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UPDATED: March 5, 2014
The U.S. Should Stop Supporting Secessionists
By Jin Liangxiang

The Kunming terrorist incidents on March 1 are an example of one of the most inhumane cruelties in the recent history of terrorism. The development of the three evil forces of terrorists, secessionists and extremists can be attributed to different factors. One of them should be the support of the United States both politically and financially. For the values it upholds and for better China-U.S. relations, the United States should stop supporting Xinjiang secessionists.

Several months ago, I asked a leading American scholar on China-U.S. relations about the Xinjiang issue when I was visiting Washington DC. My question was how U.S. scholars evaluate the role of the Xinjiang issue in China-U.S. relations. The professor pointed across the window to Massachusetts Avenue and said, "You can ask the people on the streets the question, and find the answer. Have any of them heard of the Uyghur people?" The professor seemed very angry that I asked that question and puzzled as to why a Chinese scholar would ask such a simple question.

In one way, the professor is right since the number of Americans who know where Xinjiang is located and who are the Uyghurs is not that large. However, ordinary Americans' ignorance of the Xinjiang issue does not mean that the United States is not playing a role in the issue. Actually, the United States is the major supporter of Xinjiang secessionists in the international arena.

Firstly, the United States encourages secessionists to legalize their secessionist efforts. It is widely known that Rebiya Kadeer, the head of the World Uyghur Congress (WUC), which is the umbrella for various secessionist organizations, has been living and carrying out secessionist activities in the United States since she was released from prison in China in March 2005. What's more, U.S. politicians at different levels have met with her many times to show their support. Former president George Bush met with Rebiya in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

It is true that the effects of these meetings should not be overestimated, but they did serve to enhance the legitimacy and legality of various secessionist movements, and even sent the signals to the secessionists that they are supported by the U.S. government. Is this kind of encouragement irrelevant?

Secondly, the United States is a major financial source of secessionist organizations. Though for known reasons, it is always difficult to find the specific amount of donations provided to secessionists, we do find some relevant statistics. According to a report on the website http://www.china.org.cn/on August 12, 2009, the NED (National Endowment for Democracy) provided $2.24 million to various secessionist organizations by June 2009, and more than half million in 2008. Judging by the rising tensions in Xinjiang, the NED sponsorship was probably even higher in the years after 2009.

When they are questioned by Chinese scholars about NED's support of Xinjiang secessionists, U.S. scholars always argue that NED is an NGO beyond the restrictions of the U.S. government. But that is obviously a pretext. Despite being an NGO, NED actually receives its majority of finance either from the Congress or the Department of State. Can it really be independent?

The United States has every reason to stop supporting secessionists, who want to achieve their purposes via terrorism as various recent terrorist acts indicate. The United States itself is a victim of terrorism, as 9.11 showed. How can it fight against terrorism while being indifferent to counter-terrorism in other countries? Remember that China strongly supported the United States in its counter-terrorism efforts following 9.11.

The United States claims that it is a global leader, recognized by a large number of states. But a leader should be committed to values and the principles of right and wrong. Supporting secessionists might be an effective measure to check its geopolitical rival, but should it override values? And the assumption that China will be a geopolitical rival is also poorly based. Why would a peaceful developing China challenge the United States?

Both China and the United States are victims of terrorism, and cooperation in this regard would benefit both sides. The consensus that China and the United States should jointly build new type of great power relations even requires that they cooperate in fighting against terrorism.

The author is a columnist with China.org.cn.

(Source: China.org.cn)

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