Through the eyes of witnesses

Originally published by The Economist,28 July 2010

 YOUR correspondent was on leave on July 22nd, when Human Rights Watch released its report on the abuses that Chinese security forces are alleged to have committed in Tibet since the massive eruption of anti-Chinese unrest there in 2008. The 73-page document describes itself as the first comprehensive examination of the ongoing crackdown. Based largely on interviews with 200-odd Tibetans who left the region as refugees or on visits, it is a valuable contribution to an under-reported story

 China is adept at ensuring that little news of such repression gets out. In the far western province of Xinjiang, where the authorities have been cracking down since an outbreak of ethnic violence in July last year, the tactic has been to sever communications links with the outside world by mobile telephone or the internet (though restrictions have been relaxed since May). On the Tibetan plateau, the authorities in some places confiscated mobile phones and computers from monks and made it all the more difficult for foreign journalists—who are rarely welcome at the best of times—to visit. By chance I was the only foreign reporter on the spot when rioting erupted in Lhasa on March 14th 2008. I was not allowed back again until nearly two years later and then only for a frustratingly brief tour.

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China jails three Uighur webmasters: report

Originally published by AFP, 29 July 2010

 BEIJING — A Chinese court has jailed the webmasters of three Uighur-language Internet sites who were detained following deadly ethnic unrest in China’s Xinjiang region last year, Radio Free Asia said Thursday.

 The men, members of Xinjiang’s mainly Muslim Uighur ethnic minority, were jailed for terms ranging from three to 10 years on charges of “endangering national security,” RFA said, quoting the brother of one of them.

 The report follows the sentencing last week of Uighur journalist Gheyret Niyaz to 15 years in jail on similar charges.

 Niyaz was arrested after speaking to overseas media about Chinese policies in the restive northwestern region following the July 2009 violence, in which Uighurs clashed with members of China’s majority Han ethnic group.

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The U.S. Stands Up to China’s Bullying

Originally published by The Wall Street Journal, 27 July 2010


Hillary Clinton provoked an uproar last week when she said that a peaceful resolution to the South China Sea territorial dispute is in America’s “national interest.” China’s foreign ministry denounced those remarks as unwarranted American meddling and an attempt to “internationalize” a strictly regional problem. Notwithstanding Beijing’s protests, Mrs. Clinton’s diplomacy marks another step in a positive evolution of the Obama administration’s approach to Asia.

At issue is Beijing’s claim that the bulk of the South China Sea constitutes its territorial waters. China is acting just as one would expect from a rising great power: As it grows more powerful, it desires to change international rules written when it is was weak.

Yet foreign policy experts have spent much time assuring Asians and Americans that China’s rise would be an exception—less disruptive than, say, the rise of the United States, Germany or Japan. That view animated President Obama’s disastrous “strategic reassurance” policy of his first year, in which Washington reassured Beijing that America would not contest its rise to great-power status. China smelled weakness and upped the ante, declaring the South China Sea a “core interest” and defining it as China’s territorial waters.

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ICJ, Kosovo and Taiwan’s future

Originally published by Taiwan News,28 July 2010

The affirmation by the International Court of Justice on July 22 of the February 2008 unilateral declaration of independence by the Republic of Kosovo is a welcome affirmation of the democratic principle of people’s self-determination, but by itself does not offer a clear path for international recognition of Taiwan’s own status as a democratic independent state.

Kosovo, previously an autonomous province of Serbia and formerly an autonomous province in the defunct Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, has a population of some two million people, 90 percent are of Albanian ancestry.

The process of its emergence as an independent state is part of the horrifyingly tragic history of the disintegration of Yugoslavia in the 1990s and witnessed both cases of “ethnic cleansing” by Serbian forces under the late Slobodan Milosevic and Kosovo Liberation Army forces followed by years of “transitional” U.N. administration and U.N.-led negotiations on the territory’s ultimate status.

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Han Chinese migrants causing unrest in Tibet

Originally published by Sify News,29 July 2010

 Tibet is in a state of unrest after Han Chinese migrants including workers, investors, merchants, teachers and soldiers poured into a remote part of the country.

According to The New York Post, Chinese leaders see development, along with an enhanced security presence, as the key to pacifying the Buddhist dominant region.

Beijing invested three billion dollars in the Tibet Autonomous Region in 2009, a 31 percent increase over 2008. Tibet’s gross domestic product is growing at a 12 percent annual rate, faster than China’s average.

Although the influx of money and people has ushered new prosperity, it has also deepened resentment among many Tibetans.

Migrant Han entrepreneurs elbow out Tibetan rivals, then return home for the winter after reaping profits. Large Han-owned companies dominate main industries, from mining to construction to tourism.

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China plans air and rail network to boost border infrastructure

Originally published The Hindu, 27 July 2010

By Ananth Krishnan

 Xinhua The Gunsa Airport in Ngari Prefecture of the Tibet Autonomous Region on its inaugural day on July 1, 2010.

Railway-lines, airports and digital surveillance networks

The Chinese government has kick-started a large-scale effort to upgrade air and rail infrastructure, as well as surveillance capabilities, in its Tibet and Xinjiang regions.

In the coming months, the government will pour billions of dollars into the two autonomous regions with a dual focus of speeding up development in restive areas and enhancing the Army’s mobilisational capacities to bring troops to remote border regions from military commands in other parts of the country.

Once completed, the additional infrastructure, which includes 8,000 km of railway lines and seven new airports, will further widen the asymmetry in border infrastructure between China and India.

China’s National Committee on Border and Coastal Defence (NCBD) in January 2010 pressed the government to speed up infrastructure development in border areas in Tibet and Xinjiang. Following work conferences in May and July on development in Tibet and Xinjiang, local governments in both regions have begun allocating funds for the new projects.

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German TV focuses on Bermuda’s Uighurs

Originally published by The Royal Gazette, 27 July 2010

By Sam Strangeways

A German news crew visited Bermuda to interview the Uighurs at the weekend — and were yesterday due to meet Premier Ewart Brown.

The Washington-based team from ZDF German Television filmed Khalil Mamut, Abdulla Abdulqadir, Ablikim Turahun and Salahidin Abdulahad at work and play for a programme to be broadcast next month.

Germany agreed earlier this month to take in two prisoners cleared for release from Guantánamo Bay and they are expected to arrive there in August.

ZDF Washington correspondent Heike Slansky told The Royal Gazette: “Our idea was to show these four people from Guantánamo released to Bermuda and see how they are doing after a year, how they have adjusted and how Bermuda is dealing with them.

“Also to show Germans what they may be getting and what to expect. The two people that are going to Germany are the first and Germany did not want to take them. They specifically declined to take Uighurs.”

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290,000 Xinjiang kindergartens students receive bilingual education

Originally published by People’s Daily Online,26 July 2010 

 In recent years, the Chinese government has invested a large amount of money to create more than a thousand bilingual courses in kindergartens throughout Xinjiang, and as of now, the program has benefited about 290,000 Xinjiang ethnic minority children.

According to the Education Department of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Regions, the State has appropriated 1.6 billion yuan as special funds and built nearly 1,700 kindergartens for promoting bilingual education in Xinjiang.

At the same time, the central government of China spent more than 1 billion on ensuring pre-school bilingual education and local governments also invested 470 million yuan to complete a program of bilingual education.

This year, both central and local governments will appropriate another 1.5 billion yuan to this program.

By Wang Hanlu, People’s Daily Online

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