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Dragon Fighter
Dragon Fighter

The People’s Republic of China has 56 recognized ethnicities; still, the Han majority makes up 92 percent of the population.  Most of the remaining 55 groups are relatively unknown to the West.  Some are even little known in China, as they are small and live on the margins of China-proper.  Groups such as the ethnic Koreans and Manchu are highly integrated into the Chinese mainstream; however, the best known internationally, the Tibetans, are recognized mainly due to their protracted struggle for greater autonomy from the oppressive Han dominated national government.

In fact, the level of international awareness Tibetans receive is astonishing, considering Tibetans make up less than half of one percent of China’s population.  This makes them only the ninth largest minority group.  The “Tibetan Issue” is well known due to a superior global marketing campaign, which includes the venerable Dalai Lama and a host of celebrity Western activists.  However, the 10 million Uighurs (also Uyghur) in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region are more numerous, have struggled just as long against the Han Chinese, and their homeland is larger.  Still, they have never enjoyed the same international regard.  Perhaps, Turkic Muslims are not as appealing to the hearts and minds of the West as bald monks in flowing robes.  Cultural biases aside, the Uighurs have failed at marketing, largely because they have no central leadership, no figurehead – until now.

Enter the Dragon Fighter: Rebiya Kadeer, the self declared “Mother Of All Uighurs”.  Once, one of the wealthiest women in China, this slight mother of 11 children, divorcee, non-secondary school graduate, is one of China’s most wanted fugitives.  The government has accused her of working with foreign interests to mastermind the July 5th Uighur protest that turned into a violent race riot.  Over 200 people are believed to have died, most of whom were ethnic Han, who many Uighurs view as colonists.

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This would give these small states some leverage.  It would help them to have Khazah oil wealth created clout behind them.  They are all authoritarian countries and most of them are Turkic.  I can imagine that Russia and China will be against this if they feel they can not control it and especially if it might give Turkey more sway in the region with their distant ethnic kin.  CHina might also not like such a union as it might inspire more separatism with their own Turkic minorities in Xinjiang (namely the Uighurs).

Kazakh President Proposes Central Asian Union on the EU Model


President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan has proposed the forming of a “Central Asian Union”. “The Treaty of eternal friendship between Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan can serve as a solid foundation for such union,” Nazarbayev said during his annual appeal at the joint session of both houses of Kazakhstan’s parliament.

Other countries of the region (Tajikistan and Turkmenistan) can join the new union. Mr Nazarbayev stressed: “In the region, we share economic interest, cultural heritage, language, religion, and environmental challenges, and face common external threats.”

“The founding fathers of the European Union could only wish they had so much in common,” he emphasized. “We should direct our efforts towards a closer economic integration, a common market and a single currency,” he noted. “The global economy demands larger markets,” Nazarbayev added.

In his opinion, today “we are again witnessing superpower rivalry for economic dominance in our region. We have to address correctly this new global and geo-economics challenge. We have a choice between remaining the supplier of raw materials to the global markets and wait patiently for the emergence of the next imperial master or to pursue genuine economic integration of the central Asian region,” he said.

“I choose the latter,” stressed the President. “Further regional integration will lead to stability, regional progress, and economic, military and political independence. This is the only way for our region to earn respect in the world. This is the only way to achieve security, and to fight effectively against terrorism and extremism. Regional integration will advance the interests of all the common folk that live in Central Asia.”

Four Central Asian countries, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, are members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization together with Russia and China. Moreover, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Armenia, Belarus and Russia form the Collective Security Treaty Organization. The same countries except Armenia make the Eurasian Economic Community. Therefore, the new initiative of President Nursultan Nazarbayev can be regarded as an attempt to advocate closer integration within the Central Asia.

Source: UzReport, 23 February 2005