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China fears fallout from India's citizenship law in Muslim Xinjiang

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The adoption of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), which excludes citizenship for Muslim migrants who had illegally entered India from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh before December 2014, is fuelling anxiety in China, The Hindu reported Tuesday.

An un-named Chinese official told The Hindu that Beijing apprehends that the law, if it alienates Muslims in India, could have repercussions in volatile Muslim Xinjiang province which faced separatist violence.

"We fear that if possible Muslim alienation triggered by India's new Act spreads, it could channel into international terrorism and eventually bolter separatism in Xinjiang," the official said.

East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM)

China has blamed the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) a group of mainly Muslims of ethnic Uyghur descent, for seeking an independent "East Turkestan" in Xinjiang.

The U.S. treasury department listed ETIM as a terrorist organization in 2002. On December 8, 2002, the United Nations added the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) to its list of terrorists and terrorist supporters.

The Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement is an organization that reportedly includes components in Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, and the Xinjiang Province of China.

In July 2016, Britain listed the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) as a terrorist organization. The Home Office said the group was based in tribal regions of Pakistan, had claimed responsibility for attacks in China, "maintained an active and visible presence in the Syrian war" and had detailed its "jihad against the Chinese authorities".

Strategic importance of Xinjiang

Xinjiang is China's strategic lifeline. The West-East gas pipeline network drawing gas from Central Asia along a land corridor helps fuel Beijing's east coast industrial heartland the workshop of the world, represented by Shanghai and Guangdong province.

China has also unveiled the Greater Bay Area plan, covering the economic integration of Guangdong with Hong Kong and Macao, requiring huge energy sources.

Apart from energy security, Xinjiang is also the "choke point" through which China is connected with Pakistan, Central Asia and Europe along a vast inter-continental transportation network under Beijing's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Chinese media on Citizenship law

Commenting on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), the Chinese media has said that the new law mirrors India's evolving geostrategic posture, in its South Asian neighborhood, the Indian Ocean and beyond, fuelled by the rise of "Hindu nationalism".

An article in the Global Times noted that "broadly speaking" the CAA "reflects the conflict between liberalism and nationalism. In India, the world's largest democracy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has embarked on a path of nationalism. He tries to achieve a unified national recognition via the idea of having one country, one nation, one religion and one language and eradicating diversification and fragmentation in India's society and culture".

It added that the "rise of Hindu nationalism has broader implications for international politics"Hindu nationalism will not be satisfied to be only the dominant force within India. It will push the country to pursue higher international status from permanent membership in the UN Security Council to dominance in the Indian Ocean and South Asia and eventually a major world power to satisfy the need for victory and reputation".

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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