Coined by prominent Chinese academic Wang Jisi back in 2011, the ‘March Westwards’ strategy is the external component of the ‘Develop the West’ strategy that Beijing advanced to bring prosperity and development to its historically underdeveloped and turbulent western provinces of Xinjiang and Tibet. Long-standing sources of instability for the central government, the regions were racked by particular violence in 2008 (Tibet) and 2009 (Xinjiang). The brutality of the Xinjiang violence was a wake-up call, with more than 200 reportedly killed on the streets of Urumqi, the provincial capital, as the chaos forced then-leader Hu Jintao to leave an international G8 Summit in L’Aquila to manage the situation.
East Turkestan & the Uyghurs
Today, China's boom has seen those tensions with the country's 10 million Uighurs resurface. The Government says the movement contains Islamic extremists, citing last October's suicide attack in front of the iconic Chairman Mao portrait in Beijing.
The United States has defended the sending of the last three Uyghur Chinese inmates at the Guantanamo Bay detention center to Slovakia.
The conflict in Afghanistan is becoming more complex by the day, spreading beyond its borders into south Asia. There are four main parties: the US, Pakistan, Afghanistan itself and the Afghan Taliban. Others, previously remotely involved, are increasingly drawn in-the most prominent being China. China's growth rate of close to 10 per cent per annum makes it a global economic hub with which to reckon, second only to the US. This may not however be socially sustainable as it perpetuates inequality in income, heavily concentrated in China's southern coastal area. Moreover, the country's ethnic cohesion is uncertain: apart from minority tensions, the Han majority is itself fractured among ethno-linguistic communities which have experienced sustained segregation.
Spencer Ackerman in Washington
theguardian.com, Tuesday 31 December 2013 10.41 EST
Twelve years of detention without trial have ended for three Uighur men who have left Guantánamo Bay for Slovakia, the US Department of Defense announced on Tuesday, ending a clear mistake of the 9/11 era.
Beijing says those who died staged a 'terror attack' on a police station near Kashgar, fueled by religious extremism.
Four Uyghur women in China's troubled northwestern region of Xinjiang have been forced by authorities to undergo abortions — one of them nine months into her pregnancy — under Beijing's brutally-enforced one-child policy, local officials and parents said.
The bloody clash between ethnic Uighurs and the Chinese police that took place on December 15 in Xinjiang reflects a reality that rising China faces today. It was the fourth outbreak of such violence in Xinjiang since April, leaving at least 84 killed and 25 others injured. Then, on Monday, Chinese security forces killed eight people who allegedly attacked a police station in the region. As usual, Beijing called both incidents "terrorist" attacks, blaming a "violent terrorist gang" in Xinjiang, and scaled up security measures. However, enhanced security measures alone will not curb violence in the region, especially when the social and economic discontent of its Uighur minority remains unresolved.