«Arab Spring» Export to China: US Stakes On Tibet, Xinjiang and Cellphones

At the 48 Munich security conference China’s Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun said that ‘China is committed to giving back to Asia with its own development and plays a major part in upholding peace and stability in the region.’

In response US senator John McCain decided to put the Chinese official to his place: ‘I have said on many occasions and I will say again the Arab Spring is coming to China as well. The ex US presidential candidate told the Chinese diplomat there was no way to suppress it due to the up-to-date gadgets and showed his cell phone as an example. He said he hoped China would develop the way Mr. Zhang Zhijun told the conference because good will and peaceful relations were common goal. He added: «Knowing your neigbours in the region as I do there is great concern about some of your activities».

Tension around the South Chinese Sea does exist. But to great extent it is caused by rising US presence in the region. An impartial assessment of McCain’s claims suggests there is a chance his words would become a reality.

As is known there is a wide gap in people’s income in the western and eastern parts of China. The eastern industrial areas are open to sea trade, they boast higher living standards in comparison with the western ones. Besides the inequality of income there are two «hot spots» where internal destabilization process could be sparked. These are Tibet and Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

Tibet can serve as good leverage to influence Beijing on human rights issue and other values that require situation improvement as Washington sees it. Tibet is a place of regular rallies with demands for independence as the main slogan. For instance in January 2012 a number of protests took place, the Tibetans burned Chinese flags and portraits of Chinese leaders en mass. Soon the rally turned into attacks against law enforcement officials and police stations, there were arsons and pogroms. Traditionally secular Tibetans and monks were involved in the mess together. That’s the background against which the USA criticizes China using the instability in Tibet as an argument in talks. In its turn Beijing accuses Washington of interference into internal affairs and double standards.

The protesters express indignation in relation to «Chinese expansion» that has led to ethnic Tibetans population getting smaller in comparison with ethnic Chinese. Besides China is accused of the Tibetan people’s historic heritage destruction because many monks try to hide in monasteries followed by police raids.

Self — immolation committed by Tibetan monks is a specific feature of stand off in Tibet. The last time it took place on February 3 when three monks set themselves on fire in Sichuan.

Tibet has its «government in exile» that had been headed by the Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama XIV until recently. In March 2011 he declared self — dissociation from politics though his authority is still immense. The demands for Dalai Lama’s «return» to Tibet are no less intensive than the independence demands. The Tibetan spiritual leader enjoys favor of Washington and its satellites. Thanks to Dalai Lama they have some opportunities inside China. For instance Lobsang Sangay, the Dalai Lama’s successor, calls on the USA to influence China in order to achieve permanent access of US observers into Sichuan. In ideal he strives for even more close cooperation between the USA and the Tibetan government in exile. In 1999 — 2006 the USA spent over $90 million on «Tibetan democracy».

Still no matter the Buddhists are numerous, few of them are radicals. The second «problem area» of China is the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. From some angle of view it presents a much greater peril for state’s stability. The region boasts the population of over 20 million people. About half of them are Muslims, the Buddhists make up a substantial part of it too. The population has strict division along the confessional lines, the Muslim South-West and the Buddhists North-East.

People’s unrest takes place here as regular as in Tibet. But it’s more like the recent Middle East events than Lhasa monks protests. On July 18 2011 a group of Uighur terrorists attacked a police station in Hotan, They seized it and took hostages. After that they posted Al-Kaida and East Turkestan Islamic Movement flags over the building. The terrorists were eliminated while fighting the policemen coming from other precincts. On July 30 2011 a terrorist act took place in several places in Kashgar. Two powerful bombs were detonated, a truck captured, over 40 people suffered as a result of terrorists riding on the sidewalks. On 31 July 12 militants tossed a bomb at a restaurant that belonged to ethnic Chinese and killing visitors trying to escape. One man had been killed and 17 wounded till police arrived. Four days before the 2008 Olympic games there was one more attack against police in Kashgar. A militant rode a dumper truck at a group of policemen, tossing grenades at survivors. The other Uighur threw a grenade into the police station’s window and then attacked the precinct with a knife. There were 32 victims dead and wounded.

In July 2009 at least 180 people lost lives in Urumchi as a result of ethnic conflict between the Uighur and the Chinese. The Chinese authorities accused US based World Uyghur Congress leader Rebia Kadir of instigating the revolt. The Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region chairman put the blame on foreign based terrorists connected with fellows in arms via Internet. After that the Internet access was switched off in the whole region for 48 hours.

In September 2009 over 10 thousand protesters hit the streets of Urumchi to demand the resignation of Wang Lequan, the local party leadership, member of the Political Bureau of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee, Secretary of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region party committee.

Thus even now the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region has great «potential» for separatism and terrorist attacks. The Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region has common border with Afghanistan and other hard to reach areas that for dozens of years have been serving as well protected bases for radical militants. In 2009 Abu Yahya al-Libi, one Al-Kaida ideologists, said the powerful USSR ceased to exist after the war with Afghanistan Islamists. He warned the fate of «Russia bear» would overtake China too if its authorities didn’t change their policies. Actually there is little doubt that energy let loose after the US withdrawal Afghan Islamists will see the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region as a right target to direct their activities at. After the victorious Middle East march the Taliban and Al-Kaida will hardly have problems with volunteers wishing to join their ranks. Once US Vice president Joe Biden said Washington and the Taliban are not enemies anymore, radicals movement to China from Afghanistan enjoying tacit support from the USA is possible to say the least. If not inevitable.

Source: World Intellectual Network

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  1. How you reach this conclusion I do not know: “After the victorious Middle East march the Taliban and Al-Kaida will hardly have problems with volunteers wishing to join their ranks”

  2. @RP
    Would you argue that radicals and fundamentalists are coming to power in once secular states of Egypt and Tunisia? That the ‘Arab spring’ brought civil war, chaos and pauperization to Libya? How do you think, what would the youth do in a country without proper industry and educational system? I recommend you to read the following article: Failure of the Nation-States in Islamic World to understand the social processes in the Muslim world.

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