2018 – Xinjiang Goes Mainstream

The mainstream press in the UK and the US have started a raft of articles on alleged repression in Xinjiang, with increasing frequency. It comes at a similar time to Trump’s trade war with China. Here are a collection of articles, mostly paywall free.

China Uighurs: Xinjiang legalises ‘re-education’ camps
10 October 2018 – A revision of a law that makes many things illegal, including an extension of ‘halal’ goods.
China Admits Creating ‘Re-education’ Camps for Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang
10 October 2018 – Audio report stating that the CPC is ‘re-educating’ people in Xinjiang. Key quote: Beijing says these centers ‘ideologically transform’ people it regards as ‘extremists’.
China Uighurs: All you need to know on Muslim ‘crackdown’
1 October 2018 – summary of the Xinjiang situation.
Uighur exile describes life in China
10 Sep 2018 – video piece on life Xinjiang
UN ‘alarmed’ by reports of China’s mass detention of Uighurs
31 August 2018 – Report by the UN on the Uighur position.
China Uighurs: Beijing denies detaining one million
13 August 2018 – Key quote: China has said reports it is holding a million Muslim Uighurs in detention in Xinjiang are “completely untrue”.

The Guardian:
The Guardian view on Xinjiang: China’s secret camps are at last in the spotlight
Thu 13 Sep 2018 – Human Rights Watch report influences Guardian summary piece, including a quote from Anwar Ibrahim, a leading Malaysian politician.
My soul, where are you?’ families of Muslims missing in China meet wall of silence
Thu 13 Sep 2018 – Report from relations of people ‘missing\ in Xinjiang, concentrating on Kazakhstan.
‘Sinicisation’ of Muslims in Xinjiang must go on, says Chinese official
Sun 14 Oct 2018 – Justification from party official You Quan for why ethnic groups must conform to Han Chinese cultural norms.
Chinese authorities launch ‘anti-halal’ crackdown in Xinjiang
Wed 10 Oct 2018 – How China is pushing down on all aspects of Muslim identity, including the description of things as ‘halal’.
Pakistan criticises China over treatment of ethnic Muslims
Fri 21 Sep 2018 – Article detailing how Pakistan, a key partner in the OBOR project, is starting to protest about missing relations of Pakistan nationals.
China ‘ejects’ US journalist known for reporting on Xinjiang repression
Wed 22 Aug 2018 – Buzzfeed journalist Megha Rajagopalan’s Chinese visa is rejected. She vows to continue reporting on Xinjiang.
China denies violating minority rights amid detention claims
Mon 13 Aug 2018 – China denies the human rights claims of extra judicial arrests.
China: one in five arrests take place in ‘police state’ Xinjiang
Wed 25 Jul 2018 – Key Quote: “21% of all arrests in China in 2017 were in Xinjiang, which accounts for about 1.5% of China’s population.”

Washington Post:
US lawmakers call on Trump to help detained Chinese Muslims
October 10 – A call for action by some US lawmakers to respond to the situation in Xinjiang.
China finally admits it is building a new archipelago of concentration camps. Will the world respond?
October 11 – Opinion piece discussing the revision of the law in China that makes it legal to detain people.
The Post’s View: China’s repugnant campaign to destroy a minority people
Josh Rogin: Ethnic cleansing makes a comeback — in China
The Post’s View: We can’t ignore this brutal cleansing in China

The Hole at the Heart of China’s Silk Road
August 8, 2018 – Key Quote: “The government in Astana is already having to deal with increasing popular anger about the Xinjiang crackdown and is quietly complaining to China.”

Wall Street Journal:
Kazakh Court Frees Woman in Case That Shed Light on Chinese Camps
October 4, 2018 – An infamous case within Kazakhstan, where an ethnic Kazakh woman fled China and was arrested in Kazakhstan for entering illegally. In a very public ruling, she was released with a suspended sentence after claiming she would face the death penalty if returned to China.
Kazakhstan-China deportation case sparks trial of public opinion
Ethnic Kazakh’s life in balance as deportation to China looms
Chinese ‘reeducation camps’ in spotlight at Kazakh trial
China’s Muslim Detention Camps Spark Protests in Islamic World
Sept. 27, 2018 – Details how Pakistan, a key partner for China in the OBOR, has been caught up in the ‘re-education’ issue.
Why China Is Brutally Suppressing Muslims
Sept. 16, 2018 – Strong piece by Robert D. Kaplan arguing Xinjiang is part of a China Imperial drive.

The Economist:
China has turned Xinjiang into a police state like no other
May 31st 2018 – Extensive piece detailing a brief history of the re-education camps.
The extraordinary ways in which China humiliates Muslims
Xinjiang’s security state
China suggests its camps for Uighurs are just vocational schools
China is trying to prevent the formation of a vocal Uighur diaspora

Radio Free Asia:
Five Uyghur Professors from Xinjiang University Held in Political ‘Re-education Camps’
2018-09-18 – Top Uighur Professors allegedly now in re-education camps
Authorities Force Uyghur Students to Return to Xinjiang From Mainland For Propaganda Drive
2018-07-16 – Claims that Muslim students are being made to return to Xinjiang to participate in party promotion.
Nearly Half of Xinjiang Village’s Residents Sent to ‘Political Re-Education Camps’: Official
2018-06-14 – In one village, nearly half the people are alleged to be in re-education camps.
Xinjiang Authorities Use ‘Burial Management Centers’ to Subvert Uyghur Funeral Traditions
2018-04-19 – Alleged construction of ‘burial centers’ to police Muslim burying practices
Uyghur Children Separated From Parents, Held in ‘Little Angels Schools’ in Xinjiang
2018-09-13 – “To put it straight, it’s like vocational training … like your children go to vocational training schools to get better skills and better jobs after graduation.” Li Xiaojun, director for publicity at the Bureau of Human Rights Affairs of the State Council Information Office, explains the process of putting children whose parents are detained into orphanages.
Dozens of Uyghur Children of Xinjiang Village Camp Detainees Sent to Live in Orphanages

The Atlantic:
China Is Going to Outrageous Lengths to Surveil Its Own Citizens
AUG 16, 2018 – Details of surveillance against Muslims, as well as other religious groups. Includes statements that Muslims on pilgrimage must wear GPS trackers.

Foreign Policy:
AUGUST 22, 2018, 9:00 AM – Rian Thum, Associate Professor of History at Loyola University New Orleans, detailing extrajudicial detention of Uighurs.

South China Morning Post:
How China is trying to impose Islam with Chinese characteristics in the Hui Muslim heartland
Monday, 14 May 2018 – Concentrating on the 10m Hui people, the piece details the CPC’s attempts to “Sinicize religion”.

Time to denounce China’s Muslim gulag
19 June 2018 – an Opinion piece by Dr James Leibold denouncing the CPC’s attempts to ‘solve the Xinjiang problem’.

East Asia Forum:
China is using terrorist threats to culturally cleanse its west
18 June 2018 – Renowned CA academic Michael Clarke’s argument that the CPC is trying to eliminate the very idea of a Uighur nation.

The Conversation:
Patriotic songs and self-criticism: why China is ‘re-educating’ Muslims in mass detention camps
July 25, 2018 – Another Michael Clarke piece

Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty:
Kazakhstan Confronts China Over Disappearances
June 01, 2018 – Growing discontent in Kazakhstan has led the Kazakh government to be forced to ask China about ethnic Kazakh disappearances.

China’s Uyghur Repression
05.31.2018 – David Brophy, senior lecturer in modern Chinese history at the University of Sydney, piece giving some ideas on ways to challenge the current situation in Xinjiang.

A Surveillance State Unlike Any the World Has Ever Seen
July 26, 2018 – Detailing the technology in Xinjiang.
Perspectives | Navigating Xinjiang’s security checkpoints

Global Times:
Xinjiang educates, reforms imprisoned extremists in religious thought
2018/7/23 – A pro-CPC piece about the benefits of ethnic harmony.





Catch up

Russia’s Role in the OBOR?

Police collect Uighurs DNA in Xinjiang

Nazarbayev Visits the USA


1) China’s Massive ‘One Road’ Project Largely Bypasses Russia, But Moscow Still On Board

Russia has a difficult job trying to address the advance of the Chinese into Central Asia, which Kremlin perceives as their ‘sphere of influence’. Much of the Chinese projects and investment involved with the OBOR are not heading to, nor interacting with, Moscow. Despite this, Putin has publicly embraced the OBOR; “I have no doubt that we will work together…[to] benefit both the Chinese and Russian peoples” whilst also working to keep Russia as a dominant force in Central Asia, specifically with the Moscow-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU).
Comment: Alexander Cooley (Great Game, Local Rules) makes the interesting point that Putin is inexplicitly stating that Russia isn’t going to be the dominant power in CA and is trying to accept the new reality while positioning to gain as much he can.

2) Chinese authorities collect DNA from Xinjiang residents

A Human Rights Watch report claims that Chinese authorities in the heavily controlled Xinjiang region are collecting DNA from all residents through Government provided ‘free health check-ups’. The health screenings are meant to be voluntary, but the article claims that Uighurs are often forced to undertake them. Under the claim that the authorities are doing the tests to help alleviate poverty and improve social stability, 19 million people’s DNA are now on a police database.
Comment: The obvious concern (apart from infringements on personal liberty) is that if this proves successful, then it would be rolled out across the whole of the mainland and adopted by authoritarian ‘client’ states, such as Cambodia.
In China’s handling of the Xinjiang region, particularly its largely Muslim Uyghur population, scholars see echoes of North Korea and South African apartheid
Key quote: David Brophy; “Xinjiang very much feels like a military occupation now.”
Twelve Days in Xinjiang: How China’s Surveillance State Overwhelms Daily Life
The surveillance of the Uighurs: the future for China?
In Xinjiang, China’s ‘Neo-Totalitarian’ Turn Is Already a Reality
Dr Michael Clarke’s piece on technological advances in social control
China ‘holding at least 120,000 Uighurs in re-education camps’
China testing facial-recognition surveillance system in Xinjiang
China’s Domestic Security Spending: An Analysis of Available Data
Key quote: “On February 1, 2018, China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) revealed a stunning 92.8 percent increase in its domestic security spending: from 30.05 billion RMB in 2016 to 57.95 billion RMB in 2017 (Xinjiang Net, 3 February). Within a decade, this figure has increased nearly ten-fold, up from 5.45 billion RMB in 2007.”
China Xinjiang police state: Fear and resentment
China’s Uyghur Muslims, under pressure at home and abroad
What It’s Like to Live in a Surveillance State
China: Big Data Fuels Crackdown in Minority Region
Comment: The sheer amount of articles coming out from Xinjiang (plus this author’s own personal experience of visiting Urumqi in October of 2017), is starting to confirm a trend of extensive data and digital tracking of mostly minority citizens in North West China.

3) Nazarbayev plays ‘honest broker’ in new Great Game

Nazarbayev used his visit to Washington to keep in place his policy of multi-vector foreign policy, balancing Russian, Chinese and American interests. It is claimed that up to US $7b worth of deals were signed during the visit.
Comment: Despite Trump’s ‘America First’ insular policies appearing to not value CA too highly, Nazarbayev appears committed to his ‘tri vector’ approach and keeping good terms with Russia, China and the USA.
Kazakh President on how Kazakhstan can benefit from Silk Road

4) Will Trump make China great again? The BRI and international order

Paper that discusses that National Unity and networked capitalism in China are not opposing but fusing in realization in regards to the OBOR. If new Silk Road is successful, then it proposes that the winners will be urban centers in Eurasia and the CCP, while countries not included, most notably the US, will lose out – especially under Trump’s America First protectionist model.

5) “Silk Road” as foreign policy discourse: The construction of Chinese, Japanese and Korean engagement strategies in Central Asia

A paper that puts forward the proposition that the Silk Road is a construct, rather than a concrete reality. And this construct varies depending on who (China, South Korea, Japan, etc.) perceives it, the context is it presented, receiving states perspectives, and wider international attention.

6) New China-Europe freight train route launched

A new rail/ship line from Urumqi to Europe was unveiled. The 4000+ journey is a third quicker leaving Xinxiang, travelling through Kazakhstan by rail and onto Azerbaijani docks for loading onto ships.
Key Quote: The number of China-Europe freight train trips reached a new high of more than 3,000 last year, and is expected to reach 4,000 this year, according to China Railway Corporation.

7) Understanding China’s Rise Under Xi Jinping — By The Honourable Kevin Rudd

Kevin Rudd’s interesting analysis of Xi Jinping.

8) Dr. Marlene Laruelle Kazakhstan’s Nationhood: Politics and Society on the Move

Laruelle describes changes in Kazakhstan; arguing that due to demographic, cultural and religious factors Kazakhstan is entering a post – post – Soviet phase, which will reshape policy in the future.
Key Quote: “Everything Kazakhstani is on the decline and everything Kazakh is on the rise”

9) Kyrgyzstan Out, Central Asia In Parsing CENTCOM’s 2018 Posture Statement

The annual U.S. Central Command posture statement delivered to the Senate Armed Service Committee. The report covers the Middle East, Central Asia and South Asia and reveals concerns about the increasing influence of Russia and China and the deterioration of the US military partnership with Kyrgyzstan
Key Quote: “The Kyrgyz Republic has increasingly aligned its interests with Russia and China”.


Week Commencing 11th September 2017

Xinjiang ‘Political Education’ Detainees
China Imprisons Muslim Man
US Concerns Over Debt Burdens for OBOR Partners

1. China: Free Xinjiang ‘Political Education’ Detainees
A Human Rights Watch piece that declares that China is arbitrarily holding prisoners in the Xinjiang region based on religious or political motives. It details reports of people being held without arrest warrants or charges for months at a time. Chinese state media has reported on these facilities, calling them “counter-extremism training centers” (去极端化培训班) and “education and transformation training centers” (教育转化培训中心).      
Comment: This kind of report will make it tougher for China and Kazakhstan elites to collaborate on the OBOR, as local objections could be realistically seen to be fueled by these allegations.

2. Chinese imprisoned for 2 years after teaching about Islam
A Chinese national from Xinjiang has been imprisoned for two years after being arrested in 2016 for setting up a WeChat group that discussed the Quran.  The group, which had 100 members, was accused of disturbing “normal religious activity”.        
Comment: A key phrase in the article is “Arabization,” a kickback by hardline ethnic policymakers against a perceived trend occurring among Chinese Muslims.

China Jails Muslim Man
3. US concerned over unsustainable debt burdens to Lanka by China
The inability of Sri Lanka to pay back non-concessional loans from China worries the US. Recently, the Sri Lankan government concluded a USD 1.1 billion deal for a Chinese company to develop the deep-sea port of Hambantota.
Comment: China’s thirst for deep sea ports and its ability to seduce with loans is paving the way for the MSR.
What the World’s Emptiest International Airport Says About China’s Influence

4. China, Kazakhstan hold first local cooperation forum
Held in Nanning recently, Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli and Kazakhstan First Deputy Prime Minister Askar Mamin attended a forum dedicated to celebrating Kazakhstan’s relationship as China’s largest trading partner and increasing financial ties and business tie-ups.       
Comment: Frequent business and cultural ties are confirming Kazakhstan’s importance for the Chinese OBOR.  
Good China-Kazakhstan Relations Promise Growth in Economic Co-op
Zhang Gaoli Attends and Addresses the Opening Ceremony of China-ASEAN Expo

5.China’s manipulation of UN human rights efforts must be stopped
An opinion piece that argues China’s reach has interrupted the work of the Human Rights part of the UN. It details several examples, including an accredited Uyghur representative being forced to leave the New York headquarters.  
China is Planning for the Future While the West Bickers

6.China to cover Belt and Road countries with Beidou navigation system by 2018
An article detailing how complex systems in space will overlook the OBOR. The Beidou navigation system has 17 satellites in orbit and can cover tele communications 30 countries.
Comment: An oft-overlooked part of the OBOR is the space coverage that China is promoting along with the New Silk Road.
7.Citi expert talks OBOR, Kazakhstan’s opportunities for growth
An interview with Citi Research’s (investment portfolio group) Chief Economist and Managing Director for China Li-Gang Liu. He talks up the advantages for Kazakhstan by participating in the OBOR. He is at pains to mention how he believes it can encourage cultural and religious understanding, as well as economic development.
Comment: The current situation in Xinjiang will make encouraging cultural and religious understanding more difficult.
Key Quotes: “Obviously from the geographic point of view, Kazakhstan is very important in the One Belt, One Road programme. The old Silk Road went through China, Central Asia and eventually to Europe. I think that Kazakhstan is an integral part of this OBOR programme”.
8.Expecting Major Geopolitical Shifts in Asia
A discussion on how the admission of India and Pakistan provides new challenges to the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, especially in regards to Russia and China’s perceived differing ambitions for the project.   
China-sponsored Globalisation Rising

9.Chinese, Kazakhstani writers stress power of literary exchanges
A meeting in Xi’an attended by Kazakh and Chinese authors.
Comment: Chinese ‘soft power’ exchanges are increasing and becoming more sophisticated.
Silk Road Museums Alliance Gains New Members
Oxford launches program on Belt and Road Initiative

10.China’s Uighurs: Life in Pictures
A photo story.


Week Commencing 4th September 2017

India, China: Game is on
China Cracks Down on Christian Missionaries
Afghanistan and China

1.India, China: Game is on
India acknowledges the border dispute with China at Pangong Lake area in Ladakh on August 15 (captured on video). Soldiers from both countries were captured scuffling and throwing stones. By admitting that the incident took place, India is taking the initiative in diplomatic circles to win support.       
Comment: This subject will repeatedly come up as China endeavors to tie Central Asian states, in particular, Kazakhstan, to the OBOR.
India army chief: we must prepare for simultaneous war with China and Pakistan
There is a pattern to Chinese expansionism
Don’t waste a good crisis: New India had a sophisticated game at Doklam
Military supplies from India meant for our self-defense, sovereignty: Vietnam
What is China’s salami slicing tactic that Army chief Bipin Rawat talked about?

2.Risky road: China’s missionaries follow Beijing West
China’s emerging Silk Road is not only bringing supplies and politics but apparently proselytizing Chinese Christians. Two Chinese nationals recently killed in Quetta, Pakistan, allegedly by the Islamic State, were there to not to work on Chinese-funded projects but to spread the Christian faith.   
Comment: An interesting background to a story that got a lot of press.
China cracks down on Christians after killing of two missionaries in Quetta
China Ramps Up Christian Persecution After Two Missionaries Are Murdered

3.Afghanistan: The new theatre of US-China face off
China has legitimate concerns about Islamic extremism entering the North West of the country via Pakistan and Afghanistan. With the CPEC arrangement ensuring help from the Pakistan side, China is also looking at Afghanistan. While the continuing US war occupies militants inside Afghanistan, neither a victory for the Taliban nor a permanent US base is a good result for China. Trump’s commitment to more troops to the region has shined a light on some Chinese ploys and interests in the border country.

4.Minister: Multiculturalism flourishes in Kazakhstan
Yerzhan Ashikbayev, Kazakhstan’s deputy foreign minister, gives an interesting and intelligent interview that covers a lot of topics, including relations with powers (including China and the EU) and Kazakhstan’s multi vector policy.
Comment: Key quote: “ Of course, China is a huge window of opportunity for us, and we benefit immensely”.

5.World is not becoming China-centric
Former Foreign Secretary, Shyam Saran discusses his book checking the ‘commonsensical’ idea that China is the destined to become the next hegemon. Comment: Key quote: “It is interesting how successful China has been in convincing the world that a China-centric world is inevitable.”

6.China Sends 2nd Freight Train Down New Silk Road to Tehran
The train left from Yinchuan City of northwest China’s Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region and is scheduled to arrive in Tehran, via Kazakhstan, 15 days later.
Comment: Iran is being courted as a key part of China’s OBOR ambitions.
Related: China-Europe cargo trains reach 5,000

Week Commencing 14th August

Uyghurs Lack Protection in the EU?
India/China Border Issues
Philippines Does Deal with China

1.Chinese Muslim Dissidents Remain Protected In EU, But For How Long?
Oversea Uyghurs claim that there is severe pressure from China on the EU not to grant political asylum to people from the Xinjiang region. It is suggested that the OBOR is a factor, as the Central Asian region is considered key to the success of the rail branch and the compliance of the Muslim inhabitants essential.       
Comment: This subject will repeatedly come up as China endeavors to tie Central Asian states, in particular, Kazakhstan, to the OBOR.

2.India’s concern about Beijing’s expansion
Deep Indian unease about the ‘Hambantota port deal,’ where China has a 70% controlling interest in the port and 15,000 acres of land in Sri Lanka. The proposed plan, which will include an industrial zone, has been protested against by Sri Lankan opposition groups, worried about increasing Chinese influence.
Comment: It is easy to imagine that the China/India disputes are going to continue for a long time.
China Joins the Crowd in Djibouti
China/Pakistan cooperation deepens
India, China soldiers involved in border altercation: Indian sources
3.Philippines says China agrees on no new expansion in South China Sea
China and the government of Duterte have finalized a deal that claims China “will not occupy new features in the South China Sea nor they are going to build structures in Scarborough Shoal” according to the Philippine Defense Minister. They will also sign a deal sharing exploration and exploitation of resources. This agreement runs counter to the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague and has been flagged by Filipino opposition members as a bad deal for the Philippines.
Comment: States appear to take Trump’s ‘America First’ position seriously, and are turning to China to do deals about security issues related to the South China Sea. Duterte looks to have changed tack completely from the USA to China for the Philippines protection.
6.Xi loyalists grab the reins of pivotal projects
As Xi Jinping consolidates power, he is given key jobs in the OBOR implementation to close aides and people who worked for him previously in the provinces of Zhejiang and Fujian.
Comment: Xi is going all in with the OBOR. It will potentially make or break him.
7.Slow Going on the Silk Road
Describes some economic problems that have hit the OBOR but ends with saying it’s future is looking better because of Trump’s isolationist ‘America First’ program.   
8.Two-way Journey for Apple on the Silk Road
A history of the domestication of the Apple, and how it changed due to travel and trade.  
9.Thucydides Trap or Tug-of-War?
An interesting take on the perception of a possible Thucydides Trap.
10.China’s New Silk Road investment surges despite crackdown on overseas deals
The current spending for the OBOR, with investment in over 68 countries, is considered to be US $33 billion. While a clamp down on the flow of capital outside the country and debt-fuelled acquisitions is in place, it isn’t in position in regards to the OBOR, which is considered strategic and therefore exempt.
China’s Steady March to Global Leadership

Week Commencing 24th July 2017

Brief Holiday Edition
China and India Dance Continues

1. China’s Indian Ocean Ambitions
Discussion of the first Chinese overseas’ military base and how it affects India and Russia. It also talks about Russian attempts to bind the ‘Stan countries closer to Moscow to limit Chinese ambitions.
Comment: If the OBOR is successful, it potentially sidelines Russia from Central Asia. This potential event will result in a delicate balancing act for the Central Asian countries in deciding how much to accept Chinese investment.

2. China Will Regret India’s Entry Into the Shanghai Cooperation Organization
In depth analysis of the complications that the entry of India will provide for Beijing, especially in light of the recent border disputes.
Comment: The India/China rivalry will run and run.
How to counter China’s OBOR?

3. China’s ‘Belt Road Initiative’ brings risks: QNB
A brief rundown of the risks involved economically with the OBOR. These include achieving the required rate of return on investment and the difficulties of a ‘one size fits all’ for over 50 different countries.
Comment: A view that has quite a few supporters. Time will tell.
Problem is not with Hindu nationalism, but with Chinese expansionism

4. China’s Belt and Road Initiative could redraw the map on global trade
After a recap of the OBOR, it leads to potential dangers of dealing with the Chinese mega project, labeling it ‘One Belt, One Trap,’ using Laos as a case study.
Related: ‘
China can make an offer and you can always say no’

5. An optimist’s view
An opinion piece that states that China isn’t doing anything super powers haven’t always done.

6. Strategic relevance of Soft Power
A discussion on China’s rising ‘soft power.’
Interview: China’s soft power accumulated in several aspects: U.S. scholar

7. China’s B&R initiative leading a resurgence of Asia
A comparison piece between the expanding China and the retracting USA.

Week Commencing 17th July 2017

More India/China Tensions
Muslim crackdown?

1. India/China tensions grow with the first overseas Chinese Military base
The setting up of the base in the Horn of Africa worries India and starts the game of who controls and influences the Indian Ocean.
Comment: The Chinese/Indian disputes and rivalry could be the story at the end of this century. It certainly isn’t going to get resolved easily or quickly, and lines are starting to be drawn.
China ‘bullying states’
China assures its overseas base is not military expansionism   
Standoff is China Telling India to Accept Changing Realities
Was China’s military drill in Tibet really just an exercise in logistics?

China flexes its military muscle in Tibet, close to border dispute with India
Why India, China must look beyond Dhokalam and work together
China needs to acknowledge that India is a force to be reckoned with
US ‘concerned’ about India-China border standoff

2. Muslims in China are increasingly living under a ‘police state’, warn experts
While being the homeland of the Uighurs, North West China is also home to approx. 1.5 million ethnic Kazakhs. There are some severe security measures in place which appear to be focusing heavily on Muslims in the area, including Kazakhs.
Comment: I would imagine eyes will be watching the treatment of these people inside Kazakhstan which will have bearing on perceptions of the OBOR and the relationship with China.
Chinese Police in Kashgar

3. Kazakhstan eyes possibilities of power exports to China, Afghanistan, and Pakistan
At the moment, Kazakhstan exports electricity to Russia. There are plans to open this up to China, amongst others.
Comment: Further moves to increase the interaction with China. 

4. Belt and Road Initiative gives hope for better development
Key claim: “Kazakhstan for the first time in its history has received stable access to marine communications and an entrance to the Pacific Ocean.”
Comment: A very pro-OBOR piece by the deputy director at the Library of the First President of Kazakhstan

5. Kazakhstan creates online platform for wholesale trade in Central Asian region
Details attempt to set up Kazakhstan as a centre for trade in Central Asia, as trade routes will be passing through, enabling the CIS countries to trade better.
Comment: “Central Asian region trade routes will now converge in Kazakhstan” is the main piece of this article. It again details Kazakhstan’s ambitions to be a leading player in Central Asia.
Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan eye cargo transportations through Kuryk port
Freight traffic from Kazakhstan, China via BTK may go up to 500,000 containers

6. Russia/China involved in International Army Games
At the 2017 International Army Games, CHina will get involved in the Seaborne Assault contest. The games will be held on territory including Russia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and China.
Comment: An interesting list of countries there, with Venezuela and Iran still to arrive. It appears again that the US and the West are in danger of getting cut out of ‘loops’ in Central Asia.
SANDF taking part in Russia’s Army Games
Crews from Russia, Belarus, Iran, Egypt arrive in China for Army competition

7. New Highway from Beijing to Xinjiang
A new highway chopping off 1300 km has just been finished from Beijing to Xinjiang. The improved road infrastructure is meant to increase the flow of products to and from the central Asian region, especially heading into Khorgos.

8. Possible New Consortium to explore for Oil in NorthWest Caspian Region
State owned companies from Russia (Rosneft), China (CNPC), Kazakhstan (Kazmunaygas), Azerbaijan (SOCAR) and Italy have formed a group to explore the possibility of tapping a new site. If it was successful and oil consumption stays the same, it is reportedly going to prolong Kazakhstan’s ability to be a serious player in the oil world. There are some economic and environmental risks attached to the project.

9. Discussion of risks attached to the OBOR
While the OBOR is “a brilliant strategic move, but it comes with serious risks” according to Clyde Prestowitz, president of the Economic Strategy Institute, a Washington-based think tank. The large line of credit extended (some estimating $900 billion ) might not ever be repaid.  

10. Kazakhstan Bets Big On China’s Silk Road
The key quote in an optimistic post about Kazakhstan’s economic reform and embrace of the OBOR. “If you really want to know what’s happening in Kazakhstan, look at what the Chinese companies are doing, not at what the five-year plans of the government are saying,” says Rafay. “They are always falling short of their goals. That’s not to say that the political will isn’t a good gauge of the direction Kazakhstan is heading, it’s just that as an investor, I cannot bank on those plans. I have to go back and see what’s really happening, not what the government wants and wishes to happen.”

11. Here’s Why China’s One Belt, One Road Is Doomed To Failure
A pessimistic piece that concentrates on geopolitical issues, especially a perceived instability in Central Asia as to why the OBOR will not work.
Comment: Time will tell whether this analysis is wrong. Kazakhstan, in particular, would appear (possibly on the outside) to be more stable than this article suggests.
Why China’s massive infrastructure plan won’t measure up to economic reality
Comment: This piece states that is the economics that do not stack up and China’s motives are geopolitical. 

12. Kyrgyz, Chinese, Tajik and Kazakh scientists to discuss environmental safety issues in Issyk-Kul
Comment: The interesting point is these conversations are increasingly involving China now, not the US or Europe.

13. China-Russia Trouble on the Arctic Silk Road?
The article looks into delicate Sino-Russian relations in relations to the prospects of an Arctic silk road.
Comment: Interesting that China’s three pillar policy is labeled: respect, cooperation, and sustainability.


Week commencing 10th July 2017

The New Silk Road Newsletter 10th July 2017

Japan on board?
India-China Tensions
Crackdown on ethnic Kazakhs in Xinjiang

1. Japan to join the OBOR?
In Hamburg, China’s paramount leader Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Abe discussed several relevant issues. When asked about them, Abe is quoted as saying “It [OBOR] has potential. We hope the initiative will contribute to regional and global peace and prosperity by adopting ideas held by all in the international community. We want to cooperate in that respect.” This led to speculation that Abe was signing Japan up officially to the OBOR.
Comment: Probably taken a little too literally by some. As pointed out in the article, Japan has been involved for decades in infrastructure projects in Asia.

2. India and China ‘stand off’ again. This time in Bhutan.
The Doklam plateau is heavily in the news after the Indian’s claim that China is trying to build a road outside of Chinese territory without permission. There are unsettled border issues there involving India, Bhutan, and China.
Comment: Continuous border issues between India and China appear to be increasing in intensity. India has been the most vocal opponent and critic of the OBOR but opponents have complained they are not offering any alternative for development. The tension between the two most populous nations has so far, along with the South China Sea, been the most visibility contentious moments of the OBOR project.
Pressure on the Siliguri Corridor, also known as the chicken’s neck, worries Sikkim it will be cut off
Potential for conventional conflict between China and India
Opinion piece by Indian author
Increasing border standoffs

3. Kazakhstan, China sign deals in agrarian sector
An official announcement on cooperation in the agricultural sector. “Agricultural products turnover between Kazakhstan and China grew 14.5 percent and amounted to $113.2 million in January-April 2017.”
Comment: After the protests over the land reform and the crackdown in Xinjiang, this is a delicate matter. Will be interesting to see how the Kazakh speaking outlets will view it.
Kazakh sun oil exports to China doubled

4. Chinese crackdown in Xinjiang on ethnic Kazakhs
1.5 million Kazakhs are also feeling the crackdown on what the Chinese would perceive to be one of “the three evils (terrorism, separatism and religious extremism’. Extreme sanctions appear to be being placed on freedom of movement, worship, and speech after a Kazakh Iman dies of ‘suicide’ in a police station.
Comment: Interesting to see if this story makes it to Kazakhstan mainstream.

5. Changing Trends in Central Asian Energy Markets
Noting the changing demands on Central Asian energy markets. It is suggesting a strong trend away from being predominantly dominated by Western companies towards China.

6. China moving into Eastern Europe
An article explaining growing enthusiasm from Eastern European countries for the OBOR and possible development.
Comment: With other powers either not ‘selling an idea’, retreating to a protectionist view or placing too many conditions on aid, it is not surprising that the China’s allegedly ‘no strings attached’ investment seems appealing.
Regarding a case study Steel mill in Serbia

7. Kazakhstan to Pull Out of OPEC Production Cap
It seems likely, as previously thought, that Kazakhstan will leave its pledge to OPEC on reducing Oil production. While Western companies still account for most of KZ oil production, this report suggests that International Energy Agency.claims that China will be absorbing 50% of Central Asia’s oil and gas exports in just three years.
Comment: Not much surprising here but confirmation of a possible trend.

8. Germany looks to increase relationship with Kazakhstan.
Germany holds its National Day at EXPO 2017 in Astana in Kazakhstan.
Germany, Kazakhstan Strengthen Ties at Expo Astana 2017

9. One Belt, One Road Fuels Nepal’s Dreams
Nepal appears to be desperate to buy into the OBOR.
Comment: Again, with a lack of shrinking list of viable alternatives, it is not surprising that actors want to ‘buy into’ the OBOR.

10. China opens its first overseas military base in Africa
Reporting on China’s first overseas military base in Djibouti, part of what is intended for the MSR.