Thursday, December 14, 2006

Visiting Activist Says Canada Should Take Lead on Chinese Human Rights

Visiting Activist Says Canada Should Take Lead on Chinese Human Rights

By Cindy Chan
Epoch Times Ottawa Staff
Dec 13, 2006

Rebiya Kadeer has been likened to the Dalai Lama. The prominent Uighur (pronounced wee-gur) activist was short-listed for this year's Nobel Peace Prize. On Tuesday she testified before a Canadian parliamentary committee in Ottawa urging Canada to make the human rights of the Uighur people and the release of Uighur-Canadian Huseyin Celil "top priority" in relations with the Chinese.

Ms. Kadeer is a native of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region in northwest China, called East Turkistan before the Chinese occupation in 1949. Uighurs then became "second-class citizens," facing extreme prejudice and repression similar to the plight of the Tibetan people, Kadeer said through an interpreter.

Kadeer rose to become an unlikely senior government advisor and successful businesswoman in China. It was giving help and leadership to her own people, she said, that led to her downfall and to "trumped-up" charges. She spent five years in prison before being released in 2005, due to strong international pressure. She was allowed to go to the U.S. A high-profile opponent of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Kadeer has since travelled extensively to raise awareness of human rights violations against the Uighurs by the Chinese regime.

Celil had fled China in the mid-1990s. He was arrested in Uzbekistan while visiting relatives in March. Accused by the Chinese communist regime of terrorist activities, he was extradited there in June and has reportedly been sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment.

Kadeer Addresses Human Rights Subcommittee

Speaking before the House of Commons Subcommittee on International Human Rights, Kadeer asked Members of Parliament to draft a letter to Chinese leader Hu Jintao to demand Celil's "immediate and unconditional release." She relayed that a letter to Hu signed by 72 members of the U.S. Congress helped gain the release of two of her children from imprisonment in China.

Amnesty International reports that state retaliation against family members appears to be a pattern developing in China to pressure human rights defenders. Another example is human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, arrested in August and charged with "inciting subversion." Police have continued to subject his 13-year-old daughter to constant monitoring and verbal abuse, and Gao's wife was beaten by police last month. Gao was reportedly sentenced in secret, recently.

Kadeer outlined several additional recommendations to Canada. These include helping broker discussions between the Chinese regime and the World Uighur Congress, expanding CIDA HIV/AIDS projects in East Turkistan, sending a fact-finding mission there, providing funding to the Uighur Canadian Association (UCA), and ensuring the release of her sons still in Chinese prison.

Kadeer also commended Prime Minister Stephen Harper for putting human rights ahead of trade in his meeting last month with Hu at the APEC summit in Vietnam.

UCA president Mehmet Tohti, accompanying Kadeer at the hearing, described the Canada-China bilateral human rights dialogue as a "waste of time, money, and resources." Canada is acting too softly and lacks understanding of China's "tricky diplomatic policy," he said.

He explained that until 1997 Canada had sponsored a UN resolution annually to criticize the Chinese regime's human rights record. The regime persuaded Canada to replace it with a bilateral dialogue, and the dialogue soon became closed-door. China next convinced Canada to provide CIDA funding to improve the Chinese judiciary and related institutions. Meanwhile, China has money to spend to strengthen its military, he added.

Tohti said the dialogue should have accountability and a clear strategy that includes steps, timeframes, implementation, and follow-up.

Human Rights in China Depend Upon International Community

Following the hearing, Kadeer said "Canada is a powerful, democratic country" and that "if Canada takes the lead, other countries will follow."

She asked the rights activists' relatives who are suffering to have hope. "With the help of the international community, with their own patience and endurance, the human rights cause will be victorious in China."

"The Chinese government is not only facing international pressure, but internal pressure as well," she remarked. She likened China's situation to a cup that is overflowing. The Chinese communist regime's human rights violations are "overwhelming, overflowing, and so evil, and the people's anger is also overflowing."

Kadeer told the Epoch Times she is aware of the peaceful movement in China to withdraw from the CCP, prompted by the Epoch Times editorial series Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party. Over 16 million have quit the party and its affiliated organizations to date.

"If such trends continue, that's going to be wonderful," she said.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Press China to free Canadian, MPs urged


OTTAWA -- Canadian MPs should start a letter campaign to pressure China into freeing a Canadian citizen jailed there since June, says a human-rights activist who is working for his release.

Rabiya Kadeer, president of the World Uyghur Congress, said yesterday a petition signed by 72 members of the U.S. Congress was successful in urging the release of her two children from a Chinese jail in October.

A similar strategy could help reunite Huseyin Celil with his family in Hamilton, Ms. Kadeer told a parliamentary subcommittee.

"Demanding the Chinese government to release him immediately and unconditionally is critical," said Ms. Kadeer, speaking through a translator.

"Otherwise, the Chinese can do anything to him in prison, even torture him to death," she continued.

The head of the subcommittee, Conservative MP Jason Kenney, said he would study her recommendation.

During her address, Ms. Kadeer portrayed Mr. Celil's ordeal as part of a continuing campaign by Chinese authorities to crush the bid for self-determination of the Uyghur people, China's Muslim minority group.

Mr. Celil fled China in the 1990s, after he was sentenced to death in absentia for founding a separatist political party and other alleged subversive political activity.

He settled in Canada, and became known as an imam at a Hamilton mosque.

He was arrested while visiting relatives in Uzbekistan this spring and handed over in June to Chinese authorities, who have since refused him access to consular services.

Nothing short of full-out international pressure will secure his release, Ms. Kadeer said, praising the Conservative government's hard-line stand on China's human-rights record.

Ms. Kadeer's comments were echoed by Mohamed Tohti, president of the Uyghur Canadian Association.

He told the subcommittee that Canada ought to reform a yearly human-rights dialogue with China.

The meeting between senior bureaucrats on both sides is a "waste of time," because recommendations from Canadian officials are largely ignored by their Chinese counterparts, Mr. Tohti told the committee.

"The Chinese foreign policy is based upon one theory: Cut out the head of the sheep and sell out the meat of the dog," he went on to add.

Mr. Tohti accused the Chinese government of duplicity and deceit.

So far, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government has shown no sign of wanting to carry through with the yearly event.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Ottawa weighs shelving Chinese rights dialogue

Ottawa weighs shelving Chinese rights dialogue
Beijing warns of 'serious' repercussions if annual talks put on ice


BEIJING, OTTAWA -- The federal government, under heavy criticism for its ineffective talks with China over human rights, is debating whether to proceed with the "human-rights dialogue" as planned this fall.

The annual event was a centrepiece of the previous Liberal government's policy of engagement with China. But many members of the new Conservative government are sharply critical of China's human-rights record and are seeking a tougher approach.

The dialogue was launched in 1997 as part of an agreement between the two countries when Canada decided not to co-sponsor a resolution about Chinese rights violations at the United Nations human-rights commission in Geneva. It is an annual event, usually lasting one or two days, in which Canadian and Chinese officials discuss an agenda of human-rights issues.

It has been assailed by a coalition of Canadian human-rights groups, which is calling for its temporary suspension and reassessment. And a study by a Canadian professor found that the dialogue is largely a propaganda exercise, intended by China to defuse foreign criticism.

While federal officials did begin preparations for the talks about six weeks ago, there is still no date set, and the normal consultations over the agenda have not yet begun. The delay is seen as a hint that the Tories are reconsidering the event.

A senior government source confirmed yesterday that the government is looking for a stronger mechanism. The source said the dialogue might still be held this year, but could be replaced in future.

A parliamentary subcommittee, headed by Conservative MP Jason Kenney, will also hold a hearing Tuesday to review the annual talks. Mr. Kenney, who acts as Prime Minister Stephen Harper's parliamentary secretary, is a strong advocate of more actively advancing the human-rights cause in China.

The coalition of human-rights groups had sought the review for five years, but were snubbed until the Conservatives took power.

A popular Chinese newspaper warned this month that Canada would face a "serious diplomatic problem" in its relations with China if it cancelled the dialogue. The Beijing-based Global Times newspaper told readers there were "cold winds blowing" from a "behind-the-times" government in Canada.

The Harper government has been badly divided on its China policy, with its caucus and cabinet split between those who want to emphasize human rights and those who want to give priority to trade.

At a closed-door consultation with key groups on Oct. 19, Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay and International Trade Minister David Emerson heard criticism from Canadian business leaders and academics who warned that Canada's relationship with China is suffering neglect and damage because China is increasingly unhappy with the policy vacuum and the negative signals from Conservative MPs who seem to favour Taiwan over Beijing.

Mr. MacKay, however, gave no indication that the Conservatives would announce a new policy as long as they remain in minority.

In a letter to the government this month, a coalition of a dozen human-rights groups and other China-related organizations said the human-rights dialogue should be "temporarily suspended" because of China's recent crackdown on human-rights defenders and because the Tory government has failed to develop a new China policy.

The coalition, citing a detailed study by Brock University political scientist Charles Burton, said there are "substantial shortcomings and failings" in the dialogue, launched by the previous Liberal government in 1997, and argued that it should be delayed until the government responds to the Burton report.

Mr. Burton, who has been invited to testify to Mr. Kenney's parliamentary subcommittee, concluded that the dialogue is plagued by "pervasive cynicism" and "dialogue fatigue." Most of it is scripted in advance and has "little connection" to realities on the ground, he found.

The event has gradually been downgraded by Beijing and does not even involve the right officials, because the Chinese side is represented by Foreign Ministry officials who have no involvement in human rights, Mr. Burton found.

Carole Samdup of Rights & Democracy, part of the rights coalition, said a suspension would be "good news" if it means a serious rethinking. "The dialogue, in its current form, does not serve human-rights interests," she said.



October 5, 2006
Right Honorable Stephen Harper
Prime Minister of Canada
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2
FAX: 613-941-6900

Re: Government of Canada Policy regarding Human Rights in China

Dear Prime Minister Harper,

We are a coalition of Canadian organizations that has been working together since 1993 to promote human rights in China.[1] In particular, the coalition submits annual recommendations to the Government of Canada around the UN Commission on Human Rights (now Human Rights Council), participates in government briefing sessions related to the Canada-China bilateral human rights dialogue and maintains an updated prisoner list. In May 2005 and June 2006, we co-organized roundtable discussions with the Human Rights Division of Foreign Affairs Canada to press for a formal evaluation of the bilateral dialogue and, with it, a strengthened approach to the promotion of human rights in China.

The Canada-China bilateral human rights dialogue is a policy of quiet diplomacy adopted by the Government of Canada in 1997 as an alternative to sponsorship of a resolution at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. It became the centre piece of Canada’s efforts to promote human rights in China. Since 1997, our coalition has expressed numerous concerns about the dialogue, in particular the lack of a clear definition and objectives, poor transparency and the absence of benchmarks and monitoring procedures and above all concrete results.

We were therefore pleased that the government agreed, following the May 2005 meeting with our coalition, to conduct a formal evaluation of the dialogue. The report, issued in April of this year, makes clear that there are substantial shortcomings and failings with both the content and process of the dialogue. It also supports many of the concerns expressed by civil society over the years. Notably, the report’s author, Professor Charles Burton of Brock University, indicates that the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs considers that the main purpose of the dialogue is to “defuse foreign unease with China’s human rights record.”

We understand that another session of the bilateral dialogue is now being planned for later this fall. In our view, this is happening without adequate reflection by government concerning the contents and import of the Burton Report. The logical next step would be to undertake a full policy development process not only for the dialogue, but also for Canada’s broader China policy. Recent media reports raise concerns that Canada lacks a coherent China policy. We believe that the time is right to launch a public process to develop and adopt such a policy with human rights at its centre. Among areas needing attention are:

* fundamental reforms to the human rights dialogue between Canada and China;
* other strategies and mechanisms focused on human rights;
* trade and investment;
* conditions for development assistance;
* various matters associated with immigration;
* measures to better protect the human rights of Canadian citizens detained in China, as typified currently by the case of Huseyin Celil.

In the absence of such a process, and in light of the recent crackdown on human rights defenders in China, we recommend that the dialogue meetings be temporarily suspended. This will allow time for a policy reflection as described above including a re-visioning of the bilateral dialogue. Our coalition is currently in the process of developing recommendations specifically for the bilateral dialogue:

* The level of official participation should be raised to Deputy Director. While we do not necessarily endorse or take a position regarding the Canada-China Strategic Partnership, we do consider that as long as the Partnership continues, the human rights dialogue should be situated within it. Inherent in this recommendation is the view that human rights should not be de-linked from other elements of the Canada-China relationship, but should, rather, be part of a “whole of government” approach.

* The dialogue should better integrate the participation of relevant civil society organizations in both Canada and China. Civil society participants should be self-selecting and have established expertise in China issues. Diaspora NGOs should not be excluded from the dialogue process.

* Prisoner lists and support for human rights defenders should be better managed and should include additional dimensions such as prison visits, trial observation, family support and other visible signs that the Government of Canada is strongly supportive of the work of human rights defenders in China.

* CIDA programming and the plurilateral symposium, both announced as part of the bilateral dialogue process, should be subject to a comprehensive and public review.

It must be emphasized that we are not advocating cancellation of the Canada-China bilateral dialogue. We are, however, suggesting that further sessions be delayed until the findings of the Burton Report are adequately addressed. Almost ten years have been spent in a process that was undefined and non-accountable. We now have an opportunity to learn from these mistakes and build a new approach, one that will make a more meaningful contribution to improving the protection of human rights in China.

As always, the members of our coalition offer our support and participation in the next steps of this important process. Please feel free to contact us through XXX at XXX. We look forward to continued collaboration with government in the interests of human rights promotion in China.

Alex Neve
Secretary General
Amnesty International Canada
(English branch)

Mohamed Tohti
Uyghur Canadian Association

Cheuk Kwan
Toronto Association for Democracy in China

Constance Rooke
PEN Canada

[1] The coalition currently includes Amnesty International, ARC International, Canada Tibet Committee, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, Canadian Labour Congress, Democracy China-Ottawa, Falun Dafa Association of Canada, Human Rights Watch/Canada, PEN Canada, Rights & Democracy, Students for a Free Tibet (Canada), Toronto Association for Democracy in China, and the Uyghur Canadian Association

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Canada not protecting its own

Canada not protecting its own
Husseyin Celil is being treated as a terrorist in China but Stephen Harper doesn't seem to care


About time!

The CBC's China correspondent has finally discovered Husseyin Celil, the 37-year-old Canadian citizen and father of six who was sentenced to 15 years in a Chinese prison for alleged terrorism.

What's disquieting about this case is that Celil, who came to Canada in 2001 after escaping from China, was virtually kidnapped while visiting his wife's relatives in Uzbekistan last March, and turned over to the Chinese who promptly jailed him.

Canada showed awesome lack of interest in the case -- perhaps because anyone accused of "terrorism" is automatically suspect and presumed guilty. Look at unfortunate Maher Arar, whom Canada cheerfully accepted being sent to Syria as a terror suspect until it turned out he was guilty of nothing.

The government has apologized to Arar and blamed the Mounties. Some think Arar should get the Order of Canada for the mistake. If that doesn't reek of guilt expediency, nothing does.

The manner in which Celil was arrested and shipped to China is as outrageous as Canada's lack of concern. Celil is no more a "terrorist" than others who seek to escape tyranny.

To its credit (better late than never), the CBC's Anthony Germain traveled to Xinjiang province in northeast China to chat with Celil's 80-year-old mother, brother and sister. Their grief and anger is at China, not Canada, whom they hope will do something. Fat chance.

The response of Harper's Parliamentary Secretary Jason Kenney, a pretty straight shooter, is that Celil's is a "complicated case."

Horsefeathers! It's alarmingly simple.

Celil is a Uighur -- the dominant ethnic and cultural group in Xinjiang which used to be the East Turkistan and is both the largest Chinese province, and the only one where ethnic Chinese are outnumbered.

Because Uighurs are Muslim, yearn for freedom and democracy -- yes, democracy of the sort we in the West profess to defend -- the Chinese view them as "terrorists."

Ever since 9/11, any who struggle for identity and independence in China are branded "terrorists" -- including Tibetans. This seems to dissuade Canada from anything more than token support for Celil.

Research by Foreign Minister Peter MacKay's bureaucrats would quickly establish that Uighurs are not terrorists -- despite a few being caught in the net at Guantanamo, most of them since released as victims of Pakistani bounty hunters.

While Canada doesn't have much leverage with the Chinese, one thing certain is that "quiet diplomacy" is not the way to go. That's what the damned Liberals specialized in when they ran Ottawa, and their record of rescuing Canadians in trouble was abysmal.

Harper could at least raise hell in front of microphones, at the UN, with trade delegations and Chinese businessmen. Alert Canadians and the world.

Celil is a Muslim Imam, with a wife in Burlington.


His mosque seems distinctly un-militant -- at least according to Mehmet Tohti president of the Uighur Canadian Association and Alim Seytoff of the Uighur American Association which is aggressively pro-American.

At least the government should drop its dual citizenship policy with tyrannies -- then there'd be no doubt that Husseyin Celil is Canadian and not Chinese chattel. As it is, the Harper government seems to have more trust in Beijing's justice than it does in Beijing's victims.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Jail, 2nd trial for Canadian

Jail, 2nd trial for Canadian


Word out of China is that Canadian citizen Huseyin Celil, 37, has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for alleged terrorist activities.

Mohamed Tohti, president of the Uyghur Canadian Association, says Celil’s sister in Kashgar in northwest China phoned Celil’s wife, Kamila Telendibaeva, in Burlington and said police had told her he had been sentenced to 15 years in Bajianghu Prison in the Xinjiang provincial capital of Urumqi.

“This is the first news we’ve heard of Mr. Celil,” said Tohti. “The Chinese government is obligated to first tell the Canadian embassy of the sentence, but instead they informed his sister, Heyrigul Celil, who used a public phone to call Canada rather than her home phone, which police monitor.”

Tohti said, “Police told her that since he insisted he was innocent, there will be another trial. She wasn’t even told the crime he was sentenced for.”

Celil was arrested last March while visiting his wife’s relatives in Uzbekistan and was extradited to China.

Although a Canadian citizen since coming here as a refugee in 2001 after escaping from China, the Canadian government wasn’t very interested in his case or his plight until his disappearance was publicized.

To this day, Canada’s diplomatic concern has been lukewarm, perhaps because of China’s considerable trade relations with Canada, or perhaps because China brands all Uighurs as terrorists linked with al-Qaida — which Tohti and all Uighurs vehemently deny.

Alim Seytoff, general secretary of the Uyghur American Association, said after 9/11 the Chinese intensified attacks on Uighurs (who are mindful of Tibetans in rejecting cultural genocide and seeking greater autonomy). China claimed to stand “side by side with United States in the war against terror” and used it to further persecute Uighurs.

The Uighur region of Xinjiang province once was known as East Turkestan. Tohti says the people are the most pro-Western of China’s minorities.

Seyoff says Uighur people “look to the United States as the model for human rights and democracy ... and regard the U.S. as a natural ally.”

He says Turkestan was the first democratic Islamic republic in the world in 1931-34, apart from Turkey.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom visited the region and was told by the Chinese of “al-Qaida elements” among the Uighurs. The commission found these claims “not to be credible.”

Recently the Chinese announced that 45 tonnes of “explosives, detonators and military paraphernalia” had been seized from Uighur “terrorists,” but this seems a fabrication focused on road-building dynamite and such.

China claimed “thousands of explosions and assassinations” in Xinjiang province throughout the 1990s. But in 2001, just prior to 9/11, Xinjiang governor Abdula Adurishit announced that the situation was “better than ever in history” and that record levels of investment were coming into the region.

Mohamed Tohti is frustrated at the Harper government’s apathy in this case. He points out that U.S. government pressure got and an American citizen, Rebiya Kadeer, freed after six years in a Chinese prison for allegedly “leaking state secrets.”

Her crime? Sending a local newspaper to her journalist husband in America. Her release preceded Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s visit to China last year.

Tohti, who escaped from Xinjiang in 1992 and has been trying to get his mother out ever since, doesn’t know what the second trial of Celil is all about, except that “he’s certainly not a terrorist” and our government seems unconcerned about his fate.

Article Source
To be continued

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

China jails Burlington man 15 years

China jails Burlington man 15 years
By Christine Cox
The Hamilton Spectator
BURLINGTON (Sep 12, 2006)

Kamila Telendibaeva has received unconfirmed word that her husband, Muslim activist Huseyin Celil, has been sentenced to 15 years in a Chinese prison.

Celil, 37, is a Canadian citizen accused by the Chinese of being a terrorist. He was arrested in Uzbekistan in March 2006 and extradited to China in June.

Telendibaeva says Chinese police told her husband's sister that he was tried last month and received a 15-year sentence. Telendibaeva doesn't know if it's true or not, because she's heard nothing from Canadian officials.

Foreign Affairs spokesperson Marie-Christine Lilkoff said the government is aware of the reports but does not have confirmation. She said there are ongoing communications with the Chinese government about the case "and we are making every effort to obtain consular access to Mr. Celil."

Telendibaeva, who gave birth last month to the couple's fourth child, plans to go to Ottawa to urge the Canadian government to take action.

"They are not doing anything for my husband," she said yesterday. "He's a Canadian, he was travelling on a Canadian passport. I'm very nervous. It's been almost four months and we don't have any news (from the government) about my husband ... They have to see him, they have to get access to him."

Celil had championed the cause of the Muslim Uyghur people.

Mohamed Tohti, president of the Uyghur Canadian Association, said the charges against Celil are bogus.

Tohti considers the information relayed by Celil's sister credible. He said Chinese police told her that Celil was being held in Bajianghu jail, a famous political jail in Urumqi. It's the first time since his extradition that Celil's exact location in China has been revealed.

Tohti said the Chinese deliberately released the information through a third party, rather than through the Canadian government.

"They ignored Canada from the beginning ... they denied his citizenship," Tohti said.

Article source

Monday, September 11, 2006

Canadian held in China given 15 years, sister says

Canadian held in China given 15 years, sister says


Huseyin Celil, a Canadian citizen imprisoned in China and denied access to Canadian diplomats since March, is being held in a jail for political prisoners and has been sentenced to 15 years, according to Mr. Celil's sister.

Heyrigul Celil sent a message to the Uighur Canadian Association this weekend saying police officers in Kashgar, a city in China's northwestern Xinjiang region, told her Mr. Celil was sentenced in early August. However because Mr. Celil denies the allegations against him, he will soon be given another trial, officers told her.

The information, though unconfirmed by Chinese or Canadian officials, marks the first time Mr. Celil's sentence or whereabouts have been revealed. In defiance of multiple international agreements, China has refused to allow Canadian officials access to the 37-year-old. Chinese authorities have also refused to recognize Mr. Celil's Canadian citizenship.

Mr. Celil, a former imam at a Hamilton mosque, is a member of the Uighur people, a Muslim, Turkic-language minority group whose demand for independence has long incurred the wrath of the Chinese authorities. Mr. Celil was arrested in Uzbekistan while visiting his wife's family in March and was extradited to China three months later. He is accused of terrorist activities and the killing of a Chinese government official in Kyrgyzstan in March of 2000. His family and supporters deny the accusations, and say Mr. Celil's chances of receiving a fair trial in a Chinese court are virtually zero.
Print Edition - Section Front

"It is fundamentally wrong to try him in China," said Uighur Canadian Association president Mohamed Tohti, adding that Chinese authorities have yet to file a formal charge against Mr. Celil. "The trial is totally unlawful."

Reached in her home in Burlington, Mr. Celil's wife, Kamila Telendibaeva, said Mr. Celil's sister in China is trying to verify that he is in fact being held in Bajianghu Jail in Urumqi, capital city of East Turkistan. The massive facility is known to house political prisoners, she said.

"[His family doesn't] know if it's true or lies," she said. "It has been four months and we've heard nothing."

Ms. Celil, who gave birth to her fourth child in late August, said she will go to Ottawa this month to protest against Mr. Celil's detention.

Although Mr. Celil's case has garnered much attention in Canada, it has also taken on ethnic, religious and political dimensions extending well beyond its individual circumstances. Activists have repeatedly pressed Prime Minister Stephen Harper to act, arguing that Mr. Celil is but one example of China's attempts to label the Uighur people as terrorists. Last month, 50 Canadian Muslim leaders also released a signed statement urging Mr. Harper to get involved.

In July, Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay brought up Mr. Celil's case during discussions with his Chinese counterpart. However, those discussions seem to have had little effect -- if any -- on the prisoner's fate.

"The [Chinese] foreign affairs minister simply said, 'Oh, [Mr. Celil] is a terrorist,' " Mr. Tohti said.

So far, there is little indication that Mr. Celil will be heading back to Hamilton any time soon. However, Chinese authorities have yielded to political pressure in the cases of other Uighur prisoners. In March of 2005, Rebiya Kadeer was released after six years in a Chinese prison. Her freedom was in large part due to significant political pressure from Washington. She was released just days before U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was scheduled to visit China. Ms. Kadeer now heads the Uighur American Association.

If Canadian officials don't take a less passive approach to Mr. Celil's case, his supporters say, it might set a precedent that would prove chilling to many Canadian citizens.

"If Canada loses this case, China will have an open door to try any Chinese Canadian at any time," Mr. Tohti said. "That would be a disaster."

Article Source

Thursday, September 07, 2006

A case of federal ignorance?

A case of federal ignorance?

Burlington man sits in Chinese jail on spurious premise that he's a terrorist because he's Muslim


Last week I questioned why Canada should be especially concerned about a citizen, Huseyin Celil, being deported from Uzbekistan to China, where he was sentenced to death in absentia for alleged "terrorist" activities.

Celil is Uighur (it's spelled various ways) who escaped to Mongolia from a Chinese prison and was accepted by Canada as a refugee and settled in Burlington, where he became an imam at a local mosque.

I wrote that Celil should have known better than to visit Uzbekistan, where many Uighurs (pronounced "wee-gurs") live and whose government is barely democratic and vulnerable to China's tentacles.

Where I erred was not clarifying that Celil, although a Muslim, was more concerned with the political repression of Uighurs, who, in a way, endure the sort of cultural genocide that Beijing inflicts on Tibet.

Mohamed Tohti is president of the Uighur Canadian Association. He escaped from China through Mongolia in 1992, and insists that Celil's concerns are more political than religious.

"The Uighurs are the most pro-Western of all Muslims," he says. "That's part of why the Chinese government is so hostile to us. Because most Uighurs are Muslim, China calls all Uighurs terrorists. We are anything but. We are secular and peaceful people."

Celil came to Canada in 2001. According to Mr. Tohti, he contacted the Chinese consulate last fall to inquire how he could get rid of all connections with China: As a new Canadian, he wanted no ties to China.

China doesn't recognize dual citizenship, and when it suits its purpose, it considers anyone born in China one of theirs -- as with Celil.

What bothers Tohti is that despite consular agreements with China, Canada has no diplomatic access to Celil. No charges have been stated; no one knows where he is. Throughout, the Canadian government has been less than vigorous on his behalf.

Ironically, the fuss over the extradition of Celil from Uzbekistan to China (Canada showed no concern at the time) has brought the issue of Uighurs to public attention.

Most people have never heard of Uighurs (there are roughly 2,000 in North America). Alim Seytoff, general secretary of the Uighur American Association, feels by visiting his wife's parents in Uzbekistan, Celil's "only mistake was that he didn't know that China could disregard all international laws when it came to hunting down and punishing Uighur dissidents who have peacefully voiced their opposition to the half-century long repressive Chinese rule."

Prior to 1955, the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region in northwest China was formally known as East Turkestan.

What upsets Mohamed Tohti is the impression that Uighurs might somehow be terrorists linked with al-Qaida. He points out that their region is virtually isolated from the rest of the world -- China's largest, most remote province, bordered north to south by Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyztan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Tibet. That's as about as remote as you can get.

"Foreign journalists are banned from visiting the region," says Tohti. "Beijing authorizes only 150 passports a year for Uighurs. They are captives in isolation."

Several thousand Uighurs in Chinese prison have been designated "prisoners of conscience" by Amnesty International.

Tohti says he's been trying for 16 years, to no avail, to get a passport for his mother to visit him.

"Because we are mostly Muslims (maybe 47% of the 20 million population of Xinjiang), China calls us terrorists, even though we admire and side with the West more than most Muslim countries."

Uighurs are the largest of 46 ethnic groups in Xinjiang, "and as Muslims Uighurs live harmoniously with Buddhists, Christians and atheistic Chinese."

Tohti wishes Ottawa was more understanding of Celil, whom he feels reflects values that make him an exemplary Canadian citizen -- if he ever is returned to Canada.

Article Source

Monday, September 04, 2006

Free Imprisoned Muslim Canadian in China:

Free Imprisoned Muslim Canadian in China

MCC urges Ottawa to intervene vigorously for the release of Huseyincan Celil

TORONTO - The Muslim Canadian Congress has called on Foreign Affairs Minister Peter McKay to pressure the Chinese government for access to Huseyincan Celil, a Canadian citizen, currently being held illegally in China , where he faces a possible death sentence.

Mr. Huseyincan Celil of Burlington was admitted to Canada as a political refugee after escaping a Chinese prison. His crime was to form a political party and argue for the democratic and human rights of an oppressed minority group of Muslims in the western part of China , not far from Tibet . Canada rightly saw that such political activity is no crime, rather an acknowledged human right.

The extent of Mr. Celil's political activity was to represent the Uyghur peoples in the land they have lived for 4000 years. Like the Tibetans, the Uyghur are an oppressed minority group,facing economic, political, religious and cultural suppression. They are treated like strangers in their own lands, their language is banned in schools and their mosques are summarily closed. They practice a moderate form of Sufi Islam and largely lead secular lives.

But, according to the Uyghur Human Rights Project and supported by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, they are the only minority population facing executions for expressing their political and religious freedoms. The Chinese government uses them for slave labour and compulsory unpaid labour on infrastructure projects in the region. The UN High Commissioner has recently expressed her concern over the treatment of the Uyghur people by the Chinese government.

After fleeing China , Mr. Celil was tried in absentia for his democratizing efforts and given the death penalty.

Mr. Celil is undergoing a trial that is not open to the public and he has not been given adequate legal representation. His lawyer in Canada has not been given a response from the government of China when requesting to speak to him. Even the government of Canada does not know his location or status.

Mr. Celil has been denied Canadian consular access, violating international law, the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. It has been four months since Foreign Affairs Minister Peter McKay assured his wife that the government of Canada would take action. Since then, Peter McKay has been brushed off by Chinese government officials and has garnered no information about this desperate case.

According to Professor Burton of Brock University, the Chinese authorities use unproven charges of anti-government activities and terrorism as an excuse to crack down on the political rights of minority groups, and that in the Chinese system once a person comes up for trial, a guilty verdict is all but guaranteed, "the [only] question is what is the nature of the punishment will be". We know that the Chinese government has already declared a punishment of the death penalty in an earlier trial in which Mr. Celil was denied a defence.

The MCC supports the Uyghur Canadian Association in arguing that Mr. Celil's role in organizing the Uyghur people to demand their rights through non-violent means is protected by the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Curious case of Canuck abroad

Curious case of Canuck abroad


In a front page story this week, the Globe and Mail recounted how a Canadian citizen, Hussein Celil, had been arrested in Uzbekistan and deported to China.

On the surface, it seems yet another case of a Canadian in trouble overseas being abandoned by his government.

Yet there are wrinkles that make this story different from the outrage that happened to Bill Sampson -- framed in 2001 for murder in Saudi Arabia and sentenced to death, with the Canadian government preferring to believe Saudi protestations of their decency rather than the visual evidence of Sampson's torture.

Nor is Celil's case similar to that of Montreal photographer Zahra Kazemi, who in 2003 was raped and murdered by Iranian police who didn't realize she had a Canadian as well as an Iranian passport.

Celil's case is more curious. In 1994 he was arrested in China for activities on behalf of the Uighur people (one of China's 56 nationalities) and was sentenced to death in absentia after he escaped to Turkey .

In Turkey he applied for (and got) admission to Canada in 2001 as a refugee. He settled in Burlington with his wife and began siring children -- four, at this count.

Celil is Muslim and was an imam at the Burlington mosque. In fact, his ardent religious activism is what got him into trouble in China.

What are the Uighurs, you might ask? There are up to 10 million of them world-wide, most of them converts to Islam, and most of them living in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia. About a million live in China's northwestern province of Xinjiang.

China views the Uighur independence movement as terrorism. Thus their antipathy to Celil.

The question begs: Wotinell was Celil doing in Uzbekistan, apart from visiting his wife's relatives?

Is the guy nuts -- a refugee, given sanctuary by a generous Canadian government going back into where trouble awaits while his family exists on welfare?

Four sons since 2001 are evidence that he's spent some time in Burlington, but clearly he was up to something questionable in Uzbekistan (hardly a Jeffersonian democracy).

Since he has dual Chinese and Canadian citizenship, he surely should have known the chance he was taking.

The Uighurs have a tortured history. Their region was known as Eastern Turkestan before being conquered by China's Manchu armies in 1921.

The Soviet Union pushed communism on the Uighurs, who also subscribed to Islam. The men take multiple wives (contrary to Chinese law) and males are considered adults at 12, girls at 9.

Although Uighurs are not "terrorists" by our definition, they are a nuisance to the Chinese, and Hussein Celil seems more than an Islamic pacifist doing his bit in Central Asia to promote world peace.

At Guantanamo Bay, some 22 of the original 700 al-Qaida suspects were Uighurs -- most of whom have since been released as they have no apparent argument with America.

The question raised by the Celil and other cases, is why should Canada give refuge to those with no allegiance to Canada who are bent on clandestine activities in other countries?

Celil's wife survives on welfare and gripes Canada is lax in helping her man, who has landed in the chow mein when he should have known better.

Technically he's a Canadian citizen -- but also a Chinese citizen. Whatever he was doing in China (and in Uzbekistan) might have been legal in Canada but was not in those countries, which have a lousy record for human rights.

Celil may not be a terrorist, as the Chinese claim, but it's hard to see why Canada should feel responsible for this guy whose allegiance is elsewhere.

Article Source

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Counting the cost of expansion

Counting the cost of expansion

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

China's push into western hinterlands has left many on the land feeling marginalized, writes Don Lee

Not too long ago, Kashgar was a sleepy town with mud houses, largely unchanged since Marco Polo trekked through in the 13th century.

But now, this frontier town, like other outposts in China's far west, is booming with oil, cotton, coal and trade. Trains, new highways and an international airport are bringing thousands of people from neighboring Pakistan who want to take in the tourist sites and buy inexpensive Chinese goods.

A few months ago, oil from Kazakhstan arrived by way of a new 965-kilometer pipeline financed by energy- hungry China. Trade with neighbors Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan is breaking records.

China's soaring economy is often pictured in gleaming skyscrapers in coastal cities. But like America's Westward Ho of the 1800s, Beijing's Go West campaign of the past decade is transforming vast swaths of Central Asia by opening up China's western hinterlands, populated by millions of minority peoples. Hundreds of thousands of ethnic Chinese have flocked there, hoping to cash in with new construction jobs and business ventures.

Beijing, analysts say, is pushing west with two clear motives: to spread economic development and to keep in check Tibetans and, in Xinjiang region, the Uygurs, Muslims of Turkic descent. About nine million Uygurs live in Xinjiang, and over the years, separatist groups have clashed violently with Chinese forces, demanding independence and religious freedom.

For now, Beijing seems to have strengthened its economic and political grip in the region. While China has been a caldron of unrest, with 87,000 sometimes-violent protests nationwide last year, there has been no large-scale rioting in Xinjiang in two years, according to experts who track such activity.

Human-rights groups have accused the Chinese of taking advantage of America's war on terrorism, following the attacks on September 11, 2001, to increase repression of Uygurs. Beijing has repeatedly denied the claim, even as it has cracked down on Uygur activists and successfully lobbied the United States to label as terrorists a group of militant Uygurs in Xinjiang.

Although Beijing has used guns and force in the past to restrain Uygurs, in its arsenal of late have been people such as Wong Sonok, a merchant trader from Shenzhen in southeast China.

Marco Polo is said to have found Kashgar an oasis when he arrived there in 1275 on his journey through the Silk Road. When Wong arrived in 1998, there were more donkey carts than taxis in the city's mostly dirt roads. Kashgar and other areas of Xinjiang were still smoldering from rioting, bus bombings and assassinations in which scores of people were killed and injured.

The streets have since quieted. Today, the 50-year-old Wong sits behind a stately desk, overseeing the construction of an entrepot and international trading center similar to China's giant wholesale market in Yiwu in eastern Zhejiang province, where more than 3,000 foreign traders flock daily.

Some of those traders in Yiwu travel from Pakistan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan. Wong's US$50 million (HK$390 million) International Trade City in Kashgar will shorten their trip. "We're creating a bridge to Central Asia," he says.

Beijing has provided US$15 billion for roads, dams and power transmission lines. State-owned energy companies have kicked in billions more, helping to pay for the pipeline from Kazakhstan's Caspian coast.

Xinjiang may be the linchpin of Beijing's push westward. The region is the size of Alaska, occupying one-sixth of China's land mass. Its climate and terrain is as varied as California's, with deserts and towering mountain ranges. Xinjiang is rich in coal and cotton, fruits and wine.

Although government figures on migration are not available, at least 180,000 Chinese from one distant province alone, Zhejiang, are estimated to have settled and started businesses in Xinjiang, many in the past decade.

The Han Chinese account for more than 90 percent of China's population and about 40 percent of Xinjiang's almost 20 million residents, according to the latest figures from Beijing. Apart from Arabic signs in Uygur enclaves, Urumqi, the region's capital, resembles most Chinese cities, with an abundance of pale apartment buildings, a People's Square in the center of town and KFCs sprinkled throughout.

Residents say Beijing's ongoing campaign has chilled Uygurs' hopes for an independent state. Many Uygurs declined to be interviewed, fearful of reprisals from police. Others said it was better to toe the line and secure economic gains, rather than spend time on political activities that would be quickly quashed.

The Uygurs in Xinjiang are in a "silent, pragmatic period," said Joanne Smith, a Uygur expert at Britain's Newcastle University.

In Kashgar, narrow alleys that meander through earthen houses are redolent of lamb and naan bread, sold by bearded skull-capped old men. Young craftsmen with their fathers sit in stalls fashioning bronze pots and Turkish long-neck lutes.

Inside a small storefront up a narrow alley, Abilkem, a lanky 22-year-old with a thin mustache, was behind a counter, facing a bank of nine red telephones, three of them for international calling. Ablikem, who like many Uygurs goes by one name, said business has been bustling with tourists and foreign visitors.

Some Uygur merchants are prospering from a rise in Chinese tourists and expanding trade with Central Asia.

But many Uygurs, especially those older, cannot communicate in Putonghua; they speak a Turkish language and read Arabic. That makes it tough to get jobs at Chinese companies.

Officially, the registered unemployment in Xinjiang, like many provinces of China, has been a steady 4 percent for years. But the streets tell a different picture.

In Kashgar's People's Park, Uygurs young and old sit forlornly on benches under trees in the middle of a hot afternoon. Chinese merchants nearby sell drinks and snacks. A lone Uygur peddles plum juice for 5 US cents a bowl.

Across the street, a 26-meter-high stone statue of Mao, said to be the tallest in all of China, reminds everyone who is in charge. LOS ANGELES TIMES

article source

Jailed Uyghur student has Todai on his side

Jailed Uyghur student has Todai on his side


Tohti Tunyaz

Tsugitaka Sato, a University of Tokyo (Todai) professor emeritus, is determined to see one of his students freed from an 11-year term in a Chinese prison for inciting unrest.

Sato traveled to the Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region in western China in late July to campaign for the release of Tohti Tunyaz, 46, a Uyghur who was a student of Sato's in Japan until 1998, when he was arrested on a visit home.

Authorities say he was involved in the Xinjiang region independence movement.

Sato, 63, an expert on Islamic regions, spent about a week in the capital of Urumqi, petitioning officials on Tohti's behalf.

It was Sato's fourth visit to Urumqi since the arrest.

"I was unable to see him. But it is important to show to the Chinese authorities that we are still greatly concerned about this," said Sato.

Tohti entered the University of Tokyo's graduate school in 1995. He traveled home to Xinjiang Uyghur three years later to look for historical documents to support his thesis about China's policies toward the country's ethnic minorities.

He was arrested a few weeks after arriving there.

Chinese authorities alleged that Tohti planned to publish a book that would encourage the Xinjiang independence movement. His trial took two years.

In 2000, he was found guilty of inciting national disunity and sentenced to 11 years in prison by the Supreme Court.

Since then, the University of Tokyo has continued to lobby for his release. Successive presidents of the university have written letters to Chinese leaders to ask for Tohti's release.

"Tohti was critical of the independence movement. He did not plan to publish a book. His arrest is based on misunderstandings," the letters state.

When Sato retired three years ago, the university appointed another professor as Tohti's adviser, listing the imprisoned student as "temporarily absent" in its student rolls.

"The university is renewing his record every year so that whenever he is released, he can resume his studies. We are not going to forget this incident," Sato said.(IHT/Asahi: August 30,2006)

article source

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A family's fate hinges on Chinese justice

A family's fate hinges on Chinese justice



A day after giving birth, Kamila Telendibaeva sat alone in the corner of a cold hospital room gazing at her newborn son.

Bound tightly in a white blanket, the infant slept soundly as his mother chewed on the nail of her index finger.

"He's got his daddy's eyes," Ms. Telendibaeva said, clad in a blue housecoat and a leopard-print veil. "It makes me think of him, and it's hard."

This was the fourth time the 29-year-old had given birth, but the first time she did it alone, without her husband by her side.

For more than two months, Huseyin Celil (pronounced je-lil) has sat in a Chinese jail cell facing charges for alleged involvement in separatist activities supposedly dating back to the early 1990s, when he lived in the country's far-western Xinjiang region.

In March, the Canadian citizen was arrested in Uzbekistan while visiting his wife's family. Three months later, he was extradited to China, accused of terrorist activities and killing a Chinese government official in Kyrgyzstan in March of 2000.

His family and his lawyer vehemently deny the allegations, saying Mr. Celil was in Turkey waiting for refugee status in 2000. His wife admits he was politically active in his homeland and had spoken out against China, but says he had never been violent and is certainly not a terrorist.

But they likely won't get a chance to defend him. Chinese officials are keeping Mr. Celil's whereabouts secret, saying only that his trial is not yet complete. China has denied the Canadian government consular access to him, which contradicts the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

The ordeal has taken its toll on the Burlington, Ont., family.

With the birth of the baby, who will be one week old tomorrow, Ms. Telendibaeva now has four sons and raising them is a full-time job. Her eldest, seven-year-old Mohammad, is developmentally disabled and uses a wheelchair. He cannot bathe himself or eat without assistance. Ms. Telendibaeva's mother has flown to Canada on a six-month visa to help.

With no breadwinner, finances are quickly drying up. The family survives on $600 a month in welfare payments. Amid the chaos of single parenthood, Ms. Telendibaeva says she is always thinking about her husband, constantly wondering where he is, how he is and if he's ever coming home.

The Department of Foreign Affairs maintains it is actively working to find out where Mr. Celil is being held and precisely what charges he's facing, and to ensure he has adequate representation.

So far, diplomatic efforts have gotten nowhere. Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay raised Mr. Celil's case during a meeting last month with his Chinese counterpart. But the minister was brushed off, receiving no information about the Canadian in custody.

Wayne Marston, NDP critic for international affairs, is slamming the government for not doing enough. He's calling on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to personally get involved in the case and send a special envoy to China in search of answers.

"I can't fathom why Mr. Harper wouldn't come to the aid of a Canadian citizen," said Mr. Marston, MP for Hamilton East-Stoney Creek. "It's baffling to me. We have a Canadian citizen here who is under the threat of death. What further extreme do you need to pull out all the stops to try to help?"

Before his detainment, Mr. Celil was an imam at a Hamilton mosque. He was a popular mentor to young pupils and was studying accounting at Mohawk College, his wife said.

Three weeks ago, the family thought they had struck a lead in the case when Mr. Celil's sister in China was told by a local police officer that her brother was being held in either Kashgar or Urumqi, cities in Xinjiang region. But Canadian officials have been unable to confirm the rumour.

Chinese officials told Ottawa this month they are not seeking the death penalty, although the country has sentenced Mr. Celil to death once before. In 1994, he was arrested in China on charges of forming a political party to work on behalf of the Uyghur people, a Muslim, Turkic-language minority group long at odds with China over the right to greater freedom.

After serving a month in prison, Mr. Celil escaped, eventually buying false documents to enter Uzbekistan, his wife said. He made his way to Turkey before being granted refugee status in Canada in 2001. Meanwhile, in China, a court sentenced Mr. Celil to death in absentia for his alleged role in the anti-government political movement.

The family's lawyer said he worries more about Mr. Celil's condition with each passing day.

"My private fear is that he's not in the shape to be seen and that's why they're denying access to him," said Chris MacLeod, alluding to the possibility of torture.

More than a month ago, Mr. MacLeod wrote a letter to the Chinese ambassador to Canada, requesting a visa so he could visit his client in jail. There has been no response.

Government officials in Canada have also been tight-lipped on the case, rarely commenting publicly and often having little to say.

"The minister is following this case very closely," said Foreign Affairs spokesperson Ambra Dickie. "We continue to maintain regular contact with Mr. Celil's family in Canada. The minister, Mr. MacKay, has personally met with his wife."

But that was more than four months ago, when Mr. Celil was being held in Uzbekistan. "I met with [Mr. MacKay] for 15 minutes and he said he would do everything he could to get him out," Ms. Telendibaeva said.

"He told me they would try to get Russia to put pressure on China. But he did not do enough."

Charles Burton, a former Canadian diplomat based in China, believes Canada is steadily losing negotiating power as time drags on.

"The whole case hasn't been handled very well and I'm very concerned about Mr. Celil," said Mr. Burton, a professor of political science at Ontario's Brock University. "In the Chinese system, once someone comes up for trial it's very unusual for them to be declared not guilty. If he is found guilty, the question is what the nature of the punishment will be."

Mr. Burton said China has used the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to crack down on the Uyghur minority, aiming to convince the international community that the group promotes terrorism.

"Since 9/11 there are blurred lines between what's considered political activity, what's separatism and the Chinese government calls terrorism," he said. "The Chinese government wants the West to believe Uyghurs are terrorists. But there is no empirical evidence of this."

If Ms. Telendibaeva could get one message to her husband it would be that he has another son, and that the baby is named Zubeyir, the name he liked. Family friends suggested she name the child after his father, but Ms. Telendibaeva refused.

"I won't do that. I don't want to replace him because I still have hope that he's coming home," she said defiantly.

But as weeks turn into months without word on his condition, she cannot help but lose some of that hope as the reality of the situation sets in. She may never see her husband again. He may never see his child. And she knows that.

Article Source

Monday, August 28, 2006

Double Opportunity in China's Far West (LA Times)

Double Opportunity in China's Far West
Beijing seeks growth, analysts say, but also control of separatists.
By Don Lee
Times Staff Writer

August 28, 2006

WAITING: Tourism has boomed along with industry in western China. An ethnic Uighur man in Urumqi, one of millions of minorities in the Xinjiang region, offers his camel as a photo op. (Don Lee / LAT)

KASHGAR, China — Not too long ago, Kashgar was a sleepy town with mud houses, largely unchanged since Marco Polo trekked through in the 13th century.

But now this frontier town and other outposts in China's far west are booming with oil, cotton, coal and trade. Trains, new highways and an international airport are bringing thousands of people from neighboring Pakistan who want to take in the tourist sites and buy inexpensive Chinese goods.

A few months ago, oil from Kazakhstan arrived in the region by way of a new 600-mile pipeline financed by energy-hungry China. Trade with neighbors Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan is breaking records.

China's soaring economy is most often illustrated by gleaming skyscrapers in coastal cities. But the nation's economic growth is also evident in other ways: Like America's Westward Ho of the 1800s, Beijing's Go West campaign of the last decade is transforming vast swaths of Central Asia by opening up the western hinterlands, populated by millions of ethnic minorities.

Hundreds of thousands of ethnic Chinese have flocked here, hoping to cash in on construction jobs and business ventures.

The Chinese government, analysts say, is pushing west with two clear motives: to spread economic development, and to keep in check Tibetans and, here in the Xinjiang region, the Uighurs, Muslims of Turkic descent. About 9 million Uighurs live in Xinjiang, and over the years separatist groups have clashed with Chinese forces, demanding independence and religious freedom.

For now, Beijing seems to have strengthened its economic and political grip on the region. Although China has been a caldron of unrest, with 87,000 protests nationwide last year, there has been no large-scale rioting in Xinjiang in two years, experts who track such activity say.

Human rights groups have accused the Chinese government of taking advantage of the U.S.-declared war on terrorism to increase its repression of Uighurs. Beijing has denied the claim, even as it has cracked down on Uighur activists and successfully lobbied the United States to label as terrorists a group of militant Uighurs in Xinjiang.

Although Beijing has used guns and force to restrain Uighurs, its arsenal of late has included people such as Wong So Nok, a merchant from Shenzhen in southeastern China.

Marco Polo is said to have found Kashgar an oasis when he arrived in 1275 on his journey along the Silk Road.

When Wong arrived in 1998, there were more donkey carts than taxis on the city's mostly dirt roads. Kashgar and other areas of Xinjiang were still smoldering from rioting, bus bombings and slayings that left scores of victims.

Today, the 50-year-old Wong sits behind a stately desk overseeing the construction of an international trading center similar to the giant wholesale market in Yiwu in the eastern province of Zhejiang, where more than 3,000 foreign traders flock daily.

Some of those traders in Yiwu travel from Pakistan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan. Wong's $50-million International Trade City in Kashgar will shorten their trip.

"We're creating a bridge to Central Asia," Wong said.

Beijing has spent $15 billion on roads, dams and power lines. State-owned energy companies have kicked in billions more, helping to pay for the 600-mile pipeline from Kazakhstan's Caspian coast.

Beijing's efforts to tap Kazakhstan's growing oil production in the Caspian Sea fields could present a challenge to U.S. energy interests there, some analysts said.

Some U.S. lawmakers have expressed concern that America is increasingly being isolated in the region while China cements relations.

Beijing is making a similar effort to develop and exert greater influence in Tibet. Last month, China inaugurated a train line to the snowcapped plateaus of Tibet.

Xinjiang may be the linchpin of Beijing's push westward. The region is the size of Alaska, occupying one-sixth of China's land. Its climate and terrain are as varied as California's, with deserts and towering mountains. Xinjiang produces coal, cotton, fruits and wine.

Although government figures on migration aren't available, at least 180,000 Chinese from one distant province alone, Zhejiang, are estimated to have settled and started businesses in Xinjiang, many in the last decade.

The Han Chinese account for more than 90% of China's population and about 40% of Xinjiang's almost 20 million residents, according to the latest figures from Beijing. Western scholars think there are many more Han Chinese in Xinjiang than official statistics show.

Their influx has transformed Urumqi, Xinjiang's capital. Apart from Arabic signs in Uighur enclaves, Urumqi resembles most Chinese cities, with an abundance of pale apartment buildings, a People's Square in the center of town and KFCs sprinkled throughout.

Residents say Beijing's ongoing campaign has chilled Uighurs' hopes for an independent state. Many Uighurs declined to be interviewed, fearful of reprisals from police. Others said that it was better to toe the line and secure economic gains, rather than spend time on political activities that would be quickly quashed.

The Uighurs in Xinjiang are in a "silent, pragmatic period," said Joanne Smith, a Uighur expert at Britain's Newcastle University. Xinjiang government officials declined to comment.

In Kashgar, narrow alleys that meander through earthen houses are redolent of lamb and naan, sold by bearded old men in skullcaps. Young craftsmen and their fathers sit in stalls, fashioning bronze pots and Turkish long-neck lutes.

Inside a small storefront up a narrow alley, Abilkem, a lanky 22-year-old with a thin mustache, was behind a counter facing a bank of nine red telephones, three of them used for international calls.

Abilkem, who, like many Uighurs, goes by one name, said business had been bustling with tourists and foreign visitors.

The most frequent calls are to Pakistan, for which Abilkem charges 40 cents a minute. He said he made a $100 profit each month.

The Chinese may not understand the Uighurs entirely. But Wang Shaoming, a senior manager at Xinjiang Esquel Textile, a Hong Kong group with factories in Xinjiang, measures economic progress by the shirts on his back.

Wang moved to Urumqi as a boy in 1966 with his parents, who, like millions of Chinese soldiers, were sent to Xinjiang by Mao Tse-tung to support economic and military projects in the west.

After graduating from college in the mid-1980s with a major in textiles, Wang began work in the garment trade. At the time, he said, China didn't have the know-how to make quality shirts. He earned enough to buy one or two cotton shirts. The 45-year-old says he now wears cotton Oxfords like socks, changing them every day.

Xinjiang Esquel's factory in Urumqi supplies the fabric for the shirts, processing local and imported cotton, including pima from California.

But if Wang can afford a closet full of shirts, his 1,000 factory workers can't.

Most city dwellers in Xinjiang earned about $1,000 after taxes last year, up 8% from 2004. But average urban income nationwide rose 11% to $1,300. Between Han Chinese and Uighurs, the divide is wider.

Some Uighur merchants are prospering from a rise in Chinese tourists and expanding trade with Central Asia. But many Uighurs, especially the elderly, can't communicate in Mandarin; they speak a Turkic language and read Arabic. That makes it tough to get jobs at Chinese companies.

State-owned enterprises are known to restrict Uighurs from growing facial hair or praying in the workplace. Uighurs say some employers require them to pay for jobs.

Officially, the unemployment rate in Xinjiang, like many provinces of China, has been 4% for years. But the streets tell a different story.

In Kashgar's People's Park, Uighurs young and old sit forlornly on benches under trees in the middle of a hot afternoon. Chinese merchants sell drinks and snacks. A lone Uighur peddles plum juice for 5 cents a bowl.

Across the street, an 85-foot stone statue of Mao, said to be the tallest in China, reminds everyone who is in charge.

Copyright 2006 Los Angeles Times

article sources

China's Uyghur Muslims

China's Uyghur Muslims
CBC News Viewpoint
August 28, 2006

Ashifa Kassam After years of experience in the field of human rights and social justice issues in Canada, Ashifa Kassam started to wonder how others around the world have been coping with their own challenges. With the intent of satisfying her curiosity, she is currently traveling across continents to volunteer with various grassroots development organizations. Originally from Calgary and educated at Queen's University, this freelance writer and activist aims to tell stories that will take readers far beyond tourism.

Devotional chants ring out all around me. The walls of this ancient mosque resonate in harmony with these chants, rewarding the hundreds of people deep in prayer with an atmosphere of surreal calm.

This calm contrasts sharply with the hectic city that lies just beyond the mosque's steps. Chaotic, narrow lanes that lead into the mosque are crammed with vendors selling everything from Muslim food to Chairman Mao memorabilia. Giant billboards adorned with skinny models and Mandarin phrases stare down at the pedestrians who crowd the streets. Kites fly above the whole scene, painting the last bit of untouched landscape with dozens of bright colours.

I am in Xian, once the capital of China and home to the Great Mosque of Xian. Built in the 18th century, this mosque is the hub of activity for the more than 60,000 Muslims who live in Xian. As this is one of the largest mosques in China, it is the most prominent clue regarding the story of Muslims in China. It is estimated that there are anywhere from 20 million to 40 million Muslims currently living in China.

The first recorded arrival of Muslims in China was in 650 A.D. Although the Muslim envoy failed at their mission to convert Emperor Gaozong of Tang China to Islam, the emperor demonstrated his respect by ordering the construction of the first Chinese mosque in the Tang capital city of Chang-an.

During the remainder of the Tang dynasty, and during the Song and Yuan dynasties, a steady stream of Muslims arrived from the Arab world, driven by trade opportunities along the Silk Road. This immigration slowed drastically during the Ming dynasty, isolating the Muslims in China from the rest of the Islamic world. As a result, these Muslims increasingly adopted the Chinese language, dress and surnames. The mosques of China, which are built using traditional Chinese architecture laden with Arabic devotional inscriptions indicate the extent to which these Muslims have integrated into Chinese society.

Collectively referred to as the Hui minority, these Muslims have been granted a certain degree of religious freedom in Communist China. But not all Muslims in China have been so lucky. In the northwest corner of China lies the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), home to the Uyghur Muslim population. The most recent Chinese government census put the population of Uyghur Muslims in the XUAR at nine million, but Uyghur exile groups claim there are closer to 18 million Uyghur Muslims living in the region.

Similar to the Tibetans who live in the Tibetan Autonomous Region of China, the Uyghurs are the indigenous majority of the XUAR. Their unique culture is revealed by their Central Asian heritage, their distinct language and their devotion to Islam. Like the Tibetans, the Uyghurs claim their culture has been systematically eroded by the Chinese government since the People's Republic of China (PRC) declared the XUAR part of China in 1949. As in the case of the Tibetans, this claim has been echoed by human rights organizations ranging from Amnesty International to Human Rights Watch.

But unlike the Tibetans, the Uyghurs have no charismatic leader-in-exile or celebrities in Hollywood to champion their cause. For this reason, few around the world ever hear the story of the Uyghur people.

In the late 1930s and late 1940s, the Uyghurs managed twice to declare an East Turkestan republic in the XUAR, but those successes were short lived. Since falling under Beijing's control, nationalist sentiments have continued to simmer in the XUAR, especially as the PRC continues their persecution of this ethnic group from every possible angle.

As Islam is the major feature underpinning the Uyghur culture, the PRC has taken strong measures to curb the religious practice of these Muslims. In contrast with the freedoms granted to the Hui minority, in the XUAR the PRC controls where religious gatherings may be held, who can be a cleric and what version of the Qu'ran may be used. Fasting is prohibited, in spite of being mandatory for Muslims during the holy month of Ramadan. Communist party members and anyone under the age of 18 are forbidden from participating in any religious activity. In order to enforce these rules, government officials keep all mosques in the XUAR under constant surveillance.

Other aspects of the Uyghur culture have been targeted as well. Many prominent Uyghur writers and poets are in jail, and history books that do not conform to the PRC-approved version of history have been banned. Despite the Uyghurs being the majority in the XUAR, the Chinese government recently changed laws to force all schools in the region to teach students in Mandarin rather than in Uyghur.

The Uyghurs have also been economically marginalized since the PRC began providing incentives for the Han population — the ethnic group that comprises the majority of China — to move to the resource-rich XUAR. In 1949, the official census placed the number of Han at six per cent of the population in the XUAR, but by 1978 that figure had climbed to 40 per cent. The Hans are always favoured for jobs and Uyghurs are often paid less than Hans who work the same jobs.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, the treatment of the Uyghurs has worsened under the banner of the PRC´s commitment to the United States-led war against terror. Citing the strong nationalist sentiments that continue to exist among the Uyghur population in the XUAR, the PRC has labelled these peaceful farmers as an ethno-nationalist threat to the Chinese state. This classification is used to justify the continued marginalization of these people, in the name of "fighting terror."

This has led to an increasing number of arrests in the XUAR, most recently that of a Canadian citizen.

Huseyincan Celil fled China in the mid-1990´s and became a Canadian citizen in 2001. In absentia, China sentenced him to death on charges of organizing a political party to work on behalf of the Uyghur people. During a recent visit to relatives in Uzbekistan, he was extradited to China. The resident of Burlington, Ont., is now being held in a secret Chinese prison awaiting his sentence.

The Uyghur Canadian Association, arguing that Celil´s role in organizing the Uyghur people to demand their rights through non-violent means is protected by the UN´s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, has appealed to the Canadian government to intervene on Celil´s behalf.

The Canadian government has tried to talk with the PRC about Celil, but their attempts have been met with silence. This silence doesn't bode well for Celil, and typifies the problem with silence that has plagued the Uyghur people for the last half-century.

For despite the fact that the Uyghurs remain the only people who continue to be executed on political charges by Chinese authorities, despite the rampant human-rights abuses that continue across the XUAR and despite the fact that the UN High Commissioner recently expressed her concern over the treatment of the Uyghurs by the PRC, the persecution of the Uyghurs in China remains a story that rarely finds an audience.

article source

Sunday, August 27, 2006

A meeting of civilisations

A meeting of civilisations: The mystery of China's celtic mummies
The discovery of European corpses thousands of miles away suggests a hitherto unknown connection between East and West in the Bronze Age.

Clifford Coonan reports from Urumqi

Published: 28 August 2006

Solid as a warrior of the Caledonii tribe, the man's hair is reddish brown flecked with grey, framing high cheekbones, a long nose, full lips and a ginger beard. When he lived three thousand years ago, he stood six feet tall, and was buried wearing a red twill tunic and tartan leggings. He looks like a Bronze Age European. In fact, he's every inch a Celt. Even his DNA says so.

But this is no early Celt from central Scotland. This is the mummified corpse of Cherchen Man, unearthed from the scorched sands of the Taklamakan Desert in the far-flung region of Xinjiang in western China, and now housed in a new museum in the provincial capital of Urumqi. In the language spoken by the local Uighur people in Xinjiang, "Taklamakan" means: "You come in and never come out."

The extraordinary thing is that Cherchen Man was found - with the mummies of three women and a baby - in a burial site thousands of miles to the east of where the Celts established their biggest settlements in France and the British Isles.

DNA testing confirms that he and hundreds of other mummies found in Xinjiang's Tarim Basin are of European origin. We don't know how he got there, what brought him there, or how long he and his kind lived there for. But, as the desert's name suggests, it is certain that he never came out.

His discovery provides an unexpected connection between east and west and some valuable clues to early European history.

One of the women who shared a tomb with Cherchen Man has light brown hair which looks as if it was brushed and braided for her funeral only yesterday. Her face is painted with curling designs, and her striking red burial gown has lost none of its lustre during the three millenniums that this tall, fine-featured woman has been lying beneath the sand of the Northern Silk Road.

The bodies are far better preserved than the Egyptian mummies, and it is sad to see the infants on display; to see how the baby was wrapped in a beautiful brown cloth tied with red and blue cord, then a blue stone placed on each eye. Beside it was a baby's milk bottle with a teat, made from a sheep's udder.

Based on the mummy, the museum has reconstructed what Cherchen Man would have looked like and how he lived. The similarities to the traditional Bronze Age Celts are uncanny, and analysis has shown that the weave of the cloth is the same as that of those found on the bodies of salt miners in Austria from 1300BC.

The burial sites of Cherchen Man and his fellow people were marked with stone structures that look like dolmens from Britain, ringed by round-faced, Celtic figures, or standing stones. Among their icons were figures reminiscent of the sheela-na-gigs, wild females who flaunted their bodies and can still be found in mediaeval churches in Britain. A female mummy wears a long, conical hat which has to be a witch or a wizard's hat. Or a druid's, perhaps? The wooden combs they used to fan their tresses are familiar to students of ancient Celtic art.

At their peak, around 300BC, the influence of the Celts stretched from Ireland in the west to the south of Spain and across to Italy's Po Valley, and probably extended to parts of Poland and Ukraine and the central plain of Turkey in the east. These mummies seem to suggest, however, that the Celts penetrated well into central Asia, nearly making it as far as Tibet.

The Celts gradually infiltrated Britain between about 500 and 100BC. There was probably never anything like an organised Celtic invasion: they arrived at different times, and are considered a group of peoples loosely connected by similar language, religion, and cultural expression.

The eastern Celts spoke a now-dead language called Tocharian, which is related to Celtic languages and part of the Indo-European group. They seem to have been a peaceful folk, as there are few weapons among the Cherchen find and there is little evidence of a caste system.

Even older than the Cherchen find is that of the 4,000-year-old Loulan Beauty, who has long flowing fair hair and is one of a number of mummies discovered near the town of Loulan. One of these mummies was an eight-year-old child wrapped in a piece of patterned wool cloth, closed with bone pegs.

The Loulan Beauty's features are Nordic. She was 45 when she died, and was buried with a basket of food for the next life, including domesticated wheat, combs and a feather.

The Taklamakan desert has given up hundreds of desiccated corpses in the past 25 years, and archaeologists say the discoveries in the Tarim Basin are some of the most significant finds in the past quarter of a century.

"From around 1800BC, the earliest mummies in the Tarim Basin were exclusively Caucausoid, or Europoid," says Professor Victor Mair of Pennsylvania University, who has been captivated by the mummies since he spotted them partially obscured in a back room in the old museum in 1988. "He looked like my brother Dave sleeping there, and that's what really got me. Lying there with his eyes closed," Professor Mair said.
It's a subject that exercises him and he has gone to extraordinary lengths, dodging difficult political issues, to gain further knowledge of these remarkable people.

East Asian migrants arrived in the eastern portions of the Tarim Basin about 3,000 years ago, Professor Mair says, while the Uighur peoples arrived after the collapse of the Orkon Uighur Kingdom, based in modern-day Mongolia, around the year 842.

A believer in the "inter-relatedness of all human communities", Professor Mair resists attempts to impose a theory of a single people arriving in Xinjiang, and believes rather that the early Europeans headed in different directions, some travelling west to become the Celts in Britain and Ireland, others taking a northern route to become the Germanic tribes, and then another offshoot heading east and ending up in Xinjiang.

This section of the ancient Silk Road is one of the world's most barren precincts. You are further away from the sea here than at any other place, and you can feel it. This where China tests its nuclear weapons. Labour camps are scattered all around - who would try to escape? But the remoteness has worked to the archaeologists' advantage. The ancient corpses have avoided decay because the Tarim Basin is so dry, with alkaline soils. Scientists have been able to glean information about many aspects of our Bronze Age forebears from the mummies, from their physical make-up to information about how they buried their dead, what tools they used and what clothes they wore.

In her book The Mummies of Urumchi, the textile expert Elizabeth Wayland Barber examines the tartan-style cloth, and reckons it can be traced back to Anatolia and the Caucasus, the steppe area north of the Black Sea. Her theory is that this group divided, starting in the Caucasus and then splitting, one group going west and another east.

Even though they have been dead for thousands of years, every perfectly preserved fibre of the mummies' make-up has been relentlessly politicised.

The received wisdom in China says that two hundred years before the birth of Christ, China's emperor Wu Di sent an ambassador to the west to establish an alliance against the marauding Huns, then based in Mongolia. The route across Asia that the emissary, Zhang Qian, took eventually became the Silk Road to Europe. Hundreds of years later Marco Polo came, and the opening up of China began.

The very thought that Caucasians were settled in a part of China thousands of years before Wu Di's early contacts with the west and Marco Polo's travels has enormous political ramifications. And that these Europeans should have been in restive Xinjiang hundreds of years before East Asians is explosive.

The Chinese historian Ji Xianlin, writing a preface to Ancient Corpses of Xinjiang by the Chinese archaeologist Wang Binghua, translated by Professor Mair, says China "supported and admired" research by foreign experts into the mummies. "However, within China a small group of ethnic separatists have taken advantage of this opportunity to stir up trouble and are acting like buffoons. Some of them have even styled themselves the descendants of these ancient 'white people' with the aim of dividing the motherland. But these perverse acts will not succeed," Ji wrote.

Many Uighurs consider the Han Chinese as invaders. The territory was annexed by China in 1955, and the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region established, and there have been numerous incidents of unrest over the years. In 1997 in the northern city of Yining there were riots by Muslim separatists and Chinese security forces cracked down, with nine deaths. There are occasional outbursts, and the region remains very heavily policed.

Not surprisingly, the government has been slow to publicise these valuable historical finds for fear of fuelling separatist currents in Xinjiang.

The Loulan Beauty, for example, was claimed by the Uighurs as their symbol in song and image, although genetic testing now shows that she was in fact European.
Professor Mair acknowledges that the political dimension to all this has made his work difficult, but says that the research shows that the people of Xinjiang are a dizzying mixture. "They tend to mix as you enter the Han Dynasty. By that time the East Asian component is very noticeable," he says. "Modern DNA and ancient DNA show that Uighurs, Kazaks, Kyrgyzs, the peoples of central Asia are all mixed Caucasian and East Asian. The modern and ancient DNA tell the same story," he says.

Altogether there are 400 mummies in various degrees of desiccation and decomposition, including the prominent Han Chinese warrior Zhang Xiong and other Uighur mummies, and thousands of skulls. The mummies will keep the scientists busy for a long time. Only a handful of the better-preserved ones are on display in the impressive new Xinjiang museum. Work began in 1999, but was stopped in 2002 after a corruption scandal and the jailing of a former director for involvement in the theft of antiques.

The museum finally opened on the 50th anniversary of China's annexation of the restive region, and the mummies are housed in glass display cases (which were sealed with what looked like Sellotape) in a multi-media wing.

In the same room are the much more recent Han mummies - equally interesting, but rendering the display confusing, as it groups all the mummies closely together. Which makes sound political sense.

This political correctness continues in another section of the museum dedicated to the achievements of the Chinese revolution, and boasts artefacts from the Anti-Japanese War (1931-1945).

Best preserved of all the corpses is Yingpan Man, known as the Handsome Man, a 2,000-year-old Caucasian mummy discovered in 1995. He had a gold foil death mask - a Greek tradition - covering his blond, bearded face, and wore elaborate golden embroidered red and maroon wool garments with images of fighting Greeks or Romans.

The hemp mask is painted with a soft smile and the thin moustache of a dandy. Currently on display at a museum in Tokyo, the handsome Yingpan man was two metres tall (six feet six inches), and pushing 30 when he died. His head rests on a pillow in the shape of a crowing cockerel.

Article Sources

China Sows The Whirlwind: Implications of Hezbollah’s Iranian-Chinese Weapons

China Sows The Whirlwind: Implications of Hezbollah’s Iranian-Chinese Weapons

Strategy Center
by Richard Fisher, Jr.
Published on July 26th, 2006
Article Source

Israel has been surprised and dismayed in the last few weeks by the unexpectedly high quality of Hezbollah munitions, most notably rockets and missiles. While some of these are indigenous, a serious search for the origin of the improvements looks to lead to China—and, to a degree still difficult to assess, to Israel itself, which has shared with China a wide range of sensitive military technologies.

Iran’s ability to produce thousands of shorter-range "Katyusha" size or slightly larger artillery-size rockets that its proxy Hezbollah has used to rain down on Israel since July 12, 2006 is largely owed to Russian and North Korean technology transfers, Chinese technologies are probably involved as well.

Without a doubt, however, the July 14 near-catastrophic attack against the modern and stealthy Israeli corvette Hanit would not have been possible without the C-802//Noor anti-ship missile, the means to produce which were sold by China to Iran in the mid-1990s. The transfer should have triggered U.S. sanctions of the PRC under the 1992 Gore-McCain Act (Iran-Iraq Arms Nonproliferation Act), but was ignored by the Clinton-Gore administration -- despite testimony from former U.S. Navy 5th Fleet commander Admiral Redd, echoed by State’s Deputy Assistant Secretary Einhorn, that the missiles presented "a 360-degree threat" to U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf, and House Resolution 105-304 (October 6, 1997) "Urging the Executive branch to take action regarding the acquisition by Iran of C-802 cruise missiles."[1]

This highly capable anti-ship missile is probably only one of many systems, the transfers of which show how Beijing has opened a genuine Pandora’s Box of proliferation possibilities in the Middle East.

Iran’s "box" of Chinese-assisted weapons now includes the Shahab series of medium range ballistic missiles, potential families of solid-fueled missiles, potential long-range land-attack cruise missiles, short-range anti-ship and man-launched anti-aircraft missiles, optically-guided missiles, deadly fast-rising naval mines and very-fast missile-armed attack ships. Furthermore, it should not be forgotten that China has aided and enabled Iran’s nuclear weapons program

Through Hezbollah, Iran has only unleashed a small taste of its Chinese-aided arsenal. But its willingness to share very sophisticated weapons like the C-802 should provide warning that Iran is capable of doing much more.

A broad pattern

China has long been associated with the nuclear and missile programs of Pakistan, Iran and North Korea, and has provided all three with conventional weapons. But Beijing is rarely held responsible when these states either threaten or actually attack their neighbors.

Quite the opposite. In Washington the conventional wisdom is that, as a responsible international stakeholder, China is doing what she can to restrain the development by these and other states of high-technology weapons and weapons of mass destruction.

Yet one can reasonably conclude that Beijing believes her security interests are enhanced by helping Pakistan tie down Chinese rival India, North Korea to threaten Chinese rival Japan and to help Iran – with whom Beijing has inked over $200 billion in energy deals in the past two years -- to challenge the ever-fragile pro-Western consensus in the Middle East. By pretending to be willing to help control these states—in return for American concessions—Beijing furthermore has acquired leverage over Washington.

Weapons partially of Chinese origin also enhance the aid both Pakistan and Iran provide to tolerated or directly sponsored terrorist and sub-state groups in order to indirectly attack adversaries with less risk of retaliation. Pakistan has done so through the A.Q. Khan network, and Iran through its direct support of Hezbollah.

Hezbollah’s current leader Hassan Nasrallah was an early graduate of Iranian training camps.[2] In the mid-1990s reports emerged of Iran’s efforts to arm Hezbollah via Syria and Turkey.[3] Since Israel’s withdrawal from Southern Lebanon in 2000, Hezbollah has armed and prepared for renewed conflict. It has constructed scores of deep underground bunkers, fortified defenses in Southern Lebanon, sent 3,000 troops to be trained in Iran, to include 50 pilots, and has armed itself with an estimated 11,500 missiles, mainly short-range "Katyusha" types from Iran.[4] While for several years there have been reports that Hezbollah had longer range Iranian artillery rockets like the 75-km range Fadjr-5 and the 160km range Zelzal, there was no warning that Iran had given Hezbollah sophisticated guided missiles like the C-802/Noor.

C-802 Surprise

On July 14 at about 8pm local time, about 16km off the coast of Lebanon, the Israeli SAAR-5 class corvette Hanit suffered considerable damage and the loss of four crew members after being attacked by what Israeli sources identified as a C-802 anti-ship cruise missile (ASM), apparently fired by Hezbollah forces. It appears that Israeli intelligence was not aware that Hezbollah had such missiles.[5] As the Hanit’s crew was not expecting such an attack, major defensive systems like its Barak-1 and Phalanx anti-missile systems were not active, and the crew reportedly only had 20 seconds warning to realize and then respond to the missile.[6] The C-802 apparently did not strike the Hanit, but exploded above it with enough force to create a hole in the stern helicopter flight deck, damaging the underlying ship control systems.[7] This would appear to confirm earlier Chinese illustrations that the 165kg warhead of this missile consists of many shaped-charges designed to project explosive energy through a greater proportion of a ship’s structure. Had the missile scored a direct hit there would have been far greater damage and loss of life on the Hanit. In addition, a second C-802 was launched but did not strike the Israeli ship, instead finding a Cambodian-registered freighter and killing 11 Egyptian crewmen.

(C-802/Noor: This Chinese-designed, Iranian-made missile is believed to have been used on July 14 to attack the Israeli corvette Hanit, causing the death of four of its crew. Credit: Internet Sources)

What is not known is when and how Iran managed to convey its C-802 anti-ship missiles to Hezbollah forces. But in the mid-1990s China began enabling Iran to co-produce the 40km range C-801 rocket-propelled ASM, with one Iranian code-name Tondar, and the 120km range turbojet-propelled C-802 ASM, Iranian code-named Noor. The Noor has been displayed publicly and Iran may even have a longer 200km range version of this missile. An air-launched version of this missile is carried by Iranian Air Force Sukhoi Su-24 and McDonnell Douglas F-4 fighter bombers. Iran tested an air-launched version of the C-801 in 1997.[8] In late March 2006 during the naval exercise Holy Prophet, an Iranian forces Russian-build Mil Mi-17 helicopter launched a Noor ASM. Given Iran’s training of Hezbollah pilots, it might be expected that Iran could transfer C-802 armed helicopters to the terrorist group.

(Tactical Precision Options: C-701 and TL Series)

In the flurry of initial reports, especially given the relatively small amount of damage done to the Hanit, it was reasonable to conclude that Hezbollah had not fired a C-802 but perhaps the smaller and 15-20km range Chinese C-701 missile, also believed to be manufactured in Iran. During the Holy Prophet exercise Iran had publicly fired a new radar-guided version of the C-701. This missile was originally marketed with an optical seeker. In 2004 it was revealed that China’s Hongdu aircraft company and Iran had cooperated to produce two other types of short-range missiles. The JJ/TL-10A and JJ/TL-10B are respectively, TV and radar-guided versions of a 4-18km range anti-ship missile. The KJ/TL-6B is a larger 35km range radar-guided anti-ship missile.[9]

(Iranian C-701: This Chinese missile, now believe to be made in Iran, was seen being fired during the early 2006 Holy Prophet exercises. Credit: Internet Sources)

The smaller size of these missiles enables greater flexibility; they can be more easily concealed and launched from ground, ship or helicopter platforms. As the C-701 has been marketed with a modern millimeter-wave radar, it has an all-weather strike potential. In addition, Iran, and potentially Hezbollah, have the option of using optically-guided C-701 or JJ/TL-6B missiles to undertake precision-strike missions. This is particularly critical for Israel, which has long been reforming its armed forces, especially its Army, to incorporate greater use of information technologies which enables shorter decision cycles, and the reduction and centralization of command and control nodes. With these Chinese-designed missiles Hezbollah may in the future be able to better target critical Israeli information nodes, thus negating their benefits.

(JJ/TL-6A/B: This is another Chinese-designed missile now believed to be made in Iran. The optically guided version could be used by Hezbollah for precision strikes in Northern Israel. Credit: RD Fisher)

Artillery Rockets With Greater Precision

On July 23 Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz said that Hezbollah has fired about 2,200 rockets into Israel.[10] Save for the two C-802 missiles fired at the Hanit, all other missiles, despite their destructive and psychological impact, are nonetheless relatively simple non-precision guided projectiles. Even the longer-range Fadjr-5 and Zelzal rockets, with their potential even to reach Tel Aviv, are non-precision missiles with destructiveness dependent upon chance. Still, anyone who thinks of the havoc wrought by the V-1s and V-2s against England sixty years ago must be concerned even by such relatively simple systems.

But what if Iran were to obtain the ability to give these missiles, or even longer-range solid-fuel missiles, the near-pinpoint precision of navigation satellite guidance? Potential Chinese-Iranian cooperation could yield missiles that would allow Hezbollah to target with precision critical Israeli military targets, and even political targets like the Knesset. According to one report in 1997 China supplied Iran with solid fuel rocket motor technology that it then applied to its 210km range Fateh/Zelzal 2 short-range ballistic missile.[11] China is currently marketing the 240km range WS-2, an artillery rocket that has been upgraded with satellite navigation guidance systems. And in 2004 China began marketing the larger 150km range B-611, a cooperative program with Turkey that may also yield a 250km range version. The B-611 uses a stealthy shape to counter missile-defenses while also utilizing navigation-satellite guidance. Instead of buying these missiles, Iran could also opt to simply purchase Chinese guidance and stealth shaping technologies to apply to its own artillery and SRBM programs.

(WS-2 and B-611: These navigation satellite guided missiles do not violate Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) guidelines, but could nonetheless provide technologies that would give far more destructive power to Iran’s and then Hezbollah’s long-range artillery rockets).

Longer Range Cruise Missiles

Iran’s surprise provision to Hezbollah of C-802 cruise missiles raises the prospect of Iran’s potential future provision of even longer-range cruise and ballistic missiles. For a group like Hezbollah such missiles have the advantage of being easier to conceal, an ability to launch from ground and ship platforms, while avoiding the vulnerability of requiring open fueling like Iran’s SCUD or Shahab liquid-fuel ballistic missiles. In 2002 Iran, China and Pakistan were able to obtain Soviet-built Raduga Kh-55 long-range land attack cruise missiles (LACM) from Ukraine. Iran reportedly received twelve while China was able to obtain six and two for Pakistan. This technology apparently helped Pakistan to test its Babur LACM in 2005, and according to an Indian analyst, it also aided Iran’s development of a similar LACM, called the Project 111 or Ghadr.[12] China, which has been researching and developing advanced LACMs since the 1970s, may have played a role, either directly or indirectly, in the Iranian and Pakistani LACMs. At a minimum, the speed at which Pakistan was able to field the Babur suggests the high likelihood of Chinese help, consistent with previous Chinese assistance for Pakistan’s Shaheen and Ghauri ballistic missiles. Reports that Turkey has approached Pakistan for Babur technology[13] suggests that competition for sales is not above these LACM co-developers, raising the prospect that North Korea has received this technology from Iran, Pakistan or both. And once Iran perfects this technology then it too will have the option of giving it to its Hezbollah proxy and others.

Pakistan’s Babur: This cruise missile may be similar to Iran’s version, reportedly called the Ghadr. Credit: Internet source

Perhaps a more immediate "cruise missile" threat might come from Iranian small unmanned aircraft (UAV). Hezbollah’s 2004 use of Iranian-made UAVs to penetrate Israeli airspace proved shocking to Israelis. And in the initial flurry of reports it was mistakenly believed that the Hanit had been hit by an explosive-armed UAV.[14] For Iran, China is but one potential source for UAV technologies, which increasingly rely on many dual use systems produced around the world.[15]

But it is curious, to say the least, that in 2006 Iran revealed a new UAV that bears a striking resemblance to the Israeli Aircraft Industries Harpy anti-radar drone. Israel sold the Harpy to China in the early 1990s, and it was Israel’s intention to respond to a Chinese request to upgrade these UAVs in late 2004 that sparked a crisis in U.S.-Israeli military-political relations. While there are no official statements that would confirm that China used Israeli technology to help the new Iranian drone, its configuration at least suggests this possibility. But what cannot be denied is that Iran has another potential weapon with which to arm Hezbollah—one that can more readily target radar and other electronic devices upon which the Israeli armed forces are becoming more dependent.

Iran’s new anti-radar drone: Shows a similarity to the Israeli Harpy anti-radar UAV. Hezbollah could use such a weapon to directly attack Israel’s information-technology dependent military forces. Credit: Internet Sources

Deadly Naval Weapons

Hezbollah’s potential Chinese-Iranian arsenal also includes deadly naval weapons. Since the mid-1990s Iran has been reported to have modern Chinese naval mines. One mine that has long caused some concern is the Chinese EM-52 rocket-propelled fast-rising mine. When the mine detects its target, it fires a missile with a large warhead. Such mines are designed to severely damage or sink large warships like aircraft carriers. With such mines Hezbollah could threaten ships now evacuating refugees from Lebanon. Or should American or European navies become engaged in strikes against Hezbollah, it would be able to retaliate by covertly deploying these mines near U.S. or European naval facilities.

China’s EM-52 Fast-Rising Mine: Hezbollah could destroy large refugee ships or large U.S. naval warships with this mine, believed to have been sold to Iran in the mid-1990s. Credit: Chinese Internet

Will China Also Reap The Whirlwind ?

So far China’s practice of proxy warfare has allowed it to project power and build political influence while avoiding responsibility and retaliation. To be sure, India is building longer-range nuclear armed missiles that can reach Beijing while Japan accelerates its military and missile defense cooperation with the United States, but neither would today consider attacking China. By the same token, there are few to no voices in Israel who accuse China having a hand in Hezbollah’s ability to target Israelis or the looming ability of Iran to pose the greatest threat to the existence of the Jewish state. Until the Clinton and Bush Administrations strong-armed Israel into ending its sale of military technology to China, there were many in the Israeli establishment who openly supported such sales for both economic and strategic reasons.[16] It was even believed by some that selling such military technology to China would prevent it from selling some ballistic missiles to its neighbors.[17] The use of Chinese weapons against the Hanit now exposes the fallacy of such notions; China very likely lacks the ability, even if it had the desire, to halt Iran’s proliferation of deadly Chinese weapons technologies.

Since about the late 1980s successive American administrations have sought to convince China not to sell nuclear and missile technologies to rogue or terror supporting states. The United States has levied scores of sanctions against Chinese companies selling missile and weapons of mass destruction technologies to Iran. However it is not apparent that China intends to stop such sales and Beijing seems to have little care when Pakistan A.Q. Khan traffics in Chinese nuclear weapons technology or Iran gives its missiles to Hezbollah, which then uses them to kill Israelis. Pakistan’s unwillingness or inability to safeguard its Chinese nuclear weapons technology may be matched by a similar unwillingness by Iran, as suggested by its transfer of Chinese C-802 ASMs to Hezbollah.

It is thus legitimate to pose the question: When will U.S. and other policy makers enforce a higher price for China’s proliferation of such weapons; before or after they become victims to Chinese nuclear or missile technologies that have fallen into the hands of terrorists? And must Chinese leaders experience similar education before they realize the whirlwind they sow they also can reap?

As for Israel, which has done so much to improve Chinese military capabilities, her policy of assisting China’s military programs, even against strong U.S. opposition, has many origins: a desire for markets to sustain the immense Israeli defense industry, a sense that opening up new diplomatic relationships can reduce reliance on the U.S., and so forth. But perhaps most important has been a sense that Beijing faced a Muslim threat (which she most certainly does, both within and without, from Xinjiang to the states of Central Asia where she is now actively seeking political influence and oil) just as Israel does, and that therefore the Chinese would avoid sharing sensitive technologies with potential Islamic adversaries.

That calculation seems to have proved incorrect. The evidence of technological transfers and cooperation, along with the massive investment in land routes to Iran far beyond the range of carrier-based aircraft, suggests a strategic decision—misguided, perhaps, but a decision nonetheless.

China’s proliferation activities have received little attention and scarcely any effective sanctions. If anything, Washington and other interested powers have fantasized that China would actually solve the problems that she was in fact helping to create in North Korea, Iran, Pakistan, and elsewhere.

American (and Israeli) calculation has always been that their weapons were so much better than those of their adversaries as to render positive outcomes certain. We have now had some unpleasant surprises. More may follow in the form of enhanced Hezbollah anti-armor capabilities. As the current fighting in the Middle East lurches forward along its uncertain and perilous course, it will be more than interesting to see how much China has done to turn the military balance in a direction unfavorable to Israel. If Islamists become dominant along China’s Inner Asian borders, as is quite possible, we may even see Chinese weapons being used against China herself.

[1] Public Law 105-304

[2] Robin Wright, “Inside the Mind of Hezbollah,” The Washington Post, Outlook, July 16, 2006, p. B1.

[3] “Trucks from Iran were smuggling arms,” Jane’s Defence Weekly, January 31, 1996.

[4] Ali Nouri Zadeh, “Iran Provider of Hezbollah's Weaponry- Source,” Asharq Al-Awsat Exclusive, July 16, 2006; Abraham Rabinovich, “Hezbollah trained for six years, dug deep bunkers,” The Washington Times, July 21, 2006.

[5] Alon Ben-David, “Israeli Navy caught out by Hizbullah hit on ship,” Jane’s Defence Weekly, July 26, 2006; Amnon Barzilai, “Navy probe blames faulty intelligence for missile ship hit, The Israeli warship's crew had only twenty seconds in which to identify the threat and respond,” Globes, July 20, 2006.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ed Blanche, “Iran shows off new hardware,” Jane’s Defence Weekly, September 29, 1999.

[9] Robert Hewson, “China aids Iran’s tactical missile programme,” Jane’s Defence Weekly, November 17, 2004.

[10] “Peretz Says Hizballah Still Has Long-Range Rockets; Fires Raging in North,” Jerusalem Voice of Israel Network B, July 23, 2006.

[11] “Fateh A-110,” Jane’s Strategic Weapon Systems, June 23, 2006.

[12] Prasun K. Sengupta, “Dr. Khan’s Second Wal-Mart,” Force, April, 2006.

[13] See Turkish magazine Haftalik, No. 136, 2005.

[14] “Hezbollah ‘air power” first flew in 2004,” Associated Press, July 14, 2006; Stephen Farrell, “Unmanned plane that crippled Israeli ship,” The Times Online, July 15, 2006.

[15] A recent report notes that Iran’s Mohajer class UAVs use “Iran, Russian and Chinese technology,” see, Riad Kahwaji and Barbara Opall-Rome, “Proxy War Fuels Mideast Missile Crisis,” Defense News, July 24, 2006, p. 1.

[16] For a summation of the pro-sales arguments from late in the last decade, see Yitzhak Shichor, “Mountains out of Molehills: Arms Transfers In Sino-Middle East Relations," Middle East Review of International Affairs, Fall, 2000.

[17] Some officials implied that sales to China had helped prevent the sale of missiles to Syria, but this hope has long been undermined by China’s sale of ballistic and cruise missile technologies to Iran, see, Barbara Opall, “Israel Denies Charges On Tech Sales To China,” Defense News, July 21-27, 1997, p. 56.