The War Against Terror and China's Treatment of the Uigher Ethnic Minority

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The War Against Terror and China's Treatment of the Uigher Ethnic Minority In the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, President George W. Bush reached out to the world to back the U.S. in a war to eradicate terrorism. One of the more surprising participants in this coalition, China, had until that point been at odds with U.S. policy but seemed to find sufficient common ground with the U.S. to support the war. In recent months however, China has not been lauded for unprecedented cooperation with its “strategic competitor” but has instead been criticized for using the war on terror as carte blanche to step up its “Strike Hard” campaign in the Uigher Xinjiang Autonomous Region in the northwest, resulting in unprecedented numbers of executions of political prisoners, a suspension of free religious worship, and a general decline in respect for human rights. The western media has claimed that Beijing had been waiting for a chance to crack down on Uigher separatists and is now behaving as an opportunist to pursue these goals while the U.S. is in no position to decry its behavior. However, this opportunism argument only explains some of the recent actions in Xinjiang; in this paper I will seek to show that Beijing’s increased policing of Xinjiang serves primarily to demonstrate to the international community that it will not be excluded from Central Asia. The Roots of Today’s Conflicts in Xinjiang An overview of the history of this volatile region is vital to understanding the present struggle for control. The movement for self-rule of Xinjiang dates back to the beginnings of China’s last dynasty, the Qing (1644-1911) when ethnic Chinese sought to settle the region and incorporate it into the ... ... middle of paper ... ... with the reports of separatist bombings, verifiable data from the Chinese government is virtually impossible to come by; more recent reports, particularly those from after September 11, are from reliable émigré sources and anecdotal evidence presented in reputable publications. [17] Dillon, Michael, p. 25. [18] Smith, Craig S. “China, in Harsh Crackdown, Executes Muslim Separatists.” New York Times, Dec. 16, 2001, p. A1. [19] Smith, Craig S., p. A1. [20] Rosenthal, Elisabeth. “U.N. Official Fears China Uses Terror War as Front for Abuses.” New York Times, Nov. 10, 2001, p.A7. [21] Smith, Dianne L., p. 163. [22] Donnelly, Tom. “China’s Persecution Complex.” The Weekly Standard. Feb. 4, 2002, p. 21. [23] Eckholm, Eric. “U.S. Official Praises China for Its Cooperation in Rooting Out bin Laden’s Terror Network.” New York Times. Dec. 7, 2001, p.B5

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