I don’t know much about China except that their long term plans is to become the economic giant in a hub of Asian Pacific nations.

Their economic growth and “hands off” policy toward dictators make them at odds with the more moralistic US foreign policy (UN action on Dafur, for example, is blocked by China).

And they have been valuable allies in pressuring North Korea on the nuclear shutdown, if for no other reason that they recognize if that economy completely collapses, they might have a half million starving North Koreans on their hands.
But so far, China has not been one of the players in the war against terror of the Islamofascist variety.

But now things are starting to change.

Last week, in Pakistan, a roadside bomb killed a couple dozen Chinese, including women. PJM notices it and links to Counterterrorblog

They have an explanation on China’s influence in Pakistan. Read: It’s the oil stupid. The Chinese are expanding their economic and military sphere of influence into the oil rich countries along the ancient silk road so that they might exploit the oil and mineral riches found in the region, and this includes norther Pakistan and it’s neighbors.

The Red Mosque siege in Pakistan that made headlines had little to do with the US: It was against an imman who was sending students to “arrest” people they considered “immoral” was in response to the students attacking Chinese workers at a “health clinic” (read bordello).

China has been holding joint military exercizes with Pakistan and has shut down a terror training camp near the Pakistan border.
What does this mean? I’m not sure, but sounds like China is in the war on terror whether or not she wants it.

The first hint in western papers that China was worried about the Taliban was when the press noticed that there were several Chinese citizens from their Islamic minority who were captured in Afghanistan and taken to Gitmo, and the US had a heck of a time figuring out what to do with them.

Then there is THIS article in the UKTimes.

The story is similar to that in Mindanao in the Philippines or in Thailand, or even in Pakistan: a small minority that is opposing development by the majority culture of their country, and using the rhetoric of radical Islam to justify their actions.
Part of the problem is “nationalistic”: a minority that instead of joining the majority culture insists on staying separate and fighting. Add to this an extreme version of Islam promulgated at a mosque thanks to Saudi money, and AlQaeda operatives who trained under the Taliban, and you have a dangerous explosion that could harm China’s economic  expansion.
Of course, China, not having an active human rights left wing such as we see in the Philippines or a critical press such as we see in the US is able to crack down hard in the region rather than the “softer” approaches of other nearby countries.

Americans chant “no blood for oil” but of course most who do so (have never lived in a land where all water is carried miles from the nearest well, food is cooked over dung or open wood fires, and the diet is poor, and babies come every year or two, so women are chained to housework. Unless one has lived awhile in a less developed country, you don’t appreciate how our oil based civilization has made life longer and more enjoyable for the once poor third world that includes China.
And recognizing their great need for oil, China is again seeking security and control of the mineral wealth of their western province while extending their political influence to the other countries of the ancient Silk Road, countries rich in oil and mineral resources needed for that country’s growing economy.
The UK Times writes:

China claims that Al-Qaeda has trained more than 1,000 members of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, classified as a terrorist group by America and the United Nations….

Next month 1,600 Chinese troops will join exercises with Russia and the former Soviet Central Asian republics to cooperate against Islamic extremists.

Chinese security services have also created a pervasive apparatus of informers and deployed new units of black-clad antiterrorist police…

The article then goes on to inform us the usual tale, of how strong arm tactics cause more terrorist recruits than help settle the problem, and that China is using the “war on terror” meme to quell nationalistic resentment against the Chinese settlers, about 40% of the population who often live together rather than mix with the locals.

The writer then goes on to tell of a local uprising where many ethnic Chinese were massacred, making the Chinese crackdown on potential nationalist/terrorists much more understandable. Hmm. Maybe China’s crackdown might be justified, and save more lives than the more timid approach of more liberal countries.

Yet the locals need to be assimilated, and the Taliban philosophy, like that of the Luddites, is tempting but dangerous to those who see development as the only game in town.

So which will win? Globalization or the Luddites/Taliban?

All over Xinjiang, China can point to growing prosperity, cleaner water, new schools, paved roads, modern hospitals, efficient airports, cybercom-merce and huge energy plants.

All over Xinjiang, China can point to growing prosperity, cleaner water, new schools, paved roads, modern hospitals, efficient airports, cybercom-merce and huge energy plants.

The price, say Uighurs, is the slow extinction of their identity. Their children take compulsory Chinese lessons. Teaching in Uighur is banned at the main university. Their fabled literature, poetry and music are fading under the assault of karaoke culture. Their history is rewritten.

One must indeed mourn the “loss” of a culture, but I have worked with too many “primitive” cultures to think that they are the Garden of Eden.
The Chinese, with their memory of  the ups and downs of 2000 years of civilization, would see the Uighurs as the frog in the well,  unwilling to see the advantages of being Chinese (the frog thinks it’s pond is a universe until a turtle tells him about the sea).So in some ways, the Chinese part of the war on terror is also a clash of civilizations, but in a different way than the crusader mindset of Europe versus Arabs.

It is in the interest of China to cooperate with the US in these matters, not because America is the superpower that rules them (indeed, China plans to replace the US as the major super power in the world over the next fifty years) but because their interests and the interests of the United States are parallel.

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Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket. 

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