China promises trucks for Cambodian military after US rap

 Originally published by Earth Times, 03 May 2010

 Phnom Penh – China is to donate more than 250 trucks to Cambodia just weeks after the United States withheld a shipment of military vehicles in response to Phnom Penh’s recent expulsion of 20 Uighur refugees, local media reported Monday.

The donation was announced by Cambodia’s Foreign Minister Hor Namhong on his return from Shanghai, the Phnom Penh Post newspaper reported.

Hor Namhong said China would donate 257 military trucks and 50,000 military uniforms.

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What Does China Have to Do with Islam and Democracy?

Originally  published by Huffington Post,03 May 2010

By Haroon Moghul

In the most recent The American Interest, Charles Horner and Eric Brown discuss how and why Communist China is fearful of Muslims (“Beijing’s Islamic Complex”). Inside China, the Uighur Muslims of Xinjiang, or Turkestan, who came onto many people’s radars for the first time after last summer’s riots in Urumqi, might be a threat to the People’s Republic, though I cannot imagine so tiny a minority challenging so giant a state. More plausibly, the authors argue that global Muslim awareness of Uighur oppression jeopardizes China’s outreach to the Islamic world. And China may need Islam to become a true superpower: “The Xinjiang episode drew somewhat less harsh comment from Washington, Tokyo and Sydney, but it engaged official and popular interest in predominantly Muslim countries in an unprecedented way.”

I’ve previously written on how the Uighur crisis became a means by which “the next Islamists” challenge political orthodoxy in their countries of residence. In taking up this angle from a Chinese perspective, the authors provide a deep insight into how identity politics, colonialism, and modern narratives of history can collide. Unfortunately, the authors also make two mistakes. The first is forgivable, but the second is of much deeper concern.

The lesser error concerns their reference to Turkish history. I assume Horner and Brown are speaking about the Ottomans when they write “Turkey’s own multiethnic imperial glory … at its height, abutted contemporary China’s own domains.” So far as I and history know, the Ottomans barely made it to Azerbaijan’s Caspian shore, and the Chinese were never anywhere near Turkmenistan (the opposite end of that sea). But anyway.

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U.S. Religious Freedom Commission Cites 13 Countries as Violators

Originally published by Associated Press, FOX News,30 Apr 2010

WASHINGTON — Iran, Saudi Arabia and China are among 13 countries a U.S. government panel named on Thursday as serious violators of religious freedom.

The panel’s report also criticized the current and former administrations in Washington for doing far too little to make basic religious rights universal.

That is the goal of the congressional act that founded the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in 1998. The commission investigates conditions in what it calls “hot spots,” where religious freedom is endangered. Its job is to recommend U.S. government policies to improve conditions.

It is a “small but critically important point of intersection of foreign policy, national security and international religious freedom standards,” the report said. “Regrettably that small point seems to shrink year-after-year for the White House and he State Department.”

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China seeks bilingual officials in restless Xinjiang

Originally published by Reuters, 01 May 2010

By Ben Blanchard

(corrects spelling of Xinjiang region in headline)

BEIJING, May 1 (Reuters) – Applicants for official jobs in China’s restless far western region of Xinjiang must be able to communicate in both Chinese and one of the local languages, state media said, as Beijing tries to soothe ethnic tensions.

Xinjiang’s capital Urumqi erupted in violence last year leaving around 200 people dead, as majority Han Chinese fought Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking Muslim people who call the region home.

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US defense of global religious freedom wanes under Obama, panel says

Originally published by The Christian Science Monitor, 29 Apr 2010

By Howard LaFranchi

 The Obama administration has been criticized since it took office for putting realist foreign-policy goals ahead of more idealistic principles such as democracy and human rights. Now a bipartisan national commission finds President Obama wanting when it comes to defending and promoting global religious freedom, as well.

The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) used the occasion of its annual report unveiled Thursday to question the Obama administration’s commitment to worldwide religious freedom. This year’s report – which named 13 countries including China, Iraq, Nigeria, and Saudi Arabia as serious violators of religious freedom – had stinging words for the US government, saying the place for religious freedom in US foreign policy “seems to shrink year after year for the White House and the State Department.”

The USCIRF was created by Congress in 1998 as part of a broader effort to require the government to include religious freedom in its foreign-policy goals. One feature of the 1998 legislation was creation of an ambassador-at-large for religious freedom – a post Obama has yet to fill, as the commission annual report notes.

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Chinese Leaders Revive Marxist Orthodoxy

Originally published by: China Brief Volume: 10 Issue: 9, 29 April  2010

By Willy Lam

 Two unusual developments in elite Chinese politics have observers wondering if the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is moving toward political reform and changes in its policy toward ethnic minorities. On April 15, Premier Wen Jiabao published an article in the People’s Daily—the Party’s mouthpiece—that heaped accolades on the late party chief Hu Yaobang, who was sacked by patriarch Deng Xiaoping in 1987 for failing to deal harshly with free-thinking intellectuals. On top of that, the hard-line “Emperor of Xinjiang,” Wang Lequan, was replaced last weekend as party secretary of the Xinjiang Autonomous Region (XAR) by Hunan Party boss Zhang Chunxian, who is deemed a moderate. While noteworthy, these portents of possible liberalization, however, have been counter-balanced by potent flare-ups of orthodoxy at the party-ideology level. Senior cadres and theoreticians have been called upon to uphold the mantra of Chinese-style Marxism as the be-all and end-all of politics. Moreover, instead of relying on political reforms to defuse socio-political contradictions, the CCP leadership is devoting unprecedented resources to boosting its security and control apparatus.

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Activists campaign for jailed Chinese Christian

Article Link,28 April 2010

 Rights groups in London are stepping up their campaign on behalf of the jailed Chinese Christian Alimujiang Yimiti following the rejection in March of his appeal against a 15-year prison sentence.

The US group ChinaAid is organizing a worldwide petition which it hopes will attract a million signatures to put pressure on the Chinese government for the release of Alimujiang, a Uyghur from Xinjiang province who converted to Christianity in 1995.

He was detained in January 2008 and sentenced late last year for allegedly providing state secrets to overseas organizations. His lawyer, Li Dunyong, denies the charge and says his “offence” was talking to Christians from the US. His wife has not been allowed to visit him in prison and he has reportedly been beaten.

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Secrets Law To Apply Online

Originally published by RFA,28 Apr 2010

By Xi Wang and Bat Zimuk

HONG KONG—Chinese lawmakers are drafting a new state secrets law that will, if passed, require Internet service providers to release information about anyone who uses their networks to leak sensitive material.

“They want to use the this law to force telecommunications and Internet companies to cooperate with the Chinese authorities in exposing the identities of people leaking state secrets,” said Vincent Brossel of the Paris-based press freedom group, Reporters Without Borders.

The proposed new law will eventually replace the current State Secrets Law, which took effect May 1, 1989.

The law is largely being updated to cater to controls of information online, and will affect netizens, Internet service providers, and cybercafes across the country, which will be required to report anyone found to be leaking a “state secret” online.

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