The counter-terrorism dialogue between China and India finally took a serious turn in 2013 as the two sides discussed the issue of Afghanistan for the first time. The impending departure of Western combat forces from Afghanistan and the spectre of looming chaos seem to have persuaded Beijing that it cannot ignore the “Af-Pak” challenge forever. The two sides decided to initiate a long overdue dialogue on Afghanistan, which took place April 18, 2013, in Beijing.
East Turkestan & the Uyghurs
Three Chinese men unlawfully detained by the United States at the controversial Guantanamo Bay detention camp in the island of Cuba were recently cleared for release to the Slovak Republic in Central Europe. At one point, however, these Muslims were ready to start a new life in Costa Rica, at least until the People’s Republic of China (PRC) got in the way.
Chinese authorities in the troubled northwestern region of Xinjiang have launched a New Year "strike hard" campaign targeting cell phones, computers, and religious materials belonging to ethnic minority Uyghurs, an exile group and local residents said on Thursday. "Since Jan. 1, the authorities have been engaged in raids and searches for cultural products ... and a 'strike hard' campaign in Uyghur neighborhoods," Dilxat Raxit, spokesman for the exile World Uyghur Congress (WUC) group said.
Chinese president and Communist Party chief Xi Jinping made a major strategic decision regarding northwestern China's troubled Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region towards the end of last year, reports the website of the pro-Beijing Hong Kong newspaper Ta Kung Pao. The Politburo Standing Committee, China's top decision-making body, heard a special report on Xinjiang issues on Dec. 19, with Xi personally ordering departments to develop major strategies to tackle problems in the region over the following week, said Ta Kung Pao, citing a Jan. 7 report in the Chinese-language Xinjiang Daily.
The migration into Urumqi of large numbers of Han Chinese from China’s inner provinces has especially strained the city’s resources, Dr. Peyzulla Zeydin, a former associate professor of geography and natural resources at Xinjiang University, told RFA’s Uyghur Service.
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.
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.