Ma Haiyun

Associate Professor, Frostburg State University

Ma Haiyun is associate professor of Frostburg State University's Department of History. He is also the president of Zhenghe Forum that focuses on China-Muslim world relations. His scholarly work examines the history of Islam in China, as well as China’s relations with the Islamic world. His articles, reviews, and opinion have appeared in Foreign Policy, Late Imperial China, Current Trends in Islamist Ideology, Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences, China Brief, and others. He is often sought by news outlets for commentaries on China, Asia, or Middle East topics, and has been quoted or interviewed by the New York Times, BBC, The Nation, Deutsche Welle, Associated Press, and The Independent.

Members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group take part in a military parade during a condolences ceremony for the movement's former leader Ramadan Shalah in Gaza city, on 8 June 2020, two days after his death in neighbouring Lebanon. (Mohammed Abed/AFP)

Battling atheist China: US highlights Xinjiang issue and religious freedom in Indo-Pacific region

Ma Haiyun says that the US and China’s relations with the Muslim world have been a sticking point — for very different reasons. Yet as the US turns its focus to the Indo-Pacific region, Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East may feel increasingly marginalised by geopolitical shifts and feel even more compelled to use their views on the Palestinian and Uighur issue as a vote of allegiance for the US or China. In Southeast Asia, the Muslim-majority countries face even more pressure as US-China competition intensifies in their own backyard. Whichever side they are on, all parties are gearing up for the next phase of US-China competition to be fought in the arena of global religious freedom.
Is Xinjiang becoming a new "Palestinian issue"? In this photo taken on 17 May 2020, residents are having tea in a teahouse in Kashgar, Xinjiang, China. (Xinhua)

Xinjiang — the new Palestinian issue?

US academic Ma Haiyun suggests that the US is making greater efforts to get the Muslim world on its side as its competition and even confrontation with China gets more intense. Internationalising the Xinjiang issue may be one of the ways it plans to do this, which will have implications for Southeast Asian countries.