President Hu Jintao's decision to cut short his visit to the G-8 summit in Italy and rush back home to address the Uighur unrest in Xingjian is significant given the Chinese passion for always keeping face. The aborted visit is admission of a crisis more severe than is recognized by global media. It is surprising that the Xingjian crisis erupted so late. During the run-up to the Beijing Olympics this scribe had predicted that Xingjian Uighurs would create a more violent backlash than Tibetan monks could ever muster.
If Islamist terrorism confronts China it deserves little sympathy. Beijing seeks to crush all diversity by enforcing regimentation. It ruthlessly seeks stability through changing the demographic balance by settling Hans in minority regions. And worst of all, Beijing never hesitated to foment IsIamist terrorism to destabilize other nations while striking unholy bargains with Al Qaeda to protect its own turf. In this regard it is worth recalling this scribe's comment published in these columns on October 25 2008.
"Readers might recall that this scribe for over a year has ventured through these columns the view that a major policy shift in China could be under way... the change began with the transfer of power to President Hu Jintao from Jiang Zemin. It was during Jiang's tenure that the negative policies pursued by China reached their zenith. Domestically corruption escalated. Disparity between illegally enriched party cadres and peasants in rural China widened to an alarming degree. Economic imbalance between the southern coastland and the north grew. State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) were allowed to deteriorate dangerously close to bankruptcy. Chinese banks were in a mess. They were forced to continually give bad loans to keep alive SOEs that employ 60 percent of China's urban population. All this occurred during China's stupendous rate of growth achieved through foreign capital and virtually enslaved Chinese labor. The Shanghai group loyal to Jiang Zemin accomplished this. It was during this time that the PLA provided arms aid to Islamist terrorists in Southeast Asia, and through them to India's Northeast insurgents, as well as to ISI directed jihaadis. It was during this time that China unleashed nuclear proliferation to rogue nations through Pakistan's Dr AQ Khan. It was during this time that China colluded with the Taliban and Osama bin Laden. These facts are confirmed by credible authorities.
"President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao did not belong to this group. They came from peasant stock. After Jiang Zemin was forced to resign from chairmanship of the Central Military Commission which overlooked the PLA, Hu Jintao tried to root out corruption. He did not hesitate to punish senior party leaders who were Jiang loyalists. There was a covert power struggle. The contours of the struggle were blurred by the role of a third party in the struggle, the PLA. Unlike Deng Xiaoping, who had participated in the Long March, neither Jiang nor Hu exercised full authority over the PLA. As a result of this shadowy struggle foreign analysts were confused. They found it difficult to fathom who was winning and who was not. There were mixed signals from Beijing. There were contradictory signals during the North Korean nuclear crisis. There were contradictory signals in relation to confidence building measures with India. For example, the timing of Beijing's reiterated claim to Arunachal evaporated the good vibes created by Premier Wen Jiabao's meetings with the PM. It could not be determined whether this double faced approach reflected Beijing's diabolical duplicity, the impediments created by Jiang's loyalists still exercising influence, or by the intervention of the PLA...
"Earlier China used the threat of Xingjian separatism as a fig leaf to cover its covert collusion with terrorists. Some years ago Beijing sought information from Islamabad about certain Uighurs training in Pakistani camps. This indicated full awareness of Uighur participation in terrorist activity. Pakistan trained Uighur terrorists eventually were expected to go to Chechnya. Osama had guaranteed the PLA cooperation in Xingjian in exchange for telecom aid to Afghanistan during Taliban rule. The situation has dramatically altered.
"Beijing supplied arms to Iranian backed Shiite jihaadis. This help most likely was motivated not by the desire to aid terrorism but to please Iran. China's energy needs were desperate and supplies from Iran were crucial. Alas, the Iranian aided Shiite jihaadis were in direct conflict with the Al Qaeda Sunni terrorists who until then had a cozy relationship with China. Pakistan's jihaadis guided by Al Qaeda's Zawahiri started targeting Chinese in Islamabad and Baluchistan. The Al Qaeda-Beijing truce over Xingjian seems to have collapsed. That is why Beijing now has developed new interest against terrorism. That is why it is currently coming down heavily against Islamic mosques in Xingjian by interfering even with religious practice."
Analysts and China watchers are confident that iron fisted Chinese repression will succeed in crushing all Uighur dissent. They could be right. But for how long and how often can Beijing do that unless it addresses the central problem of minorities seeking to preserve their cultural identities? After sowing the wind, China may well have to reap the whirlwind.