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China’s new strategy in South China Sea

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Clearly, Obama’s pivot to Asia to contain China (as well as Russia) came as a timely warning to Beijing to take precautionary measures against US mischief in the South China Sea.

China is determined to block American that might obstruct the Chinese navigation of trade vessels to Middle East and Central Asia in the South China Sea (SCS). The South China Sea is an open ocean and doesn’t appear at first glance to be a geographical bottleneck. Washington said China can, however, effectively create a strait by locating sufficient military assets on two sets of land it controls. Beijing is busy making a new strategic strait in the region.

The South China Sea, several hundred nautical miles wide, doesn’t appear at first glance to be a geographical bottleneck. China can, however, effectively create a strait by locating sufficient military assets on two sets of land it controls: the Paracel Islands in the north and the Spratly Islands in the south. Rapp-Hooper said she did not think the situation in the South China Sea was close to reaching the level of a strategic strait. China’s current outposts could “greatly complicate US operational planning in the region, but it is hard to see” the country locking down the region with the island bases it now operates.

There are few circumstances where China would want to restrict commercial movement in the area, but the real problem is that Beijing could readily exercise that capacity in times of crisis or conflict. And that’s where the United States comes into play: The U.S. Department of Commerce estimates the USA exported $79 billion in goods to the countries around the South China Sea in 2013, and imported $127 billion from them during that period. The region accounted in 2011 for $5.3 trillion in bilateral annual trade — $1.2 trillion of which is tied to the USA. Free access for commercial trade is a vital interest of the United States, so when one country has the capability to shut other countries off” when it chooses. Such a Chinese “strategic strait” to the Strait of Hormuz — a critical choke point for global trade. A full 90 percent of East Asian energy imports travel through the South China Sea.

China has already constructed artificial islands for missile launch on the South China Sea. Construction of Fiery Cross Reef located in the western part of the Spratly Islands group in the South China Sea has been completed. That decision is important for a number of reasons, but among them is that China’s island-grabbing campaign may be designed to give Beijing a strategic headlock on one of the planet’s most critical waterways.

China may have basically calculated that it will take some near-term, rather assertive actions in the South China Sea, and pay short-term reputation costs in exchange for what it believes to be longer-term strategic gains.

Beijing’s real rationale for risking its global reputation over a handful of tiny islands remains open for debate. Most agree that China truly believes it has a historic right to the region — but the South China Sea’s relatively paltry energy resources- especially with oil now so cheap – hardly justify such an assertive grab on a realpolitik basis.

Rather, many point to the geostrategic value of the South China Sea. “The logical conclusion drawn from China’s adding islands in the southern part of the South China Sea with military-sized runways, substantial port facilities, radar platforms and space to accommodate military forces is that China’s objective is to dominate the waters of the South China Sea at will. Building the islands is therefore a significant strategic event and they leave the potential for the South China Sea to become a Chinese strait, rather than an open component of the global maritime commons.

Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei also lay claim to the waters in the South China Sea. Within the next three months, a tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague is expected to rule on China’s expansive and somewhat ambiguous territorial claims in the South China Sea, which the Philippines contends are invalid under international law.

A major test for the future of Asia is on the horizon, and it’s centered on the South China Sea. Nations in the region are feeling the pressure from both China and the USA over South China Sea. The USA has been pressuring Asean members over the disputes.

China is intensifying its global diplomatic campaign to win ¬support ahead of an imminent international court ruling over the South China Sea disputes. Beyond the geographical claims themselves, the tribunal is also looking into whether Beijing is overstating the types of territory it controls — the air and maritime rights associated with rocks are different than those of reefs or islands — and the legality of other Chinese actions near the Philippines.

The State Oceanic Administration said Beijing was working on a five-year cooperation plan in the disputed waters between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The defense ministry said China would send missile ¬destroyer Lanzhou and Special Forces for a maritime security and anti-terror exercise next month with the bloc in waters between Singapore and Brunei.

The development came as ¬Beijing vowed greater cooperation and to proceed with multinational military exercises with Southeast Asian nations, but also called on countries to back its stance on the territorial disputes – putting many in a dilemma as they have to side with either China or the USA.

Beijing is also keen to ¬approach nations in Europe and Africa to consolidate its diplomatic base ahead of the ruling by the UN Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague, in a case launched by the Philippines. China says the court has no jurisdiction in the matter. Beijing says it has agreed with Cambodia, Laos and Brunei that the disputes would not affect Sino-Asean ties. But Cambodian government said his country had reached no new agreement with China over the dispute. Mainland media reported that more than 10 nations were on China’s side, and that a statement issued by China, Russia and India said the dispute should be resolved through negotiation.

Recently Chinese President Xi Jinping told a group of foreign ministers from Asia and the Middle East that the regional disputes should be resolved peacefully through negotiations among the countries directly involved. Beijing also said it had reached a consensus with Belarus and Pakistan – which are not claimant states – that said they respected China’s stance on the issue, after separate meetings with the two nations’ foreign ministers on the sidelines of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia.

The Chinese diplomatic move has sparked concern over whether Beijing is taking the dispute to the international stage – in contrast to its stance that the matter is a bilateral issue – and may backfire. Countries in the region want to be able to cooperate with China and have good relations with Beijing; they don’t want to face coercion or intimidation on matters of security or economic policy. “Claimants would much prefer a peaceful resolution of disputes,” Paul Haenle, director of the ¬Carnegie-Tsinghua Centre, said. Beijing has “no choice” as the USA was also doing the same, referring to an earlier statement made by G7 foreign ministers that expressed opposition to Chinas “provocative unilateral actions” in disputed waters.

Experts say that China will likely lose some elements of the Hague case, “Philippines v. China.” The world’s most populous nation has already denounced the process, and opted not to participate, but the tribunal’s decision will technically still be binding under international law. Experts who closely watch developments in the South China Sea sayl that they expect China to lose at least some of the elements of the case, but the real test will come in how Beijing reacts to a ruling. It’s possible that China will back off from its broadest claims, but it may also demonstrate a willingness to buck the international legal system.

It is argued that a part of the Chinese buildup in the area may come from Beijing’s own fears that other powers may attempt to shut down commerce in the South China Sea. But whatever the rationale for China’s island-building, the tribunal’s coming ruling is a real trigger for the future of the region and it may be causing China to build up its capabilities in the region faster. China realizes the pickle that they’re in, so they’re taking actions at sea to emphasize their physical control. It’s operational coercion to change the power dynamics in their favor — in response to a peaceful dispute resolution process.

China and Russia have been coordinating their security action to counter the US pivot in Asia. Both are ramping up their advanced hypersonic glide vehicle programs to counter a US plan to deploy an anti-missile system in South Korea and its push towards a leaner but tougher military. China’s latest hypersonic vehicle test seen as ‘nuclear deterrent’ amid US interference The hypersonic tests by China and Russia are aimed at causing a threat to the USA, which plans to set up a missile defence system in South Korea, known as the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD), which the US says is needed to protect its regional allies from North Korea. Beijing views the deployment as a threat to its military. Beijing carried out the seventh successful test-flight of its DF-ZF glider last week. The Pentagon sources said that the glider was mounted on a ballistic missile fired from the Wuzhai launch centre in Shanxi province, it said. Three days earlier, a US report says, Russia carried out the second test of its 3M22 Zircon glider, according to the Beacon. China mounts third hypersonic ‘Wu-14’ missile test. Last week, Beijing tested its newest intercontinental ballistic missile, the DF-41 which has a range of at least 12,000km – on April 12.

USA, China and Russia – all veto members and top possessors of nukes have indeed kicked off a new arms race. China and Russia were also concerned about the US’ shift towards the “Third Offset” strategy. The approach calls for the Pentagon to do more with less, as its traditional military advantages – such as a larger army and navy, as well as technological superiority – are steadily eroded.

The key areas where the Pentagon will focus its budget under this strategy are anti-access and area-denial, guided munitions; undersea warfare; cyber and electronic warfare; and new operating concepts. The USA hopes this will provide ways to neutralise threats from China and Russia’s militaries, which are growing increasingly sophisticated but continue to rely heavily on conventional weapons.

The Third Offset strategy and glide vehicle tests by China and Russia were signs that the three countries have kicked off a new arms race”, He said. China said in its annual defence white paper last year it would not engage in an arms race in outer space or with nuclear weapons. Beijing-based military expert Li Jie said China was trying to use the DF-ZF test to warn the US that the PLA had another powerful weapon capable of countering the THAAD system.

China’s second hypersonic glider test fails as PLA trials nuclear weapons delivery system. “China has no other choice, especially as the US has taken a series of provocative moves to get involved in China’s territorial disputes with other Asian countries in the South China Sea,” Li said. He pointed to the US deployment of six powerful A-10 Thunderbolt fighter jets to conduct a drill near the Scarborough Shoal, which China occupies but Manila also claims. “The DF-ZF is so far one of the offset weapons owned by China that could break the THAAD system,” Li said. The glider can travel up to 11,300km/h, said the Beacon, citing Pentagon officials familiar with details of the test.

China hails first test of hypersonic nuclear missile carrier

The Pentagon has kept a close eye on the development of the DF-ZF since it was first tested in January 2014. The programme was progressing rapidly and could be ready for deployment by 2020, according to the latest annual report submitted to congress by the Sino-US Economic and Security Review Commission. A more powerful version was also in development and could be fielded by 2025, it said. Russia’s 3M22 vehicle was expected to enter into production in 2018, according to the US diplomatic and defence magazine

On 15 January, 2014 China flight-tested a hypersonic missile delivery vehicle capable of penetrating any existing defence system with nuclear warheads, the Pentagon confirmed it.

In fact, the hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV), dubbed the “Wu-14” by the United States, was detected flying at 10 times the speed of sound during a test flight over China last week. A Pentagon spokesman later confirmed the report but declined to provide details. “We routinely monitor foreign defence activities and we are aware of the test,” Marine Corpsc spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jeffery Pool told the Beacon.

Chinese military experts hailed the test as a breakthrough. It makes China the second country after the USA to have successfully tested a hypersonic delivery vehicle capable of carrying nuclear warheads at a speed above Mach 10.

Such a weapon has long been seen as a game-changer by security experts as it can hit a target before any of the existing missile defence systems can react. Once deployed, it could significantly boost China’s strategic and conventional missile force. It is designed to be carried by an intercontinental ballistic missile. Once it reaches an undisclosed sub-orbital altitude, the vehicle jettisons from the rocket and nose-dives towards the target at a speed of Mach 10, or 12,359km/h. In 2010, the US tested the Lockheed HTV-2 – a similar delivery vehicle capable of reaching speeds of up to Mach 20. Russia and India are also known to be working on such a weapon.

Last week’s test shows that China has managed to close the gaps with the US. Chinese scientists said China had put “enormous investment” into the project. More than 100 teams from leading research institutes and universities have been involved in the project.

Purpose-built facilities test various parts of the weapons system. The Chinese Academy of Sciences, for instance, has recently built one of the world’s largest and most advanced hypersonic wind tunnels to simulate flights at up to Mach 15 at the Institute of Mechanics in Beijing.

Researchers on hypersonic flight control at Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics said they were not surprised by the test last week because China was technologically ready. The objective of hypersonic vehicles was to outmaneuver and penetrate a missile defence system. “With a speed of Mach 10 or higher, it cannot be caught or tracked because defence systems don’t have enough time to respond,” one researcher Wang said. She said the US remained the indisputable leader in the field but no country was ready to deploy the first practical hypersonic missile as many technological challenges remained. One outstanding issue was how to achieve precise flight control at such high speeds.

Scientists are also trying to develop a better “super material” that can withstand the high temperatures during hypersonic flights. “I am sure many tests will be carried out after last week’s flight to solve the problems,” Wang said. “It’s just the beginning.” Li Jie , a Beijing-based naval expert, said hypersonic weapons were of strategic and tactical importance to China. “Many technical issues have not been solved and no country has made it ready for use in the field,” he said. “But it is a challenge we must surmount, and we are throwing everything we have at it.” Ni Lexiong , a Shanghai-based naval expert, said China might still need some time to catch up with the US but the day could arrive sooner than many expect. “Missiles will play a dominant role in warfare and China has a very clear idea of what is important.”

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East Asia

China’s soft power and its Lunar New Year’s Culture

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Authors: Liu Hui & Humprey A. Russell*

As a common practice, China has celebrated its annual Lunar new year since 1984 when the leaders of the day decided to open mysterious country in a more confident and transparent way. So far, the lunar new year gala has become a part of Chinese cultural life and beyond. The question then arises why China or its people have been so thrilled to exhibit themselves to the world, as its economy has already impressed the world by its rapid pace and tremendous capacity.

As it is well-known, in international relations, peoples from different cultural and ethnical backgrounds need to enhance their understanding which eventually leads to mutual respect and tolerance as the key to the world peace and stability. China is well-aware of this norm. As a rising power with 1.3 billion people, it is necessary for China to introduce its culture and notion of the peaceful rise to the audiences globally. Joseph Nye, Jr., the founder of the concept of the soft power, has argued: “The currency of soft power is culture, political values, and foreign policies. During the information age, credibility is the scarcest resource.”In light of this, China has been steadily involved in cultural promotions abroad.

China is an ancient civilization but diplomatically it is a new global player in terms of its modern involvement into the world affairs, particularly in terms of reform and openness. Yet, since China has aspired to rejuvenate itself as one of the leading powers globally, it is natural for the world en bloc to assume Beijing’s intention and approach to the power transition between the rising power like itself and the ruling powers such as the United States and the G-7 club. Consider this, China has exerted all efforts to project but not propagate its image to the world. Here culture is bound to play the vital role in convincing the countries concerned that “culturally China has no the gene of being a threat to other peoples,” as Chinese President Xi has assured. The annual lunar gala is evidently a useful instrument to demonstrate Chinese people, culture and policies as well.

Culturally speaking, the Chinese New Year celebrations can be seen as follows. In a general sense, similar themes run through all the galas with the local cultural and ethnical ingredients, for instance, Chinese opera, crosstalk and acrobatics, as well as the lion-dancing or the dragon-dancing from time to time. Yes, the galas play the role of promoting the Chinese communities over the world to identify themselves with the Chinese culture which surely strengthen the cultural bonds among the Chinese, in particular the younger generations. Moreover, the dimension of the Chinese culture can be found beyond the country since its neighbors like Japan, Vietnam, South Korea and Malaysia, as well as Chinese communities in many other areas also perform those arts at the holiday seasons. The message here is clear that China, although it is a rising great power, has never abandoned its cultural tradition which has emphasized the harmony among the different races and ethnics.

Recently, the lunar new year celebrations across China have invited professional and amateur artists from all over the world. Those foreign guest artists and many overseas students studying in China have been able to offer their talents in either Chinese or their mother tongues. No doubt, this is a two-way to learn from each other because Chinese performers are benefited from the contacts with their counterparts globally. In terms of public diplomacy, Beijing aims to send a powerful and sincere message to the world: China can’t be in isolation from the world because it has aspired to be a great and inclusive country as well. To that end, the rise of China is not going to challenge the status quo, but will act as one of the stakeholders.

As usual, realists have difficulties and even cultural bias to accept the rhetoric from a country like China since it has been regarded by the ruling powers of the world as an ambitious, assertive and communist-ruled country with its unique culture. To that challenge, the Chinese government and the people have done a great deal of works to successfully illustrate Chinese practice of harmony at the societal level idealized by Confucius’ doctrines. This social harmony is made possible only by the realization of the Taoist ideal of harmony with nature – in this case, harmony between humans and nature. This explains why panda and many other rare animals are now viewed as new national symbol of China. Although they are unnecessarily an indispensable part of the lunar new year gala, the viewpoint is that the rise of China would not be completed at the cost of the ecological environment like many other countries did in history.

Practically speaking, the lunar new year celebrations are being conducted in a rich variety of ways such as concerts, cuisines, folk entertainments and even forums and receptions around the world. Major global commercial centers have also served to create a Chinese holiday atmosphere, adapt to the needs of Chinese tourists, attract active participation from local residents, and provide such diversities of cultural and social events. What is worth mentioning is that some Chinese-North American non-profit, non-partisan organizations are beginning to celebrate Chinese lunar gala in partnership with other local counterparts. For instance, the Chinese Inter-cultural Association based in California, recently hosted a Chinese New Year party in a Persian restaurant in partnership with a local non-profit, non-partisan organization called the Orange County Toastmaster Club, part of Toastmaster International. Also, in another Chinese New Year celebration that was open to people of all races in Pasadena, two Americans played the guitar and sang songs in fluent Chinese! Both galas were attended by people of all racial backgrounds around the world. Given this, it is fair to say that China’s soft power supported by its annual lunar new year festival is on the rise globally with a view to promoting mutual respect and friendship among the peoples of various cultural, ethnical and racial origins.

Yet, though the impressive feats are achieved, it has noted that China still has a long way to go in terms of its twin-centennial dreams. First, as a developing country with its unique culture, it is necessary for China to promote its great ancient culture abroad, but it is also imperative to avoid “introducing” China rashly into the globe. Essentially, soft power is more the ability to attract and co-opt than to use force or give money as a means of persuasion. Thereby, it is the very ability to shape the preferences of others through appeal and attraction. As cross-cultural communication is a long process, Nye admitted a few years ago, in public affairs, “the best propaganda is not propaganda.”

This is the key to all the countries. In 2014,President Xi formally stated, “China should increase its soft power, give a good Chinese narrative, and better communicate its messages to the world.” In light of this, Chinese lunar new year gala surely acts as soft power to project the image of China internationally.

* Humprey A. Russell (Indonesia), PhD candidate in international affairs, SIPA, Jilin University.

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China’s step into the maelstrom of the Middle East

Dr. James M. Dorsey

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The Middle East has a knack for sucking external powers into its conflicts. China’s ventures into the region have shown how difficult it is to maintain its principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other states.

China’s abandonment of non-interference is manifested by its (largely ineffective) efforts to mediate conflicts in South Sudan, Syria and Afghanistan as well as between Israel and Palestine and even between Saudi Arabia and Iran. It is even more evident in China’s trashing of its vow not to establish foreign military bases, which became apparent when it established a naval base in Djibouti and when reports surfaced that it intends to use Pakistan’s deep sea port of Gwadar as a military facility.

This contradiction between China’s policy on the ground and its long-standing non-interventionist foreign policy principles means that Beijing often struggles to meet the expectations of Middle Eastern states. It also means that China risks tying itself up in political knots in countries such as Pakistan, which is home to the crown jewel of its Belt and Road Initiative — the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Middle Eastern autocrats have tried to embrace the Chinese model of economic liberalism coupled with tight political control. They see China’s declared principle of non-interference in the affairs of others for what it is: support for authoritarian rule. The principle of this policy is in effect the same as the decades-old US policy of opting for stability over democracy in the Middle East.

It is now a risky policy for the United States and China to engage in given the region’s post-Arab Spring history with brutal and often violent transitions. If anything, instead of having been ‘stabilised’ by US and Chinese policies, the region is still at the beginning of a transition process that could take up to a quarter of a century to resolve. There is no guarantee that autocrats will emerge as the winners.

China currently appears to have the upper hand against the United States for influence across the greater Middle East, but Chinese policies threaten to make that advantage short-term at best.

Belt and Road Initiative-related projects funded by China have proven to be a double-edged sword. Concerns are mounting in countries like Pakistan that massive Chinese investment could prove to be a debt trap similar to Sri Lanka’s experience.

Chinese back-peddling on several Pakistani infrastructure projects suggests that China is tweaking its approach to the US$50 billion China–Pakistan Economic Corridor. The Chinese rethink was sparked by political volatility caused by Pakistan’s self-serving politics and continued political violence — particularly in the Balochistan province, which is at the heart of CPEC.

China decided to redevelop its criteria for the funding of CPEC’s infrastructure projects in November 2017. This move seemingly amounted to an effort to enhance the Pakistani military’s stake in the country’s economy at a time when they were flexing their muscles in response to political volatility. The decision suggests that China is not averse to shaping the political environment of key countries in its own authoritarian mould.

Similarly, China has been willing to manipulate Pakistan against its adversaries for its own gain. China continues to shield Masoud Azhar (who is believed to have close ties to Pakistani intelligence agencies and military forces) from UN designation as a global terrorist. China does so while Pakistan cracks down on militants in response to a US suspension of aid and a UN Security Council monitoring visit.

Pakistan’s use of militants in its dispute with India over Kashmir serves China’s interest in keeping India off balance — a goal which Beijing sees as worthy despite the fact that Chinese personnel and assets have been the targets of a low-level insurgency in Balochistan. Saudi Arabia is also considering the use of Balochistan as a launching pad to destabilise Iran. By stirring ethnic unrest in Iran, Saudi Arabia will inevitably suck China into the Saudi–Iranian rivalry and sharpen its competition with the United States. Washington backs the Indian-supported port of Chabahar in Iran — a mere 70 kilometres from Gwadar.

China is discovering that it will prove impossible to avoid the pitfalls of the greater Middle East. This is despite the fact that US President Donald Trump and Saudi Arabia’s powerful Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman seem singularly focussed on countering Iran and Islamic militants.

As it navigates the region’s numerous landmines, China is likely to find itself at odds with both the United States and Saudi Arabia. It will at least have a common interest in pursuing political stability at the expense of political change — however much this may violate its stated commitment to non-interference.

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East Asia

Chinese extradition request puts crackdown on Uyghurs in the spotlight

Dr. James M. Dorsey

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A Chinese demand for the extradition of 11 Uyghurs from Malaysia puts the spotlight on China’s roll-out of one of the world’s most intrusive surveillance systems, military moves to prevent Uyghur foreign fighters from returning to Xinjiang, and initial steps to export its security approach to countries like Pakistan.

The 11 were among 25 Uyghurs who escaped from a Thai detention centre in November through a hole in the wall, using blankets to climb to the ground.

The extradition request follows similar deportations of Uyghurs from Thailand and Egypt often with no due process and no immediate evidence that they were militants.

The escapees were among more than 200 Uighurs detained in Thailand in 2014. The Uyghurs claimed they were Turkish nationals and demanded that they be returned to Turkey. Thailand, despite international condemnation, forcibly extradited to China some 100 of the group in July 2015.

Tens of Uyghurs, who were unable to flee to Turkey in time, were detained in Egypt in July and are believed to have also been returned to China. Many of the Uyghurs were students at Al Azhar, one of the foremost institutions of Islamic learning.

China, increasingly concerned that Uyghurs fighters in Syria and Iraq will seek to return to Xinjiang or establish bases across the border in Afghanistan and Tajikistan in the wake of the territorial demise of the Islamic State, has brutally cracked down on the ethnic minority in its strategic north-western province, extended its long arm to the Uyghur Diaspora, and is mulling the establishment of its first land rather than naval foreign military base.

The crackdown appears, at least for now, to put a lid on intermittent attacks in Xinjiang itself. Chinese nationals have instead been targeted in Pakistan, the $50 billion plus crown jewel in China’s Belt and Road initiative that seeks to link Eurasia to the People’s Republic through infrastructure.

The attacks are believed to have been carried out by either Baloch nationalists or militants of the East Turkestan Independence Movement (ETIM), a Uighur separatist group that has aligned itself with the Islamic State.

Various other groups, including the Pakistani Taliban, Al Qaeda and the Islamic State have threatened to attack Chinese nationals in response to the alleged repression of Uyghurs in Xinjiang.

ETIM militants were believed to have been responsible for the bombing in August 2015 of Bangkok’s Erawan shrine that killed 20 people as retaliation for the forced repatriation of Uighurs a month earlier.

The Chinese embassy in Islamabad warned in December of possible attacks targeting “Chinese-invested organizations and Chinese citizens” in Pakistan

China’s ambassador, Yao Jing, advised the Pakistani interior ministry two months earlier that Abdul Wali, an alleged ETIM assassin, had entered the country and was likely to attack Chinese targets

China has refused to recognize ethnic aspirations of Uyghurs, a Turkic group, and approached it as a problem of Islamic militancy. Thousands of Uyghurs are believed to have joined militants in Syria, while hundreds or thousands more have sought to make their way through Southeast Asia to Turkey.

To counter ethnic and religious aspirations, China has introduced what must be the world’s most intrusive surveillance system using algorithms. Streets in Xinjiang’s cities and villages are pockmarked by cameras; police stations every 500 metres dot roads in major cities; public buildings resemble fortresses; and authorities use facial recognition and body scanners at highway checkpoints.

The government, in what has the makings of a re-education program, has opened boarding schools “for local children to spend their entire week in a Chinese-speaking environment, and then only going home to parents on the weekends,” according to China scholar David Brophy. Adult Uyghurs, who have stuck to their Turkic language, have been ordered to study Chinese at night schools.

Nightly television programs feature oath-swearing ceremonies,” in which participants pledge to root out “two-faced people,” the term used for Uyghur Communist Party members who are believed to be not fully devoted to Chinese policy.

The measures in Xinjiang go beyond an Orwellian citizen scoring system that is being introduced that scores a person’s political trustworthiness. The system would determine what benefits a citizen is entitled to, including access to credit, high speed internet service and fast-tracked visas for travel based on data garnered from social media and online shopping data as well as scanning of irises and content on mobile phones at random police checks.

Elements of the system are poised for export. A long-term Chinese plan for China’s investment in Pakistan, dubbed the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), envisioned creating a system of monitoring and surveillance in Pakistani cities to ensure law and order.

The system envisions deployment of explosive detectors and scanners to “cover major roads, case-prone areas and crowded places…in urban areas to conduct real-time monitoring and 24-hour video recording.”

A national fibre optic backbone would be built for internet traffic as well as the terrestrial distribution of broadcast media. Pakistani media would cooperate with their Chinese counterparts in the “dissemination of Chinese culture.”

The plan described the backbone as a “cultural transmission carrier” that would serve to “further enhance mutual understanding between the two peoples and the traditional friendship between the two countries.”

The measures were designed to address the risks to CPEC that the plan identified as “Pakistani politics, such as competing parties, religion, tribes, terrorists, and Western intervention” as well as security. “The security situation is the worst in recent years,” the plan said.

At the same time, China, despite official denials, is building, according to Afghan security officials, a military base for the Afghan military that would give the People’s Republic a presence in Badakhshan, the remote panhandle of Afghanistan that borders China and Tajikistan.

Chinese military personnel have reportedly been in the mountainous Wakhan Corridor, a narrow strip of territory in north-eastern Afghanistan that extends to China and separates Tajikistan from Pakistan since March last year.

The importance China attributes to protecting itself against Uyghur militancy and extending its protective shield beyond its borders was reflected in the recent appointment as its ambassador to Afghanistan, Liu Jinsong, who was raised in Xinjiang and served as a director of the Belt and Road initiative’s $15 billion Silk Road Fund.

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