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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Is the Jihad Coming to China?

August 28, 2008

It's Already Arrived
By Eugene LegerImage
Media With Conscience (MWC)
August 26, 2008

With wide-ranging estimations of between 20 and 100 million Muslims
living in the mainly western provinces of the People's Republic of
China, one is less surprised at the recent attack on police in the
Xinjiang province town of Kashgar. But read about the PRC's boast of
busting "Islamic terror groups" on July 15 and you start seeing the
picture of an ongoing struggle that seems to be coming to it's media
culmination as 08-08-08 looms.

Depending on whom you trust as a source of information, there has
been either a struggle against religious and ethnic repression by an
ever-growing ethnic Han population which control the regional [1], or
Xinjiang province is the center of an Islamic extremist uprising
aimed at using the Beijing Olympics as a platform for its Jihad [2].
The latter view is shared by both the PRC security apparatus and one
arm of the United States government which lists the East Turkestan
Islamic Movement as a terrorist organization "linked to al-Qaida" [3].

China's first and only "Terrorist List" was announced in December
2003 specifically because of militancy in the Kashgar region of
Xinjiang [4], but according to several "NGOs" the PRC is simply
trying to paint a picture that would justify a more strident
repression of ethnic minorities; a view not dissimilar to those
supporting Tibetan efforts at autonomy. The mission statement of the
The World Uyghur Congress "is to promote democracy, human rights and
freedom for the Uyghur people and use peaceful, nonviolent, and
democratic means to determine their political future.

By representing as the sole legitimate organization of the Uyghur
people both in East Turkestan and abroad, WUC endeavors to set out a
course for the peaceful settlement of the East Turkestan Question
through dialogue and negotiation." [5] According to the WUC prior to
the annexation of East Turkistan(sp?) by the PRC following the
Communist Victory in 1949, there were 200,000 ethnic Han Chinese in
the region; based on the latest PRC census information the current
population of 18.62 million has an ethnic Han component of some 7.49
million. Through a policy of immigration into East Turkestan, not
unlike that in Tibet, the PRC is gradually tilting the ethnic scales;
however, representatives of the Uyghur population, the largest group
of Muslims in Xinjiang province, there actually are between 15 and 20
million ethnic Uyghurs alone, plus the other largely Muslim peoples
of Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Uzbeks, Tatars and Tajiks decent [6].

Being the most populous country on the planet, the PRC also is the
most diverse in it's ethnic make up with 56 different groups between
the PRC and Taiwan and at least 8 ethnic groups not officially
recognized by the PRC government. With more attention being turned
toward China on the eve of the Olympic Games a greater insight into
political conflicts within the PRC is being gained, and while the
west generally has given an ear to Tibetan liberation groups, the
U.S. in particular seems to be echoing the PRC line regarding
"terrorist activites and groups".

Yitzhak Shichor, Professor of East Asian Studies and Political
Science at the University of Haifa, Israel and Senior Research Fellow
at the Harry S Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of
Peace, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel, maintains that the
PRC has, since 9/11, made a concerted effort to link independence
movements among ethnic Uyghurs and other Muslims to al-Quaeda. While
Professor Shichor, who was the first westerner shown an english
translation of the PRC-produced documentary, "On the Spot Report: The
Crimes of Eastern

Turkestan Terrorist Power", believes there have been instances of
violence perpetrated at the hands of the Muslim populations, the
PRC's efforts to term this as "terrorism" amounts to hyperbole and a
blatant effort to justify a continued crackdown on political
movements aimed at regional autonomy. Starting in 2001 the official
PRC releases refer to militant groups as "East Turkestani" whereas
official documents never acknowledged the existence of such a region
prior, always referring to the area by it's provincial name in an
effort to ignore any political aspirations that ran afoul of offical
PRC policy [7].

What is interesting is the fact that while the CIA World Factbook
lists Falun Gong and the China Democracy Group as "political pressure
groups" identified by the PRC government, "no substantial political
opposition groups exist" [8]. This seems to contradict the U.S. State
Department which listed the East Turkestan Islamic Movement as a
"terrorist organization" in 2002 [9]. One could argue that while
Tibetan independence movements enjoy a certain cause celeb among
western governments, while being denounced as dangerous secessionists
by the PRC, the continued anti-Islamic, especially political Islam,
sentiment in the west make politically active Muslim minorities
potential targets in the "worldwide war on terror". It just seems
that the posture being adopted by the U.S. in particular is contrary
to their policy in Afghanistan when the USSR was propping up its
puppet government. Then the U.S. is known to have supplied armaments
and logistical support to mujahideen and taleban "freedom fighters"
as an affront to Soviet control. While some would say this policy of
the U.S. failed and is now back-firing on them, some more cynical may
surmise that the "Islamic Extremist" has been manufactured to be the
international enemy against which all states who see eye-to-eye with
the U.S. are willing to throw their military and political might
against. This would provide convenient cover to invade any state that
had strategic or economic importance and a vocal indigineous Muslim population.

Compared to past relations, the U.S. has maintained a certain
criticism of the PRC's human rights record, while steadily increasing
trade and the accompanying dependence that the U.S. consumer economy
has on PRC-produced goods. It will be interesting to see, as the U.S.
and other western powers develop their views on Islamic
activism/militancy inside the PRC, how China's "anti-terrorist"
activities dovetail with those of the west. Will we see a Chinese
contingent fighting alongside European and North American troops in
Afghanistan? When and if large Muslim states sway political Islam,
will China see it's "national security" tied to fighting these
tendencies as the U.S. has, especially in Pakistan? As the PRC learns
the ropes of international diplomacy, as late as yesterday U.S.
president Bush was still admonishing the PRC for its human rights
record (something that doesn't happen to other repressive regimes,
such as Saudi Arabia, which enjoy more favourable status with the
U.S.), we could very easily see our first Chinese blue hats, as the
PRC, ostensibly communist, joins in the fight to make the world safe
for big business and combat grass roots nationalistic efforts.


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