China's "Great Game"

26 May 2005

Following the bloody - and still murky - events of 13 May in Andijan, president Islam Karimov's official visit to China comes as no surprise to many observers. China pledged its support for the Uzbek government's handling of the protestors, and yesterday reiterated its own long running crackdown against Muslim Uiqhurs in the western province of Xinjiang. The IHT reports on the implications of a West / East split over events in Uzbekistan, and the consequences of Russia and China's conspicuous support for President Karimov. Conspicuous maybe, but entirely predictable say some. Nathan Hamm comments on the economic ties between China and Uzbekistan, likening the political manouverings to Kipling's 'great game', and links to an interesting article  at  Radio Free Europe. Another blog, Korean News and Analysis also discusses the $600m China-Uzbek oil deal. Both countries of course insist the visit was planned way ahead of the events of 13 May, but with the increasing unrest in the 'stans and China's ongoing repression of muslim Uighurs, perhaps there is more than oil in it for the Chinese government. With the continuing "war on terror" and the seemingly easy task of scaring the US administration into supporting repressive regimes against the threat of "muslim extremists", their alleged human rights abuses can  go unnoticed and the campain to squash the separatist movement in the province of Xinjiang is bolstered.

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