Saturday, February 28, 2015

China in the Middle East - March 17–18, 2015 Peking University and Indiana University China Office

Indiana University and Peking University Present an
International Conference on

China in the Middle East

March 17–18, 2015
Peking University and Indiana University China Office

Organized by
Dr. Kemal Silay, Ottoman and Modern Turkish Studies Chair, Indiana University, USA
Dr. Tuğrul Keskin, Portland State University, USA
Dr. Zan Tao, Peking University, People’s Republic of China

China drafts law on counterterrorism operations abroad

China is close to approving a law that will create a legal framework for sending troops abroad on counterterrorism missions as Beijing seeks to address the vulnerability of the country’s growing global commercial and diplomatic interests.
Experts said Article 76 of the draft anti-terrorism law would allay concerns among the military elite about the lack of a formal mechanism for carrying out such operations, as well as mark a shift in foreign policy thinking and military doctrine.
The article is a small part of a draft law chiefly aimed at combating terrorism at home that was made public in November. It has undergone a second review by a parliamentary committee and is likely to be adopted in the coming weeks or months.
China has rarely been the target of terrorist acts overseas but has vast energy interests, construction projects and mines in unstable parts of the world, including the Middle East and Africa.
The risk to those projects was highlighted in 2011 when the government evacuated thousands of Chinese workers from Libya during the uprising against Moammar Gadhafi. Some Chinese operations have also generated local hostility over issues such as the use of imported Chinese labor and the exploitation of natural resources.
Article 76 would authorize the military, as well as state and public security personnel, to conduct counterterrorism operations abroad with the approval of the “relevant country.”


Tough choices for Beijing following execution of Chinese ISIS militants

THE INTERPRETER - 6 February 2015  

Despite China's long-standing diplomatic principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of other states, Beijing cannot completely control its citizens' involvement in terrorist activity abroad. Whether China likes it or not, it is being drawn into the conflict against ISIS.  China's state media yesterday reported that three Chinese ISIS militants were executed in 2014 following their attempted desertion from the terrorist organisation.
Quoting an unnamed Kurdish security official, a reporter for the Global Times wrote that one militant was killed in Syria in September after becoming disillusioned and trying to return to the Turkish university where he had been a student. The other two were beheaded in December along with 11 other militants from six different nationalities.
In response to the report, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson simply stated: 'China opposes all forms of terrorism. China is willing to strengthen cooperation with the international community to fight together against terrorist forces, including the "East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM)", in order to protect regional and global security and stability.'
This standard statement effectively summarises the Chinese Government's thinking on counter-terrorism: the emphasis is on the international community's cooperation with China in its fight against the threats of domestic terrorism and separatism (ETIM is an Islamic terrorist organisation founded by Uyghur militants in western China), while China's cooperation with the international community in its fight against international terrorist organisations remains limited.



Emma Scott

Stellenbosch | August 2013

This Discussion Paper examines China's economic and technological zone in Suez, Egypt , in view of the Go Global policy. In order to establish a comparative framework for examining whether the Suez Economic & Trade Co - operation Zone was modelled in line with China's Special Econ omic Zones ( SEZs ) , this paper maps out the key features of the Tianjin Economic - Technological Development Area (TEDA), as Tianjin Investment Holdings was the partner appointed by the Chinese government to develop the Suez zone. Not only does the paper find support for this argument, but also finds evidence to state that the Chinese government has been involved in shaping Egypt's special economic zones projects from the very beginning. The findings also show that the aims of Go Global policy are being realised through the Suez zone. The zone has potential ; however , there exist a number of pitfalls of which China should be weary including over - expenditure and Egypt's domestic politics. A surprising finding was that TEDA is set to become a bigger and more important actor in China's Africa strategy, where Egypt is only the beginning.


Turkey to ink US$3.4bn air defense system deal with China

WANT CHINA TIMES - 2015-02-24

Turkey will go ahead with a deal to purchase a US$3.4 billion air defense system from China, the Turkish defense minister has said, according to a report in China's Global Times.
Turkish defense minister Ismet Yilmaz said the system will be integrated with Turkey's national defense system but not with NATO's systems.
The decision may not be final, as a spokesperson for Turkey's undersecretariat for defense industries has said that negotiations with all bidders for the contract were still underway, Reuters reports.
The system, called the Turkey Long Rage Air and Missile Defense System, would be jointly built by China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corporation (CPMIEC) and Turkish defense companies, based on China's HQ-9 long-range ground-to-air missile.
The bid for the system was first announced in 2009. CPMIEC's HQ-9 won the bid over manufacturers from Russia, the US and Europe. NATO's concerns about the HQ-9 and issues with integration forced Turkey to cancel the bid, however.
In the second round of bidding, CPMIEC won over bids from the French/Italian Eurosam consortium and Raytheon's Patriot missile system.


China’s new Silk Road initiative attracts Turkey’s attention

International Shipping News 23/02/2015   

The first ever direct China-Spain freight train – which started its journey from Yiwu, a major trading hub south of Shanghai – travelled an epic 13,000 kilometers in 21 days (10 days faster than the conventional ocean freight), reaching Madrid in December 2014. The inauguration of a direct train link between Yiwu and Madrid should be seen as part of China’s ambitious foreign policy initiative to revive the ancient Silk Road.
The New Silk Road initiative consists of a network of both land and sea routes. The land route, the “Silk Road Economic Belt,” is planned to traverse Eurasia using three sub routes (north, middle and south).
The sea route, the “21st Century Maritime Silk Road,” will extend from eastern China to Southeast Asia, East Africa, the Middle East and Europe. In order to improve the infrastructure along these Silk Road routes, China will not only contribute $40 billion to set up a Silk Road Fund, but also provide up to 50 percent of the total capital ($100 billion) to establish the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).


500 Uighur Turks fled China for Turkey

Zeynep Bilgehan

HURRIYET - February/05/2015

A month ago, 500 Uighur Turks fled the western Chinese region of Xinjiang and settled in state housing previously used as official residences for police officers in the city of Kayseri.
The refugees agreed to tell their stories under the condition of anonymity, because they fear for the lives and safety of their families who are still in China. Here is the story of their escape:
Turkey has been home for thousands Uighur Turks who fled China since the 1950s. However, in the last couple of months the migration rate rapidly increased due to the law passed early this year that bans Uighur Turks to practice their religion freely. Turkey is the leading country that Uighur refugees would like to immigrate to. Seyit Tümtürk, vice president of the World Uighur Congress, said there are 367 detained Uighur refugees in Thailand who tried to flee China last month and those who managed to arrive in Istanbul were settled in Kayseri by Turkish authorities about a month ago.


Uighurs flee China for Turkey in search of peace

State crackdowns prompt China’s Uighurs to risk long, perilous journeys in search of security and stability

Al Jazeera - February 3, 2015

By Sumeyye Ertekin

Many of the hundreds of ethnic Uighurs who have fled China illegally to escape religious persecution and discrimination have made harrowing journeys to reach Turkey. But those who have finally settled in state housing in the city of Kayseri, in central Turkey, say despite the sufferings of their journey, they needed to escape injustice at home.
The Xinjiang region of western China, called East Turkestan by Uighur separatists, is home to about 10 million Uighurs, a predominantly Muslim ethnic group. Uighurs say they are repressed in their homeland and are unable to practice their religion freely. A 2012 Amnesty International report highlights incidents of "detailed widespread enforced disappearances, torture and ill-treatment of Uighurs" and harsh retribution against those who seek information about missing relatives.
The Chinese authorities say Uighurs are separatists and "terrorists."


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Kunming terrorist attack suspects nabbed in Indonesia

China Daily - February 13, 2015

The Chinese and Indonesian governments exchanged information on nine terrorist suspects, believed to be from the XinjiangUygur autonomous region, who fled to Indonesia after plotting an attack in China last year, Indonesian media reported.
The Indonesian police arrested four of the nine. Three fled into the jungle and two others escaped to Malaysia. The captured suspects are likely to be extradited to China as the two countries signed an extradition treaty in 2009, Jakata Post reported.
The nine were believed to be part of the group that launched the terrorist attack in March at a train station in Kunming, Yunnan province, where 33 people were killed and 133 wounded, said Saut Usman, head of the National Counterterrorism Agency of Indonesia
Saut made the remarks after he signed an agreement in Beijingwith Meng Hongwei, deputy Public Security Minister of China on Tuesday as a part of an efforts to further enhance information sharing.
The suspects fled to Poso, Indonesia, by a land route through Myanmar, southern Thailand and Malaysia. From Malaysia, they entered Indonesia with Turkish passports, posing as asylum seekers, Saut said.


The Case of the Forged Passports Curtain Coming Down on Erdogan’s Excellent Uyghur Adventure?


Counterpunch - February 24, 2015 

To demonstrate that it’s possible, for me anyway, to acquire a lot of useful information in a short period of time via Twitter, I offer for your consideration this series of exchanges (with multipart tweets stitched together for continuity and clarity):
Tweets From Aleppo ‏@halabtweets 
The whole northern countryside of #Aleppo is crawling with mercenaries/terrorists from Caucasus, Central Asia, and Chinese Ugyur. #Turkey
chinahand (me)
hmm. wonder if this tweeter knows stuff or just says stuff. Interesting to explore if any of Uyghurs given haven by Turkey have gone on to Syria with any kind of Turkish govt encouragement or knowledge.
Christoph Germann ‏@newgreatgame 
Chechens living in Turkey have been forced to go to Syria … same probably true of Uyghurs living in Turkey
chinahand ‏
only a few hundred Uyghurs in Turkey as I understand. If TK subsidized & monitored them in place, PRC might think it’s acceptable. But if TK sending them to Syria to get trained/radicalized/networked, PRC will be seriously PO’d IMO
Christoph Germann ‏@newgreatgame 
China tries to prevent Turkey from hosting more Uyghurs … makes sense given that NED-funded World Uyghur Congress, etc. “take care” of Uyghurs living in Turkey …IMO that’s why Global Times broke story of arrest of Turks/Uyghurs in Shanghai, which happened last Nov …


‏tks. v/ interesting podcast. I think one area of interest for PRC was that TK consulate replaced “lost” passports.  I tend to think Turkish government militancy policy one of “idiotic entrepreneurship” rather than carefully managed policy i.e. set up a bunch of militant-enabling orgs w/ arms-length deniability, let them run wild, then try to rein them in when they become too much of a liability. Chinese media naming Turkey (& PRC MOFI spox Hong Lei endorsing) definitely a shot across the bow. Will be interesting to see if Turkey makes some publicly Uyghur-unfriendly gesture to please PRC.  Hong Lei’s statement that report “extremely accurate”  a major tell. At same time, report was run in GT, not official govt outlet Xinhua, to soften the blow a bit.
Christoph Germann ‏@newgreatgame 
Yes, Turkey immediately sent its police chief to Beijing to calm the waves … & …
chinahand ‏
& 155 Uyghurs on Turkish passports in Malaysia! That raised some flags. Tks v/much for v/interesting & informative exchange
Christoph Germann ‏@newgreatgame
Kunming attack suspects also had Turkish passports …
The knowledgeable and cordial Christoph Germann, by the way, runs the New Great Game blog over at Sibel Edmonds’ shop and, as can be seen, stays on top of the news from the region.  I am bookmarking NGG and look forward to visiting regularly.


Special Issue: China and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Much has been written in recent times about China’s growing interest and stake in the Middle East, and its potential involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Although Beijing’s intentions are debatable and the exact nature of China’s involvement is hard to pin down, a number of pronouncements suggest that China may be a serious new actor in the region. In May 2013, Beijing put forward a five-point resolution to the Palestinian issue, followed last year by Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s peace proposal for settling the conflict in the Gaza Strip. Although China appears to be a new entrant to the region’s diplomacy, this “recent” interest in the Arab-Israeli conflict is actually not so novel. Under Mao China was a strong supporter of various “liberation movements” around the world. Friendly relations with Palestine from this period have persisted to the present day (Beijing did not establish diplomatic relations with Israel until 1992). With the end of the Cold War and changing international and domestic circumstances (thirst for oil among them), China has redefined its Middle Eastern diplomacy to reflect its changing preferences and interest in the region. The question we have put to our scholarly contributors to this special issue, is simple: what kind of role can, should or will China play in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Confirmed contributors include:

Muhammad Zulfikar Rakhmat, University of Manchester
Yiyi Chen, Peking University
Robert R. Bianchi, University of Chicago
James M. Dorsey, Nanyang Technological University in Singapore
Yoram Evron, University of Haifa
Meron Medzini, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Manochehr Dorraj, Texas Christian University
Yitzhak Shichor, University of Haifa
Sam Chester, Johns Hopkins University
Guy Burton, University of Nottingham
Harry Chen, Penn State University

International Conference: China in the Middle East - March 17–18, 2015 Peking University and Indiana University China Office

Indiana University and Peking University Present an
International Conference on

China in the Middle East

March 17–18, 2015
Peking University and Indiana University China Office

Organized by
Dr. Kemal Silay, Ottoman and Modern Turkish Studies Chair, Indiana University, USA
Dr. Tuğrul Keskin, Portland State University, USA
Dr. Zan Tao, Peking University, People’s Republic of China


March 17, 2015 at Peking University

9:00–9:30 AM: Opening Ceremony

Introduction by Dr. Kemal Silay, Indiana University, USA

Opening Remarks by Dr. Michael McRobbie, President, Indiana University

9:30–10:15 AM: Keynote Speech by Dr. Pan Guang, Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, People’s Republic of China

10:30 AM–1:00 PM: Panels


Moderator: Dr. Zan Tao, Peking University

“China’s Middle East Strategy after the Arab Spring” by Dr. Kong Yan, Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, People’s Republic of China

“Making a Difference? China and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict” by Dr. Guy Burton, University of Nottingham, Malaysia Campus, UK
“China’s Role, Operation Progress and Strength Limitation since Iraq Reconstruction: An Analysis Based on the Swot Model” by Dr. Jiang Xudong, Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, People’s Republic of China

“Is China Becoming a New Hegemony in the Middle East?” by Dr. Mojtaba Mahdavi, University of Alberta, Canada

“Chinese Foreign Policy toward Iran’s Nuclear Program beyond the Revisionism Paradigm” by Dr. Moritz A. Pieper, School of International Studies, University of Kent, Brussels

"Will Silk Road Economic Belt Project solve the 'Uygur problem' between Turkey and China?" by Adnan Akfirat, Turkish Chinese Business Matching Center


Moderator: Dr. Tuğrul Keskin, Portland State University, USA

“The Coverage of China in Turkish Academic Literature: An Overview” by Dr. Seriye Sezen, Institute for Turkey and the Middle East, Republic of Turkey

“Turkish-Chinese Bilateral and Multilateral Security Cooperation” by Dr. Lenore G. Martin, Harvard University, USA

“The Developing Relations between Turkey and China during the Last Decade” by Dr. Barış Doster, Marmara University, Republic of Turkey

“Sino-Turkish Relations in the Context of Cold War Politics” by Dr. Barış Adıbelli, Department of Political Science and International Relations, Dumlupınar University, Republic of Turkey

“Confucius Institutes’ Importance in Turkish-Chinese Relations” by Dr. Begümşen Ergenekon, Middle East Technical University, Republic of Turkey

“Turkey and China in Central Asia: The New Silk Road to the Nascent Struggle for Recognition in International Affairs” by Dr. Emilian Kavalski, Australian Catholic University, Australia

“One Belt, One Road’: A Win - ­Win Proposition for Turkey - ­China Relations?” by PhD Student Umut Ergunsü, Peking University, People’s Republic of China

1:00–2:00 PM: Lunch

2:00–4:30 PM: Panels


Moderator: Dr. Jamsheed Choksy, Indiana University, USA

“China’s Strategic Relations with Iran” by Dr. Ya Zhao, Indiana University, USA

“China-Iran Cooperation in Central Asia” by Dr. Ajay Patnaik, Jawaharlal Nehru University, India

“China’s Strategic Culture and Its Non-Proliferation Behavior toward Iran” by Dr. Mohiaddin Messbahi, Florida International University, USA and Dr. Mohamad Homayounvash, Louisiana State University, USA

“Understanding China-Iran Energy Relations: Its Intentions, Complexities and Ramifications” by Dr. Sima Baidya, Jawaharlal Nehru University, India

“Iran and China: A Soft Power Coalition” by Dr. Arash Reisinezhad, Florida International University, USA

“The Image of China in Iranian Classical Poetry” by Dr. Hadi Sultan-Qurraie, University of Washington, USA


Moderator: Dr. Mojtaba Mahdavi, University of Alberta, Canada

“The Gulf Looks East: Sino-Arab Relations in an Age of Instability” by Dr. Geoffrey F. Gresh, National Defense University, USA

“China-Gulf Relations: Current Strengths and Future Possibilities” by Dr. Jacqueline Armijo, Qatar University, Qatar

“China’s Emerging Soft Power in the Middle East: Cultural Diplomacy of China’s Arabic Satellite Television Channel” by Dr. Wai-Yip Ho, Hong Kong Institute of Education, Hong Kong

“Political Economy of China Toward Middle East” by Dr. Juan Cole, University of Michigan, USA

March 18, 2015 at Indiana University China Office

9:45–10:00 AM: Welcoming Ceremony at the Indiana University China Office

Introduction by Dr. Kemal Silay, Indiana University, USA
10:00 AM–12:00 PM: Panel


Moderator: Dr. Kemal Silay, Indiana University, USA

“China in the Middle East” by Dr. Yitzhak Shichor, University of Haifa, Israel

“The Sino-Israel Relationship from the Chinese Perspective” by Dr. Yiyi Chen, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, People’s Republic of China

“Israel-China Relations: The Post Harpy-Drone Decade” by Dr. Alvite Singh Ningthoujam, Jawaharlal Nehru University, India

“China and the Middle East: Embarking on a Strategic Approach” by Dr. James M. Dorsey, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

12:00–1:00 PM: Lunch

1:00–3:30 PM: Panel


Moderator: Dr. Carol E. B. Choksy, Indiana University, USA

“Seek Knowledge Even If It Takes You to China (Via Washington): America, China, and Saudi Arabia in the Twenty-First Century” by Dr. Sean Foley, Tennessee State University, USA

“A Five-Dimensional Paradigm: Energy, Trade, Arms Sales, Cultural Relations, and Political Cooperation” by Dr. Muhamad Olimat, Khalifa University of Science, UAE

“Hajj Politics and Hajj Diplomacy in Modern China” by Dr. Alexander Jost, Peking University, People’s Republic of China

“Being a Global Power through Soft Power: The China Case in the Caucasian and Central Asian Region” by Dr. Özlem Aruz Azer, Istanbul University, Republic of Turkey

3:30–4:00 PM: Closing Remarks by Dr. Zan Tao, Peking University, People’s Republic of China

5:00–7:00 PM: Dinner

Israel’s New Asian Allies

EURASIA REVIEW - February 25, 2015

By Jonathan Cook

It was another difficult week for Israel.
In Britain, 700 artists, including many household names, pledged a cultural boycott of Israel, and a leader of the Board of Deputies, the representative body of UK Jews, quit, saying he could no longer abide by its ban on criticizing Israel.
Across the Atlantic, the student body of one of the most prestigious US universities, Stanford, voted to withdraw investments from companies implicated in Israel’s occupation, giving a significant boost to the growing international boycott (BDS) movement.
Meanwhile, a CNN poll found that two-thirds of Americans, and three-quarters of those under 50, believed the US foreign policy should be neutral between Israel and Palestine.
This drip-drip of bad news, as American and European popular opinion shifts against Israel, is gradually changing the west’s political culture and forcing Israel to rethink its historic alliances.
The deterioration in relations between Israel and the White House is now impossible to dismiss, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama lock horns, this time over negotiations with Iran.


Sunday, February 22, 2015

China's $24.3 million non-refundable Grant to Egypt endorsed - Cabinet

ZAWYA - FEB. 18, 2015

By Ahmed Fayez

The agreement stipulates that Chinese government shall grant Egypt a non-refundable grant 150 million yuan or around US$24.3 million to fund Egyptian developmental projects. In return, the agreement would contribute to bolstering the friendship bonds and economic as well as technical cooperation between the two countries.
Elsewhere, the cabinet approved to task Isozaki, Aoki & Associates with carrying out the second phase of the consulting works to design the engineering structure and the buildings of Egypt - Japan University of Science and Technology at total cost of US$2.875 million.


QF institute, embassy in deal to teach Chinese

THE PENINSULA - February 22, 2015

DOHA: Translation and Interpreting Institute (TII) of Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU), a member of Qatar Foundation, and the Chinese embassy will collaborate in the areas of language teaching and cultural activities for the benefit of learners and the wider Qatari community.
A memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed by both sides sets the foundation for collaboration between Language Center at TII and the embassy, recognising the importance of Arabic and Chinese languages, education and culture in the global economy.
The centre supports the academic mission of the institute by offering training in five languages, including Mandarin Chinese.
Aimed to serve the needs of the professional community, classes emphasise the integration of language and culture and incorporate technology in learning and teaching.
As China is the world’s largest energy consumer and oil importer with 35 percent of its crude oil imports in 2013 from GCC countries, the Mandarin Chinese course is in line with GCC-Sino economic partnership.
Dr Amal Al Malki, Executive Director, TII, said, “The deal with the embassy will help us explore opportunities to promote Chinese language and culture in Qatar and Arabic language and Arab, and Qatari culture in China.
“The MoU will help realise our vision of building linguistic capacity in Qatar and open the door for further collaborations with Chinese institutions.”
Chinese Ambassador Youzhen Gao said, “The strategic partnership between China and Qatar is continuously developing. Looking to the future, we will be building the cooperative ‘Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road’ project and jointly hold the 2016 China-Qatar Cultural Year.” The MoU is valid for two years after which both sides will meet to evaluate results.


Israel looks to help Chinese firms with early-stage start-ups

The Trendlines Group, specializing in medical devices and agritech, plans to take its incubator model, IP knowledge to China

By David Shamah

The Times of Israel - February 19, 2015

Not a week goes by, it seems, without a large delegation of Chinese business people, investors and government officials visiting Israel to look for deals, start-ups and joint projects with businesses and universities. In a sense, the Israel-China business channel has become very crowded – overcrowded, some might say – as VCs and large corporations on both sides compete for the best deals.
But most of that action is taking place among top-tier organizations – companies and venture capital funds that invest in the largest projects and organizations, according to D. Todd Dollinger, Chairman and CEO of The Trendlines Group, an Israeli investment firm that specializes in early stage start-ups in the areas of medical devices and agricultural technology.


China, Iran to expand cooperation areas

CCTV - 02-16-2015

Visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has met with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in Tehran. The two leaders held talks at the Iranian presidency office on Sunday.
Wang Yi said China looks to expand areas of cooperation with the middle eastern country, and find ways to complement each other for common development. Wang went on to say that China is willing to strengthen coordination with Iran on international and regional issues.
The Foreign Minister also said China appreciates Iran's attitude of not pursuing nuclear weapon ambitions. China will continue to push forward the six-party talks on the Iranian nuclear issue, and hopes a resolution can come soon.
Rouhani said Iran values its relationship with China, and Iran supports China's One Belt One Road initiative. He would also like to expand bilateral cooperation in various areas. He also spoke highly of China's positive role in pushing the Iranian nuclear talks forward.


Turkey’s Missile Shield Won’t Be NATO-Integrated

The American Interest - Feb 22, 2015

Turkey is pressing forward with a major defensive program—it’s ballistic-missile defense system—that will not be integrated into the broader NATO network. Hurriyet Daily News reports:
Turkey’s new defense missile system, for which Ankara is in talks on a $3.4 billion deal with a Chinese company, will not be integrated with one used by NATO, Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz has said.
Ankara will use the long-range system without integrating it with NATO’s system, Yılmaz said in his elaboration on the issue, which came in response to a parliamentary question filed by an opposition deputy.
NATO and Turkey have been drifting apart since the end of the Cold War. This move would be a strategic and structural parallel to the tactical disagreements over the Iraq invasions and, at present, how to handle the Syrian Civil War. As Seth Cropsey has pointed out at Hudson, “This loss of interoperability would deprive Europe of Asia Minor’s large defensive extension into the heart of the Middle East – and into a region where the prospect of Iranian nuclear weapons mounted aloft ballistic missiles with steadily increasing range is real.”
With the election of a Russia-friendly coalition in Greece, NATO’s southern Mediterranean flank has started to look weaker; this story is just one more reason to worry.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Chinese Salafism and the Saudi Connection

In China, the Hui Salafi sect, and its links with Saudi Arabia, have a long and complex history.

By Mohammed Al-Sudairi

The Diplomat - October 23, 2014

Salafism, or Salafiyya, is a doctrinal-intellectual current within Islam that espouses a return to the ways of the Salaf As-Salih (the Pious Ancestors), the first three generations of Muslims who lived during and after the death of the Prophet Mohammed. Often described as being rooted in the works of the medieval scholars Ibn Hanbal and Ibn Taymiyyah, Salafism seeks to establish a more “authentic” religious experience predicated on a presumably correct reading of the Quran and the sunnah (the sayings and practices of the Prophet) and away from the supposed bid’ah (innovations) and heretical practices that have “polluted” it.
This current moreover embraces to a certain extent a rejection of the madhhab (legal school) Sunni traditions that had emerged in Islam’s early centuries. As a relatively modern phenomenon building on the Sunni orthodox revivals of the 18th century, the failures of traditional Muslim authorities to contend with mounting internal and external challenges, as well as the spread of new modernistic discourses, Salafism found a popular following across many Muslim societies in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Its growth was facilitated by Saudi Arabia – which embraced its own idiosyncratic brand of Salafism rooted in the mid-18th century religious revivalism that swept central Arabia (usually denoted by its detractors as Wahhabism after its “founder” Mohammed bin Abdul Wahhab) – especially after its annexation of Mecca and Medina in 1924-25, and the subsequent influx of oil wealth, which endowed the country with the religious authority and means (universities, charities, organizations, preachers, and communicative mediums) to promote this current globally.


Sunday, February 15, 2015

Chinese foreign minister due in Tehran

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi leading a delegation is to arrive in Tehran Saturday evening to confer with senior Iranian officials on expansion of mutual relations and the regional and global issues.

This is the first visit of the Chinese foreign minister to Tehran.
The visit takes place upon official invitation extended by his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif.
Chinese foreign minister is scheduled to stay in Tehran until February 16.
Several Chinese officials at the country's foreign ministry are accompanying the Chinese foreign minister.
The two sides are to study various political, economic, cultural, regional and international issues.

Prestigious Chinese university changes head

Xinhua - 2015-02-16

BEIJING, Feb. 16 (Xinhua) -- Peking University, one of the most prominent universities in China, has welcomed a new president, marking its third change of heads in less than seven years.

On Sunday, Lin Jianhua, 59, replaced Wang Enge as the 27th president of the university where he started to study chemistry in 1978 and obtained his doctorate in inorganic chemistry.

Addressing the faculty and staff on Sunday, Lin stressed that the individual ideals of teachers and students should match with the "core socialist values" -- a reference to the Party's call in late January to champion the concept.

Lin also said that the university should stick to its spiritual traditions and should not "abandon academic independence and dignity".

Spending more than 20 years at Peking university, the professor worked as dean of the College of Chemistry, provost and executive vice president.

He joined Chongqing University as its president in 2010 and started serving president of Zhejiang University in 2013.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

De-radicalizing’ Xinjiang, One Bad Pop Song at a Time

Authorities hope the saccharine 'Little Apple' can calm tensions in the western region.    

By Rachel Lu

Foreign Policy - February 12, 2015

Beijing’s latest weapon against Islamic extremism? A viral Internet song. On Feb. 8, a reported 10,000 people danced in a plaza next to the Id Kah, China’s largest mosque, in Kashgar, the westernmost city in the Xinjiang region in western China. Organized by city government, they stepped to the tune of “Little Apple,” a viral Internet ditty that The Los Angeles Times has called the “Chinese Macarena.” The gathering appears to be part of Xinjiang’s effort to “de-radicalize” the Uighurs, a mostly-Muslim Turkic people that comprise approximately 47 percent of the region’s population of 22 million, and, to quote state media, “save” them from extreme forms of Islamism that the government claims are driving adherents towards separatism and even terrorism. The people who most need saving, presumably, are the Uighurs, at least those turning to radical strains of Islam that the government accuses of destabilizing the region. On July 30, 2014, three young Uighurs stabbed and killed the government-friendly imam of Id Kah mosque. In July 2014, almost 100 people, both Uighur and members of the majority Han, were killed when a group of axe-wielding Uighurs attacked local government building and police station in Shache, a smaller town near Kashgar, according to the government, followed by another attack in Shache that led to at least 15 deaths in Nov. 2014. Beijing has linked each of these incidents to radical Islam.


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Peking University and the Origins of Higher Education in China

Renowned as one of the most distinguished universities in the world, Peking University (PKU or, colloquially, "Beida") has been at the forefront of higher education in China since its inception. Its roots arguably date to the origin of Chinese higher education. Hao Ping traces the intricate evolution of the university, beginning with the preceding institutions that contributed to its establishment, and stretching from the first Opium War of 1839 through the first of several eye-opening defeats for the then-isolated Middle Kingdom to the Xinhai Revolution and the early days of the Republic of China.
Hao Ping chronicles the contentious debates between reform-minded leaders who championed Western models of learning and conservatives who favored the traditional schooling and examination system, providing readers with details about the workings of the imperial court as well as the individual officials and scholars involved in Chinese educational reform. This authoritative history of the founding of Peking University defends the university’s claim to be the first modern university in China and offers insight into the formation of higher education as it exists in China today.

Hao Ping has been both a professor and an academic administrator at Peking University and Beijing Foreign Studies University. In his current role as vice minister of education, Hao Ping is a leading figure in China’s education reform and development. He is author of several books, including Sun Yatsen Revolution and the United States and An Unfortunate Ending: John Leighton Stuart and China. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

New York University Shanghai: What Is the Deal?

By Yaxue Cao

CHINA CHANGE - February 5, 2015

A recent event prompted me to look into New York University Shanghai. I was rather surprised by what I found. This article pieces together my findings which include information available through the media as well as websites, in the spirit of “tossing out a brick hoping to attract a gem  (抛砖引玉).” If it can help deepen inquiries and debate about the host of issues that can arise from setting up university campuses in China, as more American universities are set to do, it will have more than served its purpose.
“A Testing Field to Demonstrate Reform on International Cooperation in Chinese Higher Education”
NYU Shanghai is a joint venture between East China Normal University (ECNU) and New York University, “the first Sino-US joint venture university” according to NYU Shanghai’s website, whose first undergraduate class was inaugurated in the fall of 2013. According to the Chinese state media China News, the joint enterprise was approved by the Ministry of Education of China on January 17, 2011, and construction began on March 28 the same year in Lujiazui, the heart of Shanghai’s newly-developed Pudong District (上海浦东陆家嘴). A vice president of ECNU headed the team that oversaw the construction of and preparation for NYU Shanghai. Given that China’s universities, ECNU included, are owned and run by the government, it is fair to say that NYU Shanghai is a joint venture between NYU and the Chinese government.


Thursday, February 5, 2015

China’s Ban on Islamic Veils Is Destined to Fail

A symbol of Uighur identity is likely to become a touchstone of resistance to the Party-state.     

By Timothy Grose, James Leibold    

Foreign Policy - February 5, 2015

Regional authorities have now outlawed Islamic veils from all public spaces in Urumqi, the regional capital of China’s Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. The Urumqi ban, which went into effect on Feb. 1 (coincidentally the third annual “World Hijab Day”), empowers Chinese police to punish violators and dole out fines of up to $800 for those who fail to abide by the prohibition.  In recent years, the veil has emerged as a key battleground in the struggle to regain stability in Xinjiang. Stripping women of their head and body coverings provides the Chinese Communist Party with a rare measure of what it sees as progress in the struggle against what it calls “Islamic extremism” in this far western region. However, as officials seek to eliminate veiling, they risk further straining an already fragile relationship between the Uighur ethnic minority, a predominantly Muslim group for whom Xinjiang is their homeland, and a party machine dominated by the Han ethnic majority and its cultural values.


Anti-terror drill held at national winter games stadiums in Xinjiang

(People's Daily Online) February 06, 2015

About 100 SWAT members take part in an anti-terror drill at the stadiums for the 13th National Winter Games in Urumqi, northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region on Feb. 4, 2015. The 13th National Winter Games will be held in January 2016 in Urumqi. The construction of the sports venues has already been completed. (CNS/Fang Tao)


Commentary: Mr. Obama, playing the Dalai Lama card backfires

(Xinhua) February 06, 2015

BEIJING, Feb. 5 -- Though the degree to which U.S. President Barack Obama and the Dalai Lama will interact Thursday during the National Prayer Breakfast is unclear, any possible meeting or encounter between the two is sure to have negative consequences because the Dalai Lama is a political liability which backfires.
Issues regarding Tibet concern China's core interests and national sentiments. Beijing has long made it clear that the Dalai Lama, who has for decades tried to separate Tibet from China, should never be hosted by leaders of other countries.
Chumming with a secessionist is playing with fire, which severely harms the mutual trust between China and the United States, and downgrades Obama's credit as a national leader for breaking his commitments to China on the Tibet issue.
There may be self-claimed friendship between Obama and the Dalai Lama as individuals, but a meeting between a U.S. president and a political fugitive goes beyond personal domain. What lies under their hypocritical relationship is nothing but political deals and cold calculations.
Frankly speaking, Obama needs the Dalai Lama not because the latter is respectful, as Obama claimed, but because the Dalai Lama is useful. For one thing, he is a separatist. For another, he comes from China and is against his own motherland.