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XINJIANG The Uygurs’ Doomed Quest for Autonomy/Independence The Uygurs’ Doomed Quest for Autonomy/Independence Royal Dutch/Shell 26 March 2003 Willem.

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Presentation on theme: "XINJIANG The Uygurs’ Doomed Quest for Autonomy/Independence The Uygurs’ Doomed Quest for Autonomy/Independence Royal Dutch/Shell 26 March 2003 Willem."— Presentation transcript:

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2 XINJIANG The Uygurs’ Doomed Quest for Autonomy/Independence The Uygurs’ Doomed Quest for Autonomy/Independence Royal Dutch/Shell 26 March 2003 Willem van Kemenade Willem van Kemenade

3 Willem E.C. van Kemenade Analyst/Consultant, China/East Asia, International Crisis Group, Brussels Adjunct Professor, EU China Junior Managers Training Programme, Beijing; Maastricht School of Management, Outreach Programmes in China; China-Europe International Business School, Shanghai. Author “China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Inc., The Dynamics of a New Empire”, New York 1997, 1998, 1999; Syllabus International Political Economy China & East Asia, Shanghai 2000. Special Contributor “The Washington Quarterly” 2 website: willemvk.org e-mail: kemenade@public3.bta.net.cn

4 3 “ W e must turn the small handful of national splittist elements into ‘rats running across the street’ where everybody cries `kill them’.” Abulahat Abdurixit, Chairman of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Government Abulahat Abdurixit, Chairman of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Government

5 4 Selected Figures 1.66 Million Sqkm., Population: 18.3 m Uygur: 47.5 %; Han-Chinese: 39 %; Kazakh: 7.3 %; small numbers of Mongols, Kyrgyz, Uzbek, Hui. Life-expectancy for Uygurs: 63, for Han 70 Agriculture: Cotton, sugar beets, fruits raisins. Industry: Textiles, food-processing, leather, paper, sugar, carpets, oil GDP: Yn. 148.54 billion ($ 17.97 billion) = 1.57 % of National GDP of Yn. 9.434 trillion ($ 1.142 trillion) Treasure trove of minerals: 2.12 billion tonnes of oil and 280 billion cubic metres of natural gas, 27.1 per cent and 22.1 per cent respectively of national reserves. Top cotton producer, growing one third of the national crop.

6 5 Nationalities, Languages and Dialects of China Nationalities, Languages and Dialects of China

7 6 How Stable is Xinjiang ? Xinjiang’s leaders warn regularly that China will not make the same mistakes as the Soviet-Union, which introduced ill- conceived political reforms that eroded government-authority and encouraged ethnic and religious groups to agitate for their own communal, nationalistic and separatist goals. Xinjiang’s links with the Chinese Empire, although not continuous, are much longer and stronger than those of Russia with the former Soviet Republics of Central Asia. Considering the deep troubles in former Soviet Central Asia, the economic decline, the civil war in Tajikistan, the problems with Islamic radicalism, a large number of Uygurs claims to be very happy to be part of China. The simple Han approach is: "There's a lot of us, Han, but only a few of them, Uygurs. "They have got to accept our rule.”

8 7 Background to Xinjiang’s “Terrorist Threat” Sino-Pakistani-American Anti-Soviet Axis 1980~1989: Background to Xinjiang’s “Terrorist Threat” Sino-Pakistani-American Anti-Soviet Axis 1980~1989: China joined the US-led “Holy War” against the Soviet-occupation of Afghanistan in 1980 and later paid a price for this. Central tenet of US-China coalition was construction of two electronic intelligence stations in Xinjiang, monitoring Soviet missile tests and communications after Khomeiny’s men seized the CIA-installations in Iran. The US and China jointly trained Uygur recruits to fight the Soviets. No indications have come to light that the Chinese considered the possible blowback on China of this risky policy. Mainly Chinese arms were brought in by Pakistan’s ISI to supply Afghan, Arab and other Muslim volunteers to fight the Soviets. The Uygurs later returned to Xinjiang where their discontent with Chinese rule now culminated in an organized secessionist, occasionally terrorist movement. China sent 300 instructors to training-camps in Pakistan and later set up camps in Xinjiang as well, training 55.000 in total without specifying their ethnicities. John K. Cooley, Unholy Wars: Afghanistan, America and International Terrorism, London 2000, Chapter 4.

9 8 Beijing Response to “September 11” “Political Re-education Campaign” for 8.000 imams: tighten controls on religious activities and sever ties between mosques and alleged separatist activities. Imams are required to attend seminars, participate in ideological discussions and individual consultations with a special focus on "anti-splittism”. "Each session is a 20-day programme aimed at re-establishing correct ideological understanding and improving the political qualities of the religious leaders," Xinhua quoted officials as saying. "These lessons are essential to the long-term stability of Xinjiang as they will guide our students away from ideological confusion and mistakes," Xinhua said.

10 9 US China “Cooperation” on Terrorism A State Council Report on January 21, 2002, one month before president George W. Bush’ visit to Beijing, blamed "East Turkestan" forces for more than 200 incidents between 1990 and 2001, resulting in 162 dead. It said bin Laden's al-Qaeda had provided training, financial and material aid to them. Beijing’s charges referred to small scale bombings of buses, markets, government institutions, riots etc., but not a single larger scale, highly organized terrorist attack. In July, China Central TV showed a programme, claiming that hundreds of Uygurs had been trained in Osama bin Laden’s camps in Afghanistan. Evidence were statements by defectors. In October 2002, Beijing claimed that more than a dozen Uygurs were captured in Afghanistan and detained in the US Terrorist Detention Center in Guantanamo, Cuba.

11 10 The East Turkistan Islamic Movement After “September 11”, China warned the Bush Administration that ETIM had ties to Al Qaeda. The US, in response, in August 2002 put ETIM on the global terrorist list. No real evidence, only vague generalisations were given. The listing was widely seen as a sop to soften Chinese opposition to the impending US-led war on Iraq. Many US experts and even some Chinese question the extent of ETIM’s terrorist activities and its links to global terrorism. US information is coming from a handful of Uygurs, captured in Afghanistan and now detained in Guantanamo, Cuba. The Chinese have presented their campaign against Uygur separatists as a flank in America’s global war on terrorism and have persuaded the Americans to drop their long-standing protest against Chinese human rights violations in Xinjiang.

12 11 US ostracism of ETIM No Licence to China In December 2002, US Assistant-Secretary of State for Human Rights Lorne Craner visited China and told Beijing that “the US rejected the notion that Uygurs are terrorists”. He passed on a message from president George Bush that “no nation can use the war on terror as an excuse to repress its minorities”. Prior to his visit which included Xinjiang, Craner met with the “Uygur American Association” and promised to press China to release political prisoners such as Rebiya Kadir. Craner’s trip has given the Uygurs hope that Washington hasn’t abandoned them and dispelled the suspicous feeling some felt after the US put ETIM on the global terrorist list in September. Within a week after Craner’s visit, Party-Secretary Wang Lequan vowed to intensify the crackdown on the three evils of terrorism, separatism and extremism.

13 12 Evaluation of the Uygurs’ “Terrorist Threat” Experts reject the Chinese assertion that there is a terrorist, or even a cohesive separatist movement. Dru Gladney, a specialist in Chinese Muslim minorities at the University of Hawaii says: “This is mostly social and civil unrest by disorganized, disgruntled, fairly impulsive young men, not a widespread movement”. Significantly, Gladney notes that despite many incidents of ethnic and civil unrest in the region, not one significant terrorist attack against any strategic infrastructure target (oil refinery, pipeline, railroad, dam or bridge) has been documented, nor have any local or international incidents been positively identified with any international Uygur or Islamic organisation. A big explosion of a military truck in Urumqi in 2000 with 67 dead, was initially suspected to be a terrorist attack, but it appeared to be a case of gross mismanagement by the PLA.

14 13 Xinjiang’s Economy Xinjiang has two parallel economies: –The regular, regional economy. –The Xinjiang Construction and Production Corps Economy, (since 1998 “Corp”) Economy, a PLA-run “state within the state”. The XUAR- economy is deeply polarized. Uneven benefits of development aggravate antagonism between native Uygurs and Han-settlers and threaten the development of the promising energy sector. Few Uygurs are part of the senior levels of the modern sectors of the economy: oil, gas, mineral wealth. One reason is lack of access to first rate education. Another may be deliberate exclusion based on security considerations and cultural factors. The government actively promotes internal and cross-border trade and economic development, while at the same time keeping tight political controls, both with the active cooperation of neigboring governments.

15 14 Xinjiang’s Foreign Trade and Investment TOTAL FOREIGN TRADE 2001: $ 1.771 bn. A decrease of 22.64 % Exports 668 m.,, 44.48 % Imports 1.102 bn. Increase of 4.1 % Major Trading partners: Kazakhstan (31 %), Hong Kong (9.69%), US (8.83 %), Russia Major Exports: Tomato Ketchup, mechanical/electronic products, footwear, cotton, yarn, garments, chemicals, mine products, furniture; Major Imports: Scrap steel and iron, copper, barley, polyethylene FOREIGN INVESTMENT: Aggregate total $ 407 m. 2001: Hong Kong $ 69.5 m.; Taiwan $ 23.97 m.; Japan $ 5.17 m. The Army Corps has its own considerable foreign trade figures, amounting $ 654 m. in 2001.

16 15 Economic Development and Ethnic Issues Due to their exclusion from the Han-economy, the Minorities are losing interest in learning Chinese but study Urdu, Farsi and Turkic languages instead. They trade mainly with Central and South Asia strengthening their common identity with the Muslim world, separate from China. Ironically it is China’s reintroduction of the Arab script, and its fullscale opening of the borders that have led to the revival of the Uygurs’ Islamic identity. And it is the China-sponsored grand-scheme of “Western Development” that is bringing more and more Han-immigrants to Xinjiang, thus aggravating tensions. These trends are not conducive to making economic growth reduce ethnic tensions in the Region and leave the authorities with a dilemma as to how to ensure stability. The most likely solution is increased immigration of Han in a manner similar to Inner Mongolia so that a Han-majority in the end will overwhelm the Natives and indigenous demands become increasingly less relevant.

17 16 “Economics” First will not Work In an unprecedented speech in January 2003, party- secretary Wang Lequan warned that giving priority to economic development would not solve the problem of instability in the region. “Some people mistakenly hold the idea that the problem of stability will disappear as soon as the local economy developed and people’s livelyhood got better. This is an extremely wrong and dangerous idea”. “Xinjiang must treat both the symptom and root causes in destroying the ethnic separatist forces. Xinjiang must preemptively and aggressively attack and annihilate the three evil forces without mercy”.

18 17 “The Corps”, now “The Corp” Initially formed from both demobilized KMT and PLA soldiers the “Xinjiang Production & Construction Corps” now has 2.8 million members, 14% of the population. In the 1990s the XPCC produced a third of Xinjiang’s cotton and farmed 20% of its land devoted to grain. It controlled a quarter of Xinjiang’s large and medium enterprises and in 1998 traded 19% of Xinjiang’s exports and imports. With total output valued at 16.35 billion yuan in 1998 it made up approximately 15% of Xinjiang’s economy. It has its own police-force and judicial organs and a militia of 100.000 men. It is exclusively Han, is not under the XUAR government but under the central government in Beijing and can be seen as similar to other great colonizing corporations such as the English and Dutch East India Companies.

19 18 The Town of Korla Xinjiang has a number of pioneer settler towns, developed by the “Corps”, comparable to the “frontier towns” in the American Wild West, developed by the cowboys. The largest one is Korla (Chinese: Ke-Er-Le), main town of the Bayingol Mongolian Autonomous Prefecture. During the first phase from 1950-1954, the Corps dug 620 km of underground irrigation channels in the desert. In the early '50s, Korla covered 1.5 square kilometres, with one street of houses made of earth and a dozen workshops and a population of 27,000. Now it covers 7,117 sq km, with a population of 320,000, 69 per cent of them Han, including 40,000 members of the Corps who farm 60,000 hectares. The Uygurs accuse the Han of destroying Xinjiang’s ecology by farming in areas with insufficient water. Nearby is Lop Nor, China’s nuclear test-area and the ancient city of Loulan, now center of one of China best wine-growing areas.

20 19 WTO Impact on Xinjiang WTO Accession and “Western Development Strategy” are considered “Second Opening and Reform” since the West was not really opened in 1979. Two major industries for Xinjiang are “Black and White” - Oil and Cotton. –In the past only production of crude. Because of remoteness to markets, price could never be competitive. Only way to survive WTO from now is to build processing industries to have added value. –The cotton price has been fixed by the government in recent years and was not flexible and competitive. Supply exceeded demand. Cotton Association was established in June 2002 to formulate a strategy and fix production volume and try to bring this in line with the global free market. This will take 3 to 5 years of growing pain. –Other products with high potential for export are wine, dairy, eco- fruits.

21 20 Recommendations Beijing should encourage public sector corporations, oil companies and government agencies to increase their hiring of ethnic minorities. Quotas for Uygur admission into colleges and government positions should also be expanded and enforced. The government must allocate funds among Han and Uygurs fairly. Cleaning up the area around China’s nuclear test-site at Lop Nor in the Taklimakan Desert, where soil and groundwater pollution are causing birth defects and health problems among the local populations would be important steps. FOREIGN AFFAIRS, July/August 2002.


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