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Pawn or pivot? The Uyghurs and the 'War on Terrorism' as a new chapter in China's frontier politics


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Narramore, TE 2007 , 'Pawn or pivot? The Uyghurs and the 'War on Terrorism' as a new chapter in China's frontier politics', paper presented at the Europe and Asia between Islam and the United States: The Lessons of Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon and Iran, 6-7 December 2007, Melbourne.

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China’s eager support for the US-led ‘global war on terrorism’ ushered in a new chapter
in the long history of the political manipulation of Turkic-speaking, Muslim Uyghurs on China’s
northwest frontier. China’s leadership seized the opportunity not only to tighten its controls over
Uyghur separatist tendencies--branding all such tendencies as terrorist--but also to pursue a
Realpolitik diplomacy of improving relations with the US, expanding influence in Central Asia,
and mending fences with South Asia. Although China won substantial accommodation in each of
these objectives, it is clearly nervous about the new US strategic presence on its inland borders
and, along with its partners in the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation, has called for it to be
phased out. China’s self-styled membership of the ‘war on terrorism’ thus reflects a short-term
opportunism of diminishing strategic returns. Unfortunately for China’s Uyghurs, the renewed
international attention to their territory (as a geo-political pivot) has not broken the history of
manipulation of them as a people (pawn).

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Authors/Creators:Narramore, TE
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