Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The New Frontier, Part 4

We continue from Part 3 reviewing Xinjiang and China's strategy in Central Asia by Stephen Blank, April 3, 2004:

These assertions offer significant clues to understanding Chinese policies in Central Asia, including Xinjiang, because they make clear that Chinese policies are intrinsically strategic in concept and goal, if not in implementation. Analysts like Wu Xinbo confirm the linkage between domestic and foreign policy when they argue that "China is still a country whose real interests lie mainly within its boundaries, and to a lesser extent, the Asia-Pacific region, where developments may have a direct impact on the country's national interests".

Foreign analysts, too, discern key strategic significance in China's domestic policies in Xinjiang and its western borderlands more generally vis-a-vis major Asian actors, especially India and the US. Since September 11, China sees Washington's military presence in Central Asia - the US air base at Manas in Kyrgyzstan is only 200 miles from China - as presaging a potentially permanent threat to Xinjiang and China.

Because Xinjiang, like Taiwan, is a border region that has historically been the scene of numerous struggles and wars over territory, the question of Xinjiang's future goes to the most basic issues of what constitutes the Chinese state both territorially and politically, ie what will be its territorial boundaries and how will political power in that state be constituted.

China has many areas of concern. The Communists have never been able to conquer Taiwan; the Nationalists and the Communists disagree over who rules and who should rule greater China, but so far Taiwan and the Mainland seem to agree that there is one China.

Then there is the matter of Tibet.

Now we have renewed unrest in Xinjiang.

Should any one of these places couple a declaration of independence from Beijing with significant territorial control over an area that Beijing now claims, might the other dominoes fall?

And, if so, what would happen to the People's Republic of China?

Might it collapse as the Soviet Union did?

As we pointed out in Part 3, the insurgency in Xinjiang seems, within the past year, to be very professional -- quite un-characteristic of militant Islamist extremists.

Might one of the very last campaigns of the Cold War be ongoing in Xinjiang to bring about the collapse of the last great Communist power?

We transition to where we left off in another article, China's tough Xinjiang policy backfires by Antoaneta Bezlova, dated August 15, 2008:

While difficult to be independently verified, the incidents showed a high level of coordination, creating a thread of unrest in southern Xinjiang through a series of bombings and armed assaults. In one incident two attackers rammed a truck into a group of police in the city of Kashgar and then attacked them with knives and homemade grenades, killing 16. Another attack followed several days later, with bombers hitting 17 targets, including a police station and a government building in the city of Kuqa.

No group has claimed responsibility. Li Wei, China authority on terrorism issues, has blamed the attacks on the East Turkestan movement, a group that China alleges is engaged in separatist activities seeking to establish an independent state. But the online appearance of two videotaped threats against the Beijing Olympics has been linked to the Turkestan Islamic Party - a group experts say is an offshoot of the secessionist movement with ties to al-Qaeda.

But, that smells fishy, doesn't it? Or, as I wrote in Uighuristan, Part 1, I smell a rat!

Since when has Al Qaeda discriminated among its targets, with a focus on military and government targets, rather than just haphazard killing of infidels, government or civilian??

Stay tuned for more!

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