China watch

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By Godofredo M. Roperos

Politics also

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

WHATEVER it is China has in mind at the moment, the fact remains that we--the countries around South China Sea--should be wary about the geopolitical design it has.

It should be noted that China is now the second economic power of the globe and is even hoping to overtake the United States at the top soon enough. And it is not a shallow guess that the other power, Russia, is playing a “win-me-if-you-can” game with the two.

At the moment, China appears to be biding its time before making an aggressive diplomatic move against the interest of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) to which the Philippines belongs.


But Asean is a group of nations that has the implied support of the US and Japan that appears to threaten the political stature of China. The Philippines appears to be trying its level best to be calm in the midst of this diplomatic crosscurrent between China and Asean.

The trouble is that some of the Asean nations are also facing internal trouble, a situation that offers opportunity to China to strengthen its own position in the South China Sea.

In Bangkok, the peace and order situation after last week’s coup d’etat appears to turn better with the “royal endorsement” of the junta. The leaders had warned the “citizens not to cause trouble, not to criticize--or else face a return to the old days.”

But the Bangkok case should be taken as a failure in the effort of Asean nations to stand on their own. Not many weeks ago, the elections in Burma (Myanmar) came out quite successfully, and it is an indication that there is chance that the nations in the area might still attain stability.

In China, there is also the report that the police in its restive western region of Xinjiang have broken up 23 terror and religious extremism groups and caught 200 suspects.

The revelation was said to be the first announcement of a large number of arrests since an attack in the region’s capital that killed at least 43 people. The police blamed a terrorist gang for the attack and subsequently launched a crackdown targeting terrorists and extremists.

The official Xinhua News Agency in Beijing cited China’s regional security news bureau as the one that is providing the information.

The Tianshan news portal, which is run by the regional branch of the Communist Party, also reported the detentions and raids that took place in the cities of Hotan, Kashgar and Aksu.

Indeed, it seems that China also has a Muslim minority. According to five suspects during last week’s attack, the police have identified the Uighurs, the region’s most populous minority. Many among the Muslim Turkic Uighur claim they are discriminated against by the Chinese government and dominant Han ethnic group.

In fact, it is said that recent attacks were blamed on so called radicals among the Uighurs. But it is still pure speculation among the local leaders.

On the whole, whatever China has in mind about the Asean region, it is clear that the members are also aware of, and willing to talk things over.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 28, 2014.


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