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China’s Double Game on Terrorism
BayBak, Azerbaijan | 610 days ago | Saturday, 24th September , 2011 , 06:00 [am] | Azerbaijan
|.|| As the U.S. and its allies were reflecting on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 atrocities, China’s Communist regime manipulated the occasion to present itself as a victim of Islamic extremism. Beijing also accused the U.S. of practicing double standards by not giving unqualified support to its military offensive against what it calls “Muslim separatism” in northwest China. It insisted this campaign is an integral component of the war on terror.
These complaints are entirely driven by the
As the U.S. and its allies were reflecting on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 atrocities, China’s Communist regime manipulated the occasion to present itself as a victim of Islamic extremism. Beijing also accused the U.S. of practicing double standards by not giving unqualified support to its military offensive against what it calls “Muslim separatism” in northwest China. It insisted this campaign is an integral component of the war on terror.
These complaints are entirely driven by the regime’s domestic agenda. The West should not be fooled by China’s attempt to make its nationalities policy more palatable. For decades, China has brutally crushed even the mildest aspirations for self-rule among the non-Han Chinese peoples in its midst.
Beijing’s actions in Tibet are the best-known example of this policy, yet it is no different in northwest China, the ancient homeland of the Uighur people. In 2009, the state’s response to mass demonstrations for democracy and human rights was to beat and shoot at protesters, and to randomly arrest male Uighurs on a mass scale.
Since then, a palpable tension has prevailed. In recent weeks, following the reported killing in July of more than 20 Uighurs by security forces in the city of Hotan, China has deployed an additional 200,000 security personnel as well as its special anti-terror force, in order to deter fresh protests in a region that is home to 10 million Uighurs.
China’s leaders have enthusiastically offered a justification for the repression of Uighurs that is not available to them in the case of Tibet. For while most Tibetans are Buddhists, Uighurs are overwhelmingly Muslim. So the Beijing regime presents its campaign against the Uighur people’s peaceful struggle for self-rule as part of the global battle against Islamists.
The hypocrisy on display here is astonishing. China, after all, has consistently supported radical, anti-Western currents in the Middle East. It is a stalwart ally of Iran’s murderous regime and has opposed international measures to curb Syria’s rulers. In Libya, China supplied Gadhafi’s dictatorship with weapons until the last possible minute.
Even before 9/11, Beijing was effectively encouraging al Qaeda, using its position on the United Nations Security Council to oppose sanctions against Afghanistan’s Taliban after the attack on the USS Cole in 2000.
Within days of 9/11, China’s official Xinhua news agency was lauding the attacks as a “humbling blow” against America, a theme that continued this anniversary year, even as Beijing’s propagandists complained about Washington’s “blind eye” toward the conflict in the Uighur region. Clearly, China does not object to rooting out terrorist groups as long as it is allowed to define who the terrorists are.
Meanwhile, China has skillfully taken advantage of the West’s ignorance of Uighur history and culture to insert itself into the antiterror camp.
As practiced by the vast majority of Uighurs, the religion of Islam has nothing in common with the radical Wahhabi and Salafi strains that have caused such terrible strife in the Middle East and South Asia. Just as we reject communism, we reject clerical rule. We aspire to a democratic state in which religion is a matter of individual conscience.
Indeed, if China had honored its 1955 commitment to the autonomy of the Uighur people, there would probably be no conflict. Our demandsâ€”to fly our own flag, to reap a fair dividend from the oil, coal and other natural resources flowing through our region, to end the mass transfer of Chinese settlers into our territoryâ€”are hardly unique. Some leading European democracies have reached similar arrangements with their constituent nationalities, such as Spain’s Catalans.
Rather than negotiate with us, China’s rulers prefer to label the Uighurs as terrorists, with myself as their leader. I am often asked why such a powerful state apparently regards meâ€”a slight, elderly woman who has spent many years in Beijing’s jailsâ€”as an existential threat. I always reply that China should fear not me, but the consequences of resisting the legitimate demands I articulate. For as the Soviet Union and then Yugoslavia demonstrated, states that refuse any compromise with their minorities can easily implode.
As the U.N. General Assembly’s 66th session proceeded this week, I participated in the We Have a Dream Global Human Rights Summit ( www.ngosummit.org) just down the street, which brought together human rights defenders from all over the world. Our final declaration was a rallying cry based upon the U.N.’s own Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It included the demand that China and other authoritarian states be removed from the U.N.’s key human rights bodies.
In confronting China’s cynical and hypocritical identification of our legitimate struggle with terrorism, we will counter that the true issue is the trampling of basic human rights under the excuse of national sovereignty.uhrp, Voice of a Nation