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The future strategy of the World Uyghur Congress

Giancarlo Elia Valori

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[yt_dropcap type=”square” font=”” size=”14″ color=”#000″ background=”#fff” ] T [/yt_dropcap]he assessment of China’s “One Belt, One Road Initiative” is at the core of the political debate in the World Uyghur Congress and in the other Islamist networks within Xinjiang. More specifically, the Islamist Uyghurs compare Xi Jinping’s proposal with other previous initiatives, such as “Opening the Northwest” of 1992; “Western Development” of 2000; the forums on the development of Xinjiang held in 2010 and 2014, besides the establishment of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in 2001.

All initiatives that the Islamist Uyghurs interpret only as acts to repress the insurgency in East Turkestan and particularly as factors for further controlling the local Muslim radicalism.

Besides slackening the Islamist tension in Xinjiang – often jointly with the Islamic countries – which would be controlled by both China and its new regional allies.

It is also worth noting that the internal or public documents of the World Uyghur Congress hint at a systematic and possibly violent reaction to the integration of the Chinese economy into the world market, which is notoriously the idea underlying the “One Belt, One Road Initiative”.

At geopolitical level, considering the geographical position of Xinjiang, the Uyghur Islamic insurgency could do much harm to the project of a new Silk Road – and we imagine that the platform of the Uyghur Islamism will be used by all the countries which see as a threat China’s competition and its new strategic presence in Central Asia, as well as the new global multipolar approach preached by Xi Jinping.

According to the various Uyghur movements, development is used by the Chinese authorities to further marginalize and control Islam in Xinjiang. It is not true at all – indeed the opposite is true – but the strategic fear of Uyghur Islam is to be encircled by China’s friends and, hence, by enemies of the violent and jihadist Islam.

Therefore, we can foresee a forthcoming sequence of terrorist attacks, demonstrations and psywar actions, targeted in this case to Westerners, who will accuse China of “repression”, but above all will create difficulties and slow down the practical activities associated with the One Belt, One Road Initiative.

If the Chinese project is completed in line with the envisaged time schedule, East Turkestan will become increasingly irrelevant, both economically and strategically. Conversely, if the One Belt, One Road Initiative is significantly slowed down by the Uyghur terrorists and their media policy towards the West, this will be the Uyghurs’ real great success. Hence the Uyghurs will become the key region for China’s economic development in the West, with a blackmail that is easy to imagine.

The same holds true for the “China-Pakistan Economic Corridor” (CPEC), which envisages investment to the tune of 46 billion US dollars.

The Gwadar port – already bought by China – will be the starting point of the “Belt”, considering that the Pakistani port allows access to the Arabian Sea and above all avoids China’s having to pass through the Straits of Malacca.

China, in fact, is funding “wellbeing and welfare” – to use the Chinese terminology – in all the buffer zone between its State and the bordering countries – areas which have always recorded tensions with China’s central authorities.

The list includes also Xinjiang that, in the Chinese vision, must reach “moderate wellbeing” that would surely defuse the local Islam, both the permanent jihad and the “sword jihad” operations that, however, have already taken place in Xinjiang.

The traditional friendship between China and Pakistan has already great economic significance, considering that trade between the two countries currently amounts to 16 billion US dollars per year – not to mention the eight modern China-made submarines sold to Pakistan, praised for their technical features also by US experts.

If China creates a network of strong alliances with Islamic countries on its border, there are no longer guaranteed safeguards for the Uyghur militant Islam. In the near future Afghanistan will be stabilized by a joint action between China, India and Pakistan, while India is planning to become the true dominus of Afghanistan.

Even the Taliban will soon be silenced, as they were born of a rib of the Pakistani intelligence services and, without Pakistan, they would currently have neither weapons nor funds.

For the Uyghur radical Islamism, this, too, is a strategic closure of great importance. In fact, until now the Uyghur jihadists who fought in Afghanistan were approximately one hundred and some of them have already returned to Xinjiang.

In addition, China’s venture capital is booming, and shortly – also as a result of a Chinese political decision – it will also be the turn of selected areas in Xinjiang.

As the old Chinese Marxist-Leninists know all too well, if there are no longer poor people, there is no fuel for any religious or social insurgency.

Meanwhile, the WUC-related web networks much publicizes a list of some people who should be freed from the Chinese “repression” thanks to the EU pressures.

It is the case of the Nobel Peace Prize winner, Liu Xiaboo; of the Uyghur economist, Ilham Toti and of Wang Quanzhang, a lawyer linked to the Falun Gong movement, a sect that was particularly active at the time of the events in Tiananmen Square, as well as of some feminists.

Combining very different offences and behaviours is a classic psywar technique and Europeans always take the bait.

Furthermore, ever more often the Uyghur movement uses the radical-libertarian areas of European politics – which are traditionally more sensitive to Tibetan issues – to defame China and above all to impose a link between China’s economic openings vis-à-vis the rest of the world and the traditional theme of “human rights”, which place purely ideological demonstrations and violent political actions on an equal footing.

The new law on non-governmental organizations, enacted by the Chinese government in 2015, is mainly designed to avoid Western soft power, which historically incites minorities against the political leadership, but also underlines the great usefulness and the great appreciation enjoyed by some NGOs within the Chinese government.

Moreover, as early as its foundation, the “National Endowment for Democracy”, a CIA-linked NGO, has been backing the World Uyghur Congress financially, while the Soros Foundation maintains relations with the Uyghurs through its network in Kyrgyzstan.

It is also worth recalling that Dolkun Isa, the Secretary of the World Uyghur Congress, based in Munich, is registered in the Interpol files as the perpetrator of “assassination by means of explosives” and currently enjoys German citizenship.

The news comes from the request for inspection No. 4-07585, which has been pending in the Italian Senate since May 25, 2017 – a request made by a well-known former judge, namely Felice Casson.

The document clarifies that a request to INTERPOL is still pending in relation to Dolkun Isa, aimed at tracing and subsequently arrest him on charges of “murder perpetrated by using explosives”. By granting him citizenship, Germany clearly wanted to carry out an anti-Chinese political act, possibly to meet demands coming from overseas countries.

It seems now obvious that the inevitable link between WUC and the Uyghur jihadist networks may be Dolkun Isa himself.

If, as it seems now certain, Turkey is eventually accepted in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which currently seems to be a primary strategic goal for Turkey, China will certainly ask the Turkish government to stop any support for the Uyghur movement – a request we anticipate will be quickly accepted by Turkey. Once again the scope for coverage, funding and international legitimacy for WUC and the Uyghur Islamic movements will shrink.

Recently Western sources, extensively reported on the WUC-controlled websites, make reference to the arrest of 22 Uyghur religious at the beginning of Ramadan to protect – as reported by the Chinese government – students’ health and avoid religious propaganda, to which Ramadan is equated.

It should also be noted that on May 22 and in late June 2014 violent demonstrations were staged by the Uyghurs, with 43 victims in the former case and a harsh terrorist action in the latter. The Turkestan Islamic Party has its command centre in Pakistan – and once again the Chinese government will ask Pakistan for a favour that the Pakistani Islam cannot refuse, without risking breaking off the economic negotiations linked to the new Silk Road.

Even the US strategic analysts believe that, in the future, the Uyghur network is bound to be turned into an organization similar to Al Qaeda.

Moreover, it is in Berlin that, on May 29, 2017, Uyghur intellectuals and professionals gathered to reorganize the activities of WUC and of other ethnic or Islamic associations of East Turkestan, considering that the real item on the agenda is to oppose China’s new geopolitical role and support the Western media who speak of “Chinese repression” in Xinjiang, as well as to counter the new Chinese Silk Road currently at information level and later at operational level.

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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Freedom, Sovereign Debt, Generational Accounting and other Myths

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“How to draw the line between the recent and still unsettled EU/EURO crisis and Asia’s success story? Well, it might be easier than it seems: Neither Europe nor Asia has any alternative. The difference is that Europe well knows there is no alternative – and therefore is multilateral. Asia thinks it has an alternative – and therefore is strikingly bilateral, while stubbornly residing enveloped in economic egoisms. No wonder that Europe is/will be able to manage its decline, while Asia is (still) unable to capitalize its successes. Asia clearly does not accept any more the lead of the post-industrial and post-Christian Europe, but is not ready for the post-West world.” – professor Anis H. Bajrektarevic diagnosed in his well-read ‘No Asian century’ policy paper. Sino-Indian rift is not new. It only takes new forms in Asia, which – in absence of a true multilateralism – is entrenched in confrontational competition and amplifying antagonisms.  The following lines are referencing one such a rift.

At the end of 2017, Brahma Chellaney, a professor with the New Delhi-based Center for Policy Research, wrote an article titled “China’s Creditor Imperialism” in which he accused China of creating a “debt trap” from Argentina, to Namibia and Laos, mentioning its acquisition of, or investment in the construction of several port hubs, including Hambantota in Sri Lanka, Piraeus in Greece, Djibouti, and Mombasa in Kenya in recent years.

These countries are forced to avoid default by painfully choosing to let China control their resources and thus have forfeited their sovereignty, he wrote. The article described China as a “new imperial giant” with a velvet glove hiding iron fists with which it was pressing small countries. The Belt and Road Initiative, he concluded, is essentially an ambitious plan to realize “Chinese imperialism”. The article was later widely quoted by newspapers, websites and think tanks around the world.

When then United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visited Africa in March, he also said that although Chinese investment may help improve Africa’s infrastructure, it would lead to increased debt on the continent, without creating many jobs.

It is no accident that this idea of China’s creditor imperialism theory originates from India. New Delhi has openly opposed China’s Belt and Road Initiative, especially the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor as it runs through Pakistan-administered Kashmir, which India regards as an integral part of its territory. India is also worried that the construction of China’s Maritime Silk Road will challenge its dominance in South Asia and the Indian Ocean. Based on such a judgment, the Indian government has worked out its own regional cooperation initiatives, and taken moves, such as the declaration of cooperation with Vietnam in oil exploration in the South China Sea and its investment in the renovation of Chabahar port in Iran, as countermeasures against the Chinese initiative.

Since January, India, the United States, Japan and Australia have actively built a “quasi-alliance system” for a “free and open Indo-Pacific order” as an alternative to the Belt and Road Initiative. In April, a senior Indian official attending the fifth China-India Strategic Economic Dialogue reiterated the Indian government’s refusal to participate in the initiative.

The “creditor imperialism” fallacy is in essence a deliberate attempt by India and Western countries to denigrate the Belt and Road Initiative, which exhibits their envy of the initial fruits the initiative has produced. Such an argument stems from their own experiences of colonialism and imperialism. It is exactly the US-led Western countries that attached their political and strategic interests to the debt relationship with debtor countries and forced them to sign unequal treaties. China’s Belt and Road Initiative is proposed and implemented in the context of national equality, globalization and deepening international interdependence, and based on voluntary participation from relevant countries, which is totally different from the mandatory debt relationship of the West’s colonialism.

It is an important “Chinese experience” to use foreign debts to solve its transportation and energy bottlenecks that restrict its economic and social development at the time of its accelerated industrialization and urbanization. By making use of borrowed foreign debts, China once built thousands of large and medium-sized projects, greatly easing the transportation and energy “bottlenecks” that long restrained its social and economic development. Such an experience is of reference significance for other developing countries in their initial stage of industrialization and urbanization along the Belt and Road routes.

In the early stage of China’s reform and opening-up, US dollar-denominated foreign debt accounted for nearly 50 percent of China’s total foreign debts, and Japanese yen close to 30 percent. Why didn’t Western countries think the US and Japan were pushing their “creditor imperialism” on China?

Some foreign media have repeatedly mentioned that Sri Lanka is trapped in a “debt trap” due to its excessive money borrowing from China. But the fact is that there are multiple reasons for Sri Lanka’s heavy foreign debt and its debt predicament should not be attributed to China. For most of the years since 1985, foreign debt has remained above 70 percent of its GDP due to its continuous fiscal deficits caused by low tax revenues and massive welfare spending. As of 2017, Sri Lanka owed China $2.87 billion, accounting for only 10 percent of its total foreign debt, compared with $3.44 billion it owed to Japan, 12 percent of its total foreign debt. Japan has been Sri Lanka’s largest creditor since 2006, but why does no foreign media disseminate the idea of “Japan’s creditor imperialism”?

In response to the accusation that China is pursuing creditor imperialism made by India and some Western countries, even former Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa wrote an article in July using data to refute it.

Most of the time, the overseas large-scale infrastructure construction projects related to the Belt and Road Initiative are the ones operated by the Chinese government and Chinese enterprises under the request of the governments of involved countries along the Belt and Road routes or the ones undertaken by Chinese enterprises through bidding.

It is expected that with the construction of large-scale infrastructure projects and industrial parks under the Chinese initiative, which will cause the host country’s self-development and debt repayment ability to constantly increase, the China’s creditor imperialism nonsense will collapse.

An early version of this text appeared in China Daily

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Arrogance of force and hostages in US-China trade war

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Even before the ink on the comments made by those who (just like the author of these lines) saw the recent meeting between US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Buenos Aires as a sign of a temporary truce in the trade war between the two countries had time to dry, something like a hostage-taking and the opening of a second front happened. The recent arrest in Canada under US pressure of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of China’s telecommunications giant Huawei, is unfolding into a full-blown international scandal with far-reaching consequences.

Meng Wanzhou faces extradition to the United States where she is suspected of violating US sanctions against Iran, namely by making payments to Tehran via the UK branch of the US bank HSBC. The question is, however, how come someone is trying to indict a Chinese citizen according to the norms of American law, and not even on US territory to boot?

China’s reaction was extremely tough with Deputy Foreign Minister Le Yucheng summoning the Canadian and US ambassadors in Beijing and demanding the immediate release of the detainee, calling her detention “an extremely bad act.” First of all, because this is yet another arrogant attempt at extraterritorial use of American laws.

Other countries, above all Russia, have already experienced this arrogance more than once; suffice it to mention the cases of Viktor Bout and Konstantin Yaroshenko, or of the alleged “Russian hackers,” who, by hook or crook, were taken out to the United States to face US “justice”.

Enough is enough, as they say. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who is usually careful in his choice of words, said that while Russia is not involved in the US-China trade war, it still regards Meng’s arrest as “another manifestation of the line that inspires a rejection among the overwhelming majority of normal countries, normal people, the line of extraterritorial application of their [US] national laws.”

“This is a very arrogant great-power policy that no one accepts, it already causes rejection even among the closest allies of the US,” Lavrov said. “It is necessary to put an end to it,” he added.

One couldn’t agree with this more. But first, I would like to know who really is behind this provocation, even though China’s reaction would have been much anticipated. The arrest of Meng Wanzhou sent US markets into a tailspin and scared investors, who now expect an escalation of the trade war between the United States and China.

The point here, of course, is Washington’s displeasure about Huawei’s activities, with The Wall Street Journal reporting that the US Justice Department has long been conducting a probe into the Chinese company’s alleged violation of US sanctions against Iran.

There is more to this whole story than just sanctions though. The US accuses Huawei (as it earlier did the Chinese ZTE) of the potential threats the company’s attempts to use tracking devices could pose to the security of America’s telecommunications networks. The United States has demanded that its closest allies (primarily Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand, with whom it has set up a system for jointly collecting and using Five Eyes intelligence) exclude 5G Huawei products from their state procurement tenders.

I still believe, however, that the true reason for this is not so much security concerns as it is a desire to beat a competitor. Huawei has become a world-renowned leader in the development and application of 5G communications technology, which looks to the future (“Internet of Things”, “Smart Cities”, unmanned vehicles and much more.)

Since technology and equipment are supplied along with standards for their use, there is a behind-the-scenes struggle going on to phase out the 5G standard developed by Huawei from global markets.

As for the need “to put an end to this,” the big question is how. Formally, detainees are extradited to the United States in line with national legislation, but at Washington’s request (which often comes with boorish and humiliating pressure from the US authorities and is usually never mentioned in public).

Add to this the US Congress’ longstanding practice of changing, unilaterally and at its own discretion, already signed international treaties and agreements as they are being ratified – another example of “arrogance of power” as mentioned before.

The question could well be raised at the UN Security Council, but its discussion is most likely to be blocked by the US representative. However, there is also a moral side to the assessment of any political practice the work on international legal norms usually starts with.

If China and Russia, as well as other countries equally fed up with the “arrogance of power” submit a draft resolution “On the inadmissibility of attempts at extraterritorial use of national legislation by UN member states” to the UN General Assembly, it would most likely enjoy the overwhelming support by most of the countries of the UNGA, maybe save for just a dozen or so of the most diehard advocates of Washington’s policy…

First published in our partner International Affairs

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Will China Save the Planet? Book Review

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Barbara Finamore has been involved in environmental policy in China for decades.  Her new book, Will China Save the Planet?,is a succinct report (120 pg.) on the short, yet promising history of China’s actions to address climate change and pollution.

Chapter 1 is about the recent global leadership role that China has taken in the fight against climate change.  At first, the PRC was hesitant to commit to specific pollution-reduction benchmarks.  After experiencing increasingly devastating bouts of industrial smog in the 1990s however, China began to take its environmental commitments more seriously.  It has set out to become the de facto leader in combatting climate change through ambitious domestic action and sponsoring international conferences.  The Trump Administration’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement has only furthered China’s dominance.

Chapters 2-4 give in-depth analysis on China’s efforts to wean itself off of coal, develop its renewable energy capacity and become a global leader in electric vehicle production.  China has long used coal to fuel its unprecedented rate of industrialization.  In recent years, it has pledged to wean itself off of coal dependency by enforcing coal plant efficiency standards, enacting a cap-and-trade program, managing grid output, promoting local politicians based on their success in implementing green policies and supporting green energy developments.  China is now home to many of the world’s top manufacturers of solar panels, wind turbines and commercial & private electric vehicles.

There is much to applaud China for in its efforts.  Finamore writes that, “After growing by an average of 10% annually from 2002-2012, China’s coal consumption leveled off in 2013 & decreased in each of the following three years… Largely because of the dip in China’s coal consumption, global CO2 emissions growth was basically flat between 2014-2016.”  By moving away from coal, China has been able to, “Every hour… erects a new wind turbine & installs enough solar panels to cover a soccer field.” As of last year, “Chinese solar manufacturers accounted for about 68% of global solar cell production & more than 70% of the world’s production of solar panels.”

Chapter 5 focuses on China’s mission to export its green initiatives around the world, particularly through its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).  The BRI is shaping up to be the largest international infrastructure plan in history, investing trillions of dollars in 65 countries in Asia, Europe, Africa and the Middle East.  China thus has a golden chance to help much of the developing world to adopt clean energy goals and foster economic growth.  The Chinese government is encouraging its citizens to invest in renewable energy initiatives in the BRI countries by implementing a “green finance” system.  Through its pivotal role in the G20, China can also help to lead the developed world by spearheading reports and policies among the 20 member nations.

Barbara Finamore has written a highly readable and informative overview of China’s role in the global climate change battle.  She lists the Chinese government policies that have led the world’s largest nation to meet and exceed many of the green benchmarks that it set for itself.  It would have been helpful if Finamore had written more about China’s water instability and how that ties to the Tibetan occupation, as access to drinking water is one of the top environmental issues in the world today.  As a whole, Will China Save the Planet?is a good primer for environmental policy analysts and anyone else interested in studying feasible solutions to climate change, humanity’s greatest threat.

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