Pic courtesy: Stacey Irwin
China's Communist Party has just finished its 18th annual congress, with the election of a new leader. "National unity and social harmony" were the themes of the event. It appears Chinese authorities are keen to make sure that nasty issues such as demands for freedom and independence don't disrupt the economic growth of the country. One ethnic group that has been affected by this are the Uighurs, one of the key players in The Anza Deception.
How far should a country go in preserving its territorial integrity, vis-a-vis suppressing a people's desire for self-expression? This is a difficult issue, and one to which there are no easy answers. The Chinese have traditionally been rather ham-fisted in dealing with such movements. In the media environment of the 21st century, traditional approaches of relocating non-ethnic (in this case Han) populations to ethnic areas, or of teaching only the national language, history and culture in schools, have a high probability of backfiring. New and sensitive approaches are needed to integrate these communities into the national fabric while allowing them to preserve their unique identity. They must not feel threatened, must be given a voice in their own (and national) affairs, and must see a positive upside to being part of a larger country.
Find out more about the Uighurs here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uighur
And about their struggle for self-determination and independence here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/East_Turkestan_Islamic_Movement
Parting shot: you could as well say the same thing about some of India's North-east states, or our tribal communities in the Maoist infested central Indian states.
The Times of India carried this article earlier this week: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/china/China-kills-terrorists-near-Pakistan-border/articleshow/11299701.cms
The Uighur problem in China, and the possibility that they are getting support from sympathetic hardline islamists in the Pakistan establishment (read: ISI), is a golden opportunity for India. The traditionally close relationship between Pakistan and China will be subject to tremendous strain if the Chinese suspect that the ISI is meddling in their backyard. The Chinese have been (rightfully) ill-opposed to any meddling in their internal affairs.
Watch this space. Pakistan (or rogue elements within the Pakistan establishment) will not be able to restrain themselves from doing something in concrete support of their fellow Sunni Muslim Uighur brothers.
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