China’s Most Wanted

After Australia refused to accept Uighur detainees whose release from Guantanamo Bay detention camp was recently ordered by a U.S. judge, The Australian reports on what Beijing perceives as the Uighur threat:

The Weekend Australian revealed last week that Beijing has lobbied Canberra fiercely against accepting the 17. China says they are members of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, which is listed as a terrorist group by the UN Security Council. […]

China also battles relentlessly against the four other prominent “poisons” it views as its biggest threat: the Dalai Lama’s Tibetans, pro-independence Taiwanese, the Falun Gong movement and campaigners for democracy.

But it is the – and especially the ETIM, which is fighting for independence – that Beijing most fears; they have been blamed for almost every act of political violence in China in the past decade or more.

An atmosphere of anxiety pervades Xinjiang as a result. The Chinese and Uyghur communities largely live in separate worlds. A Han Chinese businessman brought up in Xinjiang says: “I respect – no, I love – the Uyghur culture. But ultimately it comes down to a battle for the land. It’s either us or them. And my father’s bones are buried there.”

From the Weekend Australian article mentioned above:

The Rudd Government told the Bush administration last week that it would not agree to a second formal request – made by the US in December – to resettle the group in Australia, saying they did not meet Australia’s stringent national security and immigration criteria.

[…] Beijing heavily lobbied the federal Government against resettling the group of Muslims from northwestern China, known as Uyghurs, whom the US has cleared but refuses to send home for fear of their torture and possible execution.

The Canberra meeting – described as a mid-level diplomatic approach – took place about three weeks ago. It came as the Foreign Ministry in Beijing stressed publicly its opposition to any resettlement of the Uyghurs.

But Radio Australia reports there is still pressure on Canberra to accept the detainees.

Incoming U.S. President Obama has said he will close down the Guantanamo detention center, but it is yet unclear what the fate will be for to the remaining prisoners, including the Uighurs, when that happens.


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