December 19, 2009

Chinese Guessing Game

How deep can foreign policy effect climate change? One could argue that the two have everything to do with each other since they’re both resource driven, and in turn politically motivated. Also, realists should recognize when the earth is heating up and how that will effect future world events. Realists should want to save the planet.

But what about isolated events? Words in this case, but for once they’re powerful. The question is whether they were an accident.

20 Uyghurs who fled to Cambodia are being deported back to China after being denied refugee status. The decision was greeted with immediate and widespread disapproval among human’s rights NGO’s, the UN, and Western states.

The case itself has a chance of becoming a media sensation, similar to those Tamils who were rejected from Australia. But the Uyghurs could be bigger. Frankly, not as many people care about Sri Lanka as China, and the Uyghurs are benefiting from increased global awareness in the media.

Makes us wonder what several US officials were thinking.

Two days ago a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman discouraged the UN from protecting criminals, as she called the Uyghurs. She told a news conference, “China’s stance is very clear: the international refugee protection system shouldn’t become a shelter where criminals stay to escape legal punishment.”

Obama just got back from a relative no-show in China on Tibet or Xinjiang specifically because he needs China on trade and climate.

Now US State Department spokesman Gordon Duguid says Cambodia should, "honor its commitment under international law. We are deeply disturbed by reports the Cambodian government might forcibly return this group of Uighurs without the benefit of a credible refugee status determination process."

Duguid’s not a good match up against China, who takes the same line on Xinjiang as Tibet and Taiwan - One China. Beijing doesn’t have the same view of international law, a ubiquitous obstacle in realism.

Tot be clear, Duguid is absolutely right that Uyghurs can qualify for refugees depending on their situation. We totally support this position - our opinion on Xinjiang is immediate reconcilation or else it will explode. Tensions are sky high.

At the same time, US policy on Xinjiang is usually silence. What’s happening here?

"We are deeply disturbed by the reports that the Cambodian government might forcibly return this group of Uighurs without the benefit of a credible refugee status determination process," said U.S. Embassy spokesman John Johnson in Phnom Penh. "We strongly urge the Cambodian government to honor its commitment under international law."

These are strong statements coming from relatively low level officials. They sound reactionary to a fresh explosion, possibly dazed in the fog. We;re waiting to see if higher ups “clarify” the US position so that Uyghurs don't qualify for refugee status.

Because a refugee, according to the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, cannot return to his or her home country out of, “well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.”

China says Xinjiang is under control. Certainly it isn't persecuting anyone but criminals. Today the US State Department said this may not be the case. What will America say tomorrow? If no correction offered, assume silence is the new State Department rule for Xinjiang.

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