BEIJING – A day before the start of the holy fasting month for China’s Muslims, at least 11 people were killed in a series of attacks in the north-western region of Xinjiang.
“There were cries and blood everywhere … Terrified people flooded into our office to hide,” Yang Hongmei, a female resident in Xinjaing, told the official Xinhua news agency.
At least eight people were killed when two attacks rocked the far-west city of Kashgar before two gunmen using knives went on assaulting residents.
“Our security guards tried to save the residents while our manager attempted to subdue an attacker by holding him, but the man had a knife and stabbed him in his abdomen,” said Yang.
Three people, including a policeman, were also killed and 28 injured in an explosion in the same city.
The attacks came less than two weeks after 18 people were killed in an attack in the restive Xinjiang region.
BEIJING – Ever since US President Barack Obama decided to begin withdrawing American troops from Afghanistan, global interest in what role (if any) China will play in determining that war-ravaged country’s future has grown dramatically. After all, China is not merely a neighbor of Afghanistan, but the world’s most important rising power – indeed, a “world power,” as Mike Mullen, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff proclaimed in Beijing this past June.
If China proves itself willing to help shore up Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s administration, it will not seek to gain any immediate advantage from the withdrawal of US forces. But, despite the billions of dollars China has invested in developing Afghanistan’s natural resources, it is hard to see it undertaking a policy of broader and proactive engagement there.
One reason why China is wary of assuming a bigger role in Afghanistan, despite the country’s undoubted importance for regional stability, is that America’s war there has been controversial in China from the outset. Chinese nationalists believe that the war was undertaken by the US partly in order to place its military near one of China’s most sensitive borders. Moreover, to supply its Afghan forces, the US deepened its military footprint in Central Asia by renting the Manas Air Base in Kyrgyzstan, which also shares a border with China.
In the eyes of Chinese nationalists, these efforts were all the part of an American conspiracy to encircle China. Thus, Chinese nationalists can’t wait to see the back of America’s Afghan military presence.
For Chinese strategic realists, any support for America’s efforts to help end the Afghan insurgency should be part of a broader China-US bargain. China might agree not to undermine America as it withdraws only if the US agrees to rethink its arms sales to Taiwan, or to pull back from its commitment to support Japan’s claims to the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands, the ownership of which China disputes. Obviously, such deals will be unwelcome in the US.
Given that neither Chinese foreign-policy camp believes that it will get what it wants out of cooperating with the US, both simply want America’s withdrawal to happen as soon as possible, without concern for what Afghanistan will look like afterwards. For both camps, only great-power politics matters for China’s national security, and if diplomacy cannot influence the balance of power, there is little reason to engage with an issue.
For Chinese liberals, Afghanistan is fraught with ethnic threats. By recklessly denying China’s request to extradite Uighur extremists to China for trial, the US showed scant regard for an issue of paramount importance – the threat posed to China’s hard-won unity by separatists. Muslim Uighurs from Xinjiang province were captured in Taliban training campus and jailed at Guantánamo Bay with other international terrorists from 2002 through 2009. China thought their extradition necessary to undercutting international sympathy for Uighur independence seekers. But the US worried about the potential for human-rights abuses in China and rejected the Uighurs’ extradition.
Indeed, former President George W. Bush welcomed Rebiya Kadeer, a leader of the exiled Uighur independence movement, to the White House, embittering many Chinese. And given that the Uighur bastion of Xinjiang is close to China’s borders with Afghanistan and Pakistan, the US was unwise to raise Chinese hackles in this way.
Of course, a stable, orderly, and secular Afghanistan serves China’s interests as much as it benefits the rest of the world. Yet few Chinese are willing to confess that the US-led Afghanistan war, which removed the Taliban and Al Qaeda from their dominant roles in the country, improved China’s domestic security. That refusal is clearly the result of the “structural” ambivalence that now exists between the US and China.
The extent to which China will engage Afghanistan positively will depend in large part on whether China rids itself of the prevailing zero-sum mindset and facilitates America’s military withdrawal by doing what it can to stabilize the country.
China can help by stiffening the resolve of Pakistan’s military to move more aggressively to contain Taliban extremists on its territory; open border regions to help resupply NATO forces in Afghanistan; and invest in the country’s infrastructure. Indeed, China’s relations with Pakistan have assumed greater importance recently, owing to the tensions that now exist between Pakistan and the US.
The Obama administration’s challenge nowadays is to calibrate its recent suspension of some military aid to Pakistan in order to maximize its leverage without pushing the government even closer to the extremists. By working with the US on Pakistan, China can help secure its own interest in a strong Pakistani campaign against the militants on its territory. Regardless of the Bush-era disputes with the US over the Uighur prisoners at Guantánamo, China is in a better position to tell its “all-weather” friends in Islamabad that stabilizing Afghanistan is not only an American objective, but a significant Chinese goal as well.
China’s cooperation may not be essential to defeating Al Qaeda and other militants in Afghanistan, but it will be if lasting peace and stability is to be realized. Chinese and US interests in Afghanistan are unlikely ever to be perfectly aligned, but the two sides can and must learn to cooperate for their own benefit, and that of the region. The challenge for China is to exert its power and influence in a way that harmonizes with the US, despite widespread displeasure among Chinese at America’s position on a variety of issues, from Taiwan to the East and South China seas.
Zhu Feng is Deputy Director of the Center for International & Strategic Studies, Peking University.
Copyright: Project Syndicate, 2011.
From Rezaul H Laskar
Islamabad, July 31 (PTI) Suspected Taliban fighters today shot dead a pro-government tribal elder involved in efforts to repatriate tribesmen who had fled their homes in northwest Pakistan due to fighting between militants and security forces.
The militants, who were riding a motorcycle, shot tribal elder Malik Arsala Khan in the crowded main market of Tank district in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, police officer Shah Nawaz Khan said.
The attackers fled after the incident.
Malik Arsala Khan was appointed chief of a “peace committee” or pro-government militia four months ago, when the government began repatriating internally displaced persons to the restive South Waziristan Agency.
No group claimed responsibility for the attack.
Officials said nearly 200 tribal elders have been killed by Taliban militants over the past five years in South Waziristan Agency, which is located near Tank district.
The Taliban have warned tribal elders and government- backed ”lashkars” or militias against bringing people back to areas where the army is conducting operations against militants.
The government and security forces have stepped up efforts to repatriate displaced people to areas that have been cleared of the Taliban after military operations.
Thousands of people fled homes when security forces launched a major operation against the Taliban in South Waziristan in October 2009.
The army subsequently declared victory over the militants in South Waziristan, the birthplace of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, early last year.
Recent attacks on security forces have raised fears about the presence of militants in some parts of the tribal district.
The Taliban have said they will continue their attacks on security forces.
Islamabad, July 30: Taking bilateral defence relations to a new high, China will give Pakistan a squadron of the advanced J-10B fighter aircraft, a media report said.
The offer was made by senior Chinese military leaders to visiting Pakistan Army’s Chief of General Staff, Lt. Gen. Waheed Arshad, the Urdu daily Jang reported Saturday, quoting defence sources.
The J-10B fighters are equipped with the latest weapons and Pakistan will be the first country, after China, to have these advanced aircraft, it said.
During his visit, Lt.Gen.Arshad was assured that the defence relationship between the two countries will reach new heights and China’s efforts for the safety and security of Pakistan will be never-ending. IANS
Bloomberg appears to be the first news source to report that a tentative deal on the debt ceiling has finally been reached between the GOP and the White House. As Bloomberg reported just minutes ago,
The White House and congressional Republicans have found the framework of an agreement to increase the nation’s debt ceiling that would raise borrowing authority through the next presidential election, a person familiar with the talks said late last night.
The tentative outlines of the accord include spending cuts of $1 trillion and creation of a special committee to recommend additional savings of up to $1.8 trillion. The new panel would have to act before the Thanksgiving congressional recess in late November or government programs including Defense and Medicare would face automatic, across-the-board cuts, the person said.
With the debt ceiling threat eliminated, the process of choosing federal programs to cut will begin. Those negotiations and the political drama surrounding them will likely consume the public’s attention during the 2012 Presidential race. If the Democrats in the Senate accept the deal cut by their President, they will be handing the GOP the victory it sought – dramatically slashing the federal budget without requiring new taxes or even raising revenues by eliminating costly tax exemptions to the wealthiest Americans.
Although the markets may well favorably react to the news, it does nothing to solve the most serious problems facing the country, including our participation in three wars, nine percent unemployment and a burgeoning class of retirees, many of whom lost jobs, property and retirement funds in the economic crash only banks and other financial institutions the likes of JP Morgan, US Bancorp and American Express are recovering from with aid from the U.S. government.
How American voters will react to deep cuts to federal programs meant to stimulate the economy and decrease unemployment in 2012 is as unpredictable as the brinksmanship the public has just endured over the debt ceiling.
AKROTIRI air base near Limassol was yesterday officially designated the British command centre for any international military operation on Libya, British bases authorities confirmed. March 20, 2011
The Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia are two British-administered areas comprising a British Overseas Territory on the island of Cyprusadministered as Sovereign Base Areas of the United Kingdom.
Turkish Cypriot president said on Monday that the British bases were considered sovereign in Cyprus under the 1960 Zurich and London Agreements.
President Dervis Eroglu of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) said when the Republic of Cyprus was being founded in 1960, Britain made bases on Cyprus be accepted as “sovereign.”
“Therefore, there is nothing to intervene,” Eroglu said when commenting on use of British bases in Cyprus during the military operation on Libya.
Eroglu said TRNC wanted establishment of an administration in Libya with the will of the nation.
“The bombardment should not harm civilians in Libya,” Eroglu said.
The USA, the United Kingdom and France have launched an air strike against Libyan leader Muammar al-Qadhafi’s forces to enforce a UN resolution imposing a ban on all flights in Libyan airspace, excluding aid flights, and authorising member states to “take all necessary measures” to “protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack”. Al-Qadhafi has ruled Libya for more than 40 years. An uprising against him began last month after the long-time leaders of neighbouring Tunisia and Egypt were toppled.
Moreover, Eroglu said Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots were a bit away from an agreement that could be accepted by the two parties.
Eroglu said Turkish Cypriots were doing their best to reach an agreement, however he could not say that a progress had been made in ongoing negotiations.
The Greek Cypriots should know that the Turkish Cypriots had the right to live in Cyprus as much as themselves, Eroglu said.
Eroglu said the Greek Cypriots did not feel any obligation to reach an agreement with the Turkish Cypriots as they were a member of the European Union (EU), adding that there could not be a unilateral settlement.