The autonomous region of Xinjiang, in the People’s Republic of China – with a relative majority of Turkmen Muslim people (45%) and the Han Chinese who since 1949 have risen from 6% to 41% of the population – is an issue not only for China, but also a relevant geopolitical issue for Eurasia as a whole.
A total number of 22 million inhabitants, a soil rich in oil, gas and minerals, as well as strong tensions between the minority Turkmen region and the Han one – even taking the form of jihadist terrorism – and finally the spreading of Uighur terrorist actions in the rest of the Chinese territory and elsewhere.
According to reliable Chinese sources, from 1990 until 2001 the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) – the Uighurs’ military arm – carried out over 200 terrorist attacks in China and inside Xinjiang.
Its political arm, the East Turkestan Liberation Oragnization (ETLO), was founded in Turkey in 1990 to explicitly fight against the Chinese government in Xinjiang.
It is already serious that a NATO country ventures to carry out so important operations without the Alliance’s evident support – and, if NATO were still a vital structure – this fact alone would be an issue on which to assess Turkey’s presence or not in the Atlantic Alliance.
Nevertheless, why Turkey – a NATO member State and its second armed force – supports the political and military fight of the Uighur separatists?
For two main reasons: Turkey pursues its own Panturanic project stretching from Anatolia to the whole Central Asia up to Xinjiang, the point of arrival of the Turkmen ethnic colonization.
Furthermore, the Turkish regime plans to capitalize on the “small jihad” of Central Asia to play a role of “Sunni Islamic protector”, which would bring Turkey back to a sort of neo-Ottoman Empire. This is President Erdogan’s true delirium.
Does NATO probably want to follow the Macbeth-style dreams of the Turkish AKP, the Party already banned in its components by the Turkish Constitutional Court, in Central Asia? And with which forces?
It is not known to what extent these projects – widely known to all international decision-makers – are consistent with the Turkish presence within NATO, but we know that the Atlantic Alliance has not said a single word on this new Turkish strategic posture.
Is NATO probably becoming obsolete, not after the end, but after the transformation of Cold War?
However, let us revert to the Uighur issue.
The East Turkestan Liberation Organization wants to unite – against China – also the Kazakhs in Xinjiang – and, indeed, Kazakhstan has long defined this group as “terrorist organization”.
It is worth recalling that, in the most acute phase of the Taliban jihad in Afghanistan against the ISAF forces, an entire brigade made up of Uighurs only and organized by Al Qaeda, with Chechen units, operated there, while some leaders of the Uighur jihad ran – on behalf of the Bin Laden “rank and file” – even the area of the Pakistani FATAs.
Hence the Uighur Islamist-jihadist movement is now a danger also for the Russian Federation, considering the link between the East Turkestan Islamic Movement and the Chechen jihadist separatism, with many exchanges of militant-terrorists and, probably, strong financial and logistical support.
Obviously this is a danger for the stability of the People’s Republic of China, which cannot afford a jihad area in such a neuralgic position for its defense and its peaceful land and maritime expansion, as anticipated by Xi Jinping.
In the near future this will be the starting point of the jihadist guerrilla warfare – the line of the Belt and Road Initiative defined in 2013.
It is a severe danger also for India, considering the perviousness of the Islamic areas in the Central-Northern part of the Indian Federation, which cannot certainly tolerate a jihadist fire in its Koranic religion areas.
Finally it is a danger also for the United States which – owing to economic and financial reasons – cannot afford a People Republic of China with a jihad active in a strategic area for China’s economic expansion and political stability.
Do the United States probably want to destabilize the country which is still the main holder of US bonds?
Unless the United States, dominated by Turkey in Syria, do not want to accept the Turkish geopolitics also in the whole Central Asia, with a view to “surrounding China” and possibly threatening the Russian Federation from the East and from the South, as they are doing along the new borders between Europe-28 and Russia.
It would be a huge strategic suicide, albeit not unlikely considering the current ineffectiveness of the US foreign policy at global level.
Let us leave aside the European Union, which counts nothing and is blackmailed even by Turkey for the migrant issue.
Nevertheless there are significant personal cases in relation to the Uighur issue: Dolkun Isa’s is a case in point.
Dolkun was a leader of the movement of “East Turkestan” in Xinjiiang. He escaped from China in 1997 and arrived in the easy paradise of the new jihad, namely Europe, where he became German citizen in 2006.
Currently he is the Secretary of the World Uighur Congress, an international organization of exiled Uighurs which, however, operates both inside and outside Xinjiang.
This “Congress”, partially funded by the US National Endowment for Democracy, was founded mid-April in Munich, a city near the German intelligence headquarters – and currently we cannot perceive the explicit relations, which implicitly exist, between the WUC and the military groups of the jihadist insurgency in the Xinjiang.
China has issued an Interpol “red notice” against it, namely an international arrest warrant which, however, has not been followed up by Germany, the other European countries or the United States. The same holds true for Italy itself where Dolkun Isa travelled and carried out political activity, as well as covert activities to cover up the actions of the military wing of the Uighur jihadist movement.
In Italy Dolkun operated also through the Radical Party.
Moreover there is an organizational connection between the networks of the Tibet insurgency and the Uighur ones, which tend to use a distorted description of the situation in Tibet so as to justify the Chinese “repression” of the Uighurs that, in fact, regards only an anti-jihadist fight.
In 2009 Dolkun Isa was denied access to South Korea, while he succeeded in paying a visit to India on April 22, 2016, with a clear anti-Chinese goal in mind.
Briefly, the Uighur political-military network is gaining support from all the countries, which have potential regional contrasts with the People’s Republic of China.
This easily points to the Uighur network as a future tool for a series of proxy wars between China and its Asian competitors.
Why, however, does Germany openly support Dolkun Isa and the other leaders of the Uighur network present in the country?
We can think of a domestic interest, considering that the diaspora Uighurs can easily connect themselves with the very wide Turkish network traditionally present in Germany. We can also assume that Germany intends to favour the reckless and ill-advised Turkish action in the Middle East , so as to “overthrow the (so-called) tyrants” but, indeed, to reach Turkey’s hegemony over the current and future failed states in the region, up to Xinjiang.
From which every European country, regardless of its being NATO member, will be fiercely excluded.
A strongly irrational strategic choice which I believe has much to do with the Turkish blackmail through the mass of refugees of the war created by Turkey and the United States, namely the destruction of Syria, which will be followed by other “operations” to “bring democracy”.
The WUC President is Rebiya Kadeer, a rich business woman operating between China and Russia, as well as a US citizen, which shows that the United States use the Uighur “Congress” as a tool to destabilize China in the future, according to the now evident ill-fated model of the “orange revolutions”.
Is this the real US interest? We doubt it and we really hope so.
The Honorary President – now passed away – is the Turkish citizen Riza Bekin Pascià.
The WUC chief advisor is the German citizen Erkin Alptekin, the son of a Uighur leader who, when the Chinese arrived in Xinjiang, escaped to Jammu and Kashmir, as well as to Srinagar. Later he studied journalism in Istanbul and long worked for Radio Free Europe.
The vice-Presidents are Seyit Tumturk, a Turkish citizen dealing with the reception of many Uighur fugitives in Turkey, through Thailand and India, as well as Khariman Hojamberdiyev, a Kazakh autonomist leader – and it is worth recalling that over 250,000 Uighurs live in Kazakhstan, another pole of the Turkish Panturanic project.
The third vice-President is Omen Khanat, resident in the United States.
The other two vice-Presidents are Asgar Khan, another German citizen, and Semet Abia, resident in Norway.
The Secretary-General is the above mentioned Dolkun Isa. The vice-Secretaries General are the Turkish Erkin Emet, the Kazakh Abdulrashid Turdiyev and Tuyghun Abduweli, resident in Canada. Two likely Turkey’s friends.
The spokesmen are Dishad Reshit, resident in Sweden, and Alim Seytoff, who lives in the United States.
There is also a “Youth Party” linked to the WUC, which operates from the United States.
The WUC funds are manifold: in addition to the funds raised directly in Xinjiang, every year the National Endowment for International Peace grants 215.000 US dollars to the Uighur movement, over and above the funds from the German, Swedish and Norwegian governments.
Briefly there is the essential need to put an end to the WUC network outside China and, particularly, to the network of the jihadist military separatism in Xinjiang. Two networks which are closely interwoven.
This is the real interest of all global players, including the United States.
This is the reason why we propose to hold an International Conference on Xinjiang, attended by the Russian Federation, the People’s Republic of China, India, the United States and the other Central Asian countries, recognizing the Turkmen-Uighur jihad as a primary danger for their society and the strategic stability of the whole Asia.
If this did not happen, Central Asia could easily collapse and China could focus on the reaction to the Uighur jihad. Most of the land choke-points along the border between Russia and China – which is ever more important today – could take fire so as to weaken both countries. This is in nobody’s interest.
The Korean Peninsula needs more peace talks rather than game drills
Although military drill is legitimate and often conducts internationally, it is still required to be transparent and cautious. That means the participants involved should publicly announce the game not be directed against any third party, if not having the pre-talks before the drills. For example, the Chinese military participated in Russia’s the Center-2019 drills and a large-scale Vostok-2018 strategic exercise. But both sides announced their aims to fully test and improve the capabilities of the Chinese troops in joint operation and logistics with a view to improving the strategic coordination between the two militaries.
However, this is not the case of the United States and its ally South Korea on the Korean Peninsula although the latter often display its reluctance to follow the dictate of the U.S. military command. It is sure that hostile behavior or policy like regular military drills against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) would lead to serious consequences. At the Xiangshan Security Forum in Beijing of this October, a top officer of DPRK armed forces put it, although Pyongyang has worked to build lasting peace but that the situation has relapsed into a “dangerous, vicious cycle” of exacerbating tensions because of the regular military drills of the U.S. and ROK forces.
Since 2018 when the DPRK-U.S. joint statement was issued, there is no progress in improving bilateral relations between the two sides. Pyongyang has insisted that it is completely because of the U.S. anachronistic and hostile policies against the DPRK and also the ROK (South Korea) has adopted a “double-dealing attitude” in continuing to carry out military drills with the U.S. and buying advanced military equipment. Under such circumstances, Pyongyang has no other choices but conducted missile tests in recent months, including that of a submarine-launched ballistic missile, and broke off the latest working-level nuclear talks with the U.S. Understandably, DPRK’s top negotiator for the talks blamed the U.S. for the breakdown with accusing Washington of “bringing nothing” to the negotiating table. In addition, the DPRK officially accused the U.S. of using sanctions in order to enforce disobedient countries to their knees. Yet, sanctions draw only resistance and counteraction from those affected countries, without providing any help in solving the issues. Therefore, the DPRK must stand up to such attempts without giving in to any external pressure.
Consider this, people wondered why the United States and its allies have been so hostile and even often ridiculous in dealing with the DPRK which is one of the isolated and economically most poor states in the world. Actually China and Russia have supported the U.N.-endorsed sanctions against the DPRK, but they have opposed to any attempt on the part of the United States and its allies to change the ruling party and regime of Pyongyang regardless of the dire consequences. As the close neighbors of DPRK, China and Russia have vowed that they would never allow the chaos occurred in the Korean peninsula. Given this, Pyongyang has demonstrated its willingness to conduct negotiations with the United States and its brotherly counterpart the South Koreans. True, China and Russia have provided the necessary humanitarian aid to the DPRK but they also proposed two-suspension formula of the Korean issue, that is, the two sides simultaneously suspend their nuclear tests and military drills. Unfortunately, due to the United States’ arrogance and stubbornness, the situation on the Korean Peninsula has never been improved substantially.
Now the tension on the Korean Peninsula reappears again and even more dangerous move is that the DPRK’s supreme decision-making body lashed out at planned U.S.-ROK military drills with a stern warning the United States will face a greater threat and harsh suffering if it ignores Kim Jong-Un’s end-of-year deadline to salvage nuclear talks. Obviously the DPRK is deeply concerned with the annual U.S.-led military drills which are supposed to cause a “vicious cycle” in relations between the two sides. It is arguable that the United States with the most powerful arsenal in the world should have better behave itself with prudence at the sensitive time when the situation on the Korean Peninsula could return to the dangerous starting point due to the joint military drills. Here is no reasons to defend the DPRK’s menacing rhetoric but it does have the sound line to recognize the legitimate concerns with its own security.
This paper holds that despite the disappointment of those closely watching the tensions on the Korean Peninsula after the failed summits, yet diplomatically, the door between Pyongyang and Washington is still open. Although the United States and DPRK presented their own narratives on the disagreement, they didn’t finger point at each other as what they would have usually done. Actually, Trump has spoken of Kim favorably and Pyongyang’s tone on the impasse of the talks was soft. Everything indicates that both countries look forward to the next meeting though undecided. Past experiences tell that challenges are inevitable when the two sides discuss the issues that involve their core interests and grave concerns. Yet, it is obvious that both sides will benefit from sincere dialogue. As the success of diplomacy can’t be based on false promises and on breach of faith, it supposes that there is no reason to regard the chance of peace for the Korean issues failed. At the least, the two sides have no intention to reject the dual-tracks and two suspensions proposals by China. It has also reflected Beijing’s role on the Korean Peninsula issue is irreplaceable since Kim made four trips to China in just ten months and Trump praised Xi as a highly respected leader due to his help to mediate with Pyongyang.
If we look into the past summit talks between Trump and Kim, they faltered due to the American rejection of Pyongyang’s demands for broad sanctions relief in exchange for the partial dismissing of its nuclear capabilities. Following that, Kim responded with intensified testing activities but also indicated he would “wait with patience until the end of the year for the United States to come up with a courageous decision.” Curious enough, the United States indicates that it will consider changing plans to conduct joint military drills with South Korea if that helps support diplomatic efforts to restart a dialogue with Pyongyang. As U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said, “We always have to remain flexible in terms of how we support our diplomats to ensure that we do not close any doors that may allow forward progress on the diplomatic front.” His remarks were greeted cautiously by Pyongyang although it still demands for a cancellation of the upcoming exercise. Yet, this was finally realized when the United States and South Korea decided on November 17 to postpone the planned military drills.
For sure, it is still too early to tell what would happen on the Korean Peninsula in terms of the deeply-rooted suspicions and the hostile groups on the both sides? But we should have confidence in the prospective meetings between the United States and the DPRK in the near future. In effect, Pyongyang and Washington have agreed that lifting sanctions is a key part of denuclearization that needs to be negotiated sincerely and constructively as well. At this crucial moment, it might be time for China to resume its role as expected. It seems that China is ready to extend its help as it has reiterated to both Washington and Seoul that Beijing is willing to continue to play a constructive role on the Korean Peninsula issue.
Briefly, it argues that the Korean Peninsula needs more peace talks rather than game drills. Equally a stable Korean Peninsula surely benefits the peaceful rise of China and the harmony of the Asian-Pacific region. This is the essence of diplomacy in light of its continuous negotiation, sincere persuasion and necessary compromise.
It’s when not if China’s Middle Eastern tightrope snaps
China is manoeuvring to avoid being sucked into the Middle East’s numerous disputes amid mounting debate in Beijing on whether the People’s Republic will be able to remain aloof yet ensure the safety and security of its mushrooming interests and sizeable Diaspora community.
China’s challenge is starkest in the Gulf. It was compounded when US President Donald J. Trump effectively put China on the spot by implicitly opening the door to China sharing the burden of guaranteeing the security of the free flow of energy from the region.
It’s a challenge that has sparked debate in Beijing amid fears that US efforts to isolate Iran internationally and cripple it economically could lead to the collapse of the 2015 international agreement that curbed Iran’s nuclear program, accelerate Iran’s gradual breaching of the agreement in way that would significantly increase its ability to build a nuclear weapon, and potentially spark an unwanted military confrontation.
All of which are nightmare scenarios for China. However, Chinese efforts so far to reduce its exposure to risk are at best temporary band aid solutions. They do little to address the underlying dilemma: it is only a matter of time before China will have no choice but to engage politically and militarily at the risk of surrendering its ability to remain neutral in regional conflicts.
Israeli intelligence reportedly predicted last year that Iran’s gradual withdrawal from an agreement that Mr. Trump abandoned in May 2018 would ultimately take Iran to a point where it could create a nuclear military facility within a matter of months. That in turn could provoke a regional nuclear arms race and/or a pre-emptive military strike.
That is precisely the assessment that Iran hopes will persuade China alongside Russia and the European Union to put their money where their mouth is in countering US sanctions and make it worth Iran’s while to remain committed to the nuclear accord.
The problem is that controversy over the agreement is only one of multiple regional problems. Those problems require a far more comprehensive approach for which China is currently ill-equipped even if it is gradually abandoning its belief that economics alone offers solutions as well as its principle of no foreign military bases.
China’s effort to reduce its exposure to the Gulf’s energy supply risks by increasing imports from Russia and Central Asia doesn’t eliminate the risk. The Gulf will for the foreseeable future remain a major energy supplier to China, the region’s foremost trading partner and foreign investor.
Even so, China is expected to next month take its first delivery of Russian gas delivered through a new pipeline, part of a US$50 billion gas field development and pipeline construction project dubbed Power of Siberia.
Initially delivering approximately 500 million cubic feet of gas per day or about 1.6 percent of China’s total estimated gas requirement in 2019, the project is expected to account with an increased daily flow of 3.6 billion cubic feet for 9.5 percent of China’s supply needs by 2022.
The Russian pipeline kicks in as China drastically cuts back on its import of Iranian liquified petroleum gas (LPG) because of the US sanctions and is seeking to diversify its supply as a result of Chinese tariffs on US LPG imports imposed as part of the two countries’ trade war.
China is likely hoping that United Arab Emirates efforts to stimulate regional talks with Iran and signs that Saudi Arabia is softening its hard-line rejection of an unconditional negotiation with the Islamic republic will either help it significantly delay engagement or create an environment in which the risk of being sucked into the Saudi-Iranian rivalry is substantially reduced.
Following months of quietly reaching out to Iran, UAE minister of state for foreign affairs Anwar Gargash told a recent security dialogue in Abu Dhabi that there was “room for collective diplomacy to succeed.”
Mr. Gargash went on to say that “for such a process to work, it is essential that the international community is on the same page, especially the US and the EU, as well as the Arab Gulf states.” Pointedly, Mr. Gargash did not put Russia and China on par with Western powers in that process.
The UAE official said the UAE envisions a regional order undergirded by “strong regional multilateralism” that would provide security for all.
Mr. Gargash made his remarks against the backdrop of a Chinese-backed Russian proposal for a multilateral security arrangement in the Gulf that would incorporate the US defense umbrella as well as an Iranian proposal for a regional security pact that would exclude external players.
Presumably aware that Gulf states were unlikely to engage with Iran without involvement of external powers, Iran appeared to keep its options open by also endorsing the Russian proposal.
The various manoeuvres to reduce tension and break the stalemate in the Gulf put Mr. Trump’s little noticed assertion in June that energy buyers should protect their own ships rather than rely on US protection in a perspective that goes beyond the president’s repeated rant that US allies were taking advantage of the United States and failing to shoulder their share of the burden.
Potentially, Mr. Trump opened the door to an arrangement in which the United States would share with others the responsibility for ensuring the region’s free flow of energy even if he has given no indication of what that would mean in practice beyond demanding that the United States be paid for its services.
“China gets 91 percent of its oil from the Straight, Japan 62 percent, & many other countries likewise. So why are we protecting the shipping lanes for other countries (many years) for zero compensation. All of these countries should be protecting their own ships…,” Mr. Trump tweeted.
China has not rejected Mr. Trump’s position out of hand. Beyond hinting that China could escort Chinese-flagged commercial vessels in the Gulf, Chinese officials have said that they would consider joining a US-backed maritime security framework in the region that would create a security umbrella for national navy vessels to accompany ships flying their flag.
Chinese participation would lay the groundwork for a more comprehensive regional security arrangement in the longer term.
China’s maritime strategy, involving the development of a blue water navy, suggests that China already de facto envisions a greater role at some point in the future.
Scholars Julia Gurol and Parisa Shahmohammadi noted in a recent study that China has already “decided to take security concerns in the (Indian Ocean) into its own hands, instead of relying on the USA and its allies, who have long served as the main security providers in this maritime region… If tensions continue to escalate in the Persian Gulf, Beijing may find it has no other choice but to provide a security presence in the Middle East.”
Implications of French President’s Visit to China on the International Arena
French President Emmanuel Macron pursues a policy of opening up to China and solving problems that may arise peacefully and diplomatically. France and Germany are the main pillars of the European Union, and the French opening to China is a European recognition of the importance of China’s role internationally.
Last Monday, the French president paid a three-day official visit to China amidst the US-China trade war. The French president has previously promised to visit China once a year throughout his term. These official exchanges between China and France strengthen China’s international standing, and prove the theory that China is a peaceful country seeking cooperation and opening up to the world.
Fifty-five years after the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and France, a bilateral relationship based on respect and friendship despite some differences in regimes or strategic alliances. The Chinese model is mainly based on people-to-people communication and peaceful cooperation, and these are the main pillars of the Belt and Road Initiative launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013.
Despite Washington’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement in 2015, Beijing and Paris have kept their promises to contain global warming, a positive point in the bilateral relationship. The French president considered that China and France should lead the climate agreement. Cooperation between the two countries has emerged considerably in the industrial sector, such as the development of nuclear energy, aerospace, and the automotive industry. Academic cooperation between the two countries has also been boosted through student exchange programs and the high demand for Chinese language learning in France, which was previously rare.
Commenting on the importance of trade exchanges between China and the EU, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce showed that trade between China and the EU exceeded 322.5 billion US dollars in the first half of 2018, up 13 percent year on year. Chinese Ambassador to France Zhai Jun recently expressed that China and France are to expand cooperation in agriculture, energy, advanced manufacturing and artificial intelligence.
From the ancient city of Xi’an, the French president announced that an alliance between Beijing, Europe and Paris should be established for a better future for the world, and Macron stressed the need for a balanced relationship between China and Europe. The French president praised the Belt and Road Initiative and called for its activation in order to enhance the trade role of Asia and Europe.
France was the first Western country to recognize the People’s Republic of China. In a meeting with French ambassadors, the French president stressed that the West is in a moment of decline and China is progressing at a tremendous speed. During his visit to China, the French president took advantage of the trade war between the United States and China and worked to develop France-China trade relations, increase French trade partners to China, and promoting the French tourism, agriculture and services sectors.
France is seeking to strengthen Sino-European relations because of its great benefit to the European economy, but it is contrary to the Western orientation. China is also a beneficiary of good relations with France, because France has influence in Africa and many regions in the world and is a permanent member of the Security Council and it is a developed country at the military, technological and technical levels. China’s cooperation with a powerful country like France will bring many benefits and opportunities.
China’s great economic, technological and military progress indicates that China has become an important country in international relations, and it is in the interest of any country in the world to establish good relations with China. The best evidence is that France is seeking to establish good relations with China, as well as the European Union countries to make their relationship with China distinctive.
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