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The new geopolitics of the Uyghur movement

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[yt_dropcap type=”square” font=”” size=”14″ color=”#000″ background=”#fff” ] R [/yt_dropcap]ecently the Uyghur organizations abroad are increasing pressures to convey the image of China as a “State of torture”. We do no certainly want to deny that the Muslim population in Xinjiang, which at the time of Mao’s Long March was simply called “the Western Region”, does not tolerate some restrictions, but it is anyway true that the Islamist and jihadist networks are largely present in the region and that, as always happens in these cases, they have visible structures covering the invisible ones.

And not necessarily the visible ones are bigger than the invisible ones. The amount of “invisible agents” in the case of a terrorist and jihadist organization is far greater than you can think of.

Finally, while recently Greece vetoed the EU’s condemnation of China for its “repression of human rights”, it is equally true that the congerie of human rights is a cornucopia where you can put everything and the opposite of everything. Moreover, it is hard to establish a subjective and natural “law” without an equally universal and shared order placing it into a framework of binding rules.

Unfortunately the strict nature of Roman Law – the perennial sphere of every sound legal reasoning – is not so widespread as it would be currently needed.

Instead of the Latin Ratio, there is a new “right of feelings” or even of “impulses and drives”, which now characterizes the EU position – a law heir  to the one represented by the drunken leaders of the Germanic tribes under their oak.

A commercial, devised by the now endless private agencies safeguarding  said  “human rights”, has even created an artificial link between mass migration from Africa to the EU (but above all to Italy ruled by foolish  leaders) and torture.

Not to mention the implementation of the human rights ideology to the LGBT minorities in the West, as well as the use of this theory of human rights for the now huge masses of immigrants from Africa to Europe, or even to minorities that although existing for centuries, are used against Asia’s development projects, such as the Baloch people in Pakistan against the “Sino-Pakistani Corridor” and the Sindh and Punjabi ethnic groups between Pakistan and India, as well as the Kachin people between China and Myanmar, a region where China is also investing massively.

In short, the non-State areas among the largest nations are used as clockwork mechanisms to destabilize or regionalize major economies in a phase of economic growth.

And this is already a clue.

Obviously this applies also  to the Uyghur issue.

It is also worth recalling that, according to the Turkish police, the bomber of New Year’s Eve attack in Istanbul was an Uyghur – and Daesh-Isis mostly  uses Uyghurs for its actions in Turkey.

Central Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Western China are all areas belonging to the region that has been identified as “Khorasan” by the Caliphate.

 In fact, the terrorist of the “Reina” nightclub attack in Istanbul was identified as an Uyghur, but with the significant name of Abu Mohammed Khorasani.

An Uyghur who had been trained in Syria, then returned to Xinjiang and later moved to Kyrgyzstan with his family. From there he had arrived in  Istanbul approximately one month before the attack.

According to the Chinese and Turkish security forces, at least 300 Uyghurs have become members of the Syrian-Iraqi Caliphate.

If we consider that, apart from training, every jihadist needs a protection and cover network of at least 40-50 people, we can calculate that there is a not negligible number of jihadists in Xinjiang.

Moreover, criminal gangs also regularly sell fake Kyrgyz passports to the Uyghurs fleeing Xinjiang to join the jihad.

There is already collaboration between Taiwanese and Uyghurs for actions against China, including non-military ones, while Rabija Kader, the founder of the World Uyghur Congress, would already like to proclaim the “East Turkestan Republic” against which, last March, Xi Jinping called for the construction of a “big steel wall” to control and isolate Xinjiang.

So far China’s policy towards the Uyghurs has been designed to integrate Xinjiang into the phase of fast economic expansion that has taken place throughout the country, as well as establishing shared security and economic relations with the neighbouring countries of the Uyghur region.

In the “New Silk Road” project, Xinjiang is seen as the primary corridor for energy and trade between mainland China, Central Asia and the Middle East.

Furthermore, we must also consider that one of the reasons that led to the war in Syria was the proposal made in 2009 by Qatar – an Emirate which is currently de facto at war with Saudi Arabia and many of its allies – for a gas pipeline from its North Field, at the border with the Iranian field, crossing Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria up to Turkey, to finally supply the European market.

The following year, however, Bashar al-Assad decided to support the Iran-Iraq-Syria line, the so-called “Islamic pipeline” which, however, would have been an alternative to Gazprom.

Therefore, while this happened in Syria, with a careful management of internal chaos, of destabilization and of Gene Sharp’s technique of “nonviolent action”, that would be nothing compared to what may occur in Xinjiang to slow down, block and destroy China’s energy and economic project with the “New Silk Road”.

This is the second clue.

China will shortly invest 25 billion US dollars in the streets of  the region characterized by the old Turkmen ethnic group.

The Sino-Pakistani Corridor, another key Chinese project, starts with a  900 billion US dollar infrastructure investment for the Tashkurgan-Gwadar line – and once again the starting basis for the line, as well as most of its immediate borders, are at risk of jihadist terrorist infiltration which, however, will always have its natural platform in Xinjiang.

Let us not consider the do-gooding rhetoric of the European Parliament, which on June 22 last, with its EU-China Human Rights Dialogue, called for greater attention by the Chinese government to “civil society” (a concept fully alien to China’s old and modern political culture), as well as to the protection of “activists”, who are often agents of the enemy soft power, with a view to drafting or revising useless treaties.

Europe is a continent which cannot distinguish between friends and foes, neither its own nor its allies’.

A continent that will not last.

Moreover, the Uyghur region also has as many as 122 minerals, often with the largest reserves throughout China.

Even rare metal reserves, which are currently decisive for developing new information technologies.

Not to mention precious stones, gold, jade and salty materials which are needed for the production of glass and paints.

The same holds true for the 25 billion cubic meters of water, which are essential in the rest of China, with glaciers having a surface of 24,000 square kilometres, which could provide 2,580 million cubic meters of additional water.

It would be the solution to China’s huge water problem.

The Xinjiang coal reserves account for 38% of Chinese total reserves.

Currently oil and natural gas in the Uyghur region account for 25% of the Chinese total reserves.

And it is hard to believe that this region, which serves as a base and primary land corridor for the great Chinese Road and Belt project, cannot become the starting point triggering off a new “chaos strategy” in the near future.

This is the third clue.

Initially, the Uyghur terrorists of the Bishkek bombing and of the Urumqi revolt were largely trained in Pakistan.

Moreover, Al Qaeda trained Uyghurs in Afghanistan so as to send them back to their areas of origin to carry out terrorist attacks.

Furthermore, with a view to differentiating their energy sources from the increasingly dangerous Middle East, both China and Japan look to Central Asia’s oil and gas with great interest. China, in particular, needs a safe  corridor for the Azeri, Kazakh, Uzbek and Kyrgyz oil and gas.

Blocking the Xinjiang line or making it unsafe is the best way to force China to the prices, political tensions and military crisis of the Middle East countries.

Hence, incidentally, this is the reason underlying the farsighted Chinese policy towards Israel.

At geopolitical level, for the new Central Asia’s “big game”, the United States can rely on the only projection force of the Armed Forces, while the Russian Federation has the strategic advantage of its position and its long relations with many countries in the region. China has the chance of being the most capitalized country in Asia and also having Armed Forces capable of controlling the territory and projecting its power onto the Pacific and the South China Sea, as well as onto the South.

But it has a weak point, namely the great ethnic differences which, unfortunately, materialize above all on its borders.

At this juncture, we could consider for China a Horatii and Curiatii- style policy.

Separating the ethnic groups, making some of them friendly, while hitting the target minority with the necessary harshness.

Certainly, the participation of ethnic minorities in current China’s rapid economic development – as is currently already happening – is a further good strategy.

However, this creates a class of new wealthy people linked to the government, while the new impoverishment will inevitably create new insurgency areas.

Instead of believing in some “human rights” militants, paid by who knows who, it would be useful for Europe to tackle the geostrategic problem of  supporting Central Asia’ stabilization, by cooperating with the Sino-Russian axis to avoid the jihadist contagion and, above all, the contagion of the powers that support or use it.

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 “International World Group”, he is also the honorary president of Huawei Italy, economic adviser to the Chinese giant HNA Group. 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 “Honorable” of the Académie des Sciences de l’Institut de France. “

East Asia

Shared Territorial Concern, Opposition to US Intervention Prompt Russia’s Support to China on Taiwan Question

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image credit: kremlin.ru

The situation around the island of Taiwan is raising concerns not only in Chinese mainland, Taiwan island or in the US, but also in the whole world. Nobody would like to see a large-scale military clash between China and the US in the East Pacific. Potential repercussions of such a clash, even if it does not escalate to the nuclear level, might be catastrophic for the global economy and strategic stability, not to mention huge losses in blood and treasure for both sides in this conflict.

Earlier this week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated that Moscow continued to firmly support Beijing’s position on Taiwan as an integral part of China. Moreover, he also underlined that Moscow would support Beijing in its legitimate efforts to reunite the breakaway province with the rest of the country. A number of foreign media outlets paid particular attention not to what Lavrov actually said, but omitted his other remarks: the Russian official did not add that Moscow expects reunification to be peaceful and gradual in a way that is similar to China’s repossession of Hong Kong. Many observers of the new Taiwan Straits crisis unfolding concluded that Lavrov’s statement was a clear signal to all parties of the crisis: Russia would likely back even Beijing’s military takeover of the island.

Of course, diplomacy is an art of ambiguity. Lavrov clearly did not call for a military solution to the Taiwan problem. Still, his remarks were more blunt and more supportive of Beijing than the standard Russia’s rhetoric on the issue. Why? One possible explanation is that the Russian official simply wanted to sound nice to China as Russia’s major strategic partner. As they say, “a friend in need is a friend indeed.” Another explanation is that Lavrov recalled the Russian experience with Chechnya some time ago, when Moscow had to fight two bloody wars to suppress secessionism in the North Caucasus. Territorial integrity means a lot for the Russian leadership. This is something that is worth spilling blood for.

However, one can also imagine that in Russia they simply do not believe that if things go really bad for Taiwan island, the US would dare to come to its rescue and that in the end of the day Taipei would have to yield to Beijing without a single shot fired. Therefore, the risks of a large-scale military conflict in the East Pacific are perceived as relatively low, no matter what apocalyptic scenarios various military experts might come up with.

Indeed, over last 10 or 15 years the US has developed a pretty nasty habit of inciting its friends and partners to take risky and even reckless decisions and of letting these friends and partners down, when the latter had to foot the bill for these decisions. In 2008, the Bush administration explicitly or implicitly encouraged Georgian leader Mikheil Saakashvili to launch a military operation against South Ossetia including killing some Russian peacekeepers stationed there. But when Russia interfered to stop and to roll back the Georgian offensive, unfortunate Saakashvili was de-facto abandoned by Washington.

During the Ukrainian conflicts of 2013-14, the Obama administration enthusiastically supported the overthrow of the legitimate president in Kiev. However, it later preferred to delegate the management of the crisis to Berlin and to Paris, abstaining from taking part in the Normandy process and from signing the Minsk Agreements. In 2019, President Donald Trump promised his full support to Juan Guaidó, Head of the National Assembly in Venezuela, in his crusade against President Nicolas when the government of Maduro demonstrated its spectacular resilience. Juan Guaido very soon almost completely disappeared from Washington’s political radar screens.

Earlier this year the Biden administration stated its firm commitment to shouldering President Ashraf Ghani in Afghanistan in his resistance to Taliban advancements. But when push came to shove, the US easily abandoned its local allies, evacuated its military personal in a rush and left President Ghani to seek political asylum in the United Arab Emirates.

Again and again, Washington gives reasons to conclude that its partners, clients and even allies can no longer consider it as a credible security provider. Would the US make an exception for the Taiwan island? Of course, one can argue that the Taiwan island is more important for the US than Afghanistan, Venezuela, Ukraine and Georgia taken together. But the price for supporting the Taiwan island could also be much higher for the US than the price it would have paid in many other crisis situations. The chances of the US losing to China over Taiwan island, even if Washington mobilizes all of its available military power against Beijing, are also very high. Still, we do not see such a mobilization taking place now. It appears that the Biden administration is not ready for a real showdown with Beijing over the Taiwan question.

If the US does not put its whole weight behind the Taiwan island, the latter will have to seek some kind of accommodation with the mainland on terms abandoning its pipe-dreams of self-determination and independence. This is clear to politicians not only in East Asia, but all over the place, including Moscow. Therefore, Sergey Lavrov has reasons to firmly align himself with the Chinese position. The assumption in the Kremlin is that Uncle Sam will not dare to challenge militarily the Middle Kingdom. Not this time.

From our partner RIAC

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Russia-Japan Relations: Were Abe’s Efforts In Vain?

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Expanding the modest elements of trust in the Japan-Russia relationship, talking through reciprocal concerns before they lead to conflict, avoiding bilateral incidents, and engaging in mutually beneficial economic cooperation is the way forward.

One year after the end of Shinzo Abe’s long period of leadership, Japan has a new prime minister once again. The greatest foreign policy challenge the new Japanese government led by Fumio Kishida is facing is the intensifying confrontation between its large neighbor China and its main ally America. In addition to moves to energize the Quad group to which Japan belongs alongside Australia, India, and the United States, U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration has concluded a deal with Canberra and London to provide Australia with nuclear-powered submarines which in future could patrol the Western Pacific close to Chinese shores. The geopolitical fault lines in the Indo-Pacific region are fast turning into frontlines.

In this context, does anything remain of the eight-year-long effort by former prime minister Abe to improve relations with Russia on the basis of greater economic engagement tailored to Moscow’s needs? Russia’s relations with China continue to develop, including in the military domain; Russia’s constitutional amendments passed last year prohibit the handover of Russian territory, which doesn’t bode well for the long-running territorial dispute with Japan over the South Kuril Islands; and Russian officials and state-run media have been remembering and condemning the Japanese military’s conduct during World War II, something they chose to play down in the past. True, Moscow has invited Tokyo to participate in economic projects on the South Kuril Islands, but on Russian terms and without an exclusive status.

To many, the answer to the above question is clear, and it is negative. Yet that attitude amounts to de facto resignation, a questionable approach. Despite the oft-cited but erroneous Cold War analogy, the present Sino-American confrontation has created two poles in the global system, but not—at least, not yet—two blocs. Again, despite the popular and equally incorrect interpretation, Moscow is not Beijing’s follower or vassal. As a power that is particularly sensitive about its own sovereignty, Russia seeks to maintain an equilibrium—which is not the same as equidistance—between its prime partner and its main adversary. Tokyo would do well to understand that and take it into account as it structures its foreign relations.

The territorial dispute with Russia is considered to be very important for the Japanese people, but it is more symbolic than substantive. In practical terms, the biggest achievement of the Abe era in Japan-Russia relations was the founding of a format for high-level security and foreign policy consultations between the two countries. With security issues topping the agenda in the Indo-Pacific, maintaining the channel for private direct exchanges with a neighboring great power that the “2+2” formula offers is of high value. Such a format is a trademark of Abe’s foreign policy which, while being loyal to Japan’s American ally, prided itself on pursuing Japanese national interests rather than solely relying on others to take them into account.

Kishida, who for five years served as Abe’s foreign minister, will now have a chance to put his own stamp on the country’s foreign policy. Yet it makes sense for him to build on the accomplishments of his predecessor, such as using the unique consultation mechanism mentioned above to address geopolitical and security issues in the Indo-Pacific region, from North Korea to Afghanistan. Even under Abe, Japan’s economic engagement with Russia was by no means charity. The Russian leadership’s recent initiatives to shift more resources to eastern Siberia offer new opportunities to Japanese companies, just like Russia’s early plans for energy transition in response to climate change, and the ongoing development projects in the Arctic. In September 2021, the annual Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok did not feature top-level Japanese participation, but that should be an exception, not the rule.

Japan will remain a trusted ally of the United States for the foreseeable future. It is also safe to predict that at least in the medium term, and possibly longer, the Russo-Chinese partnership will continue to grow. That is no reason for Moscow and Tokyo to regard each other as adversaries, however. Moreover, since an armed conflict between America and China would spell a global calamity and have a high chance of turning nuclear, other major powers, including Russia and Japan, have a vital interest in preventing such a collision. Expanding the still very modest elements of trust in the Japan-Russia relationship, talking through reciprocal concerns before they lead to conflict, avoiding bilateral incidents, and engaging in mutually beneficial economic cooperation is the way forward. The absence of a peace treaty between the two countries more than seventy-five years after the end of the war is abnormal, yet that same unfinished business should serve as a stimulus to persevere. Giving up is an option, but not a good one.

From our partner RIAC

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Kishida and Japan-Indonesia Security Relations: The Prospects

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image source: twitter @kishida230

In October, Japan had inaugurated Fumio Kishida as the new prime minister after winning the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) presidential election earlier. Surely this new statesmanship will consequently influence Tokyo’s trajectory in international and regional affairs, including Southeast Asia.

Not only that Japan has much intensive strategic cooperation with Southeast Asians for decades, but the region’s importance has also been increasing under Japan’s Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP). Southeast Asia, as a linchpin connecting the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, is key to Japan’s geostrategic interest and vision.

Since the LDP presidential election debate, many have identified Kishida’s policy trajectory, including in the defense and security aspect. Being bold, Kishida reflected its hawkish stance on China, North Korea, and its commitment to strengthening its alliance with Washington. Furthermore, Kishida also aimed to advance the geostrategic and security initiatives with like-minded countries, especially under FOIP.

One of the like-minded countries for Japan is Indonesia, which is key Japan’s key partner in Southeast Asia and Indo-Pacific.

This article maps the prospect of Japan’s security cooperation with Indonesia under the new prime minister. It argues that Prime Minister Kishida will continue to grow Japan’s security cooperation with Indonesia to adjust to the changing security environment in Indo-Pacific.

Japan – Indonesia Common Ground

In its basic principle, Japan and Indonesia shared the same values in democracy, rules-based order, and freedom of navigation in developing strategic cooperation, especially in the maritime security aspect. 

In the geostrategic context, Japan and Indonesia also have significant similarities. Both countries are maritime countries and seeking to maximize their maritime power, as well as having formally synchronized geostrategic vision. While Japan has FOIP, Indonesia has Global Maritime Fulcrum (Poros Maritim Dunia) and leading initiator for ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP).

In capitalizing on this shared vision, since Shinzo Abe and Joko “Jokowi” Widodo era, Japan and Indonesia have initiated much new security cooperation ranging from a high-level framework such as 2+2 Foreign and Defense Ministers’ Meeting in 2015 and 2021 to capacity building assistances and joint exercises. Furthermore, defense equipment transfers and joint technology development were also kicked off under Abe-Jokowi.

Kishida’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Profile

Compared to his predecessor, Suga Yoshihide, Prime Minister Kishida is more familiar with foreign affairs.

Personally, Kishida comes from a political family and spent several years living in the United States, reflecting his exposure to the international and political environment from an early age. This is significantly different from Suga, who grew up in a strawberry farmer family in a rural area in Akita Prefecture.

Politically, served as foreign minister under Shinzo Abe, Fumio Kishida is the longest-serving foreign minister in Japan’s history. This reflects his extensive understanding of current world affairs, compared to Suga who spent most of his prime political career in the domestic area such as being chief cabinet secretary and minister for internal affairs & communication.

Specifically, in defense and security posture, Prime Minister Kishida is willing to go beyond the status quo and not blocking any key options in order “to protect citizens”. During his policy speeches, he stated that he is not ruling out the option to build attacking capabilities due to the severe security environment surrounding Japan. Also, Kishida will not limit the defense budget under 1% of Japan’s gross domestic product if necessary.

Future Security Cooperation Trajectory with Indonesia 

In short, policy continuity will play a huge role. One of the reasons why Kishida was able to win over more popular Kono was due to his moderate liberalness, demonstrating stability over change. This was more preferred by faction leaders in LDP.

In defense and foreign affairs, the continuity is boldly shown as despite appointing entirely new ministers in his cabinet, the only two ministers retained by Kishida are Foreign Minister Motegi and Defense Minister Kishi. By this, it sent the narrative to the international community that there will not be significant turbulence caused by the changing leadership on Japan’s side.

As a background context on Indonesia, Fumio Kishida was the foreign minister from the Japanese side behind the 2+2 Foreign and Defense Ministers’ Meeting with Indonesia in 2015. Indonesia is the only country Japan has such a high-level security framework within Southeast Asia. This framework has led Japan and Indonesia to have a second edition of the 2+2 meeting in 2021, resulting in many practical cooperation deals in defense and security.

The other setting supporting Kishida’s policy continuity, especially in the context with Indonesia is that his foreign minister’s counterpart, Retno Marsudi, was still in charge from the last time Kishida left the foreign minister post in 2017, until today. Initiating the 2+2 framework together, it will be easier for Kishida to resume his relationship with both President Jokowi and Foreign Minister Retno in advancing its strategic cooperation with Indonesia, especially in the defense and security area.

The prospect of continuity is also reflected in Kishida’s commitment to continue the geostrategy relay of both his predecessors, Shinzo Abe and Suga Yoshihide, in achieving the FOIP vision.

Not only that Indonesia is having a similar vision of maritime prosperity and values with Japan, but Indonesia is also concerned with South China Sea dynamics as it started to threaten Indonesia’s remote islands, especially Natuna Islands. As this is a crucial cooperation opportunity, Kishida needs to continue assisting Indonesia to improve the security and prosperity of its remote islands. Thus, as Kishida also admitted that Indonesia is a major country in ASEAN, having favorable relations with Indonesia is important for Japan’s geostrategy.

Challenges

To capitalize on the potentials with Indonesia, Kishida needs to support Indonesia’s strategic independence as well as to make the best of his position as one of the United States’ allies in Asia.

Despite his tougher stance on China and Taiwan issues, Kishida cannot fully project Japan’s rivalry with China to Indonesia. In addition to its strategic independence, Indonesia has and needs strong strategic relations with China to support many of the vital development projects surrounding Indonesia. This cannot be touched.

Also, Japan needs to bridge Indonesia, as well as other like-minded Southeast Asian countries, with the Quad and AUKUS proponents. Indonesia is formally stated that it is concerned about the ownership of nuclear-powered weapons by its neighboring countries. On the other side, Japan supported AUKUS and is a close ally of the U.S. Kishida’s ability to grab this opportunity will solidify Japan’s credibility and position among Southeast Asians.

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