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China Letter-News and Human Rights

China human rights news with focus on the Uygur of Xinjiang, Tibetans and Tibet, Chinese mining workers, religion, corruption and censorship.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

China a friend in need? Pakistan China and the Uygur

A rather interesting article on the "Uygur question", in as much as it looks at it from the angle of Pakistan's role in the repression of the Uygur people of Xinjiang, China, is Dr Bhaskar Dasgputa's " China A Friend In Need?". It leads in with a concise history of the Uygurs before getting into full stride analysing Pakistan's sycophantic relationship with China and the ramifications for the Uygur.

Dr Dasgupta, currently working on a doctorate at Kings College in International Relations and Terrorism, claims, and rightly so, that as China has attempted to do with the Turkic states of central Asia (Kazakhstan Uzbekistan et al), it has placed pressure on Pakistan to support it in it's oppression of the Uygurs. He states that Pakistan's response to the diplomatic pressure exerted was typical:

"As usual, Pakistan showed its spine and fine martial spirit, just like it showed to the USA, and caved in. The police and intelligence agencies moved in, Uighurs in Pakistan were targeted, killed, deported, imprisoned or what have you. Many were directly sent back to China (guess what happened to them) like Ismail Kadir for example. Others were reported to have been handed over to the Americans who then sent them over to that tropical Caribbean paradise of Guantanamo Bay."

As was pointed out in a previous post "An Uygur's Letter to America" many of the Uygurs hunted out of Pakistan were political refugees from China's repression of the Uygurs in Xinjiang. Without passports they had nowhere to go other than to Afghanistan and into the "welcoming arms" of the Taliban. That of course is not to say that there were no Uygurs voluntarily in Afghanistan working actively for separation from China. Like the many nationalities represented in Afghanistan there are some Uygurs who prefer violence as a means to an end but from everything I can gather their numbers were and are few.

The writer ends this very different styled piece by referring to Pakistan's double standards over the Uygurs as a result of it's economic reliance on China"

Self determination and fighting for freedom principles are great, but Xinjiang becomes an inconvenient issue. The cause of Palestine is heard all over the world, but Xinjiang is so inconvenient that the mere mention of it causes embarrassment and shuffling of the feet. After all Alfred Adler said : "It is easier to fight for one's principles than to live up to them.

The author's history is a tad off though.

"In 1945, the first serious threat to Chinese sovereignty was due to the announcement of the Eastern Turkistan Republic, claiming sovereignty over Xinjiang with a firm Islamic flavour."

There had been far more serious threats to Chinese sovereignty in the 19th century. Yakub Beg and his Kashgaria was far more worrisome for the Chinese. In 1945 sovereignty over the majority of Xinjiang was vested in the Nationalists and some "warlords" who were on their last legs anyway. And, yes, whilst the republic, which held sway for a short time over only 25% of Xinjiang (centered in the Illi region north west of Urumqi), was based on Islamic principles it was forthright in stating that all religions were to be allowed to be freely practicsed. This is no different than say American or English democracy being based on Christian principles.

"In 1949, most of the leaders of the republic died mysteriously. Funnily enough, the Chinese communist government then took over Xinjiang."

Here he refers to a number of Uygur leaders from the Eastern Turkistan Republic being killed in a plane crash whilst on a flight to Beijing to discuss post takeover issues. Whilst it was "mysterious", highly coincidental and ultimately fortuitous for the Han, the republic had already decided to accept Chinese sovereignty in exchange for Xinjiang becoming an autonomous state within Communist China. As for the rest of Xinjiang (the other 75%), that was already a "fait accompli" with the Nationalists in tatters.

Much emphasis is placed by people on the Eastern Turkistan Republic, none less than the Uygurs, and whilst it controlled an army that would have caused the Communists some not unreasonable trouble in the short term, in the long term the writing was on the wall. Thus Xinjiang "capitulated" without a shot being fired.

All in all though an intersting article and worth the read.

Link: Additional Information Read Rating:
China a friend in need? : HindustanTimes.com/UK: News for UK Asians