Friday, August 25, 2017

The Belt and Road Initiative and Middle Eastern Politics: Challenges Ahead

Talip Kucukcan

Insight Turkey  Vol. 19 / No. 3 /  2017, pp. 83-91

Involving  sixty  countries,  the  Belt  and  Road  Initiative   sparked a global debate because of its potential economic and po- litical  implications.  Sceptics  argue  this  project  cannot  achieve  its   objectives as it requires close cooperation amongst many countries  whose  national  interests  are  on  a  collision  course.  The  optimists   contend the initiative provides a win-win scenario for participat- ing countries. This paper argues that success of the project in the  Middle East depends on overcoming several challenges including:  eliminating  security  threats  and  terrorist  organizations;  finding   sustainable  solutions  to  political  tensions  and  armed  conflicts;   and consolidating good governance.


Saudi Arabia, China plan joint $20b investment fund

Saudi energy minister said that in addition to the fund, he expected 11 business agreements worth about $20b to be signed


Jeddah: Saudi Arabia and China plan to establish and operate jointly a $20 billion (Dh73.4 billion) investment fund, sharing costs and profits on a 50:50 basis, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al Falih said on Thursday.  Al Falih was speaking on the sidelines of an economic conference of senior officials and businessmen from the two countries.  He said that in addition to the fund, he expected 11 business agreements worth about $20 billion to be signed between the two sides on Thursday. He did not give details.  In March, Saudi Arabian Oil Co. announced that it may deepen investment in China’s oil industry as part of $65 billion (Dh238.7 billion) worth of potential deals signed between the two countries in everything from energy to manufacturing and a theme park.   Saudi Aramco, as the company is known, is already a partner in refineries and petrochemical plants in the country.


China-Saudi Arabia cooperation to enter more fruitful era, broad consensus reached on key projects

Xinhua| - 2017-08-25

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia, Aug. 25 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli said here Thursday that he believes China-Saudi Arabia cooperation is going to enter a new era, being more robust, sustainable and fruitful.
China and Saudi Arabia reached broad consensus on bilateral cooperation in such fields as energy, finance and industrial capacity, and on key cooperation projects when Zhang met the Saudi king and crown prince in the Saudi Red Sea resort of Jeddah.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud exchanged visits in the past two years, ushering in a new era of fast and comprehensive development for the two countries' relationship, Zhang said when meeting with King Salman.
In January 2016, Xi paid a state visit to Saudi Arabia, during which the two countries agreed to upgrade the bilateral ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership. King Salman visited China in March.
China always views its relations with Saudi Arabia from a strategic and long-term perspective, and has stayed persistent in promoting long-term friendly cooperation with the country, said Zhang.


Thursday, August 3, 2017

Turkey, China Pledge Security Cooperation

VOICE OF AMERICA - August 03, 2017

Turkey to block anti-China media to dismay of Uighur activists

Uighur leaders fear Turkey's growing security cooperation with China will see the minority's plight forgotten

Areeb Ullah


Turkey's Uighurs community has voiced fear and concern over plans to impose a media blackout on reports critical of China, following a meeting between Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on Thursday.  Uighur activists fear a media blackout could lead to their plight "being forgotten" by the Turkish people after Cavusoglu agreed to stronger cooperation on security and counter-terrorism with China during the meeting in Beijing.  He said: "We take China's security as our security. We absolutely will not allow in Turkey any activities targeting or opposing China. Additionally, we will take measures to eliminate any media reports targeting China," he added.   The Uighur minority comes from the predominantly Muslim autonomous province of China, known officially as Xinjiang and locally as East Turkestan. Beijing has placed a series of restrictions on religious practice in the region and many have settled across the Middle East.  China used the meeting with Turkey to express its fears about ethnic Uyghurs fighting with militants in the Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East.


Turkey to China: Your Security Is Ours

Sean Keeley

The National Interests - August 4, 2017

A week after a friendly naval visit to Istanbul from the Chinese navy, Turkey and China are continuing to cozy up, bonding over press censorship and promises of deepened security ties. Reuters:
Turkey regards China’s security as akin to its own and will move to stamp out any anti-China reports in its media, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday, after meeting his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi. […]
“We take China’s security as our security,” Cavusoglu said, speaking through a Chinese translator during a joint news briefing with Wang in Beijing.
“We absolutely will not allow in Turkey any activities targeting or opposing China. Additionally, we will take measures to eliminate any media reports targeting China,” he added, but did not give details.
On one level, this is just the latest case of Turkey thumbing its nose at the West. No other NATO ally would equate its security interests with China’s, and no other supposed EU aspirant would openly tout its authoritarian control over the press. But for Turkey, this is all part of the game: as an alienated Ankara drifts ever further away from Europe, it continues to publicly demonstrate that it is not beholden to Western institutions or values, as Erdogan courts opportunistic allies and participates in military exercises with NATO’s enemies.


Turkey promises to eliminate anti-China media reports


BEIJING (Reuters) - Turkey regards China's security as akin to its own and will move to stamp out any anti-China reports in its media, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday, after meeting his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.  China and Turkey have repeatedly vowed to step up cooperation on security and counter-terrorism, amid Beijing's concerns about ethnic Uighurs from its restive far western region of Xinjiang fighting with militants in the Middle East.  "We take China's security as our security," Cavusoglu said, speaking through a Chinese translator during a joint news briefing with Wang in Beijing.  "We absolutely will not allow in Turkey any activities targeting or opposing China. Additionally, we will take measures to eliminate any media reports targeting China," he added, but did not give details.  Uighurs are a largely Muslim, Turkic-language speaking minority from China's western Xinjiang region.  Hundreds, possibly thousands, keen to escape unrest in Xinjiang have traveled clandestinely via Southeast Asia to Turkey, with which many see themselves as sharing religious and cultural ties.  Beijing says some Uighurs then end up fighting with Islamist militants in Iraq and Syria. It denies accusations that it restricts the Uighurs' religious freedoms.  European leaders have been alarmed by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan's crackdown on opponents since a failed coup attempt last year, and what critics see as his attack on free speech.  About 150 media outlets have been shut and around 160 journalists jailed, the Turkish Journalists' Association says.  Turkish authorities say the crackdown is justified by the gravity of the coup attempt, in which rogue soldiers tried to overthrow the government, killing 250 people, mostly civilians.  In 2015, Turkey angered China by expressing concern about reports of restrictions on worship and fasting by Uighurs in Xinjiang during the holy month of Ramadan. Turkish protesters have marched on China's embassy and consulate in Turkey over the treatment of Uighurs.  The two countries have also quarreled over Thailand's deportation of Uighur migrants back to China.  But Ankara is keen to tap into Beijing's ambitious Belt and Road infrastructure investment plan to link China with the rest of Asia and the world. Erdogan visited China in May when President Xi Jinping hosted his first Belt and Road summit.  "China is willing to work with Turkey to enhance the ancient spirit of the Silk Road, ... and in jointly promoting the Belt and Road plan unlock new cooperative potential," Wang added.

Turkey and China pledge security cooperation as ties warm

By Gerry Shih 

The Washington Post - August 3, 2017

BEIJING — Turkey’s top diplomat vowed Thursday to root out militants plotting against China, signaling closer cooperation against suspected Uighur militants hailing from China’s far west who have long been a sore point in bilateral relations.  Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters during a visit to Beijing that his government would treat threats to China’s security as threats to itself and would not allow any “anti-China activity inside Turkey or territory controlled by Turkey.”  Cavusoglu’s tough comments, which came after a meeting and warm handshakes with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, were seen as referring to China’s Uighur ethnic minority, a Turkic people who share cultural and linguistic ties with Anatolian Turks.  Turkey and China have in recent years pledged to cooperate on security and counter-terrorism efforts, though experts say such ties are also balanced by mutual suspicion. Relations between Ankara and Beijing have been strained by Turkey’s support for groups fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad — a China ally — and its sheltering of Uighur refugees.


Turkey And China Pledge Close Security Cooperation


Beijing (AP) -- Turkey has vowed to root out militants plotting against China as the two countries pledged to collaborate on a security issue that had been a source of friction.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Thursday in Beijing that Turkey would treat matters of China's security as its own, signaling close cooperation and a tougher stance against suspected Uighur militants hailing from China's Xinjiang region. Uighurs share cultural and linguistic ties with Turks and many have sought asylum in Turkey.
Hundreds if not thousands of Uighurs who have fled China in recent years have traveled to Syria to join Islamic militant groups or simply escape persecution and find a new home.
Human rights groups have long accused Beijing of oppressing its Uighur population and inflaming a cycle of radicalization.

The Doklam Standoff: Some Basic Facts

Yao Yunzhu
Retired Major General, Chinese People’s Liberation Army

US-CHINA FOCUS - Jul 31 , 2017

The standoff between Chinese and Indian soldiers on a remote Himalayan plateau entered well into its 2nd month. The Chinese foreign ministry spokesmen delivered one strong wording statement after another, calling for the withdrawal of the Indian troops and warning against miscalculations and unrealistic illusions of the Indian side. The Chinese Defense Ministry spokesmen stressed the resolution of the People’s liberation Army to defend China’s territory, and declared military measures in response to the recent developments. Such strong response from the Chinese government has been rare. The India government, on the other hand, seemed to take the standoff as one of the reoccurring border skirmishes and thought it would come to pass as time goes on. India's Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar commented in his lecture in Singapore on July 11 that India and China could manage their differences that had arisen from time to time over their contested border.
However, the strong response from the Chinese government indicates that there is something different, which is more provocative and intolerable than before.





China is increasingly becoming key for Israel's high-tech industry

Israel has laid out the welcoming mat to Chinese companies and investors who may face more troublesome regulations and scrutiny elsewhere.  The first IPO (initial public offering) of an Israeli high-tech company on a Chinese stock exchange, Hong Kong, is expected within the year.

Ferry Biedermann; special to Tuesday, 18 Jul 2017

China's investors and markets are becoming increasingly important to Israel's economy, and in particular to its booming high-tech industry.
The first IPO (initial public offering) of an Israeli high-tech company on a Chinese stock exchange, Hong Kong, is expected within the year and Chinese investments in Israeli high-tech venture capital approached $1 billion in 2016, industry experts say.
"The Chinese stock exchange market will become another very viable option for Israeli companies looking for public funding," if the first IPO goes off successfully, Eli Tidhar of Deloitte Israel, told CNBC.
Tidhar heads what Deloitte calls its "Israel-China corridor". Israel has laid out the welcoming mat to Chinese companies and investors who may face more troublesome regulations and scrutiny elsewhere.


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Bringing Our Lost Brethren Back Home: Messianic Zionism, Settler-Colonialism, and the Lost Jews of Kaifeng

by Mohammad Turki Al-Sudairi

JADALIYYA - Jul 10 2015

The Kaifeng Jews of China–numbering at present some five hundred to one thousand in total–are one of the latest communities to garner the interest of right-wing messianic organizations connected to the settler-colonial movement in Israel. Over the last decade, messianic groups have intensified efforts to encourage the community to immigrate (aliyah) to Israel. This endeavor is making some headway. Messianic organizations, including Amichav (My People are Returning), its semi-successor Shavei Yisrael (Returners to Israel) and, in more supportive/facilitating roles, a number of Christian Zionist groups, see the Kaifeng Jews as “Lost Jews” and as such important assets. “Lost Jews” represent new sources of potential immigration to Israel. This is critical given the perception among such organizations that traditional sources of immigration–the United States, Europe and the former Soviet Union–are either exhausted, or spiritually or ideologically unsuitable. There is also a realization that a conclusive Jewish demographic majority within historical Palestine remains elusive. Encouraging the immigration of “Lost Jews,” a somewhat unconventional solution, partially addresses some of these issues. In addition, by virtue of their demographic utility, “Lost Jews” help further the settlement project in the West Bank (as well as Arab high-density areas within Israel like the Galilee), and undermine recourses to the two-state solution. Finally, messianic organizations espouse a cosmological view that associates the return of “Lost Jews,” including those of Kaifeng, to Israel as part of the “Ingathering of the Exiles” that will hasten the End of Days.


How Taoist ideas brought a Syrian scholar to Beijing

By Liu Xiangrui

China Daily USA | 2017-03-24

Beijing-based Syrian scholar Firas Sawah cites Tao Te Ching when asked about his romance with China. The book not only brought him here but has also played an important role in his daily life.  Born in Homs, Sawah has been teaching at the department of Arab studies at Beijing Foreign Studies University for the past few years.  As Sawah recalls, he developed an interest in East Asian culture and philosophy in his youth. He read a book in college on Chinese philosophy, which is titled China Wisdom.  He found Taoist ideas especially interesting when he read on. He wanted to introduce Taoism to Arabic readers and eventually translated Tao Te Ching, the famous Taoist book attributed to Lao Zi, a scholar who may have lived in the 6th century.  "I did it (the translation) with love," says the 72-year-old.  In his eyes, the text has wise guidance for both social management and personal life. "I have read about religious ideas since the Stone Age. But when I came across Tao Te Ching, I thought to myself this is the solution to social problems nowadays. The text is very short and each time I read it, I discover something new."  The book was not only well received by readers in Syria, but also caught the attention of Chinese scholar Xue Qingguo when he traveled to Damascus in 2009 and came across Sawah's translation at a bookstore.  Xue, who also teaches at the department of Arab studies at the same university in Beijing, says he read different Arabic translations of Tao Te Ching earlier but liked Sawah's version best. 


Cutting a Deal with China

China Heritage was launched on 15 December 2016 at the conference ‘Political Enchantments: aesthetic practices and the Chinese state’. That conference, organised by Gloria Davies 黃樂嫣 and Christian Sorace with the support of the Australian Centre on China in the World, was held at ANU House in Melbourne, Australia. Gloria and Christian invited me to present an opening address, the title of which was ‘Living with Xi Dada’s China — making choices and cutting deals’. At the end of my remarks I announced that John Minford and I had founded The Wairarapa Academy for New Sinology whereupon I formally launched our website, China Heritage.
I am grateful to Gloria and Christian for their kind invitation, and to the participants in the conference for their indulgent response. My thanks also to David Sheehy of Monash Arts for recording my speech, to Callum Smith, the designer of China Heritage who attended the conference, and to Lois Conner for allowing me to use her work here.


China's New Challenge: How to Win the Soft-Power War

Kyle Haddad-Fonda 


I taught at a Moroccan university in the spring of 2013, a period of time that happened to coincide with the apex of popularity of the Korean rapper Psy. On Friday afternoons, after the prayer had let out of the campus mosque, students would sometimes blare music on the central quad to celebrate the beginning of the weekend. The song they chose was always “Gangnam Style.”
My students often came to my office to discuss their plans to study abroad. Inevitably, the two most popular destinations were the United States and France. But the third choice surprised me: a remarkable number of my students hoped to spend a year in South Korea. Many of them, it turned out, liked to watch Korean television shows in their dormitories. And the university had recently concluded an agreement for a bilateral exchange program with Hannam University in Daejeon, which had simplified the process.


Full Marx for Creativity: Reforming Political Education in China

How can academics make courses in ideology more compelling to today’s university students? 

Xiao Wei

SIXTH TONE - Jul 24, 2017

Every year, more than 7 million young people enter colleges across mainland China. Later, nearly 10 percent of them will continue their studies in graduate school. While at university, both undergraduate and graduate students alike must take compulsory classes on political and ideological theory.
In the minds of many Westerners, the very fact that Chinese students take obligatory Marxism classes is tantamount to brainwashing — but that’s a debate for another day. As a professor of Marxism, my primary concern is that the classes are not always interesting to students. In recent years, nearly everything about these courses, from their format to their content, has undergone radical change. Still, reforming the dull, dry, and didactic traditional teaching methods is no easy task.
The courses have undergone numerous changes since 1949. At present, undergraduates are required to take four such classes: Basic Principles of Marxism; Introduction to Mao Zedong Thought and Socialism With Chinese Characteristics; Modern Chinese History; and Ideological and Moral Cultivation and Basics of Law. Master’s students, meanwhile, take a course titled “Socialism With Chinese Characteristics: Theory and Practice,” and doctoral students take one called “Chinese Marxism and the Contemporary World.” In addition, there are several electives available to students seeking a more comprehensive overview of the topic.


A Stark Choice for Cairo’s Chinese Muslims

As Egypt cracks down on Uyghur students, Chinese Muslims in Cairo are torn between economic opportunity and their faith.

By François Napoleon

The Diplomat - August 02, 2017

Sitting on cheap plastic chairs in front of a Chinese restaurant on a narrow street in Cairo’s Abbassia district, Ma Songhui seems to have lost his appetite – and for good reason.
Since July 4, scores of his Chinese classmates from Al-Azhar University – all of them Uyghurs from China’s northwest Xinjiang province – have been arrested by the Egyptian police. Those who managed to escape the raids are hiding in the capital or trying to leave the country, according to Sweden Uyghur Education Union President Nijat Turghun. All are afraid of being expelled to China, where they will be at risk of arbitrary detentions and torture.
“Many of their families in Xinjiang were visited by Chinese authorities a few weeks ago. There were pressures; barely veiled threats were made to force them to come home. And then the Egyptian police started raiding restaurants and residences of Uyghurs studying at Al-Azhar. Some have managed to escape, but we expect most to be deported,” said Ma, a 28-year-old Chinese Muslim from Linxia, in the province of Gansu.