As President Bush and Chinese President Jiang Xemin today declared themselves partners in the war on terrorism andcalled for international peace and security, the U.S continued heavy bombing of Kabul and Kandahar, and Chinaexecuted three Muslim ethnic minorities for political crimes.
The two presidents, in Shanghai for a meeting of the Asia Pacific Economic Forum, face the tricky task of achievingtheir own political ends while attempting to save face from critics.
President Bush is in Shanghai in an attempt to shore up support for the U.S. war in Afghanistan. At a joint newsconference, President Jiang said the U.S. air war in Afghanistan must be aimed at clearly defined targets to “avoidinnocent casualties.” President Bush said afterwards “President Jiang and the government stand side by side with theAmerican people as we fight this evil force.”
Meanwhile, President Jiang is trying to use the so-called war on terrorism to justify its crack-down on a Muslim minority group, the Uyghurs, in the northwest province of Xinjiang. According to a human rights group, the East Turkestan Information Center, Chinese authorities executed three ethnic Uyghurs convicted of political crimes just days ago. And before that, authorities tore down a mosque and arrested 180 people who tried to protest against its destruction. After September 11, China charged that Uyghur groups have links with the Taliban.
In a desperate attempt to draw attention to the crackdown, human rights groups and exiles are writing to PresidentBush. The East Turkestan Information Center is urging him to draw attention to the “long-standing state-sponsored terrorism” against the Uyghurs. The Free Tibet Campaign is asking for assurance that there will be no horse trading on human rights abuses in Tibet in exchange for Chinese support for the war. And Wang Dang and Wang Juntao, jailed for leading the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy movement, wrote a letter to President Bush today, saying that theUS should not “succumb to fear of terrorism and abandon its efforts to promote human rights and freedom.”
- Steve Clemens, New America Foundation.
- Nicolas Becquelin, School for Advanced Studies in Social Sciences in Paris.