China: Islamic Terrorism Strikes Again And Again

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July 12, 2013: China is lowering the tension level on the disputed portions of its Indian border. As part of this process China recently returned an Indian surveillance camera Chinese troops had removed from the Indian side of the Kashmir border on June 17 th. India initially kept quiet about this, in an attempt to reduce tensions. The Indians got the Chinese to understand that the free press in India could pressure politicians to take action against Chinese troops caught crossing the border and things could get out of hand. So China agreed to make some moves to help avoid this. India has documented several hundred cases of Chinese troops moving into Indian territory that China claims, and this is escalating into a major issue within India. The Chinese will make nice occasionally but will not back down on their claims.

Researchers from the U.S., Israel, and China analyzed Chinese health and life-expectancy data and concluded that the air pollution problems in northern China (mainly from burning coal to generate electricity) have reduced life expectancy up there by at least five years. The government has long played down the air pollution problems in the north but lately that has changed. This was because of growing public unrest over very obvious air pollution in urban areas. This was already believed to cause over a million premature deaths a year and the censors were not able to keep Chinese from knowing this, or discussing it. Senior officials could buy expensive air filtration systems for their homes and offices but they and their families could not completely escape the dirty air. Solutions are expensive and politically unpopular, and public pressure is making avoidance of the issue untenable. So now the government has dropped the attempts at suppressing news about the pollution and is openly discussing possible solutions. That is taking some of the heat off the government but that is only temporary, especially if nothing is done.

China continues to pressure North Korea to drop its nuclear weapons program and to act less belligerently with its neighbors. This includes misbehaving North Korean bureaucrats who have already poisoned relations with the Chinese business community. North Korean officials are increasingly corrupt and unreliable. This has been getting worse, with the North Korean officials sometimes resorting to outright theft (of Chinese assets in North Korea). This has even turned off the ethnic Korean businessmen in China, who long provided eager partners for legitimate, and criminal, deals with North Korea. South Korea has taken advantage of the situation by identifying the turned-off Chinese partners with North Korea and offering them access to the South Korea market. These Chinese business people spoke the language and the Chinese government has been encouraging trade with South Korea. So as bad behavior drives business away from North Korea, a more dependable business climate in South Korea reels it in. South Korea has also become a major investor in China and ethnic Korean or Korean-speaking Chinese have an edge in getting a piece of this action as well. Senior North Korean officials keep promising that the bad behavior by North Korean bureaucrats will be dealt with, but it never is. The North Korean government is losing control of its corrupt bureaucrats. As long as these guys are loyal to the Kim family a lot of their misbehavior is tolerated. China is becoming increasingly (and openly) angry at continued North Korean misbehavior.

China is providing Nigeria with $3 billion in loans, at low rates, for building infrastructure (commuter rail, airports, roads, and so on). Many Nigerians are uncomfortable with this because of the Chinese willingness to deal with corrupt officials in Africa and make deals that help China at the expense of Africans. China brings in a lot of its own workers for these projects and the work is often shoddy to otherwise inadequate.

The United States has been openly urging China to agree to some rules governing the increasing Chinese aggression in the South China Seas. China diplomatically brushes such requests aside and keeps repeating its claims on most of the uninhabited islands in the region (some of them more than 1,200 kilometers from the Chinese coast and a lot closer to other countries). Chinese naval and air forces are becoming increasingly active in pressing these claims and forcing foreign ships (military and commercial) out of waters claimed by China. This means most of the South China Sea and includes blocking (with ships or threats) attempts by Vietnam or the Philippines to explore for oil in their offshore waters. This continues to force all Chinese neighbors (except Russia and North Korea) into an anti-Chinese alliance. The U.S. is reluctantly backing this alliance. China believes it can keep applying the pressure, getting results, and not allowing it to escalate into a shooting war. 

July 11, 2013: Defying Chinese claims on its offshore waters, Vietnam backed Indian firms conducting oil exploration operations in these contested areas. Vietnam also announced increased military cooperation with India. Trade between India and Vietnam goes back over a thousand years and many Indians settled in Vietnam in that time (although by now all have gone native and been absorbed into the Vietnamese culture).

July 7, 2013: China announced a program that would provide cheaper loans to small defense manufacturers who need capital to pursue innovative and risky development projects. This is part of a larger program to foster more innovation in Chinese business. China sees itself as very capable at copying foreign ideas, but not nearly as good at creating new stuff.

July 6, 2013: In southwest China (Sichuan province) some 500 members of the large local Tibetan population gathered to commemorate the birthday of the Dali Lama (who supports Tibetan independence and is banned by the Chinese government). The police showed up and broke up the event by firing on the demonstrators, wounding nine of them. The government fears another outbreak of rioting by Tibetans there, as well as in neighboring Tibet (Xizang province).

July 5, 2013: Severn Chinese Navy ships began a week of training exercises with the Russian Navy off the Pacific coast of Russia. This sends a message to Japan, which has disputes with Russia and China over who owns disputed islands. This particular effort is the largest Chinese naval force to ever participate in joint training with a foreign navy. China is also having its navy make a lot of visits to the Seychelles Islands, a small country in the Indian Ocean that India has long considered a client state. Three years ago there was talk of China establishing a naval base in Seychelles. The Seychelles government had earlier asked China to come in and establish a military base as part of an effort to keep Somali pirates away. The presence of these pirates had hurt the local economy, and any help was appreciated. This was not the first time help was sought from China. Seychelles has already sent about a hundred of its troops to China for training. Three years ago a Chinese hospital ship visited and treated over a hundred people. Chinese warships going to, or from, Somalia regularly stop for visits. But a base would be another matter and something India wants to avoid. The Seychelles is a group of 115 islands 1,500 kilometers off the African coast and 3,000 kilometers southwest of India. The Seychelles islands have a total population of 85,000 and no military power to speak of. They are largely defenseless against pirates. So are many of the ships moving north and south off the East Coast of Africa. Five years ago Somali pirates began operating as far east as the Seychelles. India provided assistance to the Seychelles, as did NATO, and eventually it was enough to drive the pirates away. Despite all this, the Chinese Navy only uses the Seychelles for resupply and shore leave and has not built any base facilities. Four years ago several Chinese admirals openly called for the establishment of overseas naval bases. They wanted at least one in the Persian Gulf area to support Chinese warships operating off Somalia. This was turned down by the Chinese government, which wants to expand its military power more slowly. Nevertheless, the government has told the navy to prepare for combat and a long-term struggle for control of the sea (especially contested areas in the South China Sea). As part of this strategy the Chinese Navy remains active in the Seychelles.

June 26, 2013: For the second time in three months there has been an outbreak of Islamic terrorism in western China (Xinjiang province) where Uighur (ethnic Turks from Xinjiang province) Islamic terrorists have become increasingly active. The latest attack was in the Xinjiang town of Lukqun, where at least fifteen armed Uighur Islamic terrorists attacked government buildings and killed 24 people (including two policemen). Police killed 11 of the attackers and captured four others. There had never been any Uighur violence in Lukqun before, and this attack came as a surprise to the police. But Xinjiang province has been the scene of more and more of this violence. A similar incident three months ago, elsewhere in Xinjiang, left at least 21 dead, including 15 government employees and police. Eight surviving Islamic terrorists were arrested. After that incident China demanded again that Pakistan shut down the Pakistani camps where Uighur Islamic terrorists are trained. Apparently several hundred Uighurs are operating some camps in North Waziristan, an area in the Pakistani tribal territories (along the Afghan border) where the government allows sanctuary for Islamic terrorists. One thing China and the United States can agree on is the need for Pakistan to shut down terrorist operations in North Waziristan. Pakistan refuses to do this, although it has sought out and arrested some illegal Uighur visitors in other parts of Pakistan and persuaded the Uighur terrorists to send more of their trained killers to Syria, instead of back to China. Despite several years of increasingly angry pressure from China, the North Waziristan Uighur camps keep training more Islamic terrorists. In Western China the local Uighurs are under increasing pressure from Han Chinese soldiers and intrusive government officials. Too many Uighurs continue to support anti-Han activity, and this makes it possible for Islamic terrorists to operate. Chinese officials have been publicly urging soldiers and police to be more aggressive against uncooperative Uighurs. The government tries hard to suppress the news of Uighurs unrest. The government has been at this for a long time, constantly shutting down web sites that promote Uighur autonomy and other Uighur matters. The government accuses Uighur activists of endangering state security. This is part of an ongoing effort to suppress Uighur unhappiness with the growing number of Han Chinese moving to traditionally Uighur areas and taking over the economy and most of the good jobs.  Same thing is happening in Tibet, where the government is using the same tools to keep everyone under control. In the days after the Likqun attack, police and soldiers were out in force to intimidate the local Uighur population and see if any more Islamic terrorists can be found. The troops did encounter more violence two days later but not as bloody as what occurred on the 26th.

 

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