China’s Deepening Ties with Central Asia

Once in the Soviet sphere, the ‘stans of Central Asia are increasingly vital to China’s economic, security, and energy objectives for the province of Xinjiang

Originally published by Business Week,26 May 2010

By Michael Clarke

For many casual observers, the assertion that China is a Central Asian power may come as something of a surprise. Yet, China has had a long and often complex relationship with the lands of Central Asia. The most romantic vision of this relationship is of course that of the Silk Road, a metaphor that conjures visions of cosmopolitan cross-cultural exchanges.

While the various trading routes crisscrossing Central Asia did indeed help transmit religions, languages, and commodities between the ancient civilizations of China, Iran, India, and Europe, such transmissions are not what the contemporary rulers in Beijing have in mind when they formulate Chinese policy towards the post-Soviet Central Asian republics.

Ultimately, Beijing’s approach to Central Asia is underpinned by a triad of more recent core interests – security, development, and energy – that may be far less romantic than visions of the bygone Silk Road but no less important.

China’s relations with Central Asia have been shaped and defined by two factors: the collapse of the Soviet Union and Beijing’s goal of more closely integrating its westernmost Xinjiang province. In Xinjiang, the goal of integration further encompasses the deeper endeavor to incorporate the non-Han peoples of the region into the “unitary, multi-ethnic” Chinese state.

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New Details on Arrests

Originally published by RFA ,26 May 2010

By Jilili Musha

HONG KONG—New accounts detailing the detention of ethnic Uyghurs in northwest China in the wake of deadly unrest show how authorities have targeted members of the mostly Muslim minority, keeping them in custody without access to family and often without indicating when they might be tried or freed.

The detentions, near Ghulja [in Chinese, Yining] in China’s northwestern Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), involved several members of three Uyghur families on charges of separatism and religious extremism.

The first detention occurred on July 7, 2009, and involved four adult children from the same family in Bulaq Dadamtu village in Dadamtu township. The family’s patriarch, Turghan Polat, said his children have been imprisoned since then.

“The authorities arrested my daughter because they claimed she taught religious classes to other women in my neighborhood. My other kids were arrested because they were reading some kinds of [religious] books. I don’t know any other reasons. They have been in jail for almost 10 months,” he said.

“Some have said my daughter is jailed in Urumqi. All I have are the detention notices. I don’t have any official notice about my daughter’s trial, how many years she got, or any explanation about her detention.”

Turghan Polat said his two sons and daughter-in-law are being held in the New Life prison, but said he is uncertain about their status.

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Amnesty report slams global abuses

Originally published by Aljazeera, 27 May 2010

Amnesty International has accused the United States, Russia and China of ignoring human rights violations by allies and failing to open their own records to scrutiny in its annual survey.

The human rights organisation took Washington to task for the failure of Barack Obama, the US president, to close its prison camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba despite promising to do so.

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US bill targets Kingdom over Uighur case

Originally published by The Phnom Penh Post,26 May 2010

TWO American lawmakers have submitted legislation designed to punish Cambodia for last year’s deportation of 20 Uighur asylum seekers by barring the reduction or elimination of more than US$300 million in debt as well as the extension of duty-free status to Cambodian garments imported into the country.

The bill, dubbed the Cambodian Trade Act of 2010, was introduced before the US house of representatives on Thursday by William Delahunt, a Democrat from Massachusetts, on behalf of himself and Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican from California.

In an email to the Post, Rohrabacher said Tuesday that he could not comment on the likelihood that the bill will be passed, and added, “Whether it passes or not is less important than drawing attention to the misdeeds of the Cambodian dictatorship.”

Last December, Cambodia deported 20 Uighur asylum seekers back to China, drawing criticism from observers who expressed concern that the Uighurs would face persecution there. Almost immediately after the deportation, China signed US$1.2 billion worth of economic aid agreements with Cambodia, fuelling speculation that the Uighurs had been returned to please Beijing.

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Muslims Face New Curbs

Originally published by RFA ,26 May 2010

By Mihriban

HONG KONG—Authorities in China’s northwestern Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region have officially introduced new religious curbs in the mostly Muslim area, according to a directive published online.

The new directive, drawn up by officials in Shayar county, in Xinjiang’s central-western Aksu prefecture and originally posted online April 20, is the first of its kind to be published openly in the region.

Authorities in Xinjiang frequently require religious groups to submit texts and curricula for examination before they may be used in worship or in school settings, but the government hasn’t previously acknowledged this.

The directive contains 10 measures that it says aim to “strengthen village management of grassroots religious organizations.”

They include the requirement that all religious groups register with the village branch of the religious affairs department, allow monthly inspections of religious sites and special meetings with authorities, and prior approval of the content of any religious services.

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Remarks at the Closing of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Great Hall of the People
Beijing, China
May 25, 2010

 SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much. On behalf of all of the American delegation, I want to thank our generous hosts, Vice-Premier Wang and State Councilor Dai, for their excellent preparation and the extraordinary time that has been given to this dialogue, along with the Chinese team and the American team. This dialogue is the premier forum for one of the most important and complex relationships in the world. And the breadth and depth of our delegation continues to grow, because it reflects the agenda that we are working on together.

 Earlier this year, our relationship faced uncertainty, and many questioned the direction we were heading. Now, in an earlier era, we might have experienced a lasting set-back. But this dialogue mechanism, and the habits of cooperation it has helped create, along with the confidence it has built, helped put us rapidly back on a positive track. This strategic and economic dialogue (inaudible), and it reflects the maturity, durability, and strength of our relationship. So, over the last days we discussed a wide range of the most complex bilateral, regional, and global challenges.

 Now, as we have said many times, we do not agree on every issue. We don’t agree even sometimes on the perception of the issue. But that is partly what this dialogue is about. It is a place where we can discuss everything, as State Councilor Dai said, from Taiwan to universal human rights. And in the course of doing so, we are developing that positive, cooperative, and comprehensive understanding that leads to the relationship for the 21st century that both President Obama and President Hu Jintao put into motion when they agreed to do this dialogue.

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Summit Shows Superpowers’ Shifting Dynamic

Originally published by The Wall Street Journal, 25 May 2010 


By BEIJING—The most wide-ranging dialogue in the history of modern U.S.-China relations ended with some accord on contentious issues of currency and trade, but underlined a fundamental shift in the relationship between Washington and a newly assertive Beijing.

Although China offered few major concessions in two days of discussions at the annual Strategic and Economic Dialogue, which ended on Tuesday, the U.S. praised the outcome.

China pledged to gradually reform its currency-exchange rate, but without offering any timetable. On Beijing’s drive to promote “indigenous innovation,” which foreign companies fear is a protectionist ploy, China held out hope of a resolution within the World Trade Organization—repeating a pledge it had made before. And Beijing promised to “work together with the U.S. and other parties” to resolve the crisis over allegations that North Korea torpedoed a Southern patrol vessel, but it gave no specifics.

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Time to Defriend China

Originally published by Foreign Policy,MAY 25, 2010


“This is not a G-2.” With those words, Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg finally sounded on May 11 at the Brookings Institution the death knell for the much-touted, if misguided, idea that China and the United States would band together to solve the world’s problems.

The idea of a “G-2” was first introduced by C. Fred Bergsten, director of Peterson Institute for International Economic, as a mechanism for promoting agreement between the two sides primarily to address international economic issues. However, it migrated to strategic issues, championed by old Washington hands like Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski. The idea resonated with the White House and Foggy Bottom, where hopes were high for joint efforts to solve the financial crisis and address climate change. As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton remarked in a February 2009 visit to Beijing, “The opportunities for us to work together are unmatched anywhere in the world.”

That hope was short-lived. It has become painfully clear during the first year of Barack Obama’s administration that mismatched interests, values, and capabilities make it difficult for Washington and Beijing to work together to address global challenges. China’s unwillingness to sit down with the United States and its maneuverings with India, Brazil, and South Africa to undermine a larger agreement at Copenhagen were clear signs that building a special relationship would not be easy. America’sapproval of arms sales to Taiwan in January and the Dalai Lama’s visit with Obama in February returned both sides to old suspicions and sensitivities.

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