Shenyang FC-31/ J-31 (The fighter has also been referred to as the “F-60” or “J-21 Snowy Owl”)

The Shenyang J-31(or “FC-31 fifth Generation Multi-Purpose Medium Fighter”) also known as the “Gyrfalcon” (鹘鹰), or “Falcon Hawk” by some military enthusiasts, is a twin-engine, mid-size fifth-generation jet fighter currently under development by Shenyang Aircraft Corporation. The fighter has also been referred to as the “F-60” or “J-21 Snowy Owl” (雪鸮) in some media reports. Its official name is Shenyang FC-31; J-xx nomenclatures in the Chinese military are reserved to programs launched and financed by the army, while this plane was developed by a state-owned company.


In June 2012, photos and camera video clips started to emerge on internet about a heavily overwrapped possible F-60 prototype being road-transferred on a highway, earning the nickname “the zongzi plane” (粽子机) among Chinese netizens, though some suspect it of merely being an L-15 trainer aircraft.

Pictures of a possibly fully assembled aircraft parking on an airfield emerged on 15 / 16 September 2012. The F-60 is reported to be the export version, where the J-31 would be the domestic Chinese version of the same fighter.

The appearance of the J-31 raised concern about a potential arms race in Asia, as some of China’s neighbors are pursuing the development of their own fifth generation aircraft (i.e. India with their HAL AMCA and HAL FGFA, Japan with Mitsubishi X-2 and South Korea with KAI KF-X) or are considering purchasing the F-35 and PAK FA.
U.S. military and industry officials believe that once the J-31 enters service, it will automatically be a match for existing fourth-generation fighters like the F-15 Eagle, F-16 Fighting Falcon, and F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. They suggest that the capability of the J-31 against the newest fighters, such as the American F-22 and F-35, would depend on factors such as numbers of platforms, quality of pilots, and capabilities of radars and other sensors.
Vladimir Barkovsky of Russian Aircraft Corporation MiG (formerly known as the Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau) has stated that, despite some design flaws, the J-31 “looks like a good machine.” Although it contains features already in use on the U.S. fifth generation fighter designs, it is “not a copy but a well done indigenous design.”

Data from Aviation Week unless otherwise attributed
General characteristics
Crew: one (pilot)
Length: 17.3 m (56 ft 9 in)
Wingspan: 11.5 m (37 ft 9 in)
Height: 4.8 m (15 ft 9 in)
Wing area: 40 m2 (430 sq ft)
Max takeoff weight: 28,000 kg (61,729 lb)
Powerplant: 2 × RD-93 afterburning turbofans, 85 kN (19,000 lbf) thrust each
Powerplant: 2 × WS-13 afterburning turbofans (projected upgrade)
Maximum speed: 2,200 km/h (1,367 mph; 1,188 kn)
Maximum speed: Mach 1.8
Combat range: 1,250 km (777 mi; 675 nmi) on internal fuel, or 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) with external tanks

Hardpoints: 6 x external, and internal bay with a capacity of up to 8,000 kilograms (18,000 lb), including 2,000 kilograms (4,400 lb) internally,
Air-to-air missiles:
12 x medium-range
Air-to-ground missiles:
8 x supersonic
30 x smaller bombs
Distributed aperture system (DAS) optical early-warning system
Electro-optical targeting system (EOTS)


Mullahs trying to ban laughter?

BEIJING: The governor of China’s restive region of Xinjiang wrote on Monday that Islamist militants were trying to ban laughter at weddings and crying at funerals, as he appealed to people to stamp out the “tumour” of extremism.

Xinjiang has been beset by violence for years, blamed by the government on militants and separatists.

Exiles and many rights groups say the real cause of the unrest is China’s heavy-handed policies, including curbs on Islam and the culture and language of the Muslim Uighur people who call Xinjiang home.

China’s nervousness about extremism has grown since a car burst into flames on the edge of Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in October, and 29 people were stabbed to death last month in the southwestern city of Kunming.

Beijing blamed Xinjiang militants for both.

Writing in the official Xinjiang Daily, Governor Nur Bekri said that acts of terrorism had been made possible by extremists taking advantage of people’s faith, especially “young people who have seen little of the world”.

“In order to incite fanaticism and control believers, religious extremists have blatantly distorted religious teachings…,” he wrote. “They use this to bewilder believers into what they believe is `jihad’ in the form of suicide terrorist attacks or other violence.”

People who do not follow the strictures of the Islamists are condemned by them as “traitors” and “scum”, he said.

China’s ruling Communist Party has issued similar warnings in the past about extremism, accompanied by a harsh crackdown on suspected militants.


Uighurs have traditionally followed a moderate form of Islam, but many have begun adopting practices more commonly seen in Saudi Arabia or Pakistan, such as full-face veils for women, as China has intensified a security crackdown in recent years.

Mr Bekri, a Uighur himself, accused the militants of ignoring the region’s own traditions and of wanting to enforce a strict theocratic society.

“They…push the banning of watching television, listen to the radio, reading newspapers, singing and dancing, not allowing laughter at weddings nor crying at funerals,” he added. “They force men to grow beards and women to wear the burka.”—Reuters

China’s regional strategy

At a recent conference in Europe I found a great deal of interest in Pakistan’s close and growing relations with China. Three sets of questions aroused much curiosity.One, how is this relationship evolving in a changing international environment? Two, where does Pakistan fit in with China’s ‘March West’, characterised as China’s effort to direct greater attention and resources to regions to its west and promote its vision of an economic corridor along the ancient Silk Road? And three, with the US troop drawdown looming in Afghanistan, how do Pakistan and China see their neighbour’s future at such a pivotal moment?

On the first question, some misconceptions seem to stubbornly persist among a section of the Western policy community. For example there is a tendency – driven mainly by their media – to see the relationship as a recent phenomenon, a reflection of Pakistan ‘turning to China’ as US attention shifts away from the region with its involvement in the war in Afghanistan nearing an end. In fact, when Pakistan-US relations encountered turbulence in recent years, this line of thinking postulated that Islamabad was increasingly looking to China as ‘an alternative’ to America.

These are fundamentally mistaken notions. Yet they reflect just some of the misperceptions found in Western circles about Islamabad’s relations with Beijing. For a start, Pakistan’s relations with China and with the US are not interchangeable. Pakistan has different equities in the two relationships, and they address different needs of the country. Moreover, far from being a ‘breaking story’, Pakistan-China relations have been time-tested over six decades. This has been a consistent and resilient relationship, unlike Pakistan’s other relationships, which have seen many ups and downs.

China has and continues to be a cornerstone of Pakistan’s foreign policy and its principal long-term strategic ally. The strategic quality of relations also derives from the firm national consensus in both countries that undergirds the partnership. This distinguishes it from Islamabad’s ties with other major powers, which are valued more by its leaders than the public.

As for the zero-sum nature some ascribe to Pakistan’s relations with China and America, a recall of history will help to invalidate this flawed notion. Pakistan played a central role in one of the most dramatic episodes of the Cold War, because it enjoyed good relations with both China and the United States. Islamabad facilitated Henry Kissinger’s secret visit to Beijing in 1971, which paved the way for Sino-US rapprochement, and decisively tilted the East-West balance.

But more than history, the strategic direction this robust relationship has taken in recent years has given the Pakistan-China partnership added significance at a time of a fundamental change in the global balance of power brought about by China’s rise as an economic and geopolitical power. In the past several years, bilateral ties have broadened and diversified from the traditional focus on defence and military cooperation toward a greater economic and investment orientation.

In the past year alone a series of visits by the new leaderships of both countries have served to elevate the partnership and affirm a common strategic vision of binding Pakistan more closely to China’s expanding economy and geo-economic strategy.

A prominent Western writer who recently declared that the “China-Pakistan alliance is now past its sell-by date” could not have been more wrong. The latest upswing in Sino-Pakistan relations is being driven by the converging economic priorities of the two countries. To attain more balanced economic growth, China is according priority to development of its landlocked western regions, which have lagged behind its eastern and coastal areas. It is therefore looking to greater connectivity and trade with countries to its west, especially long time ally Pakistan.

That is why with the signing of numerous new agreements Pakistan has become the top destination for Chinese investment in South Asia. Nearly 200 projects of varying size are in place today while work is underway on 12 hydel power projects with Chinese help. Already there are 10,000 Chinese nationals working on different projects in Pakistan. Security of Chinese workers has, however, emerged as a challenge, which Islamabad must address to accelerate different projects, some of which are designated as ‘early harvest’ ones.

On his first visit to Pakistan last May, Prime Minister Li Keqiang proposed the establishment of an economic corridor between the two countries, connecting China’s western Xinjiang region to Pakistan’s Gwadar port. This envisages greater connectivity and expansion of trade through a network of road, rail, fibre optic cables and energy pipelines.

The MOU on this also provides for the creation of special economic zones, industrial parks and trade centres and development of energy and technical cooperation. This is the most concrete manifestation of an evolving joint strategy that aims to align China’s plans to develop its western region to Pakistan’s efforts to revive and grow its economy.

This elaborate roadmap of enhanced economic cooperation can be seen as part of the vision of reviving the “ancient Silk Road” articulated by President Xi Jinping in September 2013. Envisioned as a Eurasian economic and trade land bridge, also connecting China to energy-rich Central Asia as well as the Middle East, this is projected by Chinese officials as a “transparent”, “win-win” concept that aims to bring prosperity and stability to the entire region.

The Pakistan-China economic corridor is at the heart of two key aspects of China’s Silk Road vision: maritime and land links. With Gwadar providing China the shortest land route to the sea for commercial traffic, connectivity with Pakistan is central to China’s regional economic strategy.

The many MOUs signed between the two countries, which include upgrading the Karakoram Highway and constructing an airport at Gwadar, will need proper follow up by Islamabad, where bureaucratic wrangles have often stalled projects in the past. Nevertheless the various agreements now in place signal a determined bid to put relations on a stronger footing.

In a press conference last month China’s foreign minister Wang Li outlined his country’s key foreign policy goals for the future. Emphasising the importance of China’s external environment for its economic progress, he said Chinese diplomacy would now aim to better serve the country’s domestic reform agenda. He also stressed “neighbourhood diplomacy” and said China’s key diplomatic priority this year would be to work with Afghanistan and other neighbours to “fight all terrorist forces”.

This brings up the third question of how China and Pakistan see the way ahead in Afghanistan. China’s higher profile and more active diplomacy in Afghanistan in recent years reflect both security and economic imperatives. As a direct neighbour, China has a fundamental interest in Afghanistan’s peace and stability. It seeks to protect its border regions especially Xinjiang from the separatist activities of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), a militant organisation with longstanding links to the Afghan Taliban.

China’s economic imperatives reflect the need to develop its western provinces, meet the energy requirements of its expanding economy as well as protect its investments in Afghanistan. Seen from this perspective it is easy to understand why there are strong convergences between Pakistan and China on Afghanistan. They include:

• A common desire to see a responsible drawdown of Western forces from Afghanistan.

• Support for Afghan political reconciliation and a settlement that can bring an end to fighting.

• A post-2014 outcome that ensures that Afghan territory is not used for attacks against another country.

• Continued international engagement especially economic engagement.

• Enhanced regional cooperation to help Afghanistan’s stabilisation.

Significantly China also (i) recognises Pakistan’s constructive role in facilitating an Afghan peace process; (ii) acknowledges the sacrifices made by Pakistan in countering terrorism; and (iii) emphasises respect for principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity in addressing related issues.

In sum, China’s ‘March West’ promises to be a factor for stability for the region. Pakistan sees China’s rise as a global power and its greater engagement in the region as an opportunity from which the entire neighbourhood can benefit – and not another version of a Great Game that its detractors may try to project.

The writer is special adviser to the Jang Group/Geo and a former envoy to the US and the UK.

Twitter: @LodhiMaleeha

Obama oils China-Vatican links


BEIJING – In a way, his heart will be in China and his mind in Rome. On March 27, when US President Barack Obama meets Pope Francis at the Vatican, he will have wrapped up an important European tour focusing on transatlantic ties and Russia’s new posturing in the world, especially in Ukraine, recently severed by Moscow. By then, Obama will have met Chinese President Xi Jinping in the Netherlands, while Obama’s wife Michelle, daughters, and mother-in-law (certainly his heart) will have just finished a trip to China. It is proof of how important China is for Obama, and possibly also evidence of how much China might weigh on his meeting with the Pope.

Certainly, the Pope and Obama have plenty to discuss. There are the bilateral issues: for years bishops and civil authorities in America have been at loggerheads over ethical issues (abortion, homosexuality) and judicial-economic issues (the statute of limitations on allegations of sexual harassment by Catholic priests). There are international issues on which the two do not see eye to eye, including questions surrounding Russia, the Middle East, and even Cuba. It all seems very unlike the time of Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II, committed allies (although with different angles and priorities) in trying to bring down communist oppression in the Soviet Empire.

The world is now different. Many countries at odds with America – Russia and Syria, for instance – look to the Pope to find a different approach, and the US internally has become split over the Catholic Church, considered by some conservatives almost the bastion of Western values and by some progressives as a drag on liberty and modernity. Certainly, Pope Francis has moved the yardstick on values, which are not at the forefront of his preaching, but internationally on many hot-button issues there has been a growing distance between Rome and Washington.

On China, a priority for both leaders, it is not clear where things stand.

Here the first question then is whether either in Holland with Xi and Obama or in Beijing with Michelle, the Chinese or the Americans will broach the subject of the Catholic Church and a possible thaw in the bilateral relations. That is, will Obama convey some words from China to the Pope, or will he or his wife mention the Catholics in talks with the Chinese?

The Chinese have already spoken. With an article last week in the English-language Global Times, [1] China signaled a more open position. Yes, the article started out claiming that the Chinese Patriotic Association does not want the Vatican to interfere in bishop appointments (an old adage in the bilateral controversy renewed as the recent passing of the old bishop of Shanghai brings about the issue of the appointment of his successor), but then it went on to give a positive assessment of Pope Francis. Moreover, it said China and the Holy See do not have diplomatic ties, but it left out the usual warning to Rome about cutting ties with Taiwan.

Most importantly, it confirmed a crucial detail, revealed by the Pope in a recent interview with Ferruccio De Bortoli at Il Corriere della Sera. Pope Francis wrote to Xi at the time of his election, and Xi replied with a letter. It is the first time China has ever admitted publicly of an exchange of messages at the highest level with the Holy See. This admission is groundbreaking, and certainly far more important than a refrain about the bishops, apparently delivered to satisfy a domestic constituency hostile to warmer ties with Rome.

Moreover, China is very close to the heart of Vatican Secretary of State Pietro Parolin. At the meeting of the two delegations (besides Obama, US Secretary of State John Kerry and National Security Advisor Susan E Rice will attend), Parolin will be the man with the most experience with China, having dealt directly with the issue for more than a decade as the Vatican’s undersecretary of state.

In other words, the Chinese are certainly part of the dialogue between the US and the Holy See. Moreover, Beijing is certainly paying great attention to the fact that Putin, Obama, and the Queen of England all go to Rome to pay visits to the Pope, a sign of the huge influence of the man in white. In a world where China is very attentive to the exercise of soft power, Beijing can’t ignore the fact that Rome is in fact one of the greatest sources (if not the greatest source) of soft power. Then can a rising China, growing conscious of its role and carefully taking on greater responsibilities in the world, be left out of a dialogue with the Holy See? The cold-blooded reply is certainly no. Then can the issue of appointing bishops (which is de facto almost solved) still be a stumbling block in opening some form of ties with Rome?

The answers to these questions are hard for China because for decades the Catholic issue has been internally both very thorny and yet not very important issue. Chinese Catholics are bitterly split, and will be hard to reconcile, yet they are a tiny minority of less than 1% of the population. Then, simply why bother? But now in Rome there is a Pope casting a new profile for the church and a secretary of state, Parolin, who is highly appreciated on a personal level by Beijing.

In this situation, in more than one way, Obama’s visit to Rome could bring the Pope closer to Beijing, and this perhaps, more than all the divergences between the two leaders, could be the most important element uniting them and might even be the catalyst for the discussion.

1. Catholic Patriotic Association Warns Vatican Not to Interfere, Global Times, March 19, 2014.

Francesco Sisci is a columnist for the Italian daily Il Sole 24 Ore. His e-mail is 

U.S. National War Academy: A Project for The Muslim nations – Whats the Muslim Response?


Plans for Redrawing the Middle East: The Project for a “New Middle East”

Global Research, November 18, 2006
Plans for Redrawing the Middle East: The Project for a “New Middle East”


“Hegemony is as old as Mankind…” -Zbigniew Brzezinski, former U.S. National Security Advisor

The term “New Middle East” was introduced to the world in June 2006 in Tel Aviv by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (who was credited by the Western media for coining the term) in replacement of the older and more imposing term, the “Greater Middle East.”

This shift in foreign policy phraseology coincided with the inauguration of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) Oil Terminal in the Eastern Mediterranean. The term and conceptualization of the “New Middle East,” was subsequently heralded by the U.S. Secretary of State and the Israeli Prime Minister at the height of  the Anglo-American sponsored Israeli siege of Lebanon. Prime Minister Olmert and Secretary Rice had informed the international media that a project for a “New Middle East” was being launched from Lebanon.

This announcement was a confirmation of an Anglo-American-Israeli “military roadmap” in the Middle East. This project, which has been in the  planning stages for several years, consists in creating an arc of instability, chaos, and violence extending from Lebanon, Palestine, and Syria to Iraq, the Persian Gulf, Iran, and the borders of NATO-garrisoned Afghanistan.

The “New Middle East” project was introduced publicly by Washington and Tel Aviv with the expectation that Lebanon would be the pressure point for realigning the whole Middle East and thereby unleashing the forces of “constructive chaos.” This “constructive chaos” –which generates conditions of violence and warfare throughout the region– would in turn be used so that the United States, Britain, and Israel could redraw the map of the Middle East in accordance with their geo-strategic needs and objectives.

New Middle East Map

Secretary Condoleezza Rice stated during a press conference that “[w]hat we’re seeing here [in regards to the destruction of Lebanon and the Israeli attacks on Lebanon], in a sense, is the growing—the ‘birth pangs’—of a ‘New Middle East’ and whatever we do we [meaning the United States] have to be certain that we’re pushing forward to the New Middle East [and] not going back to the old one.”1Secretary Rice was immediately criticized for her statements both within Lebanon and internationally for expressing indifference to the suffering of an entire nation, which was being bombed  indiscriminately by the Israeli Air Force.

The Anglo-American Military Roadmap in the Middle East and Central Asia 

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s speech on the “New Middle East” had set the stage. The Israeli attacks on Lebanon –which had been fully endorsed by Washington and London– have further compromised and validated the existence of the geo-strategic objectives of the United States, Britain, and Israel. According to Professor Mark Levine the “neo-liberal globalizers and neo-conservatives, and ultimately the Bush Administration, would latch on to creative destruction as a way of describing the process by which they hoped to create their new world orders,” and that “creative destruction [in] the United States was, in the words of neo-conservative philosopher and Bush adviser Michael Ledeen, ‘an awesome revolutionary force’ for (…) creative destruction…”2

Anglo-American occupied Iraq, particularly Iraqi Kurdistan, seems to be the preparatory ground for the balkanization (division) and finlandization (pacification) of the Middle East. Already the legislative framework, under the Iraqi Parliament and the name of Iraqi federalization, for the partition of Iraq into three portions is being drawn out. (See map below)

Moreover, the Anglo-American military roadmap appears to be vying an entry into Central Asia via the Middle East. The Middle East, Afghanistan, and Pakistan are stepping stones for extending U.S. influence into the former Soviet Union and the ex-Soviet Republics of Central Asia. The Middle East is to some extent the southern tier of Central Asia. Central Asia in turn is also termed as “Russia’s Southern Tier” or the Russian “Near Abroad.”

Many Russian and Central Asian scholars, military planners, strategists, security advisors, economists, and politicians consider Central Asia (“Russia’s Southern Tier”) to be the vulnerable and “soft under-belly” of the Russian Federation.3

It should be noted that in his book, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geo-strategic Imperatives, Zbigniew Brzezinski, a former U.S. National Security Advisor, alluded to the modern Middle East as a control lever of an area he, Brzezinski, calls the Eurasian Balkans. The Eurasian Balkans consists of the Caucasus (Georgia, the Republic of Azerbaijan, and Armenia) and Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan) and to some extent both Iran and Turkey. Iran and Turkey both form the northernmost tiers of the Middle East (excluding the Caucasus4) that edge into Europe and the former Soviet Union.

The Map of the “New Middle East”

A relatively unknown map of the Middle East, NATO-garrisoned Afghanistan, and Pakistan has been circulating around strategic, governmental, NATO, policy and military circles since mid-2006. It has been causally allowed to surface in public, maybe in an attempt to build consensus and to slowly prepare the general public for possible, maybe even cataclysmic, changes in the Middle East. This is a map of a redrawn and restructured Middle East identified as the “New Middle East.”



 The following map was prepared by Lieutenant-Colonel Ralph Peters. It was published in the Armed Forces Journal in June 2006, Peters is a retired colonel of the U.S. National War Academy. (Map Copyright Lieutenant-Colonel Ralph Peters 2006).

Although the map does not officially reflect Pentagon doctrine, it has been used in a training program at NATO’s Defense College for senior military officers. This map, as well as other similar maps, has most probably been used at the National War Academy as well as in military planning circles.

This map of the “New Middle East” seems to be based on several other maps, including older maps of potential boundaries in the Middle East extending back to the era of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson and World War I. This map is showcased and presented as the brainchild of retired Lieutenant-Colonel (U.S. Army) Ralph Peters, who believes the redesigned borders contained in the map will fundamentally solve the problems of the contemporary Middle East.

The map of the “New Middle East” was a key element in the retired Lieutenant-Colonel’s book, Never Quit the Fightwhich was released to the public on July 10, 2006. This map of a redrawn Middle East was also published, under the title of Blood Borders: How a better Middle East would look, in the U.S. military’s Armed Forces Journal with commentary from Ralph Peters.5

It should be noted that Lieutenant-Colonel Peters was last posted to the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, within the U.S. Defence Department, and has been one of the Pentagon’s foremost authors with numerous essays on strategy for military journals and U.S. foreign policy.

It has been written that Ralph Peters’ “four previous books on strategy have been highly influential in government and military circles,” but one can be pardoned for asking if in fact quite the opposite could be taking place. Could it be Lieutenant-Colonel Peters is revealing and putting forward what Washington D.C. and its strategic planners have anticipated for the Middle East?

The concept of a redrawn Middle East has been presented as a “humanitarian” and “righteous” arrangement that would benefit the people(s) of the Middle East and its peripheral regions. According to Ralph Peter’s:

International borders are never completely just. But the degree of injustice they inflict upon those whom frontiers force together or separate makes an enormous difference — often the difference between freedom and oppression, tolerance and atrocity, the rule of law and terrorism, or even peace and war.

The most arbitrary and distorted borders in the world are in Africa and the Middle East. Drawn by self-interested Europeans (who have had sufficient trouble defining their own frontiers), Africa’s borders continue to provoke the deaths of millions of local inhabitants. But the unjust borders in the Middle East — to borrow from Churchill — generate more trouble than can be consumed locally.

While the Middle East has far more problems than dysfunctional borders alone — from cultural stagnation through scandalous inequality to deadly religious extremism — the greatest taboo in striving to understand the region’s comprehensive failure isn’t Islam, but the awful-but-sacrosanct international boundaries worshipped by our own diplomats.

Of course, no adjustment of borders, however draconian, could make every minority in the Middle East happy. In some instances, ethnic and religious groups live intermingled and have intermarried. Elsewhere, reunions based on blood or belief might not prove quite as joyous as their current proponents expect. The boundaries projected in the maps accompanying this article redress the wrongs suffered by the most significant “cheated” population groups, such as the Kurds, Baluch and Arab Shia [Muslims], but still fail to account adequately for Middle Eastern Christians, Bahais, Ismailis, Naqshbandis and many another numerically lesser minorities. And one haunting wrong can never be redressed with a reward of territory: the genocide perpetrated against the Armenians by the dying Ottoman Empire.

Yet, for all the injustices the borders re-imagined here leave unaddressed, without such major boundary revisions, we shall never see a more peaceful Middle East.

Even those who abhor the topic of altering borders would be well-served to engage in an exercise that attempts to conceive a fairer, if still imperfect, amendment of national boundaries between the Bosphorus and the Indus. Accepting that international statecraft has never developed effective tools — short of war — for readjusting faulty borders, a mental effort to grasp the Middle East’s “organic” frontiers nonetheless helps us understand the extent of the difficulties we face and will continue to face. We are dealing with colossal, man-made deformities that will not stop generating hatred and violence until they are corrected. 6

(emphasis added)

“Necessary Pain”

Besides believing that there is “cultural stagnation” in the Middle East, it must be noted that Ralph Peters admits that his propositions are “draconian” in nature, but he insists that they are necessary pains for the people of the Middle East. This view of necessary pain and suffering is in startling parallel to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s belief that the devastation of Lebanon by the Israeli military was a necessary pain or “birth pang” in order to create the “New Middle East” that Washington, London, and Tel Aviv envision.

Moreover, it is worth noting that the subject of the Armenian Genocide is being politicized and stimulated in Europe to offend Turkey.7

The overhaul, dismantlement, and reassembly of the nation-states of the Middle East have been packaged as a solution to the hostilities in the Middle East, but this is categorically misleading, false, and fictitious. The advocates of a “New Middle East” and redrawn boundaries in the region avoid and fail to candidly depict the roots of the problems and conflicts in the contemporary Middle East. What the media does not acknowledge is the fact that almost all major conflicts afflicting the Middle East are the consequence of overlapping Anglo-American-Israeli agendas.

Many of the problems affecting the contemporary Middle East are the result of the deliberate aggravation of pre-existing regional tensions. Sectarian division, ethnic tension and internal violence have been traditionally exploited by the United States and Britain in various parts of the globe including Africa, Latin America, the Balkans, and the Middle East. Iraq is just one of many examples of the Anglo-American strategy of “divide and conquer.” Other examples are Rwanda, Yugoslavia, the Caucasus, and Afghanistan.

Amongst the problems in the contemporary Middle East is the lack of genuine democracy which U.S. and British foreign policy has actually been deliberately obstructing.  Western-style “Democracy” has been a requirement only for those Middle Eastern states which do not conform to Washington’s political demands. Invariably, it constitutes a pretext for confrontation. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan are examples of undemocratic states that the United States has no problems with because they are firmly alligned within the Anglo-American orbit or sphere.

Additionally, the United States has deliberately blocked or displaced genuine democratic movements in the Middle East from Iran in 1953 (where a U.S./U.K. sponsored coup was staged against the democratic government of Prime Minister Mossadegh) to Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, the Arab Sheikdoms, and Jordan where the Anglo-American alliance supports military control, absolutists, and dictators in one form or another. The latest example of this is Palestine.

The Turkish Protest at NATO’s Military College in Rome

Lieutenant-Colonel Ralph Peters’ map of the “New Middle East” has sparked angry reactions in Turkey. According to Turkish press releases on September 15, 2006 the map of the “New Middle East” was displayed in NATO’s Military College in Rome, Italy. It was additionally reported that Turkish officers were immediately outraged by the presentation of a portioned and segmented Turkey.8 The map received some form of approval from the U.S. National War Academy before it was unveiled in front of NATO officers in Rome.

The Turkish Chief of Staff, General Buyukanit, contacted the U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Peter Pace, and protested the event and the exhibition of the redrawn map of the Middle East, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.9 Furthermore the Pentagon has gone out of its way to assure Turkey that the map does not reflect official U.S. policy and objectives in the region, but this seems to be conflicting with Anglo-American actions in the Middle East and NATO-garrisoned Afghanistan.

Is there a Connection between Zbigniew Brzezinski’s “Eurasian Balkans” and the “New Middle East” Project?

The following are important excerpts and passages from former U.S. National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski’s book, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geo-strategic Imperatives. Brzezinski also states that both Turkey and Iran, the two most powerful states of the “Eurasian Balkans,” located on its southern tier, are “potentially vulnerable to internal ethnic conflicts [balkanization],” and that, “If either or both of them were to be destabilized, the internal problems of the region would become unmanageable.”10

It seems that a divided and balkanized Iraq would be the best means of accomplishing this. Taking what we know from the White House’s own admissions; there is a belief that “creative destruction and chaos” in the Middle East are beneficial assets to reshaping the Middle East, creating the “New Middle East,” and furthering the Anglo-American roadmap in the Middle East and Central Asia:

In Europe, the Word “Balkans” conjures up images of ethnic conflicts and great-power regional rivalries. Eurasia, too, has its “Balkans,” but the Eurasian Balkans are much larger, more populated, even more religiously and ethnically heterogenous. They are located within that large geographic oblong that demarcates the central zone of global instability (…) that embraces portions of southeastern Europe, Central Asia and parts of South Asia [Pakistan, Kashmir, Western India], the Persian Gulf area, and the Middle East.

The Eurasian Balkans form the inner core of that large oblong (…) they differ from its outer zone in one particularly significant way: they are a power vacuum.Although most of the states located in the Persian Gulf and the Middle East are also unstable, American power is that region’s [meaning the Middle East’s] ultimate arbiter. The unstable region in the outer zone is thus an area of single power hegemony and is tempered by that hegemony. In contrast, the Eurasian Balkans are truly reminiscent of the older, more familiar Balkans of southeastern Europe: not only are its political entities unstable but they tempt and invite the intrusion of more powerful neighbors, each of whom is determined to oppose the region’s domination by another. It is this familiar combination of a power vacuum and power suction that justifies the appellation “Eurasian Balkans.”

The traditional Balkans represented a potential geopolitical prize in the struggle for European supremacy. The Eurasian Balkans, astride the inevitably emerging transportation network meant to link more directly Eurasia’s richest and most industrious western and eastern extremities, are also geopolitically significant. Moreover, they are of importance from the standpoint of security and historical ambitions to at least three of their most immediate and more powerful neighbors, namely, Russia, Turkey, and Iran, with China also signaling an increasing political interest in the region. But the Eurasian Balkans are infinitely more important as a potential economic prize: an enormous concentration of natural gas and oil reserves is located in the region, in addition to important minerals, including gold.

 The world’s energy consumption is bound to vastly increase over the next two or three decades. Estimates by the U.S. Department of Energy anticipate that world demand will rise by more than 50 percent between 1993 and 2015, with the most significant increase in consumption occurring in the Far East. The momentum of Asia’s economic development is already generating massive pressures for the exploration and exploitation of new sources of energy, and the Central Asian region and the Caspian Sea basin are known to contain reserves of natural gas and oil that dwarf those of Kuwait, the Gulf of Mexico, or the North Sea.

Access to that resource and sharing in its potential wealth represent objectives that stir national ambitions, motivate corporate interests, rekindle historical claims, revive imperial aspirations, and fuel international rivalries.The situation is made all the more volatile by the fact that the region is not only a power vacuum but is also internally unstable.


The Eurasian Balkans include nine countries that one way or another fit the foregoing description, with two others as potential candidates. The nine are Kazakstan [alternative and official spelling of Kazakhstan] , Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia—all of them formerly part of the defunct Soviet Union—as well as Afghanistan.

The potential additions to the list are Turkey and Iran, both of them much more politically and economically viable, both active contestants for regional influence within the Eurasian Balkans, and thus both significant geo-strategic players in the region. At the same time, both are potentially vulnerable to internal ethnic conflicts. If either or both of them were to be destabilized, the internal problems of the region would become unmanageable, while efforts to restrain regional domination by Russia could even become futile. 11

(emphasis added)

Redrawing the Middle East

The Middle East, in some regards, is a striking parallel to the Balkans and Central-Eastern Europe during the years leading up the First World War. In the wake of the the First World War the borders of the Balkans and Central-Eastern Europe were redrawn. This region experienced a period of upheaval, violence and conflict, before and after World War I, which was the direct result of foreign economic interests and interference.

The reasons behind the First World War are more sinister than the standard school-book explanation, the assassination of the heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian (Habsburg) Empire, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, in Sarajevo. Economic factors were the real motivation for the large-scale war in 1914.

Norman Dodd, a former Wall Street banker and investigator for the U.S. Congress, who examined  U.S. tax-exempt foundations, confirmed in a 1982 interview that those powerful individuals who from behind the scenes controlled the finances, policies, and government of the United States had in fact also planned U.S. involvement in a war, which would contribute to entrenching their grip on power.

The following testimonial is from the transcript of Norman Dodd’s interview with G. Edward Griffin;

We are now at the year 1908, which was the year that the Carnegie Foundation began operations.  And, in that year, the trustees meeting, for the first time, raised a specific question, which they discussed throughout the balance of the year, in a very learned fashion.  And the question is this:  Is there any means known more effective than war, assuming you wish to alter the life of an entire people?  And they conclude that, no more effective means to that end is known to humanity, than war.  So then, in 1909, they raise the second question, and discuss it, namely, how do we involve the United States in a war?

Well, I doubt, at that time, if there was any subject more removed from the thinking of most of the people of this country [the United States], than its involvement in a war.  There were intermittent shows [wars] in the Balkans, but I doubt very much if many people even knew where the Balkans were.  And finally, they answer that question as follows:  we must control the State Department.

And then, that very naturally raises the question of how do we do that?  They answer it by saying, we must take over and control the diplomatic machinery of this country and, finally, they resolve to aim at that as an objective.  Then, time passes, and we are eventually in a war, which would be World War I.  At that time, they record on their minutes a shocking report in which they dispatch to President Wilson a telegram cautioning him to see that the war does not end too quickly.  And finally, of course, the war is over.

At that time, their interest shifts over to preventing what they call a reversion of life in the United States to what it was prior to 1914, when World War I broke out.

(emphasis added)

The redrawing and partition of the Middle East from the Eastern Mediterranean shores of Lebanon and Syria to Anatolia (Asia Minor), Arabia, the Persian Gulf, and the Iranian Plateau responds to broad economic, strategic and military objectives, which are part of a longstanding Anglo-American and Israeli agenda in the region.

The Middle East has been conditioned by outside forces into a powder keg that is ready to explode with the right trigger, possibly the launching of Anglo-American and/or Israeli air raids against Iran and Syria. A wider war in the Middle East could result in redrawn borders that are strategically advantageous to Anglo-American interests and Israel.

NATO-garrisoned Afghanistan has been successfully divided, all but in name. Animosity has been inseminated in the Levant, where a Palestinian civil war is being nurtured and divisions in Lebanon agitated. The Eastern Mediterranean has been successfully militarized by NATO. Syria and Iran continue to be demonized by the Western media, with a view to justifying a military agenda. In turn, the Western media has fed, on a daily basis, incorrect and biased notions that the populations of Iraq cannot co-exist and that the conflict is not a war of occupation but a “civil war” characterised by domestic strife between Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds.

Attempts at intentionally creating animosity between the different ethno-cultural and religious groups of the Middle East have been systematic. In fact, they are part of a carefully designed covert intelligence agenda.

Even more ominous, many Middle Eastern governments, such as that of Saudi Arabia, are assisting Washington in fomenting divisions between Middle Eastern populations. The ultimate objective is to weaken the resistance movement against foreign occupation through a “divide and conquer strategy” which serves Anglo-American and Israeli interests in the broader region.

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya specializes in Middle Eastern and Central Asian affairs. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).



1 Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Special Briefing on the Travel to the Middle East and Europe of Secretary Condoleezza Rice (Press Conference, U.S. State Department, Washington, D.C., July 21, 2006).

2 Mark LeVine, “The New Creative Destruction,” Asia Times, August 22, 2006.

3 Andrej Kreutz, “The Geopolitics of post-Soviet Russia and the Middle East,” Arab Studies Quarterly (ASQ) (Washington, D.C.: Association of Arab-American University Graduates, January 2002).

4 The Caucasus or Caucasia can be considered as part of the Middle East or as a separate region

5 Ralph Peters, “Blood borders: How a better Middle East would look,” Armed Forces Journal (AFJ), June 2006.


7 Crispian Balmer, “French MPs back Armenia genocide bill, Turkey angry, Reuters, October 12, 2006; James McConalogue, “French against Turks: Talking about Armenian Genocide,” The Brussels Journal, October 10, 2006.

8 Suleyman Kurt, “Carved-up Map of Turkey at NATO Prompts U.S. Apology,” Zaman (Turkey), September 29, 2006.


10 Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geo-strategic Imperatives (New York City: Basic Books, 1997).

11 Ibid.


How Crimea plays in Beijing


“We are paying very close attention to the situation in Ukraine. We hope all parties can calmly maintain restraint to prevent the situation from further escalating and worsening. Political resolution and dialogue is the only way out.” 

This, via Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Li Baodong, is Beijing’s quite measured, official interpretation of what’s happening in Ukraine, tailored for global consumption. 

But here, in a People’s Daily editorial, is what the leadership is really thinking. And the focus is clearly on the dangers of regime change, the “West’s inability to understand the lessons of history”, and “the final battlefield of the Cold War.” 

Yet again the West misinterpreted China’s abstention from the UN Security Council vote on a US-backed resolution condemning the Crimea referendum. The spin was that Russia – which vetoed the resolution – was “isolated”. It’s not. And the way Beijing plays geopolitics shows it’s not. 

Oh, Samantha …
The herd of elephants in the (Ukraine) room, in terms of global opinion, is how the authentic “international community” – from the G-20 to the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) – who has had enough of the Exceptionalist Hypocrisy Show, has fully understood, and even applauded, that at least one country on the planet has the balls to clearly say “F**k the US”. Russia under President Vladimir Putin may harbor quite a few distortions, just like any other nation. But this is not a dinner party; this is realpolitik. To face down the US Leviathan, nothing short of a bad ass such as Putin will suffice. 

NATO – or shorthand for the Pentagon dominating European wimps – keeps issuing threats and spewing out “consequences”. What are they going to do – launch a barrage of ICBMs equipped with nuclear warheads against Moscow? 

Furthermore, the UN Security Council itself is a joke, with US ambassador Samantha “Nothing Compares to You” Power – one of the mothers of R2P (“responsibility to protect”) – carping on “Russian aggression”, “Russian provocations” and comparing the Crimean referendum to a theft. Oh yes; bombing Iraq, bombing Libya and getting to the brink of bombing Syria were just innocent humanitarian gestures. Samantha The Humanitarian arguably gives a better performance invoking Sinead O’Connor in her shower. 

Russian ambassador Vitaly Churkin was polite enough to say, “these insults addressed to our country” are “unacceptable”. It’s what he added that carried the real juice; “If the delegation of the United States of America expects our cooperation in the Security Council on other issues, then Power must understand this quite clearly.” 

Samantha The Humanitarian, as well as the whole bunch of juvenile bystanders in the Obama administration, won’t understand it. Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov gave them a little help; Russia didn’t want to use the Iranian nuclear talks to “raise the stakes”, but if the US and the EU continue with their sanctions and threats, that’s what’s going to happen. 

So the plot thickens – as in a closer and closer strategic partnership between Tehran and Moscow. 

Secessionists of the world, unite? 
Now imagine all this as seen from Beijing. No one knows what exactly goes on in the corridors of the Zhongnanhai, but it’s fair to argue there’s only an apparent contradiction between China’s key principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states, and Russia’s intervention in Crimea. 

Beijing has identified very clearly the sequence of affairs; long-running Western interference in Ukraine via NGOs and the State Department; regime change perpetrated with the help of fascists and neo-nazis; a pre-emptive Russian counterattack which can be read as a by-the-book Samantha The Humanitarian R2P operation (protecting Russians and Russian speakers from a second coup planned in Crimea, and thwarted by Russian intelligence.) 

On top of it Beijing well knows how Crimea has been essentially Russian since 1783; how Crimea – as well as a great deal of Ukraine – fall smack into Russian civilization’s sphere of influence; and how Western interference directly threatened Russia’s national security interests (as Putin made it clear.) Now imagine a similar scenario in Tibet or Xinjiang. Long-running Western interference via NGOs and the CIA; a take over by Tibetans in Lhasa or Uighurs in Kashgar of the local administration. Beijing could easily use Samantha’s R2P in the name of protecting Han Chinese. 

Yet Beijing (silently) agreeing to the Russian response to the coup in Kiev by getting Crimea back via a referendum and without a shot fired does not mean that “splittists” Tibet or Taiwan would be allowed to engage in the same route. Even as Tibet, more than Taiwan, would be able to build a strong historical case for seceding. Each case bears its own myriad complexities. 

The Obama administration – like a blind Minotaur – is now lost in a labyrinth of pivots of its own making. A new Borges – that Buddha in a gray suit – is needed to tell the tale. First there was the pivoting to Asia-Pac – which is encircling of China under another name – as it’s well understood in Beijing. 

Then came the pivoting to Persia – “if we are not going to war”, as that Cypher in Search of an Idea, John Kerry, put it. There was, of course, the martial pivoting to Syria, aborted at the last minute thanks to the good offices of Moscow diplomacy. And back to the pivoting to Russia, trampling the much-lauded “reset” and conceived as a payback for Syria. 

Those who believe Beijing strategists have not carefully analyzed – and calculated a response – to all the implications of these overlapping pivots do deserve to join Samantha in the shower. Additionally, it’s easy to picture Chinese Think Tankland hardly repressing its glee in analyzing a hyperpower endlessly, helplessly pivoting over itself. 

While the Western dogs bark …
Russia and China are strategic partners – at the G-20, at the BRICS club of emerging powers and at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Their number one objective, in these and other forums, is the emergence of a multipolar world; no bullying by the American Empire of Bases, a more balanced international financial system, no more petrodollar eminence, a basket of currencies, essentially a “win-win” approach to global economic development. 

A multipolar world also implies, by definition, NATO out of Eurasia – which is from Washington’s point of view the number one reason to interfere in Ukraine. In Eurasian terms, it’s as if – being booted out of Afghanistan by a bunch of peasants with Kalashnikovs – NATO was pivoting back via Ukraine. 

While Russia and China are key strategic partners in the energy sphere – Pipelineistan and beyond – they do overlap in their race to do deals across Central Asia. Beijing is building not only one but two New Silk Roads – across Southeast Asia and across Central Asia, involving pipelines, railways and fiber optic networks, and reaching as far as Istanbul, the getaway to Europe. Yet as far as Russia-China competition for markets go, all across Eurasia, it’s more under a “win-win” umbrella than a zero-sum game. 

On Ukraine (“the last battlefield in the Cold War”) and specifically Crimea, the (unspoken) official position by Beijing is absolute neutrality (re: the UN vote). Yet the real deal is support to Moscow. But this could never be out in the open, because Beijing is not interested in antagonizing the West, unless heavily provoked (the pivoting becoming hardcore encirclement, for instance). Never forget; since Deng Xiaoping (“keep a low profile”) this is, and will continue to be, about China’s “peaceful rise”. Meanwhile, the Western dogs bark, and the Sino-Russian caravan passes. 

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009). 

Pepe Escobar may be reached at

Chinese Muslims & China-Arab Expo


Disparate fortunes in China’s Muslim ‘heartland’
By Haiyun Ma 

For three years running, the China-Arab Economic Forum has held its annual gatherings in Yingchuan, the capital city of the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region in Northwest China – a region with the third-smallest GDP in China. 

The meetings, held in this “Muslim heartland”, attracted 18 national leaders, including Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, 195 ministerial officials, and 93 diplomats from 76 countries – and resulted in trade contracts worth about US$42 billion. Some 5,000 foreign and Chinese enterprises and 3,000 businesspeople from China and abroad participated in these forums, which were held in 2010, 2011 and 2012. 

This year’s total of US$42 billion in contracts surpassed in one year the combined value of contracts signed at the previous three China-Arab forums. 

The deals, agreed by a mix of private companies and state interests on both sides, were for agriculture, energy and new technology, cultural and educational tourism, halal food, and finance. 

Organized by China’s Ministry of Commerce, the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT), and the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, the transformation of this regional gathering to one of national relevance, significance and scale underlines an effort to improve trade with Arab and Muslim countries. 

There were 22 Arab and 57 Muslim-majority countries targeted by the organizers of the 2013 China-Arab States Expo. And many of them came; including representatives from Jordan, Bahrain, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and 67 other countries. The size of the Kuwaiti delegation was particularly noticeable in that it alone had an exhibition area of about 1000 square meters. Also of note, the expo wasn’t male-centered. 

According to the latest statistics from China’s Ministry of Commerce, Sino-Arab trade in the first 10 months of 2013 topped $194.9 billion. Although the expo’s precise contribution to overall Sino-Arab trade is unclear, this year’s total of US$42 billion was significant given the small size and lack of resources in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. 

While trade opportunities at the expo may have centered on Ningxia, representatives and business people from other Chinese regions also attended these gatherings to make Arab and local business contacts. 

In addition to generating an increased volume of trade, these trade fairs have also become a potential platform for increased political consultation. China’s third national leader, Yu Zhengsheng, (the Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference), said at the expo’s opening ceremony that there was a need for an “increase in mutual political trust and strategic consultation”. 

A bloody history
From a historical perspective, the expo’s location is of major significance. Ningxia was a battlefield between the Hui and Han peoples from the late 19th century up to the 1970s. Ningxia Hui Muslims were slaughtered there by the Chinese statesman and military leader Zuo Zongtang’s forces in the 1870s. This historical, religious, and ethnic hatred was reinforced in 1960s during the Chinese Cultural Revolution and its aftermath. 

Three decades after China launched economic reform of its coastal regions in the 1980s, China has now begun to see the “usefulness” of the interior Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region and it’s Hui Muslim population – they constitute about 34% of the region’s total. Geographically isolated, it had been perceived as economically backward compared to the coastal regions. 

With this new expo and other initiatives, China is using the Hui connection to reach out to Arab and Muslim states. And, this has benefited Ningxia Muslims who are now engaged in trade with these countries on a regional, national, and international scale. 

Keeping in mind the historic tensions between Chinese Muslims and the Chinese state, this economic outreach, facilitated by cultural and religious ties, could create closer relations and a deeper level of trust between Hui Muslims and the Chinese state. This is no small feat. 

But China also has a history of using its Muslims for political gain when necessary. During the Sino-Japanese wars in the 1930s, China deployed Muslim intellectuals and diplomats to gain Arab and Islamic support for China’s resistance war. Today, relations between the Chinese state and Hui Muslims are again improving as Sino-Japanese relations have deteriorate. 

The Chinese state’s perception and treatment of Hui Muslims serves another curious purpose. It’s the kind of “positive capital” that stands in stark contrast to China’s relations with its Muslim Uyghur citizens in the neighboring Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. 

It is worth noting the historical differences between these two populations: 

• The Hui are not tied to a single region and, unlike in Xinjiang, there is no history of separatist movements desiring a more independent Ningxia. 

• Regional leaders in Ningxia (both Hui and Han) are more open-minded, politically enlightened, and less obsessed with political and ideological campaigns than their counterparts in Xinjiang. In general, Ningxia leaders are less obsessed with “fighting terrorism” and have better communications and connections with Beijing. 

• The Hui are more culturally and racially tied to the Chinese. They are actively involved in modern Chinese nationalism, and see that as a way of ensuring the survival of Islam in the Chinese nation. 

• The Uyghurs had two short-lived independent states, the East Turkistan Republics of the 1930s and 1940s in southern and northern Xinjiang. These are the states which Xinjiang officials constantly perceive as precedent for today’s Uyghur human-rights activities. 

While the future looks bright for China-Hui relations in Ningxia, China-Uyghur relations have precipitously deteriorated into tension, hostility, and violence on both sides. 

The forums in Ningxia have showcased and promoted China’s relationship with its Muslims, while China’s government in Xinjiang has attempted to de-Islamicize Uyghur Muslims there through restriction of Islamic practices – in hopes of containing and even eliminating Uyghur Muslim connections with their Central Asian neighbors. 

Another trade initiative – the annual China-Eurasia Expo – was launched in Urumqi in Xinjiang in 2011 as an attempt to increase trade with China’s western neighbors in Central Asia. The organizers in this case downplayed the role of Xinjiang’s Turkic/Islamic cultural and religious ties with the region. This trade fair is jointly organized by China’s Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Xinjiang government and Xinjiang Development and Construction Corps. 

Given the tension and hostility between the Uyghurs and Xinjiang authorities and the Chinese government’s “Anti-Three (Evil) Forces” campaign (“separatism, extremism, and terrorism”), Uyghurs have found it difficult to participate in this government-organized trade fair. They are not encouraged to participate, probably out of China’s fear that they (the Uyghurs) will build closer relations with Central Asian Turkic states. Instead China has focused on encouraging the Han (ethnic Chinese) to engage in China-Central Asia communication. 

As Ningxia’s utilization of Islam indicates, trade is not merely an exchange of goods, but also culture and emotion. China seems not to have considered that Uyghur participation in the China-Eurasia Expo would enrich the Uyghur community and greatly contribute to the projection of Chinese economic, as well as cultural, power in Central Asia. 

Chinese officials should re-examine the Ningxia business model, which was endorsed by the Beijing government, and, ironically, initiated by a Ningxia government previously suspicious of Islam and Muslims. The success of the China-Arab States Expo proves that cultural tolerance and economic prosperity can be interconnected. And that, in the end, Islam turned out to be a selling point. 

Ningxia and Xinjiang, Eurasian stops along the ancient Silk Road, should both be tied to the country’s strategic plan for the restoration of this historic trading route. (a long-range project the Chinese president Xi Jinping formally announced during his visit to Kazakhstan in early September 2013). 

China is also promoting another project – the Trans-Asian Railway, or Eurasian Land Bridge, that would strengthen China’s economic ties with the West by connecting Asia and Central Asia with Europe. 

What is lacking in both these initiatives, and China’s broader business strategy, is an acknowledgement by the leadership that there could be positive benefits to come out of the Uyghurs’ historical, ethnic, cultural, and religious connections with Central Asia and their religious connections with the broader Muslim world. And that the Uyghurs could be seen as a source of peace and prosperity, as opposed to instability. 

Yu Zhengsheng said the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region lies at the crossroads between China and the Middle East, Central Asia, Africa, and Europe, and that it should play a more important role in Sino-Arab cooperation. 

If the China-Arab Expo can bridge differences between China and the Arab and Muslim countries it does business with, and achieve prosperity for all, then there’s no reason to exclude Uyghur participation in the China-Eurasia Expo, Silk Road project, and China’s broader economic outreach to Muslim countries. 

It can only increase China’s prosperity and improve China’s relations with Uyghur Muslims as well as the Muslim World 

(Copyright 2014 Xinjiang Review)