|NATO forces should be keeping an eye out for PLA spec ops doing surveillance and "hits" on Uyghur supporters in Afganistan.
I wonder if the PLA openly move into Pakistan?
The Opposite End of China (Xinjiang, China)
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February 26, 2007
High Noon in Xinjiang
PLA soldiers with a friendly Uyghur farmer.
Who knew that German weekly Der Spiegel had an international edition written in English? Well, consider yourself informed. I came across the site upon discovering an article published this week about increased ethnic tension brewing in Xinjiang. They recycle a lot of the same old remarks about Xinjiang, but there are some good bits.
The best part is that the article throws more fuel on the Xinjiang 2021 fire I started a couple months back. Remember that raid on a Uyghur terrorist training camp near Kashgar in January? Well,
Since then military transport aircraft and helicopters have been making regular landings at the Kashgar airport, as China builds up its forces in its mountainous border regions. Neighboring Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan are seen as the principal hideouts for the region's Islamists.
Since the battle at the ETIM camp, anyone in Kashgar who is unable to show identification is considered a suspect. The police search vehicles on arterial roads and security forces, uniformed or in civilian clothing, lurk in the city. "We stay home at night," says Mohammed, a 26-year-old Uighur who operates a clothing stand near the "Street of the Liberation." The police keep a watchful eye on Kashgar's crowds, even at events as seemingly harmless as the opening of a new supermarket across the street from the mosque.
So, when the goes down, I don't wanna hear anybody saying that I didn't tell you beforehand! Again, consider yourself informed.
There is one Xinjiang stereotype propagated towards the end of the article that I believe to be untrue, at least in the modern age:
Fighting, though, isn't the only reason the soldiers are there. Many have also been sent to the region to develop their own farms and factories. According to one soldier, whenever they encounter unrest the troops simply change into the uniforms of the armed People's Police.
Is this really still going on? Somehow I doubt it. I mean, I've heard the ol' "hoe in one hand, gun in the other" slogan from the early days of the bingtuan. I've even seen a statue in Korla depicting those dual roles literally. But if the folks I see out on the army farm cutting tomatoes are indicative of the situation, these days the farming is left to the farmers and the soldiering is left to the soldiers. Anyone out there have information to the contrary?
You can read the entire Der Spiegel article below.
GUNS AND STEEL ON THE SILK ROAD: High Noon in China's Far West
SPIEGEL ONLINE - February 22, 2007, 04:34 PM
By Wieland Wagner
China is sending more troops to the mostly Muslim province of Xinjiang in the far west of the country. Concerns are rising in Beijing of ethnic unrest in the border region. Its plans for economic development there may be in trouble.
Mao Tse Tung defies the icy wind blowing from the Pamir Mountains across the city of Kashgar. Beijing is worlds away from this spot on the historic Silk Road, not far from Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Which is perhaps why the Chairman Mao needs such a tall base for his statue, perched 24 meters (79 feet) above the "Square of the People." But Mao is strikingly alone -- the square is practically devoid of people.
It is time for prayer. A few blocks away, locals are streaming into the Id-Kah Mosque, the largest Muslim house of worship in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region, home to the Uighur minority in northwestern China.
The faithful wear their fur turbans pulled down over their faces. It's bitterly cold, but it is also to disguise their identities. Many are afraid of being recognized.
Muslims are the majority in Kashgar, giving this ancient city bordering the Tarim Basin the air of an Arabian oasis. Uighurs, Kyrgyz and Tajiks bring their dates, nuts and pomegranates to the market on donkey carts. Instead of Peking Duck, the air smells of roast lamb and flatbread.
Veil of suspicion
But a veil of suspicion hangs over the region. Unlike in other parts of Central Asia, the muezzin in Kashgar is not permitted to use a loudspeaker to call the faithful to prayer from the minaret. His voice sounds muffled as it emerges from the interior of the mosque. Civil servants are essentially barred from taking part in Muslim prayers, evidence of fears among China's atheist leadership that Islam could develop into the core of an independence movement.
Xinjiang in north-western China is home to a large Muslim population.