Beijing cracks down on a Muslim minority.

Authoritarian states are typically less stable than they appear, and China is no exception. This week's ethnic riots in western Xinjiang province are the deadliest on record since the end of the Cultural Revolution in the 1970s. Until the Chinese government is truly accountable to its citizens -- both the majority Han and other ethnic minorities -- these kinds of deadly uprisings will continue.

Sunday's riots started when around 3,000 ethnic Uighurs, including many high-school and college students, gathered to protest ethnically motivated killings in a factory in China's southern Guangdong province. The riots turned violent but, thanks to China's information firewall, no one knows exactly why. State-run media report that Uighurs had attacked Han Chinese and count at least 156 people killed and more than 1,000 injured.

Government outlets blamed Uighur "separatists" and labeled U.S.-based Rebiya Kadeer, president of the World Uighur Congress, the "mastermind" of the violence. Ms. Kadeer denies this in an article on a nearby page. Yesterday, thousands of Han Chinese, armed with homemade weapons, swarmed the streets of Urumqi, calling for revenge. Police stopped them with tear gas, but not before they had destroyed some Uighur shops. Other protests and violent outbreaks ripped across the city.