Monday, March 30, 2015

A New Book: China's Public Diplomacy

Ingrid d'Hooghe

BRILL 2014

China invests heavily in policies aimed at improving its image, guarding itself against international criticism and advancing its domestic and international agenda. This volume explores how the Chinese government seeks to develop a distinct Chinese approach to public diplomacy, one that suits the country's culture and authoritarian system. Based on in-depth case studies, it provides a thorough analysis of this approach, which is characterized by a long-term vision, a dominant role for the government, an inseparable and complementary domestic dimension, and a high level of interconnectedness with China's overall foreign policy and diplomacy.

Ingrid d'Hooghe, Ph.D, is a senior research associate at the Netherlands Institute of International Relations 'Clingendael'. She has published widely in the field of China's foreign policy and diplomacy.


China Losing Battle Against Extremist Islamic Teachings, Says Muslim Official

EURASIA REVIEW - March 30, 2015

China may be losing the ideological battle against Islamic extremism due to a lack of “respected” religious leaders, a leading Muslim official in restive Xinjiang province said on Monday.
A lack of state-sanctioned Islamic leaders means too many of Xinjiang’s 12 million Uyghurs have turned to extreme interpretations of the Qu’ran, Adudulkrep Tumniaz, deputy director of the Xinjiang Islamic Association, told the state-run China Daily newspaper.
“If the religious leaders compete with the extremists on Islamic knowledge, I cannot guarantee that they would win. That’s what worries me,” said Adudulkrep, who is also head of the state-run Xinjiang Islamic Institute.
“The extremists often start by teaching people about the parts of the Qu’ran — Islam’s holy book — that have never been mentioned by their imams and then inject violent thoughts in people by misinterpreting doctrines,” he said.


Friday, March 20, 2015

New think tank to facilitate Xinjiang development

Lǚ Sha

Chinese Social Sciences - 2015-03-12

The Xinjiang Think Tank opened at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) in Beijing on Feb. 9. CASS President Wang Weiguang delivered a speech at the opening ceremony. He said the goal for building the Xinjiang Think Tank is to offer suggestions for work in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region to policy makers, provide top-level design and theoretical support for Xinjiang’s sustainable social stability, security and other major strategic tasks, offer intellectual support for enduring peace and stability, provide reference and consulting service for minorities in board areas in terms of modernization of governance system and governance ability, and contribute to winning discourse power over issues pertaining to Xinjiang in international community.


Thursday, March 19, 2015

The GCC States and the Viability of a Strategic Military Partnership with China

 By Imad Mansour

Assistant Professor - International Affairs - Qatar University


The term “strategic partnership” has been increasingly used in GCC circles to signify that relations with China are important and worthy of long-term investment. In a March 14, 2014 speech during his visit to Beijing, Saudi Arabia’s then Crown Prince Salman announced that “we are witnessing the transformation of the relationship with China to one of strategic partnership with broad dimensions, to the benefit of both our countries.”[1] Saudi Arabia’s position was echoed by the emir of Qatar during a 2014 visit to China in which issues of common concern to all GCC states, especially combating terrorism, were discussed.[2] Abdel-Aziz Aluwaisheg, GCC general assistant secretary for negotiations and strategic dialogue, has also noted that there is growing interest in the Gulf to develop a “strategic dialogue” with China.[3] 
Despite this growing GCC recognition of China’s strategic role in the region, what exactly a “strategic partnership” or “strategic dialogue” would look like remains unclear. This essay discusses why officials in GCC member states might be hesitant to embrace the idea of China as a viable strategic military partner, while at the same time recognizing the need to further develop relations with China.
Securing Independent Military Capabilities 
From the perspective of GCC leaders, the main military advantage of partnership with China is Beijing’s potential willingness to provide weapons that the United States is currently reluctant to sell. Given the United States’ lukewarm responses to recent regional unrest, the GCC countries are seeking to augment their independent capabilities, and China could be an important supplier, whether or not it is a full “strategic partner.”[4] These GCC views are based on the understanding that as economic interdependence grows, China might be more willing to provide advanced weapons systems in greater quantities. It is important to note that looking to China for arms sales is consistent with the GCC states’ broader strategy of expanding their network of suppliers.[5]


Chinese police college enrolls foreign masters students - 2015-03-19

KUNMING, March 19 (Xinhua) -- Yunnan Police Officer Academy in Kunming has become China's first police college to enroll foreign students in its masters program.
According to the academy, the application channel for its master of policing program has been open to in-service police officers and government officials from Third World countries since earlier this month.
About 30 to 40 overseas students will be enrolled in the program and begin their classes this September.
The academy, established in 1950, offers majors including counter-narcotics, criminal investigation and law. It has hosted around 20 international seminars on drug control.
The academy has also organized international police education programs since 2002 and trained a total of 1,560 foreign police officers and officials from 39 countries.


Soft power - China's expanding role in the Middle East

As China's economic and political clout grows, so does the nation's role in the Middle East. The country has already overtaken the US as the largest oil importer. But can Beijing also bring stability to the region?

DEUTSCHE WELLE - 04.02.2015

With conflicts raging from Iran to Palestine and Syria to Iraq, the events unfolding in the Middle East are also being closely followed by Beijing. And there is good reason for China's interest in the Middle East. For the past two decades, China has been engaging with the region for the same main reason as other rising powers have: oil. More than half of China's oil imports - some 2.9 million barrels per day - come from this part of the world. And like other growing, industrializing powers, China needs the energy resources to power its economic expansion.
Even as China has focused on diversifying its energy suppliers by increasingly looking to Russia and Central Asia for oil and gas, any instability in the Middle East heavily impacts global prices, thus harming a net importer of energy like China, which surpassed the US as the world's largest importer in late 2013, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Oil is key
Driven by the rapid growth in oil and gas imports, Chinese trade with the Middle East has risen from around 20 billion USD a decade ago to an estimated 230 billion USD last year, with the trade volume expected to exceed 500 billion USD by 2020.


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Middle East and China – Freeman

SUSRIS - March 16, 2015 

Remarks to a Conference of the United States Institute of Peace and Georgetown University
Ambassador Chas W. Freeman, Jr. (USFS, Ret.)
February 17, 2015 | Washington, DC [not delivered due to inclement weather]
The Middle East is where Africa, Asia, and Europe come together and where the trade routes between China, India, and Europe converge. It has two-thirds of the world’s energy reserves. It is also the epicenter of this planet’s increasing religious strife. Relationships between this strategically crucial region and the rest of the world are now undergoing a sea change. I have been asked to speak to you about China’s likely reactions and role in the region as this occurs.
By the Middle East, China means the mainly Arab and Persian-inhabited areas of West Asia and North Africa. The collapse of the post-colonial order there has coincided with China’s return to wealth and power. We in the West often include Central Asia in the Middle East. China does not. The Chinese see the post-Soviet state of affairs in Central Asia — in the mainly Turkic-speaking Muslim nations between China, Russia, and Europe — as developing satisfactorily within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). They are nowhere near as sanguine about their ability to manage trends and events in the Middle East.

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

AIIB's 'door open to more members'

By Zhao Yinan

China Daily - 2015-03-18

Germany agrees to join; France and Italy set to follow UK in applying
Economic integration among Asian countries will be accelerated by more European nations joining the Beijing-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, according to experts.
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said during the first China-Germany high-level economic and financial dialogue in Berlin on Tuesday that Germany has decided to apply for founding membership of the bank.
France and Italy have also agreed to follow Britain's lead and join the international development bank, according to a Financial Times report that quoted European officials.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei did not confirm if the central government has received applications from France and Italy. But he said China is glad to see more countries join the AIIB as founding members, and the bank's diversified membership will boost the regional economy and promote professionalism and efficiency in investment.


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Extremists from China have joined ISIS

Ananth Krishnan  Beijing

India Today - March 10, 2015

A number of extremists from China's Muslim-majority Xinjiang region have travelled to West Asia to join the war being waged by the Islamic State group, a top Chinese official said on Tuesday.
In the first official confirmation that Chinese terrorists had joined the Islamic State, the Communist Party chief of Xinjiang, Zhang Chunxian, said that "Xinjiang has extremists that have joined IS".
"We recently broke up a few cases involving those who had returned directly after fighting in war," Zhang was quoted by Reuters as telling reporters, speaking along the sidelines of China's on-going 10-day session of the National People's Congress, or Parliament.
China has blamed a string of recent violent attacks in Xinjiang on Uighur extremist groups such as the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, whose members Chinese officials say are in hiding in Pakistan or Afghanistan. Uighurs are an ethnic Turkic minority native to Xinjiang.


China says Muslim Uighurs have joined ISIS

Authorities in the far-western region of Xinjiang - home to many of the nation's Muslim Uighur ethnic minority - say they will strengthen their crackdown on terrorism.

By The Associated Press | Mar. 11, 2015

Chinese officials say that members of the country's Muslim Uighur ethnic minority have gone overseas to fight with Islamic State, which controls sections of Syria and Iraq, and returned to take part in plots at home.
Authorities in the far-western region of Xinjiang, which borders Afghanistan and Pakistan, will strengthen their crackdown on terrorism and extremism, regional representatives said at a discussion on the sidelines of China's legislature.
Xinjiang has seen repeated violence as Uighurs have bristled under what they say is repressive Chinese government rule. Attacks blamed on Uighurs have also occurred in other parts of the country, including a car which plowed into Beijing's Tiananmen Gate in 2013, killing five people.


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Are China and Russia Forging a New Ideological Bloc?

A ChinaFile Conversation     


CHINA FILE - 02.27.15

With evidence of ties strengthening between Beijing and Moscow—over energy contracts, the handling of the Ukraine, and their diplomats’ stance toward outside interference in internal affairs, especially if it’s perceived as coming from Washington—can the world soon expect Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin to cooperate more broadly? Why, or why not, and to what effect? — The Editors


China and Russia can forge an ideological bloc based on shared resentment of the U.S.-led international order, but they cannot be true allies. Their competing interests are too important.
Moscow perceives the U.S.-led West as its current main enemy, interfering with its aspirations in the area from Eastern Europe to the Caucasus. Even so, some Russian analysts identify China as the long-term threat. While the Western powers seek to prevent Russia from expanding, China’s ambitions challenge Russia in the areas that it still dominates. Consider the following:
  • The resolution of Sino-Russian border disputes in the 1990s did not lead to a revision of Chinese textbooks, which continue to teach that Russia stole 1.5 million square kilometers of China’s territory, and some of the border agreements have a limited duration.
  • The disparity in population density across the border between packed Chinese Manchuria and the relatively empty, resource-rich Russian Far East is the greatest such disparity in the world. According to Alexei Arbatov, Chinese analysts now refer to Russia as China’s “resource rear”—a label that does not exactly connote respect for Russian sovereignty. The unrest that Russia has fomented in Ukraine has disrupted Chinese agro-investments there.
  • Official Chinese maps of its Silk Road project through Central Asia to the Middle East and Europe omit the most obvious route—via the trans-Siberian railroad—thus cutting Russia out of China’s plans to economically integrate the Eurasian landmass. China and Russia would also seem to have conflicting interests in the Middle East, from which China needs stable, affordable oil and gas, while Russia is okay with instability and high prices.
  • Further north, where Moscow has sought to establish its preeminence among the rival claimants that border the Arctic, Beijing asserts that, as a country with nearly one-fifth the world’s population, China is entitled to one-fifth of the global commons around the North Pole.
  • Finally, China has reverse-engineered the weapons that it has bought from Russia, declining to re-up as a customer. Worse still, it now produces cheap copies for export, luring away other buyers of Russian wares.
In recognition of these dynamics, Russia—until recently, at least—has declined to transfer some of its most important defense capabilities to China. And while engaging with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army in both multilateral and bilateral exercises, the Russian military has also continued to hold its own exercises aimed at countering a potential Chinese challenge.


What is China’s CPPCC?

China's top political advisory body starts annual session

Xinhua - March 03, 2015

The third session of the 12th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) opens at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, March 3, 2015. (Xinhua/Li He)
BEIJING, March 3 (Xinhua) -- The Third Session of the 12th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the country's top political advisory body, opened Tuesday in Beijing, kicking off the most important two weeks on China's political calendar this year.
A total of 2,153 members of the CPPCC National Committee will discuss major issues concerning the country's development during the annual session.
At the opening meeting in the Great Hall of the People, CPPCC National Committee Chairman Yu Zhengshengdelivered a report on the work of the Standing Committee of the CPPCC National Committee in the past year.
Top Communist Party of China and state leaders Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, Zhang Dejiang, Liu Yunshan, Wang Qishanand Zhang Gaoliattended the opening meeting.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

China Exclusive: Sino-Egyptian economic zone attracts more investment - 2013-05-18

TIANJIN, May 18 (Xinhua) -- To boost investment in a Sino-Egyptian joint industrial zone, three large Chinese companies will start production there this year.
The three firms, Jushi Egypt Fiberglass Industry, XD High Voltage Equipment Company and Muyang Egypt Industry, will bring a total investment of more than 400 million U.S. dollars this year, said Liu Aimin, general manager of China-Africa TEDA Investment Co, Ltd.
The China-Egypt Suez Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone, located near the Suez Canal, attracted 49 companies with contracted investment totaling 524 million U.S. dollars by the end of 2012.
"Despite the impact of social unrest in Egypt and the European debt crisis, the zone's gross industrial output reached 55 million U.S. dollars in 2012, up 20 percent year on year," said Liu.
By the end of 2012, a 1.34-square-km starting area had been fully developed, creating more than 1,000 jobs for local workers and generating more than 50 million U.S. dollars in taxes for the Egyptian side over the past five years.
An agreement on another 6-square-km expansion area for the zone was signed between the two sides in late April. The land will be developed in three phases over a five-year period, with a total construction investment of 500 million U.S. dollars.


Central Asian refugees in Saudi Arabia: religious evolution and contributing to the reislamization of their motherland

Bayram Balci
Director, French Institute of Studies on Central Asia, IFEAC, Tashkent, Uzbekistan

The Uzbek and Uighur refugees that fled the communist regimes around the 1930s and 1950s in Central Asia formed cohesive communities in Saudi Arabia while their original identities suffered a downward slide throughout the XXth century.
To appeal to Saudi sympathy on arrival in Saudi Arabia, these refugees claimed either their regional identity as Turkistani or their ethnic identity as Kashgari, Bukhari or Kokandi, as the Saudis were better acquainted with religious thinkers and eminent personalities from Central Asia than the region or its peoples. It was after the collapse of the USSR, when these refugees were able to revisit their countries of origin, that they gradually started to reclaim their national identities as Uzbeks and Uighurs.
For purposes of social integration, a large majority amongst these refugees had given up typically Central Asian mystical Islamic traditions and converted to Saudi official wahhabism or salafism. Since Uzbek independence in 1991 and China's opening in the 1980s, these recently converted returning Central Asian refugees and their descendants contributed to the reislamization of their countrymen. Some initiatives were personal while others were through more organized channels. Saudi religious authorities recruited and mobilized Uzbek and Uighur community members as missionaries sent to the field to proselytize in Central Asia and to encourage increasing numbers of pilgrims to Mecca.