Tuesday, June 22, 2010



In the wake of the first Xinjiang Work Conference, a joint conference of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee and the State Council, China’s cabinet, held at Beijing from May 17 to 19, 2010, to draft a blueprint for the region’s economic development until 2020, the Chinese authorities have embarked on a campaign in Xinjiang, which de-emphasises the Uighur ethnic identity of the province and highlights the Government's plans for its rapid economic development in order to bring it on par with other Chinese provinces.

2. The various documents and statements emanating from the conference, which was inaugurated by President Hu Jintao, underlined the plans of the Government for what was described as a leap-frog economic development of the province, but were silent on the Government's plans to protect the Uighur ethnic and Islamic religious identities of its Uighur population. However, subsequent comments by Chinese experts have indicated that the Government would follow a two-pronged policy based on rapid economic development and closer social integration in order to reduce Han-Uighur tensions which led to a serious outbreak of violence in July last year.

3.The "China Daily" of June 4,2010, quoted Prof.Qiang Shigong, Director of the Research Centre on the Rule of Law at Peking University, as saying as follows in an interview with a local journal called "South Wind Window", or "Nanfengchuang" after the Xinjiang Work conference:
"We need to adjust our Xinjiang policy according to the changes of social environment and approach the problem under the context of globalization.The economy’s development, although important, cannot create ethnic unity without the support of other polices, and on the contrary it may lead to social polarization and ethnic tensions because people of different ethnic backgrounds differ in their capability of adapting to the market. The ethnic integration in Xinjiang should not be understood as assimilation of non-Han Chinese. The Government should be sensitive to cultural diversities, and protect ethnic groups’ rights according to the law. "

4.He urged measures to weaken the identity of ethnic groups in policy-making, such as closing ethnic schools to promote more communication between different ethnic groups. He also said the promotion of Mandarin in ethnic regions could benefit local people in the current market economy environment. "To develop the economy and improve people’s lives doesn’t mean only helping people out of poverty. Instead, their education level and competitive capabilities should be enhanced fundamentally.The Han Chinese should take responsibility for the integration, and Han people should make more sacrifice and contribution to the goal," Qiang said. In his view, as the Government sends officials from other regions to work in Xinjiang, it should also encourage officials in Xinjiang to work in other regions.

5.The Xinjiang authorities have launched a door-to-door campaign to explain the new policies of the Government for the economoic development of the province to the people on the eve of the forthcoming anniversary of last year's outbreak of violence. According to Mr.Li Yi, head of the publicity department of the regional office of the Communist Party of China,over 9,000 officials and scholars would explain the Government's policies in schools, government departments, communities, villages, families and mosques across Xinjiang.

6. The Chinese authorities mistakenly seem to think that the feelings of alienation in the Uighur community are only because of the economic disparities between the Uighurs and the Han settlers. They do not seem to realise that these are more due to the unhappiness of the Uighurs over the failure of the Government to respect their ethnic and religious rights. (23-6-10)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com )



Under the heading "China may finance Pakistan reactors", the "China Daily" has reported as follows on June 23,2010::

China will likely go ahead with financing the construction of two nuclear reactors in Pakistan despite concerns from other countries, say Chinese experts.

China is expected to announce its plans to build the reactors in Punjab province at a Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) meeting in New Zealand on Thursday. Meanwhile the United States, with heavy lobbying from India, is reportedly raising doubts over the legitimacy of the deal.

One of the concerns is that Pakistan, as well as India, did not sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and therefore is technically not restricted from transferring the technology to a third party, posing a potential threat to the international community.

"This is not the first time China has helped Pakistan build nuclear reactors, and since it will be watched by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the deal is not going to have any problems," said Zhai Dequan, deputy secretary-general of the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association.

Zhai said the US will not pressure China too much as it previously struck a deal with India. In 2008, the NSG - which represents the 46 countries that control the world's atomic trade - made an exemption allowing Washington to sell civil nuclear technology to New Delhi. Pakistan has stressed many times it wants the same recognition as India on civil nuclear usage.

"Pakistan is also fighting a war on terror for the US as well as for itself, and the country's loss is greater than the US and the other 42 coalition nations combined. The economic aid it has received is too little compared to its loss. Pakistan has an urgent need for more civil energy and that need should be looked after," said Zhai.

The US asked China to clarify the details of the deal last Wednesday, after intense urging from India, but stopped short of publicly opposing it. On Thursday ( My comment: Tuesday?) China said the reactors are for peaceful purposes, and will accept the IAEA's inspection. China joined the NSG in 2004 but has already built one reactor and started a second at Chashma, Punjab. The latest two reactors in the region will generate 650 megawatts each.

Although the deal is not likely to attract strong opposition, NSG members still do not want to see the transaction go forward, according to Mark Hibbs, nuclear policy expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Policy in Washington. However, Hibbs said the US-India deal set a precedent.

"There was no real agreement between the members about how to proceed," the Australian Radio quoted him as saying.

Fan Jishe, a scholar of US studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, argues that the nature of the Sino-Pakistani deal is different from that of the US-India deal.

"We do not need an exemption from the NSG, as requested by the US, since the deal was reached before we joined the group," Fan said.