Turkey backs Uighur rebels in China

The Uighurs are a Muslim people who live in China’s western Xinjiang province—what used to be called Chinese Turkestan, just as what we now call Central Asia used to be called Russian Turkestan.

The Turks in Turkey once inhabited the same region, before they migrated into western Asia and conquered the Byzantine Empire, the Balkans and most of the Arab world.

china_urumqiPeter Lee reported on his China Matters web log how the Turkish government is trying to assume the leadership of the Turkish world and, as part of that, has issued Turkish passports for Uighur rebels.   I think this comes under the heading of starting fights you are not prepared to finish.

I sympathize with the Uighur people who, like the Tibetans, are being engulfed by Chinese settlers, and with the people of the former Soviet republics of Central Asia who live under oppressive dictatorships.

In the same way, I sympathized with the brave Hungarian freedom fighters in 1956.  But the United States was not willing to go to war with the Soviet Union on behalf of the Hungarians, and risk the devastation of North America, Russia and Europe, including Hungary.  So it was irresponsible of Radio Free Europe to incite them to rise up, and I think Turkish policy (which I hope the US government is not encouraging) is irresponsible now.


Uighurs Edge Closer to Center of Turkish Diplomacy, Politics and Geopolitical Strategy by Peter Lee for China Matters.

Turkey’s “Passports for Uighurs” Scheme Continues Its Messy Unraveling by Peter Lee for China Matters.

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One Response to “Turkey backs Uighur rebels in China”

  1. sglover Says:

    Thanks very very much for bringing this article and this source to my attention!

    I visited Istanbul in 2011. It is an absolutely gorgeous city — the center of the world! At the time I knew nothing about Turkish politics (not that I’m especially knowledgeable about it now), but even my naive eyes picked up semi-official or official encouragement of Ottoman nostalgia, and pan-Turkism.

    It was mostly in places like museum exhibits and bookstores where I’d run across this. At the time I thought it was just some quaint wish-thinking. Unfortunately, Turkey’s meddling in the Syrian disaster, and now, apparently, among the Uighurs, makes it look less “quaint” and more “idiotic and irresponsible”. It’s always easy to build up guerrilla fronts, but not always so easy to keep them on the leash.

    One can only hope that this is an Erdogan project, so that when he’s gone the silliness will end. But by now he may have germinated elements of his own “Deep State”….

    Anyway, thanks again!


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