Muslim world

Ethnic Uighur demonstrators take part in a protest against China and its treatment of Uighurs in Xinjiang, in Istanbul, Turkey, 1 October 2020. (Murad Sezer/REUTERS)

How terrorism against China in the Middle East could develop

In a recent study conducted by the Central European Institute of Asian Studies and the National University of Singapore Business School, four key scenarios were plotted out with regards to possible terrorism-related threats against China in the Middle East. The findings show that China’s level of investment in the region as well as the stability of local regimes will play deciding roles in determining the severity of the threat. What policy options does China have? Barbara Kelemen and Alex Fergnani have the details.
PKI supporters rallying during the 1955 general-election campaign. (Wikimedia)

The ghost of the Communist Party of Indonesia still haunts

A failed military coup on 30 September 1965 which led to the massacre of more than a million Partai Komunis Indonesia (PKI) members and communist sympathisers continues to plague Indonesian politics. People want to know who was the real instigator of the coup: the PKI, the left-wing military, Sukarno, Suharto, or the CIA in the US are all possibilities. A 2019 book says that according to declassified documents from the Chinese Communist Party Central Archives, a central figure in the coup was in Beijing on 5 August 1965, and discussed Indonesia’s situation with Mao Zedong and other Chinese Communist Party leaders. Leo Suryadinata pieces together the events in explaining how this catastrophe continues to impact Indonesia.
People make their way along a street in the old quarters of New Delhi on 7 August 2020. (Jewel Samad/AFP)

China in the Gulf: India overmatched but undaunted

Based on history, culture ties and the flow of people throughout the Indian subcontinent, Persia and Arabian Peninsula, India has had a natural advantage over China in engaging the Gulf. But in recent years, this seems to be no more. A reported partnership between China and Iran worth some US$400 billion over 25 years is just the latest in a string of footholds China is carving out in the region. India is realistic enough to know it is unwise to embark on a geopolitical competition with Beijing in the Gulf. Rather, it will play to its own strengths, says Professor C. Raja Mohan, director of the Institute of South Asian Studies at NUS.
Iranian-Americans protest China's bypassing of US sanctions in doing business with Iran, as well as what they believe as the handing over of Kish island in the Persian Gulf to China in exchange for military, regional and international support, in front of the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles, California on 10 July 2020. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP)

Deepening China-Iran relations could change global geopolitics

Following The New York Times’ report that China and Iran are about to conclude a mega investment-for-oil deal, speculations have gone into overdrive about the US sending Iran into the arms of China with its recent hostile policies towards both countries. Ma Haiyun looks at the implications of ever-closer relations between China and Iran and argues that if strategic partnerships weave a web of interconnectivity between countries that are both on the Indo-Pacific rim and Eurasian continent, global geopolitics would be fundamentally changed.
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.