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East Asia

The strategic issue of the Uyghur political-military movement

Giancarlo Elia Valori

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[yt_dropcap type=”square” font=”” size=”14″ color=”#000″ background=”#fff” ] T [/yt_dropcap]he geopolitical goals of the Uyghur political movement in Europe and in the many areas in which it has established itself (Latin America, Europe, Australia, United States) are basically the following:

1) to “cover up” and distort the intelligence signals of the Chinese anti-jihadist network; 2) to increasingly isolate and separate the People’s Republic of China from the Western world; 3) to raise funds for the Uyghur internal and external terrorism in Xinjiang and, finally, 4) to create the media coverage, in the West, for a future Islamist guerrilla warfare in the Chinese territory, thus creating positive climate and feelings – as freedom fighters – for the Uyghur jihadists operating in China.

The headquarters of the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) are located in Munich – at the core of each movement in Europe and outside it – and the organisation is led by Dolkun Isa as Secretary.

At the beginning of October 2016 he organized the demonstrations of local Uyghurs and Western anti-China activists in the United States (in Washington and in California) and later in the Netherlands – and obviously also in Munich.

Dolkun Isa is an organizer and a liaison between the WUC in Munich and Western politicians, journalists and activists.

The world Uyghur network operates more than we may think in the soft power sphere, with a view to countering China and creating a negative climate against it among the European ruling classes.

Interpol has a long negative report on Dolkun Isa in its records; he was imprisoned in South Korea in 2009 and could not obtain the visa to enter India in 2016.

There is even speculation that Dolkun Isa is trying to create a covert association of the World Uyghur Congress for “human rights”, based in Europe, and with non-Islamic members

The WUC President, who mostly guides Dolkun Isa himself, is Rebiya Kader, a wealthy Uyghur businesswoman who has long been living in Washington, USA.

It is worth recalling that in 1999 Rebiya Kader who, at the time, was the eighth richest woman in China and already member of China’s Parliament, was imprisoned on charges of having sold some Chinese military secrets to the United States.

Hence why is the WUC Secretary, Dolkun Isa, so often operating in Europe? First and foremost to organize a stable defamation campaign against the People’s Republic of China, with a view to successfully opposing the Chinese line in Europe.

The WUC first goal is to isolate China. The second one is to pass off China as “a terrorist State”, thus destroying its relations with the West.

This can mainly happen in the liberal-radical world, which is the most connected with US interests and the most capable of influencing both the EU Right and Left.

Hence the aim is to hit – currently and in the future – China’s interests in Europe and in the rest of the West.

In essence, WUC does not absolutely want the European countries to adhere to China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

For WUC, confining China in its old terrestrial region is the premonitory sign and harbinger of a possible defeat on the ground of mass armed struggle, which could make the traditional Chinese contradictions increase and break out: urban areas / rural areas, military power / Party, CPC middle managers / executives.

Finally the WUC sections are the cover and the base for fundraising, as well as the strategic headquarters abroad for the future operations of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM).

ETIM is the overtly jihadist branch of the Uyghur movement, which is already hitting Chinese targets in the countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) region, as happened in Kyrgyzstan on August 30, with an attack on the local Chinese Embassy.

The SCO safety belt is another of the primary targets that the Uyghurs plan to hit.

Hence WUC is an important network, in direct contact with the jihadist Uyghur “armed struggle”.

In Hamburg and in the rest of Germany, the Uyghurs are a small community, largely inside the Tibetan one and mainly integrated with the many local Turkish workers. It also welcomes Uyghur exiles who have recently staged demonstrations in Xinjiang and who can be useful in a “covert war” against the diplomatic missions of the People’s Republic of China in Europe.

The fleeing Uyghurs follow the same route as those going to swell the ranks of the “sword jihad”, who are currently over 3,000: Thailand, Indonesia and finally Pakistan. From there they go to work – via Turkey – to Germany or join the jihadist militants.

It is worth noting, however, that all the events we have analyzed show very little presence of emigrated Uyghurs, often “moved” from city to city only for advertising purposes. Conversely we find there a very wide audience of “human rights” Western militants, especially of liberal-radical tradition.

In addition to a considerable number of protesters linked to the multifarious world of the Tibetan diaspora, who are the WUC true and primary cover.

Certainly a world of mirrors which, however, implies a basically pro-US political stance for “free” Tibet and, hence also for the Uyghurs, equally “free” from the Chinese “backlash”.

While the Pentagon’s current strategic line is to encircle the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China, two powers growing fast both at economic and geopolitical levels – two “anti-hegemonic” policies compared to the unipolar world wanted by the United States – it is easy to imagine how the Tibetans and the Uyghurs are perfect, for the United States, for propaganda purposes.

In fact the only officially-known funding to WUC is that of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). However, there is also the Turkish intelligence service (MIT) which directly supports – through emigration – the insurgency within Xinjiang and possibly there will also be funds from Saudi Arabia, which operates in the jihad area mainly through the Al Nusra Front in Afghanistan.

Incidentally, it is the same militant area where the ETIM jihadists end up in Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Turkey, however, wants Xinjiang because it wants to implement its crazy project of Panturanic unification of all Turkmen ethnic groups under its new Sultanate.

Furthermore, the North American NED backed – with funds and trainers – the “Crimson Revolution” in Lhasa in March 2008, the “saffron revolution” in Burma in August, September and October 2007, in addition to all the other “colour revolutions” in Serbia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan and Iran.

Hence the National Endowment for Democracy is clearly the soft war instrument and the tool for “covert” operations most often used by the United States and its intelligence services.

It will certainly continue to operate in ”East Turkestan”, as the local Islamist militants call Xinjiang.

Though this be madness, yet there is method in ‘t – just to quote Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

Hence the enigma is solved: WUC and the other networks supporting the Uyghur movement in the world are targeted to the North American strategy designed to contain China and strategically weaken and defuse it in its near abroad.

For obvious territorial and tactical reasons, they are also designed to cause problems for the unity of purpose between China and Russia.

Hence ETIM, which is massively present in the Pakistani tribal area, raises funds for itself, but also for the local jihad in China, with the cover propaganda according to which every jihad is local.

This means that the global jihad has nothing to do with the insurgency in Xinjiang, which is very useful for “cleansing” and making the image of the Islamic revolt in China nationalistic and peaceful.

Part of the funds, however, also comes from WUC, which raises money in Europe and in Australia to back not so much the guerrilla warfare, but the Uyghur population within Xinjiang.

Nevertheless, how are these funds flowing? Through NGOs.

The foreign NGOs operating before the new Chinese law are the following: the Bai Yang Public Welfare, led by Li Le, based at the School of Pharmacy of Xinjiang, funded by the One Foundation of www.sina.com which works mainly in the field of education and training.

Another one is the Canadian Co-operative Association (CCA), which is the NGO of Canadian cooperatives and private credit institutions, which has funded a microcredit facility in Xinjiang to the tune of 4.8 billion dollars.

Another NGO is the Fred Hollows Foundation, an Australian organization working in the health sector – ophthalmology, in particular.

Again in Xinjiang there is also the Good Rock Foundation, a NGO based in Hong Kong taking care of Chinese orphans.

In the “Turkmen” region of the People’s Republic of China Medecins Sans Frontières Belgium operates particularly in the treatment of infectious diseases, such as AIDS and SARS.

There is also the Ninth World Foundation, which provides medical and education support to the poorest people.

The other NGOs are the Our Free Sky, OFS Volunteer Organization, which provides aid to the most vulnerable social groups; the Sunshine Voluntary Teaching, obviously dealing with education and finally the Yale-China Association for Sino-US cultural exchanges.

According to our calculations, the total amount of funds employed by the NGOs in Xinjiang between 2015 and the first half of 2016 is equal to 4.25 million US dollars.

Finally, if we consider that, in the Autonomous Region, the distribution of money – including both voluntary transfers and contributions and “bribes and kickbacks” – implies a 13.4% to the public and “covert” organisations of local Islam, the cash available to the Uyghur movement is approximately 5.2 millions.

Hence, on the one hand, WUC and its armed wing, ETIM, are functions of the global jihad, in the visible and in the invisible areas; on the other, they are primary factors of the US strategy of slow destabilization and containment of China.

Advisory Board Co-chair Honoris Causa Professor Giancarlo Elia Valori is an eminent Italian economist and businessman. He holds prestigious academic distinctions and national orders. Mr Valori has lectured on international affairs and economics at the world’s leading universities such as Peking University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Yeshiva University in New York. He currently chairs "La Centrale Finanziaria Generale Spa", he is also the honorary president of Huawei Italy, economic adviser to the Chinese giant HNA Group and member of the Ayan-Holding Board. In 1992 he was appointed Officier de la Légion d'Honneur de la République Francaise, with this motivation: "A man who can see across borders to understand the world” and in 2002 he received the title of "Honorable" of the Académie des Sciences de l'Institut de France

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East Asia

How China is helping Iran skirt US sanctions

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Shortly after the Trump administration reimposed sweeping sanctions on Iran, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said eight countries, most notable China, would be exempted from the draconian sanctions on buying Iranian crude oil.

Shortly after the Trump administration reimposed sweeping sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made an important announcement. It was a calculated move to avoid a major embarrassment. The hawks in the power corridors of Washington had anticipated the backlash of sanctions on US foreign policy with many global powers rebuffing Trump’s foolhardy move.

Pompeo said eight countries would be exempted from the draconian sanctions on buying Iranian crude oil due to special circumstances. The countries included China, India, Italy, Greece, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Turkey.

Many of these countries had quite clearly indicated that they would not be cutting oil imports from Iran under the US pressure, most importantly China, Turkey, and India – three of Iran’s largest oil customers.

While India has its own strategic interests in maintaining good relations with Tehran, for instance, the Chabahar port project in Sistan-Baluchistan, Turkey’s relations with Washington have hit a new low following sanctions and trade tariffs imposed by the US.

China, which has emerged as a viable counterweight to US hegemony in the world and a protagonist of new international economic policy, has unambiguously reaffirmed its commitment to keep alive the Iran nuclear deal and stand by the Islamic Republic of Iran.

On November 5, when the petroleum-related sanctions came into effect, Chinese foreign ministry said it will continue to “hold a fair, objective and responsible attitude” and “resolutely safeguard its legitimate rights”, while reiterating its opposition to the unilateral US sanctions.

“China feels sorry for the US’ decision and we noticed that the international world as a whole opposes the practice of such unilateral sanctions,” foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a press briefing.

She said Iran has been seriously fulfilling its obligations under the JCPOA and its efforts have been recognized by the International Atomic Energy Agency dozen times. She also affirmed that China will firmly safeguard its lawful rights while continuing to adhere to JCPOA and urged relevant parties to stand on the “right side of history”.

China has maintained that implementing the Iranian nuclear deal is akin to safeguarding the authority of UN Security Council, basic norms of international law, international non-proliferation treaty and peace and stability in the Middle East.

As one of the remaining signatories of the JCPOA, along with European Union countries who are exploring options to circumvent the US sanctions, Beijing wants to keep the deal alive. China, believe experts, is in a better position compared to other Asian countries as it is not subservient to US interests and is already embroiled in a bitter trade war with Washington.

For all parties of the JCPOA, Iranian crude oil is the main commodity of interest, particularly for Beijing. In 2017, one-third of Iran’s oil was supplied to China, which underlines the significance of oil trade between the two countries. China’s commitment to continue importing oil from Iran is very likely to deal a body blow to US ploy of reducing Iranian oil imports to zero and ‘starving’ the Iranian nation.

Hu Xijin, chief editor of the influential Chinese daily Global Times, told Tehran Times that there was no possibility of Washington reducing the Iranian oil exports to zero, “because Washington lacks righteousness to do so, therefore it can’t have the full support of the international community”.

To continue oil trade in different currencies other than dollar, Iran has been in talks with key allies, including China. On September 29, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said Tehran would circumvent sanctions by conducting trade in all currencies to avoid using the US dollar. “You can use your own currency. Sell stuff in your own currency, buy stuff in the other country’s currency, and at the end of a specific period, balance it out in a non-dollar currency. It’s quite possible and may even be profitable,”

China, which is the largest oil importer in the world with around nine million barrels imports every day, has been making concerted efforts to reshape the global oil market with increased usage of its currency in oil trading. If Chinese currency manages to replace the US dollar, it will be a masterstroke.

US has been rendered friendless and isolated in its quest to tear up the Iran deal and force countries to cut oil imports from Iran. European Union has already refused to back down on the Iran deal, exploring ways to develop payment channels to facilitate payments related to Iran’s exports. The goal, according to a statement issued by EU, “is to protect the freedom of other economic operators to pursue legitimate business with Iran”.

Beijing has expressed its full support to the EU’s proposal to set up a “special payments system” to facilitate trade with Iran and safeguard the Iranian nuclear deal, which experts believe will significantly reduce reliance on the US dollar in the global oil trade. That will be a game-changer.

First published in our partner MNA

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East Asia

The Implication of China’s Diplomacy in APEC and ASEAN

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It is truly unusual that the Chinese President Xi Jinping and its Premier Li Keqiang are visiting the same area during nearly the same time: Xi’s visit to APEC from15th to 21st November and Li’s visit to ASEAN on 15th November. Yet, if we look into China’s foreign policy towards this area over the past years since President Xi took power, it is not difficult to understand both Xi’s and Li’s official visits to the “larger Pacific” and the meaning beyond.

As we know, President Xi has reiterated that the Pacific is large enough for the countries involved to share the prosperity with each other. In order to achieve the inclusive rather than exclusive benefits for all, China’s diplomacy aims to reject any kind of unilateralism, trade protectionism and anti-globalization. Given this, Xi’s at APEC and Li’s at AEASN is defined as a signal of China’s diplomacy to further reform and bold openness.

As a rising great country, China is surely eager to expand its investment and trade with the south Pacific area, and Papua New Guinea (PNG) is the first country visited by Chinese president. What is more, PNG joined the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) early 2018 and then became the first state of Pacific islands to sign the MoU on “The Belt and Road Initiative” construction. As the theme “Harnessing Inclusive Opportunities, Embracing the Digital Future,” the APEC summit will focus on Regional economic integration, digital economy, connectivity, sustainable and inclusive growth and so forth.

Also during Premier Li’s visit to the ASEAN, he highlighted the necessity of the collaboration and mutual benefit among the countries involved on the 21st China-ASEAN leaders meeting. This is also the 21st ASEAN Plus Three Summit (10+3) and the 13th East Asia Summit (EAS).

Quite understandable, since the 1960s, the center of world economy has shifted from North Atlantic to Asia-Pacific, its dynamic growth in the region create countless jobs and push the development of world economy. This is the reason that Asia-Pacific region has the most trade agreements and the most complicated economic architecture around world. APEC and ASEAN, as two institutions that possess most member states, are the very pillars of the tumbledown regional economic architecture. APEC was launched by Australia and later included 21 member states in the region, amongst are United States, China, Japan, the economic giant three of the world economy. ASEAN is an institution that consist of ten small and middle states. Though they are not strong enough to meet the challenges from the power politics alone, ASEAN is a core force that firmly facilitate the economic integration of the whole region of East Asia and the Pacific. No matter what the way they embrace, they are the de facto basic regionalism of Asia-Pacific. The withdrawing of United States from Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and hard-achieved Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) once brought the regional economic architecture a fig leave and strengthened the impact of APEC and ASEAN.

As a result, the two visits of Chinese top leaders to the same region at the same time definitely attract worldwide attention, because they not only represent China’s recent diplomatic focus but also mark the fact that Asia-Pacific region has become one of the vital fields where China’s diplomacy will be actively conducting in terms of the Belt and Road Initiative, and carry on the good-neighbor policy. Since China has argued for creating a peaceful development milieu, to enhance economic transformation and upgrading oversea markets and partners in Asia-Pacific region.

Consider these facets, China, as the second largest economy, aims to promote its well-articulated stance on multilateralism and inclusiveness and globalization. As both President Xi and Premier Li have strongly said that China is ready to work with Pacific island countries to endeavor together and sail for a better future for bilateral relations. For the sake of that goal, China always believes that as long as all the countries involved have firm confidence in each other’s development, cooperation and the future of East Asia, and work closely together and forge ahead, all sides would achieve more and reach a higher level in the next 15 years.

For sure, China belongs to the part of a larger Asia-Pacific family, and the Chinese government defines its goal as the shared prosperity of this region. Therefore, China will continue to work hard and constructively to promote the overall development of impoverished but promising Pacific island countries under the Belt and Road Initiative.

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East Asia

An uncertain step in moving China-Japan relations

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Authors: Meshach Ampwera  & Luo Xinghuan

On October 26, Chinese President Xi Jinping met Japanese PM Shinzo Abe and praised that both China and Japan have pledged to strengthen bilateral ties amid continuous efforts made by the two nations. Xi said, “Bilateral relations have returned to the right track and gained positive momentum, which is something the two sides should cherish.” As the two largest economies in Asia, China and Japan are also the vital players in Asian security and the global development.

In addition, since this is the first official visit to China by a Japanese PM in a seven-year “Cold Peace” period, it is widely assumed that Abe’s visit symbolizes the resumption of high-level visits and will be followed by an increasing rapprochement between China and Japan. True, the leaders of the two economic giants witnessed a wide range of agreements, including a 30 billion US dollar worth of currency swap pact, the establishment of a maritime and air liaison mechanism, and enhancing people-to-people exchanges.

Yet, three factors have to be considered seriously in looking into Japanese foreign policy given the current changing geopolitical landscape regionally and globally. First, Japan has still regarded itself as a “defeated” state during the WWII. Since then, Japan’s postwar posture has frequently described as a new pacifism; yet in fact it is considerably more complex. As Henry Kissinger put it: “Japan had acquiesced in the U.S. predominance and followed the strategic landscape and the imperatives of Japan’s survival and long-term success.” This means that the governing elites in Tokyo used to hold the constitution drafted by U.S. occupying authorities with its stringent prohibition on military action, and adapted to their long-term strategic purposes. As a result, Japan was transformed from the pacific aspects of the postwar order (that prohibited military action) into a nation that has focused on other key elements of national strategy, particularly using economic leverage regionally and globally, though not uncontroversial.

Second, in a recently-released paper written by the former US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, he maintained that “Japan is a close ally of the U.S. and a rising military power, too, because of legal and constitutional changes of great significance championed by Prime Minister Abe.” In practice, the Japanese administration has engineered an expansion to enable its military to operate regionally and even globally in response to the rise of China, violent extremist activity in Asia, and the alleged North Korean belligerence.

Actually in 2013, Japanese Government White Paper revealed a desire to become a “normal country” with an active alliance policy. In a searching for a new role in the Asia-pacific region, Japan aims to act as an “anchor” of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) concluded in 2018 after the withdrawal of the United States. Now it involves 11 countries and representing 13.4% of global GDP ($ 13.5tri.). As the largest economy of the CPTPP, Japan has been active in moving it forward. Early this year when the British government stated it is exploring becoming a member of the CPTPP to stimulate exports after Brexit in 2019, Abe stated that the United Kingdom would be welcomed to join the partnership. It is said that even the U.S. reconsiders possibly rejoining the CPTPP if it were a “substantially new deal” for the United States.

Japan’s ardent involvement into the US-led strategy in Asia has also been endorsed to expand steadily as a normal power regionally and globally. For example, the Asia-Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC) is the result of the joint declaration issued by the India and Japan in 2016. Although it is premised on four pillars of development and cooperation, it is self-evident that the AAGC reflects a growing special “strategic and global partnership between India and Japan” in which both sides have viewed China’s growing, pragmatic and successful presence in Africa as a menace. There is no question that AAGC is a well-crafted vision and agenda of both India and Japan, linking with their own development priorities. But with increasing pressure from Washington and Brussels, Japan and India are in effect driven by the option for the AAGC to rebalance China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

From the inception of the BRI, they have more than ever before been concerned with being isolated in Africa by Beijing’s initiative. But, as Ampwera Meshach, a researcher at Jilin University put it, “Africa is on the growth trend and offers potential markets and raw materials. For this reason, Africa largely needs pragmatic and scientific, technological and development- oriented initiatives and these are clearly reflected in China’s BRI.” In light of this, the AAGC does neither reflect a novel nor pragmatic approach on how it fits within the African agenda. Instead, AAGC’s foundational pillars seem more inclined to the Western cooperation approaches that have for decades not been translated into development.

Controversially, two days before Abe’s visit to Beijing, Japan had decided to scrap official development assistance (ODA) to China, which is a program where Japan provides aids to developing countries starting back in 1954. Even though some people argue that Japan’s ODA is reasonably cancelled because China’s GDP is even 2.5 times larger than that of Japan, yet, it is necessary for Chinese to be aware of the reality that Japan is a longstanding ally of the United States. As Japan has long been an economic power, its impressive military capabilities would not be confined to a strict policy of territorial defense—no projection of Japanese power or the U.S.-Japan alliance to the region as a whole.

It is during the Abe’s administration which has recognized an environment of growing Chinese assertiveness, violent extremist activity in Asia, and North Korean hostility, and therefore, Japan has eagerly participated in Asian security, including training and exercising with other nations, beyond a purely passive, home-island defense role. This makes it an increasingly important player serving the US strategy in Asia but challenging the rise of China globally.

It is true that Abe tweeted about the trip — while recognizing the challenges in moving bilateral relations forward, he said that he would still work to “push Sino-Japan relations to the next level”. Given the two countries’ economic links, it is only understandable that there is a need for the two sides to come closer. Moreover, Japanese businesses has been an extremely active force behind the government’s shift of attitude on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Yet, all in all, we should never ignore that Japan’s ambitious foreign policy has gone beyond the economic goal.

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