Yin or Yang? China and the Muslim world

Along with strong tensions during the Cultural Revolution the only major confrontations with the Muslim World (Umma) modern China has had to record were the interdependent Dungan revolt (from 1862 to 1877) and Panthay rebellion (1856-1873). In spite of the manifest intertwining of social religion in their political dynamic none of the two was religious in essence. The two were traversed with abominable atrocities and death counts but scholars have rarely emphasized how similar their dynamic was to that which plagued European nations in the era of religion wars, where religion was but a proximal means to fuel a willingness to fight serving a greater, distal political purpose.

In China the sedentary component of so-called “Muslim Minorities” may represent an absolute of about 30 million people[1] which extrapolations from the PRC’s 1949 census estimate of more than 45 millions allow to consider conservative. While the Muslim Chinese are forming an ancient, deep-rooted and inseparable component of the Chinese Civilization, the China-Umma relationship is rarely considered as essentially self-reflective for China. Thus in complement to earlier scholarly approaches[2] studying Uyghurs under the angle of either separatism or latent colonialism (Kurlantzick 2004, Gladney 2004, Dreyer 2005 and Van Wie Davis 2008) this article’s vision is that of seeing China and its Muslim population a single entity which has not yet achieved awareness of its fundamental historical, cultural and sociological unity. We argue such awareness is essential to a grand Peace doctrine in both foreign and public diplomacy (ie propaganda) that would in turn be most profitable to China. Indeed in securing a credible and profitable access to the Global Balkans and thus the Arc of Crisis China will need to assert a constructive exemplarity at the domestic level. Though it is still focused on the Iran-Israel-US triangle the Umma is and will be watching China with growing attention.

While the chaotic period following WWII, the Cultural Revolution and the Great Leap Forward has much clouded the old and fundamental contribution of Islam to its civilization (see Christoffersen 1993), modern China finds itself largely distracted from the various manifest precedents of (both cultural and political) constructive integration in its history. Thus for the Chinese elites, strategists and scholars as well as for the public the situation of a “clash of ignorance”[3] is already arising, paving the road to irreversible contempt and violence. With the rapidly evolving situation in its autonomous region of Xinjiang, the PRC will have to choose one out of many qualitatively different postures, and induce a complete phase transition in its relationship with the Umma. Such relations could either evolve towards cooperation, leadership and construction, with their associated goodwill and confidence, or towards coercion, enmity and destruction, with their associated mistrust and nefarious diplomatic prejudice poisoning further partnerships. As the particular methodology of Peace Studies could shed light on the means to fulfill and sustain the first of these two scenarios, it is the purpose of this article to provide – in yet the tradition of realpolitik – a prescriptive rationale in such direction

Some stakes of a prescriptive Peace Doctrine for China

Although each may be described with further precision there is an observable hysteresis-like effect between peace and conflict (Aberkane 2010). The time and effort required to go from one to another is rarely equal to that needed for reversion. In most observed cases of the 20th century such hysteresis favors the situation of a conflict, practically making the transition from peace to conflict in the early stage of a confrontation easier than the other way around[4]. Fearon (2004) has also clearly validated and reported to scholarly appraisal the much known belief that “son of the soil” wars opposing a minority to state-sponsored migrants (eg. Chechnya, Palestine, Xinjiang) are longer-lived than other internal conflicts. The simple observation of the relative irreversibility of the peace/conflict transition should make the recommendations of Peace Scientists particularly valuable to foreign policy-makers. Yet Peace Studies have seldom been used by the working (eg. UN) diplomats in the realpolitik tradition, especially in the dealing with urging crisis, in which choosing one posture renders others unfeasible in futurum. Thus so far prescriptive Peace Studies for the choice of an appropriate posture among myriad of qualitatively different ones has rather been underemployed (yet see Morgan & Schwebach 1992, Chernoff 2004 and Zartman 2007). Here we attempt to give a working example of such prescriptive use of Peace Sciences which may both be studied in itself and for its abstract methodology. In the three dimensions of being [Descriptive-Prescriptive-Predictive] for a total of six points this article – for further comparison with others – may be considered respectively [1-3-2].

From Senegal to Pakistan given the Umma’s continuous coverage of the so-called “Arc of Crisis” both China’s continental and oceanic areas of immediate interest either overlap with or cross Muslim-dominated regions. On the continental side the reportedly strong Sino-Pakistan relations, still lastingly poisoned by unsettled border conflicts, are also destabilized by the Uyghur unrests in Xinjiang (Haider 2005). On the oceanic side the Malacca strait, resource-rich Indonesia and Malaysia (along with Singapore where Islam is second ranking religion after Buddhism), the Persian Gulf area or the African Horn across the Indian Ocean are only a few of the PRC’s areas of extended interests. China’s interests in the Red Sea and its near surroundings already underline the complexity of its interaction with the Umma: while piracy and terrorism in respectively Somalia and Yemen may escalate into a violent confrontation, vital access to the Suez Canal at all time requires a cooperative diplomacy in regard to the Muslim state of Egypt which Al Azhar University is also a recognized scholarly pole in the Muslim World[5]. It is one source of legitimate Muslim social autopoiesis the enmity of which would be detrimental to the Chinese diplomacy as a whole.

The present clash between moderns and the conservative Salafi and Wahabi Muslims across all the Umma, along with the social unrests now traversing Maghreb and the Middle East which may be transforming one third of the “Arc” make the picture more entangled and complex. From Senegal to Pakistan one defining sociological feature of the Arc is that of a very young demography plagued with unemployment and idealistic frustration within a resolutely patriarchal society that is overall resistant to novelty. “If violence is the result of pent-up feelings…” (Idries Shah) then the entire region is prone to volatility while the best way of defusing it should be that of offering a credible relief to material frustration. In that, without firing a single shot, projecting prosperity and hope including employment for the young and economic growth, could prove most efficient. Yet latent corruption should also be considered and such projection should be carefully planned and targeted to bypass corrupt authorities and achieve the desired result. Simply, such planning should involve the same care than say the tactical planning of projecting armed forces.

Although a maritime power in nature, on the oceanic side China is facing many antagonists such as Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, India and the now retracting USA, along with ambivalent Australia-New Zealand and usually neutral Philippines and Malaysia. France also holds key possessions in the “liquid continent” with its second largest Exclusive Economic Zone and its decent marine patrolling capability. Such immediate geopolitical containment is not particularly contrasting with the purely continental side of the PRC’s interests with both the heavy though highly volatile US/NATO presence in most of Central Asia’s geopolitical pivots and an ambivalent Russia searching more influence in former satellites, strategically opposed to a formal alliance with China while still arming India, backing its entrance to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and formally opposing the building of a China-India-Russia diplomatic triangle. Last but not least in this realpolitik complexity China’s immediate natural ally (Pakistan) is constitutionally a Muslim Republic notably offering sanctuary for radical armed movements (such as Taliban groups) in Afghanistan. All of the SCO’s “three evils” (Terrorism, Separatism and religious Radicalism) are present in China’s relation to the Global Balkans, making any of its actions an irreversible impact on the region’s volatility. Knowing whether such impact is positive or negative is China’s main interest.

China and the Muslim World are qualitatively different.

Qualitatively China and the Umma are very different entities. Yet their interaction is real, lasting and quickly evolving; it is also inevitable, thus ensuring it be seriously considered by Peace scientists even before an appropriate terminology and conceptual toolbox is found to describe it in the most scholarly acceptable terms. Such interaction between structurally and legally different entities reflects the growing complexity of relationships in the context of globalization and may give a particularly eloquent qualitative case study.

In spite of its subtle socio-cultural diversity (the refined regional substructures of Han ethnics[6] for example) the Chinese nation – much unlike India and its consequent advantage in Soft power – is still wrongly perceived as a simple mono-ethnic block. It is little inclined to the dealing with its political and cultural minorities in a non-coercive manner. In contrast and for many historical reasons the Umma is a very diverse entity at the political, demographic, ethnic, cultural and economic levels. It covers the full spectrum of economic development with certain of the Least Developed Countries as Senegal and some of the countries enjoying the highest GNP per capita such as the states of the Gulf region. In no way is the Umma a politically or diplomatically-unified block either, from the tensed cultural and strategic antagonism between Chiite Iran and Wahabi Saudi Arabia to the many geopolitical conflicts between Algeria and Morocco resulting in their continental border still being closed to circulation. While certain states such as modern Turkey or the Boumediene-era Algeria have based their political identity on de jure (though, for various social reasons, rarely enforced impartially) secularity, others like Iran and Pakistan are clearly Islamic republics. The Sunnite, Shiite, Wahabite, Salafist and Sufi forms of Islam, added to the diversity of their local specificity (with an imprint of the caste system in the case of Pakistan and that, slight, of animism in Senegal) also makes for a manifold entity. While it may be no problem for a Muslim Uyghur to publicly enjoy a glass of wine, it would definitely not be so for a Muslim Lybian, Iranian or Saudi. Last but not least, the Umma is an ethnical patchwork with Black Muslims in such countries as Soudan, Senegal and Mauritania, Semitic Arabs in the majority of the states of the Arc of Crisis, Turks, Persians, Minorities as the Uyghur and Chechen and finally South-Eastern Asians. Indeed as reminded by Brzezinski (2004) in contrast with the West’s popular media having widely depicted the average Muslim as a Semitic Arab, Indonesia is by far the world’s most populated Muslim Country and it could give a unified voice of international outreach on behalf of Islam. Interestingly, the Sufi tradition, although not necessarily acknowledged as such, is de facto preponderant in this country and simply called “Islam”[7]

Although clerical organizations and the resort to peer pressure in defining one’s personal accordance to the Muslim faith are both formally prohibited by the Islamic Law (Chari’a) and the accepted Tradition of the Prophet (Hadith), there exists a very diverse de facto religious hierarchy within Muslim countries. It ranges from the influent Khalifa organization of the Muriddiya Sufis and that of the Tijaniya in Northwest Africa, both very close to the political power from Dakar to Rabat, to the Chiite Ayatollahs in Iran and Ulemas in various other countries. From the most open and moderate to the least tolerant and most conservative branches of religious orders belonging to the Umma the first is no doubt Sufism – the mystical branch of Islam – with its many Turuq (singular: Tariqat) spanning all of the Muslim World. There has been many scholarly studies of the Sufi influence upon modern Western culture, ranging from Miguel Asin’s Palacios claim that Dante’s Commedia borrowed from such Sufi Masters as Djalal ud Din Rumi and Ibn Arabi, to Walter William Skeat’s acknowledgement of Persian Sufi Attar’s influence over Chaucer to the analysis of the links between the Malamati Sufis and Freemasonry to the influence on the Kabbalah and the recent enquiries regarding the Afghan Rawshaniya order also referred to as “Illuminati”[8].

The most representative trend of the opposite end of the spectrum is no doubt Wahabi Islam of which Salafism is an offshoot. Both of the latter movements have been repeatedly associated with the resort to violence, including the terrorist course of action. Such events as the waves terror in Algeria through the ‘90s, the assassination of Anwar al Sadate in Egypt (claimed by the Muslim Brotherhood), the bombing of the USS Cole in the port of Aden and the instability in Yemen have been related to or claimed by organizations asserting faith in Salafi or Wahabi Islam. On the other hand, the systematic persecution of Sufi orders in the Boumediene-era Algeria has already been connected to the subsequent wave or terror (Bentounès 2009) after the fall of the USSR, essentially on the ground that the gap left by the forbidding of the moderate Zawiyas (Sufi communities) eased the arrival of such newcomers as radical Muslim groups. Such dynamic is particularly interesting to understand how one could “de-balkanize” the Xinjiang province and especially make it refractory to religious unrests, a particularly crucial move within a Grand constructive posture for China.

Yet in spite of its diversity the Umma is able to quickly focus animus towards a perceived common enemy. Such a focus is one of the most remarkable traits of its relative unity and identity – we may say the Umma contracts more easily for war than for peace. This rule of thumb is made all the more visible by globalization and the widespread use of the Internet either by radical Muslim organizations or simply by the youth desiring to express socio-economic frustration. As the use of ICT is markedly growing within the Umma there is no reason to believe that its capacity to focus animus will decrease in the future. Subsequently to the 9/11 attacks, portraits of leader Osama Bin Laden could be transiently – though certainly not everywhere – found on T-shirts or taxi-stickers from Senegal to Pakistan. Despite the Turkish foreign posture towards Israel having been very flexible in the last 10 years, the enmity towards Zionism and its association to the US “Greater Satan” (Al Shaytan al Akbar, to which is associated the “Lesser Jihad” ie the struggle against a physical enemy, as opposed to the Greater Jihad practiced by the Sufis, ie the struggle against one’s own ego) has become a viral meme across the Umma, though we may surely nuance this fact by numerous positive counter examples. Thus, the ability of the Muslim World to focus on what is perceived as a common enemy, all the more dependent upon the acceptance of the commonplace of a “Clash of Civilizations” and in the context of Globalization, makes it an entity to be considered closer to a unique whole in the case of a violent encounter, even geographically localized. For this reason the attitude of China towards its Muslim minorities and its immediate Muslim vicinity could – if too reckless – trigger a lasting change of either posture or opinion across the whole Umma. It remains true that in the context of a practical realpolitik agenda a non-Muslim power may deal with various states or areas of the Umma in completely opposite ways (Such as the US with say, Algeria and Morocco, or Saudi Arabia and Iraq, or the Russian Federation with Chechnya and Iran). Yet for the Muslim public the perception of a certain power as hostile, especially an easily singled-out entity which can be identified by its flag and/or ethnical and linguistic background as the US, Russia or China, may induce lasting animus. Needless to say, such a state could easily jeopardize the economical relationships of the said power with any other member of the Umma, for example by making it politically unbearable to its political leader and/or forcing China to endorse a dictatorship in pursuing its economic relations. This would prove particularly costly for China on both the short and long run.

China is pressured to define its attitude.

The absence of a publicly clear policy China knows is not sustainable in the dealing with Xinjiang. In the case of instability reaching a first tipping point, an overseas representation of the Uyghurs (to which Huis would very probably become sympathetic) could be already setup in Washington, with all the loss of legitimacy and the diplomatic cornering that would ensue for the PRC. Of course, the People’s Republic is fully aware of its progressively loosing (also up to a certain tipping point) cultural possession of her Muslim minorities while the careful use of such hand-picked vocabulary as “national ethnic patrimony” could still assert their full belonging to the Chinese Civilization, culture and identity and much defuse the social tension.

Much like that of Brazil – and we may compare the two countries on that ground – the economic geography of China is clearly anchored to the littoral area. Yet unlike Brazil the PRC had no Brasilia to stimulate economic, administrative and diplomatic redeployment westward. It is clear to geographers that the attribute of a superpower China lacks most is the intimate control of its vast territory. Along with energy transportation and infrastructures form the country’s main economic bottleneck. This is reminiscent to the early United States or present-day Russia (and common to the BRIC+Canada+Australia or BRICCA). For example although it clearly politically disapproved of the so-called “Tulip Revolution” in Kyrgizstan the Russian army proved that it could not afford a conventional deployment in key Heartland pivots when fast political coercion seemed needed to promote national interest.

At present Hui and Uyghur Chinese in Xinjiang are not much inclined to the resort to violence and, in general, do not display any of the inter-related SCO “three evils” to a critical point (although the situation could rapidly evolve). Many parameters may explain such a relative stability. The first is the lack of a critical mass of radical Muslims in favor of the local, deep-rooted and ancient particular tradition of practicing Islam. The presence of the Sufis is also far stronger than what may have been thought and there are numerous precedents of the very positive bottom-up impact of the Sufis on socio-religious stability as in modern Senegal, Morocco, Indonesia and pre-soviet Afghanistan. Conversely, removing Sufi brotherhoods from a complex Muslim-populated society has often rendered it vulnerable to radicalization as frustrated Muslim identity would be prone to the appeal of radical Islam. Such was the situation of modern Algeria, Baas Iraq and Afghanistan for example.

Since Sufism is never nationalist or political in nature (although Sufi masters have occasionally engaged in political activity, as Cheikh Abdoulaye Dieye whose son Bamba Dieye is now mayor of Saint Louis, Senegal’s second city) dictatorial leaders tend to either subordinate or coerce it while only a few chiefs of state have adopted the strategy of cooperation and the cooption of affiliates (eg. The Kings of Morocco and Presidents of Senegal).

Besides Jedda hosting the headquarters of the Organisation of the Islamic Conferece, in terms of Soft power and in particular the ability to co-opt and convert the – very recent – Wahabi and Salafi branches of contemporary Islam have always enjoyed the decisive advantage of finding themselves on the path of any prospective Hâdji, that is, pilgrim to Mecca (Pilgrimage is one of the five pillars of the Muslim practice). Thus Saudi Arabia, now politically dominated by Wahabism, is also a (although not the single) central center of Muslim social autopoiesis, a situation any prospective leader of the Umma should take into due account. If such power of attraction would have no influence over a mature Muslim with an already consolidated personal way of practicing (a Senegalese Murid Sufi travelling to Mecca would be very unlikely to come back a Wahabi) they can be extremely attractive to young Muslims with a yet unstable religious identity, especially if the latter are also gripped with despair, one of the most fundamental reasons for which the young or a group may move to radicalism and resort to violence, especially if such grief can be readily channeled through political and nationalist activism.

One – or a series of – tipping point could clearly manifest between stability with a tolerant Islam and violence with despair-fueled religious radicalism in Xinjiang. Such an irreversible transition would be made all the likelier with the province’s border being shared with two active sources of Muslim radicalism ie. Afghanistan and Pakistan. Such borders could be excellent sanctuaries to organized armed groups while rapidly destabilizing the present diplomatic relations between China and Pakistan, with the possibility of completely disrupting the balance of power along the Silk Road and putting Chinese continental expansion Westward to a halt.

The interesting case of Algeria has proven that a web of peaceful yet not mass-appealing religious communities could be substituted by violent and radical cells in one generation. Such cells then, especially if they resort to emotional propaganda and violence, may not be substituted again by the moderates they replaced as the discourse of peace and tolerance is usually less appealing to the masses than that of violence and zealous radicalism, this essentially on the very ground of Man’s particular emotional addiction which Peace Journalism tried to address.

In geostrategic terms Urumqi enjoys many similarities with the Algerian Tamanrasset, with its central position in the Taklamakan desert and Silk Road. Its systemic volatility could decide upon Western China’s possible economic connections with oil rich Central Asian Republics and Eastern Siberia. In particular, the economic connection between Urumqi and Novosibirsk, consolidated by either or both the building of a pipeline and a state-of-the-art MagLev train line presently seems the simplest way for China and Russia to strengthen their economic ties in the prospect of the 21st century’s demand for Siberia’s raw materials in a marking Confidence Building Measure (CBM). Yet, Urumqi is about 35 times more populous than Tamanrasset, modern and well urbanized. It could easily offer sanctuary to criminal secret cells and become the theater of aggravate urban insecurity or warfare. With the proximity of Afghanistan, that is, the world’s number one heroin exporter, Urumqi could also become the central hub in transit to the hugest emerging market for heroin. In such a daunting prospect not only would drug lords connect with and fuel armed groups and secrets cells in a perfectly fit urban environment (thus forcing China to resort to the most authoritarian of policies in the coping with the emerging “three evils” and concordantly damage its Soft power) but a new heroin war would almost inevitably ensue. Simply put, we may say Urumqi[9] and its surroundings share the strategic position of a Tamanrasset with a vulnerability to urban warfare and illegal trafficking comparable to about ten Grözny. This China knows, Russia knows (adding to its lack of willingness to connect Urumqi and Novossibirsk for economical and demographic reasons) and this the United States know.

China is thus perfectly aware that its main entrance – at both the geographic and cultural levels – to the Central Asian chessboard may be easily denied by a disastrous unrest in or around Urumqi, with the capacity to spread to all of Xinjiang’s borders. China also knows that radical Islam can be substituted to a traditional moderate, local one, especially within a young population to which radicalism, with its many behavioral-change techniques and emotional charge would enjoy much of an appeal. Such substitution would be made all the easier in the absence of either a clear cultural policy acknowledging the assimilation, equality and fraternity of the Muslim minorities or a similar diplomatic posture. In the event of a conflict, China’s international debt in terms of Soft power would surely become unbearable. The – actually abusive – parallel with Tibet is already easily made in the West today. Yet even from the inside, Xinjiang is no Xizang and the Uyghur people are Sufi by tradition (Dwyer 2005), essentially under the initiation of the Kahfiya brotherhood of Ma Laichi (马来迟, 1681–1766) and the Jahrya of Ma Mingxin (马明新 or 马明心, 1719(?)-1781) for the modern branches. Sufism in China dates back to the 8th century.

In spite of its diplomatic rigidity, the PRC could adopt the profitable posture of projecting prosperity. While being a relatively unanticipated move, this would grant it a very favorable diplomatic advantage. Yet we may note that while a coercive and destructive attitude may cohere the manifold Umma into opposition and mistrust, a positive and constructive attitude would definitely not be enough to ensure its concordant cohesion into cooperation and friendship. For such a goal to be achieved China should adopt more than the posture of a partner: that of a credible, trusted mediator and then that of a leader with an eloquent record of concrete achievements in the building of Peace. Unambiguously, such posture should be adopted with no delay as any diplomatic gap could leave the way wide open to radicalism and trigger an irreversible tipping. Concretely, for the economically powerful China and its ability to project construction virtually anywhere in the world, the objective is that of establishing a record of Confidence Building Measures. Killing two birds with one stone, this would be very positive for China’s Soft power while defusing all of the three evils in Central Asia. In projecting hope successful grand economic projects would not doubt distract from frustration and violence. Stunning the pent-up feelings that typically lead to violence with hope and success should thus be China’s trademark in entering the Global Balkans.

On Prescriptive Peace Studies for the working realist

The central purpose of this article is to demonstrate the profitability of peace, construction and cooption over war, destruction and coercion in a case that is presently being addressed by working policy-makers. For the purpose of saving time, in browsing this article such readers may thus move directly to the main section “prescriptions for an optimal Chinese posture”.

Given the methodological quantum leap it may entice, for the scholar we could nevertheless elaborate on the prescriptive dimension of Peace Studies for cases which, due to their actuality, are typically lacking the detachment a working scientist may require in his work. We may compare the working Peace scientist to a physician (and with its very practical justification in the saving of many lives such comparison may one day entice a proportionate social recognition) that is interested in the good health of Humanity as a whole. Global interdependence does make the health or illness of the world a systemic semion (or symptom). No single conflict can be strictly singled out from both the international and intercultural/inter-media relations. These verses of poet Saadi are engraved on the Hall of Nations…

Human beings are members of a whole

In Creation of one Essence and soul

…as a reminder of this systemic and inter-dependant nature of Humanity.

The methodology of prescriptive Peace Studies is based on the assumption that Peace may not be only profitable but the most profitable of strategies in any qualitative realpolitik framework. In other words, when analyzed at the qualitative level (and methodologically this is essentially done by broadening the range of one nation’s strategic concerns in both time and space) it is claimed that there exists a situation where any national interest coincide with world interest but also that this situation is optimal for both the individual and the group. Such claim could not be studied better than by Peace Studies. The distinction between qualitative and quantitative realpolitik is of utmost importance: while we know that in a strictly quantified game Nash equilibria are not necessarily Pareto-Optimal and in particular confrontation may seem the most profitable strategy, put in the endless (and not well-ordered) diversity of qualitatively different frames in international relations, there is no demonstration that Peace may not be more profitable than any situation of conflict. Human risk and behavioral biases put aside the qualitative use of strict reason in the making of a decision of foreign policy may leave open the possibility of a peaceful diplomacy in any geostrategic case. As it is the moral duty of Man to elicit such possibility, it is the Peace scientist’s very trade to describe both its scientific reality and concrete feasibility. At the tactical level such considering of a grand Peace Doctrine by what ought to be called peace strategists (namely people interested in the allocation of limited resources in achieving peace) entails the careful planning of confidence building measures in the manner of a chief of staff planning an engagement. The sole difference is that a peace strategist is engaging the reified enemies of mistrust, hatred and war themselves and his arsenal includes such weapons as peace journalism (a translation of psychological warfare to the war against war) and confidence building measures. In this kind of warfare, CBMs are much more effective than ICBMs though less costly yet much less researched into at present. Any great power should develop its own sovereign arsenal of CBMs at the ready: fostering peace and quelling a conflict is also a prolongation of politics by other means. Such use of say “Yin” is a form of war without human casualties but it can certainly promote national interest unilaterally.

If projecting peace becomes a practical and well-understood means of modern geopolitics it is yet not demonstrated that sovereign states would find it profitable to use it systematically. Hence “Prescriptive Peace Studies” are different than, for example, prescriptive Peace Journalism. While the latter is founded on a morally-valuable deontology claiming the much-demonstrated possibility that media coverage play an active role in quelling a conflict, the first is fundamentally based on an assumption we may call “erenologic positivism” (Aberkane 2010) which declares that for any situation peace may be profitable to all individual parties even and especially within the most realist conflict of interest granted that the transition to qualitatively different frameworks of competition is considered (this nuance makes all the difference with quantitative realpolitik). Such term “erenologic positivism” is not chosen for the purpose of coining an abscond buzzword but rather to emphasize its philosophical kinship with logic positivism. It is fundamentally unproven that the yet irreducible presence of “low intensity” warzones, although it may be profitable to easily identified actors of international relations among which arms producers, is an absolutely inevitable sub-optimality fatally deriving from the avoidance of an all-out  world conflict. At the very core of international relations lies the notion of interest which is basically cognitive and thus intrinsically limited for any cognition has its blind spot. Thus given

(i) the qualitative complexity of the notion of interest (eg. What you may think is not your interest may be in a broader perspective)

(ii) the non-refuted possibility that external conflicts of interests may be internalized within one single interest,

(iii) the fact that Hilbert’s sixth problem has not been solved (ie physical reality is not axiomatized) which implies that

(iv) while limitation theorems can be demonstrated in first order logic (and game theory) there can be no limitation theorem predicating upon physical reality which comprises the notion of interest, thus in particular

(v) the impossibility of the total interest of peace ie the stable intersection of individual and collective peace in international relations cannot be demonstrated.

In game-theoretical terms it is also not proven that a Pareto-optimal situation at the world level (or at a less formal level of describing diplomatic reality, a situation that may be reminiscent to the latter without its mathematical precision) could not be also overlapping with the Nash equilibrium of interacting individual interests.

In moral terms one may simply note that while the fundamental premise of Peace Studies does not refute neither the possibility of synthetic Peace (like that of Biology does not refute it for Life) nor the possibility of its absolute dominance at all the scales of social and geographical observation, in the looking after the health of Humanity as a functioning homeostatic system, it is the duty of the Peace Scientist to provide evidence-based prescriptions towards the prevention of potentially emerging conflicts. There is no natural contradiction between Peace Studies and the prescriptive approach to Peace in the scientific tradition of the latter, even for ongoing or imminent conflicts.

In a nutshell, while Peace studies have been proficient in establishing quantitative correlates to the dynamic of conflicts, qualitative prescriptions in a multi variable case remain much rarer. There is no reason to believe that rationality should be exclusively quantitative. Qualitative rationales are irreducible in realpolitik which typically involve both qualitatively different entities and outcomes. We may define the prescriptions of this article as the fruits of a qualitative realpolitik, and the premise of this article as the hypothesis that sub-optimalities and in particular the irreducible existence of low-intensity warzones that is so typical of the post-WWII chessboard can be totally avoided in a certain qualitative realist order of individual interests.

Prescriptions for an optimal Chinese posture

As Holsti (1972) reminds, crisis etymologically implies decision. By broadening the range of political and strategic concerns (what we call a nation’s cognition) what seemed to be a problem may become an opportunity with extremely profitable outcomes. In claiming that such broadening may always elicit the qualitative situation we could call a “closest most profitable peaceful strategy” it is now our purpose to elicit what we believe to be such strategy for China.

1. Turn Xinjiang into an opportunity.

Deserving their name the “Global Balkans” are extremely complex and at the time this article is being written its many players may act in many different ways. Thus the arborescence of outcomes is truly manifold, non linear, and strongly dependent upon initial conditions (“chaotic” in terms of dynamic system theory). As of early 2011 NATO forces may imminently have to withdraw (again for many reasons it is not the purpose of this article to explore), Kazakhstan may build up influence, so may Pakistan, India may join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization while Iran could assert regional authority and in general the balance of power could be easily messed up along the Silk Road.

Yet in most possible scenarios China having decided to embrace globalization (epitomized by its joining the World Trade Organization in 2001) encompasses its building of full-spectrum Soft power. Such soft power would not only comprehend the power of economical and academic attraction but also the power of exemplarity: political leadership, such holy grail of modern geopolitics. We may say that in most scenarios China’s global interests is not compatible with violent repression in Xinjiang.

Brzezinski (2004) has clearly claimed that an access to the Global Balkans could be an opportunity for prospective peace setters and nations desiring to acquire more soft power. Once again, China’s diplomatic predictability may be an obstacle in the sense that the PRC does not have a flexible international image yet, unlike the USA which could go within ten years from almost indiscriminately diabolizing Islam to Barack Obama’s “Salam Aleykoum” in Al Azhar University. Yet history is on China’s side; the rigidity of its international image (which it still hardly controls) is definitely not since, as we will underline, credibility is key to success in projecting confidence building measures.

In a region that is plagued with unemployment and disenchantment willingly projecting a piece of a two digit growth could become a potent political tool. China is in a better position than any other actor in the region to act in such a way. We argue that the best way to command the Global Balkans will that of projecting peace and construction rather than force and coercion. China, with its positive past and unparalleled economic power, enjoys a tremendous political advantage in embracing such a doctrine. Whether it adopts the stance to project such peace and prosperity will radically change its foreign policy as a whole, as its entry to the Global Balkans could a coup d’éclat of either Peace or War altering its identity for long.

In this context such as war-torn Spain was a good proving ground for Hitler’s staff and arsenal, Xinjiang could be an excellent test zone for China’s CBMs arsenal. The return on experience would be tremendous but in absolutely no way should China allow itself to be considered a colonialist power would it decide to resort to a grand peace doctrine. As it is key to a nuclear deterrence doctrine, credibility is fundamental in building a credible arsenal of confidence building measures. This is essentially a one shot opportunity; and also similar to the doctrine of nuclear deterrence, strategic and diplomatic objectives must be secured in a purely flawless fashion.

In acting fast on the Eurasian chessboard the PRC could secure the immensely valuable stance of a first mover. By keeping proactive rather than reactive China could not only understand better how to de-balkanize its “Wild West” but also become a trend-setter in such field. The prestige gained in such operation would also be immense.

2. Take a leadership for Peace: endorse Sufism in Xinjiang

As we already saw Sufi Islam is both the natural and most ancient form of Islam in Xinjiang. The direct and official protecting of this tradition on behalf of Communist China would not be unfeasible; we may remember how much Lenin contributed to the rebuilding of Central Asian mosques during soviet expansion in Central Asia. Such unexpected move would be in the nature of building confidence while stabilizing the region as Sufism itself has always remained devoid of a political agenda, in particular that of searching new adepts or conquering new lands. Besides the structure of Sufism’s main centers of social autopoiesis like Indonesia’s Pesantrens, Maghreb’s Zawiyas or Senegal’s Dahiras, namely boarding Koran schools in the Sufi tradition, typically promote tolerance and non violence while providing arbitration for local social conflicts. The stabilizing effect of such web of institutions on the Muslim society is unparalleled in the Umma. China should certainly reclaim the belonging of such tradition to its national culture and identity, in a manner similar to that of Brazil in having established its own Fundação Nacional do Índio (FUNAI). In this way China would underline the positive dimension of its own political claim for Manifest Destiny: the positive dimension of exemplarity rather than coercion. We may remember how much interest France had in reminding of its past as a trend setter in Human Rights, which was instrumental in it accessing a permanent seat at the UN security council while the degradation of its rhetorical ethos on this matter immediately entailed a loss of international prestige. As I had the opportunity to tell a Chinese diplomat, the Uyghur and Hui cultures are clearly among China’s national treasures and heritages, and the PRC should not divest of it lest it lose a painful amount of its ability to claim any piece of global leadership. Such legitimacy gap multicultural and multiethnic India, though painfully involved in the Kashmir conflict and unable to mediate the war in neighboring Sri Lanka, may quickly use to its advantage.

Besides if the statement of Bovingdon (2004) that “Heavy Han immigration into the region and the consistent choice of Han officials for the top positions at all levels of Xinjiang’s party bureaucracy strike many Uyghurs as colonial practices” is subjectively confirmed by the majority of Uyghurs (and whether it may or not be acknowledged in private by the PRCs highest authorities), China should make sure to avoid the building of such inevitably concealed and latent resent as it would be counter-productive and fuel violence in the most decisive moments.

Thus for China the prescription may be that of absolutely no coercion, a lot of cohesion and a very little cooption. Yet since there is no known historical precedent of a Sufi master having been coopted[10] by a political entity it would be most important that cooption remain strictly limited to profane and cultural matters. It yet remains clearly feasible and the PRC already has a record of Uyghur and Hui Chinese having accessed high positions within its institutions and Party. This cooption should simply be ensured on the ground of plain unbiased and exemplar meritocracy (and here again such one-shot process must be flawless), this in itself being an efficient confidence building measure capable of preventing social and ethnic belonging to become the focus of frustration and animus. As the case of France’s lagging ability to grant equal opportunities to even its second and third generation immigrants has much demonstrated it is never good to allow an ethnic group to subjectively experience a failure of national meritocracy.

On the other hand would China have to resort to an indiscriminate crusade against Muslims, a move it could very well feel forced to make under certain conditions it is absolutely sure that the cohesion of its internal Umma will be made to its detriment. The two main situations a state would encounter in counter insurgency operations may be either that of fighting a nascent movement, in which case the state has to prevent militarization, or that of fighting an established movement, for which it becomes necessary to encourage militarization so as to ensure a decisive confrontation. Thus the transition from nascent to established conflict is self-catalytic. Finally in the case of a militarization of the Uyghur discontent relations with such partners as Turkey would be virtually put to a halt. Uyghurs are of Turkic background and Turkey has already made clear its interest in the well being of its Central Asian relatives.

In this context what China most critically needs is her own, sovereign Peace leaders to embody her willingness to deliver convincing confidence building measures to her most vital strategic targets. Such strategy also need be flawless, and such leaders have been well described in what psychological profile they all have in common (see N’Daw 2010). They are such examples as William Penn, Amadou Bamba[11], Adolfo Perez Esquivel, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. or Nelson Mandela. The latter is particularly eloquent in providing an example of national unity under conditions of frustration and violence which were much more volatile than those of Xinjiang given all the pent-up feelings and resent the black community had internalized during the Apartheid. The successes and failures of such pluri-ethnic political structures as that of Liban or the novel Balkan states (Bosnia and Kosovo for example) China should study in detail in politically translating a grand peace doctrine and its many confidence building measures to Xinjiang.

In willingly and unconditionally promoting Peace in yet its own political interest the PRC may easily depend on the numerous Sufi masters residing between its borders. Besides, Afghanistan has provided us with an historical example where Sufi masters occupied key governmental and thus political positions (such as the direction of the Royal Afghan Mint under Zahir Shah). Peace has always been an agenda for which it is easy to catch up with the Sufis, hence once again the pick of Sufi poet Saadi for poetically illustrating the UN’s founding will for Peace.

3. Resort to a coercive form of Peace Journalism

Self-organized Peace you may control, self-organized war you may not. It is easy for the situation of a rising conflict to escape one’s hands while such situation for peace and prosperity would probably not have dramatic consequences even in a narrow, cognitively-limited political agenda. Yet the quelling of a conflict (attack) or the making of a political zone refractory to war (defense) can be clearly compared to an act of war in itself. It is what William James has termed the “war against war”. Such war has its rules of engagement, tactics and strategy which are still widely unknown, especially to the working strategist. One key effort in it is psychological, and a means of psychological warfare against war is resorting to Peace journalism.

Peace journalism does not sell well because it typically proscribes the coverage of a conflict by news eliciting strong emotional reactions. Man becomes easily addicted to strong emotions and this has played a central role in peace journalism’s failure at being adopted by mainstream media. On the other hand, mainstream media badly need (and compete with each other) to provide the strongest emotional value to their audience and this has become a vital part of their business model.

Yet in the People’s Republic the media industry is not driven by returns on financial investments but by returns on political interests. Thus paradoxically promoting Peace Journalism is much easier for the PRC than say for countries of the European Union as in promoting a political agenda the former can afford to broadcast news with low emotional weight, especially in a non competitive environment for its media industry.

Such paradox should be exploited to China’s advantage as in a grand Peace Strategy China should first target the willingness to fight within a prospective conflict. This Peace journalism is excellent at doing. Thus the paradox is that such peaceful say “technology” as peace journalism could be applied wholesale to promote the purely political agenda of fostering a strictly national for peace. China may use Peace Journalism as an instrument to conduct its most profitable politics by other means. War as Clausewitz put it.

Concretely instead of simply censoring bad news in provenance of Xinjiang, which does leave the audience with an embarrassing frustration of her willingness to know, China should saturate the news with information devoid of a strong emotional weight and capable of evoking the yearning for a peaceful outcome on behalf of the audience. This could include the fostering of the audience’s willingness to partake in confidence building measures and peace construction. In such a way, this effort would be clearly identifiable to public diplomacy (namely a euphemism for propaganda). Yet while propaganda in the 20th century has typically established its success on strong emotional discourse the PRC should move fast in theorizing and testing its own Peace propaganda, cur non based on strong emotional value towards peace.

We may call this strategy coercive peace journalism in the sense that it would not allow any mainstream journalism, necessarily more emotionally gratifying and thus more easily adopted, to compete with the state’s media warfare of saturating the waves with positive and constructive news. We have again an example of a dirty strategy in the war against war which yet would have Peace and tolerance as its immediate outcome.

4. Implement a “Shock and Awe” doctrine for Peace.

In developing and testing its very own arsenal for peace the PRC would easily find many other areas worth its deployment for promoting national interest. Africa comes easily to mind, as well as neighboring Afghanistan where China, unlike all of its predecessors, should adopt the policy  (and not only the public, official talk, which is different, such as the one of France’s infamous “Mission Civilisatrice” which was contradicted by reality and thus unexampled) of projecting peace and construction instead of coercion. Yet we may record the famous rule of strategy that neither a nation nor an army learns from the mistakes of another. Consecutive to a withdrawal of effective NATO forces in Afghanistan the PRC may be easily tempted to resort to “Yang” in its most predictable and almost inevitable move of building credible influence in the area.

A Peace doctrine subtends the research into a proper “peacefare”, that is, the conduct of the war against war (and not the mere freezing of a conflict, diplomacy and multilateral conflict resolution as clearly the “war” against war intends to promote a much unilateral agenda). The peacefare China should focus on would be the constructive equivalent of Ullman and Wade’s (1996) “Shock and Awe” Doctrine (SAD). SAD essentially consists of an asymmetric form of blitzkrieg, a “maneuvrist” approach within a yet clearly attritive course of action, in concentrating awing (hence the name) amounts of power and mobility to both ensure full-spectrum superiority over the enemy and quickly paralyze his willingness to fight. A “Shock and Awe for Peace” (SAP) would attempt the same but in targeting hatred, mistrust and frustration, and in general all the dormant factors leading to a salient armed conflict. Here quelling the willingness to resort to violence is clearly the objective but the method is not that of broadcasting the claim of its futility (in the demonstration of one’s military superiority for example) as such method never excludes the resort to violence out of pure despair. Sowing hope instead, which unlike despair is physically uncapped (the worse possible act of desperation is suicide while the best possible act of hope is practically limitless) is a much more effective manner of eradicating the risk of violence.

How should China proceed in Shocking and Awing mistrust and hatred in Central Asia? This should be carefully assessed and tested with an efficient return on experience. Basically the question is that of developing an interdisciplinary arsenal of Confidence Building Measures around credible Peace Leaders which we may compare to real chiefs of staff in the conduct of peacefare. Interestingly it underlines the fact that a peace doctrine, pretty much like a nuclear doctrine, comprises the dimension of credibility: a superpower’s own arsenal for peace must be credible in first resort lest it has no political power which is yet the main objective of its developing. A credible demonstration of power to captivate the opponent must also be ensured to build up credibility. This rich and prosperous China is in an unparalleled position to ensure.

The unit cost of a Chengdu J-20 fifth generation multi-use stealth aircraft is of around USD 110 million[12] while the development budget for the comparable F-22 may have been of USD 65 billion[13] (yet in a country with dearer workforce which for obvious reasons may not outsource production). The yearly endowment of say the Imperial College of London was more than 10 million USD below the unit cost of a J-20 while the F-22 program cost represented more than four years of endowment for such cash-intensive institution as Stanford University. In being projected itself (yet under total control of the projecting power so as to avoid massive corruption, which is rendered possible within the limits of national sovereignty and made much more complex beyond these limits) the vast amount of capital that is required to coerce a zone could cohere it in a much more efficient way. Yet again the capacity to project capital out of the limits of national sovereignty in promoting a purely sovereign and unilateral agenda for Peace should be explored in further details in the framework of economic warfare or more conveniently “economic peacefare”.

CBMs are surely less costly than ICBMs and have a longer lasting effect. What China, by far the hugest holder of sovereign liquidity in the world, should exactly do in projecting capital to foster peace is a question it should rapidly ask itself. What should be noted is that such strategy presents much more degrees of liberty than that of an investment. The reason is that projecting CBMs is already endowed with the clear purpose of quelling mistrust, while the possibility of a pecuniary return on investment only makes for a secondary objective. The projection of construction is already providing a palatable return if its tactical and strategic missions of fostering peace are fulfilled. The plus is that it (say an academic Farm, a gigantic greenhouse, an arcology, a maglev line, a monument or any much more creative thing) may also yield a return on investment.

5. Anticipate the Umma’s strategic point of view

Brzezinski (2007) accurately pointed out that “The ahistorical character of America’s misadventure in Iraq further highlighted the limitations of a strategy primarily dependent on force. Such reliance was fervently preached by the strategists who guided British policy in the region, the French response to the Algerian challenge in North Africa, and the Israeli reaction to Arab belligerence. Peculiar to all three has been the view that the Arab mentality is particularly inclined to respect force and view any willingness to compromise as a sign of weakness. Overwhelming military power has been repeatedly prescribed as the only reliable tool for resolving conflicts and imposing durable solutions.”

Less than the complete Umma, China must focus its cognition on that most critical part of it (virtually all of it except Indonesia) which overlaps with the arc of crisis. Many geopolitical questions may then arise among which that of why is the Umma not taking more umbrage at China. A preliminary answer is easily made in acknowledging that Anglo-American interests are already focusing a huge deal of the Umma’s animus, especially regarding such volatile topics as the regional influence of Iran and Israel, along with the manifold unrests and revolutions from Maghreb to Mashrek, the instability in West Africa were France’s potential intervention could make for a clumsy, memorable move and finally Pakistan.

It would yet remain untrue to believe that the Umma cannot focus animus on two politically opposed powers. Being an observer member of the Organization of Islamic Conference and having most probably partaken in the leaking of va-111 supercavitation torpedo technology to Iran while having let premier Putin make inadequate official declarations on circumcision and arming India the Russian Federation’s metastable relationship with the Umma is a very good example of that.

On the other hand would the USA – along with the remnants of its “coalition of the willing” – have to withdraw from Central Asia what would then seem like a much better geopolitical situation than say, that of present-day Xinjiang could become a fatal trap to the PRC. Namely what would look like a highway to controlling the Heartland could become another tailored trap for prospective preeminent Eurasian powers. While China should be proactive in dealing with Xinjiang it should avoid precipitation in such scenario and the first step of having tested its peace arsenal within her own sovereign borders would then yield greater return on investment. Otherwise having resorted to violence once, the PRC may fatefully decide to proceed through Afghanistan. Never does an army learn from the mistakes of another.

Continuing the above scenario of an imminent gap in Central Asia’s balance of power is not the purpose of this article. Our interest here may rather be to provide final prescriptions in China’s social interaction with the Umma. While it should be reminded once again that, as far as the Sufis are concerned, political cooption of spiritual masters is not a feasible objective (such is not merely the author’s claim but the extrapolation of a very consistent line-up of historical precedents) China could and should project CBMs and prosperity along the main centers of Islamic social autopoiesis. Touba in Senegal, Damascus in Syria, Al Azhar University in Cairo and on the much longer term Mecca and even, with infinite care diplomacy and humility, Jerusalem, should be such targets of China’s arsenal for Peace. It becomes more and more manifest that in the 21st century the new central means of projecting political power will be that of projecting massive and awing prosperity…

Conclusion: China must choose a comprehensive peace doctrine.

The coercion of peace and prosperity, especially if developed around the doctrine of a lasting impact (in projecting the building of perennial structures of high international impact such as hospitals, campuses, monuments, cities and beyond, since the R&D in unilateral peace projection is yet to be done) could prove much more efficient a means to subjugate uncooperative entities. In developing its own arsenal of such peace vectors China could considerably leverage its position of fastest growing world economy while also demonstrating an internationally eloquent convergence of the world interest with its own. The twentieth century illustrated the power of economic warfare which granted the USA its decisive victory in the cold war. It may be that the twenty-first illustrate the power of projecting prosperity. Strategically there is no single country in a better position than China to do so, and the PRC must set a decisive, eloquent and awing example at home before it has any prospect of repeating the process far from its borders. In doing so it would secure a remarkable amount of soft power which such capital-rich institutions as the IMF, devoid of a record of projecting prosperity whatsoever, have never enjoyed. This prospective Chinese partners may remember and the PRC could only exploit such grievance to its benefit in demonstrating a credible willingness to act differently.

Our original contribution to the understanding of the PRC’s stance regarding Xinjiang is twofold. First it is clear that this relationship is self reflexive and that the PRC as a meta-human entity as well as the individual members of its elites must not see it any other way. Hans and Uyghur belong to China and always have, both historically and culturally; in no way is Xinjiang a limb going wrong. Second, it is extremely important to understand that Xinjiang is a decisive try-out for the PRC for which it needs to be proactive in setting Peace by all means available, as if tactically and strategically in the condition of a war, but a war against war. Clearly while Xinjiang may be considered more of a domestic issue for China – and in stating so with insistence the PRC may corner itself diplomatically – it is connected to immense international stakes. In Xinjiang China will decide whether or not it becomes a credible Peace-leader for the next decades. This is a one-shot ordeal; in building conflict-quelling capability as in building nuclear deterrence credibility is absolutely central. And if in spite of the great flexibility of their public image the USA could not recover trustfulness from the Umma after 2008 it is reasonable to believe that China’s margin of maneuver be even narrower in such matters.

In acknowledging that the People’s Republic of China, much as Brzezinski (2004) brilliantly underlined for the USA, have a choice – or rather no choice – of either dominance or leadership and that such decision implies a total national stance, it has been the purpose of this article to identity a clear feuille de route in such direction. One of its key prescriptions is the use of unrestricted warfare against war which critically includes coercive peace journalism since censorship cannot prevent frustration and quench the willingness to know.

In no way does this article affirm that its prescriptions will be followed. Yet it has attempted to make Peace not only an extremely profitable choice but the backbone of a total, lasting and even defining foreign posture for China. Such was its main objective.

In no way have we claimed that projecting prosperity be a risk-free doctrine either. Certainly projecting economic power within one’s own sovereignty may remain controllable while granting an overseas partner with new economic leverage may soon or later escape one’s political will. Yet in an increasingly interdependent world projecting peace is certainly less politically volatile than projecting war. We may not be deluded to believe rubbles cause no troubles anymore.



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[1] Pew Report on Religions 2009

[2] Were it necessary, Xiao et al (2002) recently provided genetic evidence of the European (“Turkic”) origin of the Uyghurs ethnics which may ease their being regarded similarly to the ethnic Russians of China

[3] That is, in contrast with Huntington’s lens of a “Clash of Civilization”, the author asserts that the most fundamental reason for civilizations to resort to violence in any domain of confrontation is more appropriately defined by the limits of their emergent diplomatic, strategic, historical and political cognition. Such blind spots of their own civilizations are by definition not aware of. The author asserts they yet are key to understanding so-called “civilization conflicts”.

[4] Yet it should also be noted that concordantly with the fire metaphor since conflicts are typically self-organized energy-consuming and far-from-equilibrium (thus dissipative) entities their mortality is also an absolutely inevitable outcome the precipitation of which is empirically dependent upon intensity.

[5] Hence its choice in 2009 by the Obama administration for a peaceful and constructive address to the Muslim World, much in line with the very practical prescriptions of Brzezinski (2004).

[6] This regional sub structure is now widely acknowledged by both working diplomats and entrepreneurs who know that the social network of a Chinese partner may critically depend on his sub-regional belonging (eg. The delta he is from). Besides this diversity within what is now called the Han ethnic, the PRC recognizes 56 ethnic groups on its territory, including Uyghurs and Huis but also ethnic Russians for example.

[7] from Hebrew Shin-Lamedh-Mem, the Semitic root S-L-M meaning in itself “Unity of the Soul”, and of which “Shlomo”, “Shalom” and “Solomon” are originating, meaning Peace, Submission and by extension “Submission to Peace”).

[8] It should then be noted that the Minister of Defense of the Afghan Rabbani administration and leader of the Northern Alliance (a.k.a UIF) Ahmad Shah Massoud was acknowledged as a devout Sufi. A sign of his enduring popularity September 9th, date of his death, is now both decreed and customary national holiday in the country. Also interestingly enough, the UIF-controlled guerilla sanctuary of the Hindu Kush area included the border with China which it covered completely. For the reference on the Rawshaniya order see Andreyev, S. Sufi Illuminati: The Rawshani Movement in Muslim Mysticism, Society and Politics RouteledgeCurzon: 2008

[9] Urumqi is twinned with the border city of Peshawar, Pakistan, now a critical center of local Salafist power as well as Deobandi Taliban groups.

[10] This Sufi principle should be kept in mind by anybody engaging in political relations with the Sufis: “the worst of the wise is he who visits the Prince, the best of the princes is he who visits the Wise”. From the court of Caliph Harun al Rashid (dead in 809) which unsuccessfully attempted to coopt Sufi masters on several occasions to Moghol-invaded Persia and Asia Minor to Cheikh Khaled Bentounès of the Alawiya order having left the French Republic’s Conseil Français du Culte Musulman before 2007 Sufi masters have proved disdainful of political and economic cooption while keeping an interest in political affairs and not necessarily avoiding to partake in it.

[11] whom colonial France’s decision to coerce should be studied as a mistake not to be reiterated.

[12] Axe, David. “At What Cost Stealth?” The Diplomat, 31 January 2011.

[13] Drew, Christopher. “A Fighter Jet’s Fate Poses a Quandary for Obama.” NY Times, 10 December 2008. Retrieved: 9 May 2010.

Written by: Idriss J. Aberkane
Written at: Centre d’Etudes Diplomatiques et Strategiques (Paris) / Groupe d’Etudes Orientales (Strasbourg University)
Written for: Brendan Simms (Cambridge)
Date Written: January 2010.


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