Saturday, January 31, 2015

As Muslim Uighurs Flee, China Sees Jihad

Risk As Homeland Grows Violent, Some Uighurs Seek Haven in Turkey

By Jeremy Page And Emre Peker

The Wall Street Journal - Jan. 30, 2015

KAYSERI, Turkey—In hindsight, it was a soccer match that kindled Mehmet’s hatred of Chinese rule and set him on the path to exile.
In 2002, Mehmet was at university in Xinjiang, the northwest corner of China that is home to his Uighur ethnic group and the source of a wave of deadly violence in the past two years. He and some other Uighurs decided to support Turkey in the soccer World Cup, he said.
Most Uighurs are Muslim, speak a Turkic language and consider themselves part of a broad family of ethnic Turks.
But students from China’s ethnic Han majority were offended, Mehmet said. A fight erupted, leading university authorities to expel six of his friends.
So began a political awakening that led Mehmet to a prison labor camp in Xinjiang and ultimately to Turkey, following a perilous two-month voyage, mostly without a passport, through Central and Southeast Asia.


China Accuses Turks of Aiding Illegal Travel

Ten Turkish Nationals to Be Tried for Allegedly Helping Citizens Cross Borders

By Emre Peker And Chun Han Wong

The Wall Street Journal - Jan. 15, 2015

Chinese authorities are preparing to put 10 Turkish nationals on trial on allegations they aided illegal travel, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said Thursday, as a security clampdown on unrest in western China buffets the two countries’ otherwise strengthening ties.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry said Chinese prosecutors have accused two of the suspects with “organizing people to illegally cross borders,” and the other eight people with “selling travel documents.” Though the ministry didn’t say whom the Turkish nationals were accused of assisting, China’s state-run Global Times newspaper, which first reported the arrests this week, identified them as Uighurs, a Turkic group from western China.
China’s foreign and police ministries declined to comment on the arrests, which the Turkish government said took place in November.
News of the arrests of the Turkish nationals comes amid persisting troubles in Xinjiang, a Chinese territory abutting Central Asia that the mainly Muslim Uighurs regard as their homeland.


Türkiye’ye terörle mücadele işbirliğini güçlendirme çağrısı

Çin, Türkiye’ye terörle mücadele işbirliğini daha da güçlendirme çağrısı yaptı.
Emniyet Genel Müdürü M. Celalettin Lekesiz, Pekin’deki Zhongnanhai hükümet yerleşkesinde, Çin Komünist Partisi (ÇKP) Merkez Siyaset ve Hukuk Komisyonu Sekreteri Meng Jianzhu ile Salı günü görüştü.
Çin’in devlet medyasına yansıyan habere göre, görüşmede, kolluk kuvvetleri, güvenlik ve diğer konularda işbirliğinin güçlendirmesini masaya yatırıldı.
Çin’in resmi Xinhua Haber Ajansı, görüşmede Meng’ın, terörizm, insan kaçakçılığı ve diğer sınır ötesi suçlarla mücadelede Türkiye ile daha güçlü işbirliği çağrısı yaptığını duyurdu.
2007-2012 yılları arasında Kamu Güvenliği Bakanlığı da yapan Meng, görüşmede, Çin’in, Türkiye ile birlikte çalışmaya, iki ülke liderlerinin fikir birliğini vardıkları konuları uygulamaya, siyasi karşılıklı güveni geliştirmeye, ekonomik ve ticari alışverişi güçlendirmeye, iki tarafın çekirdek çıkarları ve kaygılarını anlamaya devam etmeye ve karşılıklı destek vermeye hazır olduğunu söyledi.


5 Things to Know About Turkey and the Chinese Uighurs

Growing numbers of people from China’s mostly Muslim Uighur ethnicity have been fleeing via Southeast Asia in the last year, as China conducts a sweeping counterterrorist campaign in their homeland of Xinjiang. Many of them find refuge in Turkey, which has strong cultural links to the Uighurs, threatening an otherwise robust Turkey-China relationship, The Wall Street Journal reports. Here are five things to know about Turkey’s relationship with China’s Uighurs.

The Wall Street Journal - 30 Jan 2015

By Jeremy Page and Emre Peker

1 Turkish nationalists consider Uighurs kin. Share on Twitter  Many Turkish nationalists regard the Uighurs, who speak a Turkic language, as part of a broad family of ethnic Turks spread across Eurasia. They have lobbied successive Turkish governments to offer refuge to those fleeing Chinese rule and to allow Uighurs to campaign against Beijing’s policies from Turkish soil.

2 Turkey has sheltered Uighur leaders since at least the 1950s. Share on Twitter  Turkey offered shelter in the 1950s to Isa Yusuf Alptekin, a Uighur nationalist who was a leader of the East Turkestan Republic established in southern Xinjiang from 1933 to 1934. A small park named after him can be found in Istanbul, near the Blue Mosque in the city’s historic center.

3 Turkish authorities helped establish Uighur communities in Turkey in 1965. Share on Twitter  In 1965, Turkey offered sanctuary to a group of some 200 Chinese Uighurs who had escaped on foot to Afghanistan. Turkish authorities airlifted them out of Kabul and settled them mostly in the central Turkish city of Kayseri, where many still live today.

4 Uighurs fleeing China often head for Istanbul. Share on Twitter  The Turkish government doesn’t provide official statistics for the number of Uighurs in Turkey. Uighur groups say there are about 20,000, many of whom have never been to China. About 1,500 are in Kayseri, while most others live in Istanbul, especially in the Zeytinburnu neighborhood near old town. There are also hundreds of thousands of Uighurs living in former Soviet Central Asia

5 The Uighur issue makes Turkey-China relations a delicate balance. Share on Twitter  After inter-ethnic rioting in 2009 left at least 156 dead in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, Turkey’s then Prime Minister — now President — Recep Tayyip Erdogan described the violence as “genocide,” prompting an angry response from Beijing. In 2012, with relations improving, Mr. Erdogan made his first stop in Xinjiang during an official visit to China.

Friday, January 30, 2015

China to curb phone, computer purchases in restive Xinjiang

Reuters - SHANGHAI Thu Jan 29, 2015

Anyone buying a mobile phone or a computer in the restive far-western Chinese region of Xinjiang will have to register their personal details with police, state media reported, in the latest sign of tightening government restrictions.
The measures were designed to "prevent people spreading harmful information and carrying out illegal activities", the English-language Shanghai Daily reported, citing government officials.
Xinjiang, which borders Central Asia, Pakistan and Afghanistan, has struggled with violence in recent years between majority Han Chinese and mostly Muslim Uighurs.


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Nature of Asian Politics By Bruce Gilley

Cambridge University Press
September 2014

The Nature of Asian Politics is a broad and thematic treatment of the fundamental factors that characterize politics in the fourteen key countries of Southeast and Northeast Asia. Bruce Gilley begins with an overview of state-society relations, then moves on to the fundamental questions of development and democracy, and finally shifts to an exploration of governance and public policy in the region. This book proposes an Asian governance model that is useful for understanding politics from Japan to Indonesia. By reviving an earlier paradigm known as oriental despotism and applying it to political theories on the Asian region, this book is likely to attract wide debate among students of Asian politics and among Western policy makers seeking to engage the region.
  • Provides a comprehensive look at the politics of fourteen key countries in Northeast and Southeast Asia
  • Structured thematically with chapters on state and society, development, democracy, governance, and public policy
  • Provides context for the rise of China

1. Profit and Honor
Reclaiming the Far East
The Asian Governance Model

2. State and Society
The State of Pardons
Refined Oriental Despotism
Money, Colonialism, War, and Water
The Legitimacy Premium
Hegel and Asian Values
Integrative Nationalism

3. Development
The Spinning Kingdom
An Inputs Miracle
Growth Alliances and Regimes
The Rational State
Contentious Development Politics
Recovering from Failures

4. Democracy  
New Orders in Old Bottles
Oriental Democracy
Markets and Modernization
Responsive Transitions
Consolidation without Kings
The Rights of the Majority
The House of Aspirations
Rethinking the Lee Hypothesis
The China Wave

5. Governance
Shepherds of the People
Macho Meritocracy
CEO Government
The Tokyo Consensus
Judge Pao and the Dual State
Harmonious Networks
6. Public Policy
Big, Fast Results
Productivist Welfare
The Giri of Public Works
Knowledge for Nature
Toward Eastphalia?


Sunday, January 25, 2015

China says fake pilgrims sent to Mecca

Officials accused after ‘unqualified’ people from heavily Muslim province of Xinjiang went on tightly regulated trips

The Guardian - Thursday 15 January 2015

China is investigating 32 officials from the western region of Xinjiang for graft linked to pilgrimages by Muslims to Mecca, state media said on Thursday.
Xinjiang is home to the mostly Muslim Uighur people. Hundreds of people have been killed there over the past two years in violence between Uighurs and ethnic majority Han Chinese that the government blames on Muslim separatists.
China’s Uighur Muslims can usually only make pilgrimages to Mecca on government-organised trips.
The China Daily, the country’s official English-language newspaper, said 14,000 such pilgrimages were organised in 2014 though some of the people who went to Mecca were “unqualified“. It did not explain what that meant.
“In addition to arranging pilgrimages for unqualified people, the investigated officials were found to have asked for and received bribes or neglected the inspection and management of pilgrimage work,” the China Daily said, citing the anti-graft watchdog.


Saturday, January 24, 2015

China's Silk Road strategy draws interest from over 50 countries: official

Xinhua - January 25, 2015

HAIKOU,-- China's initiative to build the Silk Road economic belt and the 21st century maritime Silk Road has received interest from more than 50 countries, an official said Saturday.
He Yafei, deputy head of the overseas Chinese affairs office of the State Council, made the remarks at a conference in the southern-most island province of Hainan.
Along the belt and road are many developing countries with a combined population of 4.4 billion and an annual economic output of 2.2 trillion U.S. dollars. Given complementary industrial structures, the economic belt has strong growth potentials, He said.
With huge forex reserves and more frequent uses of the yuan in trade settlement, China could offer low-cost financing to the countries which participate in the drive, he said.
The countries should seek consensus on cooperation and step up cooperation in fields like infrastructure, tourism, energy and finance, he said.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

China's marginalised minorities

On the outside looking in Facing ethnic discrimination, China's Uighurs and Tibetans have fallen behind as the rest of the country surges ahead

The Economist - Jan 21st 2015


China to Build 7,000 Km Moscow-Beijing Railway Estimated $242 Bln

Sputnik - 22.01.2015

The railway will ease travel between Beijing and Moscow and reduce travel times, Beijing's
municipal government announced.

MOSCOW, January 22 (Sputnik) – China will build a high-speed railway connecting Beijing and Moscow, estimated to cost 1.5 trillion yuan ($242 billion), Beijing's municipal government announced on Thursday.
The length of the railway will total 7,000 kilometers. The railway will pass through Kazakhstan, and the journey will take two days, Bloomberg reports, citing the government' announcement in the Weibo social network. The railway will ease travel between Beijing and Moscow and reduce travel times, the announcement notes.
According to Bloomberg, China is promoting its high-speed rail technology on an international level, adding that the construction of the railway is taking place as Russia's relations with the US and Europe cool over the Ukraine conflict.


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Turkey Chimes in on Uyghur Human Smuggling Case

Plus, Zhang Miao, securing the North Korean border, and China’s nuclear industry. Friday China links.

By Shannon Tiezzi

THE DIPLOMAT - January 17, 2015

First, there are two updates on my previous story about Turkish citizens being arrested for allegedly planning to help Chinese Uyghurs illegally leave China to join terror groups in Syria and elsewhere. First, as The New York Times reports, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry has confirmed that ten of its citizens were arrested in Shanghai for trying to smuggle Uyghurs out of the country. However, Turkey’s statement failed to mention “any of the terrorism-related charges” raised by Global Times’ initial report. As I mentioned in my original piece, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson who addressed the reports earlier this week also ignored the terrorism angle. That raises questions over whether the Turkish group truly intended to funnel Uyghurs to terrorist groups, or whether this was a case of would-be refugees — which would make the issue far more serious for China-Turkey relations. Meanwhile, China Daily reports that China will “strengthen law enforcement cooperation with Turkey to combat terrorist suspects from the Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region entering the Eurasian country illegally.” As a Chinese official told the newspaper, China “will work closely with [Turkish authorities] to investigate Xinjiang suspects who enter Turkey illegally.” China also hopes to increase cooperation with Turkish police to prevent “cross-border criminal gangs who help Xinjiang terrorists to cross China’s borders illegally and assist them in obtaining fake Turkish passports.”


China bans burqa in biggest Muslim city

Violence increases between Uyghur majority, Han minority

WPBF - Jan 14, 2015

BEIJING (CNN) —Legislators in China's far-western Xinjiang province have passed a law to prohibit residents from wearing burqas in public, state media reported, in a continued campaign against what authorities view as religious extremism. The new ban in Urumqi was approved by local legislators last month, and given the greenlight by the regional legislature at the weekend.  The ordinance name suggests it targets outer garments covering someone's full body including the face, which is called a burqa in some Islamic traditions.  A spate of recent violent incidents has rocked Xinjiang, a resource-rich region long inhabited by the Turkic-speaking, largely Muslim Uyghurs.  The arrival of waves of Han Chinese, the country's predominant ethnic group, over the past decades has fueled ethnic tensions.


China's Uyghurs and Islamic State

Chinese media report that a group of Uyghurs was arrested on suspicion of trying to join the global terror network.

By Shannon Tiezzi

THE DIPLOMAT - January 15, 2015

A report from China’s Global Times (picked up and summarized by Reuters) says that China has arrested 10 Turkish nationals in Shanghai for their role in assisting ethnic Uyghurs in illegally leaving China. According to Global Times, the Uyghurs intended to use fake Turkish passports to travel to Syria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan to fight alongside Islamist militants. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei did not directly confirm the story, but told journalists that the Chinese media report “has gone into great details… I have nothing new to add.” Hong did elaborate a bit on China’s general position on the issue, saying that “cracking down on illegal immigration is an aspiration shared by the international community, and also the persistent stance taken by the Chinese government.” Interestingly, Hong made no mention of the reported connection with terrorism, which is a major focus of theGlobal Times story. The piece opens by saying that in November 2014, authorities in Shanghai uncovered a organization of Turkish nationals that provided “Chinese terrorists” with false Turkish passports that could then be used to illegally leave the country. Each fake passport cost 60,000 RMB ($9,680), according to the report.


‘In China, it’s never like this’: An interview with Peter Hessler

By William Wan

The Washington Post - September 23, 2013

BEIJING – Recently transplanted to Egypt after many years in China, New Yorker correspondent Peter Hessler has a unique perspective on both countries. To many China watchers, Hessler represents a kind of gold standard for intimately reported pieces on lesser-known people and parts of the country. He’s out with his fourth and latest book – published this spring – a compilation of standalone pieces written both from China and after his return to United States in 2008. I caught up by phone with Hessler this summer, just before the military-led coup against Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, to talk about his brand of reporting, life in Egypt and what it would take and look like for an Egyptian-style political movement to come to China.


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Ethnic minorities Don’t make yourself at home

Uighurs and Tibetans feel left out of China’s economic boom; ethnic discrimination is not helping

The Economist - Jan 17th 2015

CHINA is urbanising at a rapid pace. In 2000 nearly two-thirds of its residents lived in the countryside. Today fewer than half do. But two ethnic groups, whose members often chafe at Chinese rule, are bucking this trend. Uighurs and Tibetans are staying on the farm, often because discrimination against them makes it difficult to find work in cities. As ethnic discontent grows, so too does the discrimination, creating a vicious circle.
Breaking this circle is crucial to China’s efforts to defuse unrest in Xinjiang, Tibet and Tibetan-inhabited areas of other provinces, which collectively account for nearly one-third of China’s land area. In Xinjiang, Uighur grievances have triggered numerous outbreaks of violence. On January 12th, in what appeared to be the latest such example, six people were shot dead after allegedly attacking police in Shule, a town near China’s border with Central Asia. Uighurs are a Turkic-speaking, mostly Muslim, minority who number about 10m in Xinjiang. In 2000, 80% of them were farmers; ten years later 83% of them were.


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Introducing the Middle East-Asia Project (MAP)

From: "Calabrese, John" <jcalabrese (at)>
Date: Wednesday, January 7, 2015 at 7:27 AM
Subject: [Sociology_of_Islam] Introducing the Middle East-Asia Project (MAP)

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to introduce you to the Middle East-Asia Project (MAP).

In brief, the MAP is a platform for exploring:
the roots and dynamics of the multidimensional ties that currently exist between the Middle East and Asia;
the ways in which key developments taking place within the Middle East have reverberated in Asia, and the other way around; and
the extent to which insights/lessons from recent past experiences in Asia might be applicable to the Middle East, and vice versa.

Over the past year, the MAP has launched several essay series, including:
Contemporary Patterns in Transregional Islam
Sectarianism in Muslim Majority/Minority States in the Middle East and Asia
"Civilianizing" the State in the MENA and Asia Pacific Regions
Pathways to Transitional Justice in the Arab World -- Reflections on the Asia Pacific Experience
In the coming months, the MAP will release several new essay series:
Jihadi Recruitment and Return
"Harm Reduction" Strategies
All About China
Civil Society in Transitions
The MAP Cyber Library contains an extensive list of articles on Middle East-Asian affairs with links to full-text versions free of charge.

I encourage you to share the links to the MAP with your students.

Contact me at jcalabrese (at) if you would like to
learn more about the MAP
subscribe to the monthly MAP Bulletin
propose topics for new series
write short essays for existing or forthcoming series
Healthy, rewarding 2015 to you all!


John Calabrese
American University / Middle East Institute
Dr. John Calabrese
202-785-1141 ext. 208

Friday, January 2, 2015

BBC visits China's Xinjiang province - home of the Uighurs

BBC - JANUARY 2, 2015

China says it is facing a growing threat from militant Islam and it is in the midst of a year-long crackdown on what it describes as terrorism driven by religious extremism.
The campaign is focused on the western province of Xinjiang, home to China's Uighur ethnic minority who are predominantly Muslim.
Despite doubling the policing budget in the province and jailing hundreds of Uighurs, violent attacks have continued.
Critics say China is exacerbating its problems by religious repression.
Widespread intimidation makes reporting from the region extremely difficult as the BBC's China editor Carrie Gracie reports.


Xinjiang: Has China's crackdown on 'terrorism' worked?

BBC - 1 January 2015 

Carrie Gracie BBC China editor

"Kashgar is not stable."
The words of a paramilitary police officer as he marched past me under the statue of Chairman Mao in China's westernmost city.
It was the answer to my question: "Why are there so many armoured trucks, so many armed officers, so many police dogs?"
A history scarred by civil war and foreign invasion makes many Chinese citizens hanker for strong central government.
But for security, they pay a high price in civil liberties.
Especially in border areas like this which are so different from mainstream China and where the pressure to show loyalty is correspondingly immense.
The government is watching every citizen.