by James Corbett
May 8, 2014
On October 28, 2013, an SUV carrying three passengers crashed into a crowd of people waiting outside the gate of the forbidden city across from the infamous Tiananmen Square in the heart of Beijing. All three inside the car were killed in the subsequent fire, along with two bystanders in the crowd. Thirty-eight others were injured. Although not the most spectacular terror attack in the world in recent years, the scene of flames and carnage under the watchful gaze of Chairman Mao in the shadow of the heavily-guarded Tiananmen Square was as unmistakable to the Chinese population as the smoking ruins of the Pentagon was to the American population. This was, or was intended to be taken as, an attack on the Chinese “homeland.”
It was not long before the incident was blamed on Muslim separatists from the country’s northwestern Xinjiang province, China’s largest administrative district and a geostrategic area that shares 2800 kilometres of border with Tajikistan, Kygyzstan and Kazakhstan. As such, the government was quick to claim that the incident represented a bold new escalation in China’s ongoing struggle with its restive Muslim population, part of the ethnic Uyghur minority. Since then, two mass murder incidents involving knife-wielding masked men later identified as members of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement have drawn further attention to the issue.
As Pepe Escobar, geopolitical analyst and frequent BoilingFrogsPost.com contributor, explained last week on The Corbett Report, the Uyghurs are a persecuted minority in the country’s untamed west who find few opportunities for advancement in China’s mainstream society, dominated by the ethnic majority Han Chinese.
Uyghur disenfranchisement is played upon to foment Islamic radicalism and political separatist sentiment. The East Turkestan Islamic movement seeking to wrest Xinjiang from China’s control offers a number of parallels to the shadowy “Al Qaeda” terror organization, including a mysterious leader living in a secret mountain base in Pakistan’s lawless border region and, as FBI whistleblower and BoilingFrogsPost founder Sibel Edmonds revealed in last year’s series on Gladio B, direct support from NATO-associated Gladio operatives seeking to destabilize a geostrategic region in an ongoing, under-the-radar war for control of Central Asia.
Western support for the Xinjiang terrorists is not difficult to spot, and includes the fact that the East Turkestan Government-in-Exile, led by Anwar Yusuf Turani, is based in Washington, D.C., has spoken at the National Press Club, met with President Clinton during his administration, and received explicit offers of support from President Bush, and the National Endowment for Democracy-funded Uyghur World Congress, a German-based organization with a Sweden-based spokesman, Dilxat Raxit, that Central Asia analyst Christoph Germann told The Corbett Report last week, acts as the Western media’s “go to” man for any and all stories about the region.
The incidents so far are by no means massive or spectacular enough to fundamentally change the course of Chinese society or bring about Xinjiang’s independence, but they are serving a number of purposes. For the west, the attacks help take the battle for control of Central Asia directly into the Chinese homeland, and help destabilize a region that, as part of President Xi’s “New Silk Road” corridor of pipeline and trade routes, is of increasing economic importance to Beijing.
But Beijing, too, gains from the attacks in the same way that authoritarian power structures always benefit from attacks and atrocities: by making the formerly impossible appear probable. As Li Wei, a terrorism “expert” at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations told the Chinese government mouthpiece Global Times last week:
“China has long been considering how to introduce a counter-terrorism law. However, considering the complexity of the anti-terrorism situation, and difficulties of coordinating so many government departments and military forces involved in the issue, the counter-terrorism law still isn’t on the books.”
Beijing is now openly mulling new anti-terror legislation that some are calling China’s Patriot Act and many analysts are expecting to openly target the Uyghur population. Given that the government is already increasing its network of informants in the region with such programs as offering cash rewards for those who inform on neighbors with too much facial hair, it is questionable whether formal terror legislation is even needed at all.
In the end, as with so many of these contrived geopolitical conflicts, the only people who clearly lose are the Uyghur people themselves, whose economic and political marginalization seems set to increase from here. In the great irony of global geopolitics, this will itself create a greater pool of disenfranchised youth to draw upon for future terror attacks, thus perpetuating a descending cycle of chaos and violence. And, sadly, the only plausible way out of this, a plan for bringing about greater opportunities for the Uyghur people to engage in China’s ongoing economic miracle, is so far off the political radar that it can’t be found on anyone’s map.