of blood donors today are more than double from that of what we usually receive on normal days," Liu Jing, a nurse at the Love-Heart Blood Donation Hut on Youhao Road in downtown Urumqi, said three days after the deadly clashes in the city erupted.
Notices at the facility called for blood donations urgently needed by regional blood banks and appealed to residents to donate fully to the cause.
The authorities did not state how much blood was needed but Liu said that by 11:30 am, the blood donation center received donations from 20 people, with another 40 waiting to do so. Office hours are usually 10 am to 8 pm in Urumqi.
The number of people waiting to donate blood outside the center surpassed 100 shortly after noon.
The outpouring of donations came just one day after violence in the city increased, with officials urging ethnic groups to avoid confrontation in a region where Han Chinese make up about 40 percent of the population and 47 other groups including the Uygur, Hui, Kazak and Mongolian forming the rest.
"In blood transfusion, you could say it is usually the case that blood given by people of one ethnic group will go to a member of other ethnic minorities," Liu said. "It's a real show of solidarity among peoples of different ethnic groups. "
She said many people had come to the blood center after learning from the media that the riots victimized many innocent people.
For Zhao Pinglan, a law student from Tacheng city in northwestern Xinjiang, donating blood was one way for her to personally contribute and help victims.
"I couldn't buy anything for my birthday since most stores are closed … so I came here to donate blood," said Zhao, who just turned 22.
A member of the Dongxiang ethnic group, Zhao said she believed donating blood during her birthday was particularly meaningful.
"Maybe I can help save a life in return," she said.
She said Sunday's riot only served to jeopardize the good life of many residents who were "united as Xinjiang people".
Wang Jian, who was waiting for his turn to donate blood, said on Wednesday he despised the "beastly deeds" of the rioters -- believed by many to be mostly local Uygurs.
The 24-year-old migrant worker from Xinjiang's Alaer city said he did not join in Tuesday's crowd that was made up mostly of Han ethnic members who apparently took up arms after many in their community killed, injured or had their property damaged in Sunday's clashes.
"The only thing that I can and will do is to give blood to the injured, that's my response to violence," he said.
He said he did not believe it was right to answer violence with violence.
"If the violence escalated and damage became more widespread, it would only serve to please Kadeer."
He was referring to Rebiya Kadeer, a former businesswoman of Xinjiang who many locals believed was behind the July 5 riot.
A number of foreigners also joined the queue to donate blood on Wednesday. Lyailya, 34, and her sister Telokova, came to the blood center with their colleague Murat. The three Kazak businesspeople said they were engaged in border trade with China.
"I was very sorry to see on TV innocent people, including little children, being beaten in all the bloodshed," said Murat. "So I'm here to offer my blood and help."