‘CPC sought Jamaat support'

Fears over the resurgence of religious extremist groups in Xinjiang and increasing lack of confidence in the Pakistani government's ability to crack down on terror were the likely factors behind the Communist Party of China's unexpected move to sign its first ever cooperation agreement with an Islamist political party in 2009, leaked United States Embassy cables suggest.

The CPC sought the support of Pakistan's Jamaat-e-Islaami (JI) to tackle “radicalised” groups who were backing separatists in Xinjiang, scholars in official Chinese think-tanks and Afghan diplomats told U.S. officials, according to a cable from March 2009 that was among the last tranche of cables released by Wikileaks.

The cable underscores China's long-persisting concerns over the spread of extremism from neighbouring Pakistan, voiced recently following attacks in Kashgar and Hotan which Chinese authorities blamed on terrorists trained in Pakistan. The separatist Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP), which has active camps near Pakistan's border with Afghanistan, claimed responsibility for the violence, which left at least 40 people dead.

In early 2009, China decided it wanted to “directly deal with JI” because radicalised groups “were suspicious of Chinese interests in Pakistan and supported Xinjiang separatists,” Ye Hailin, a scholar at the official Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), a think-tank close to the Chinese government, reportedly told U.S. officials. The JI, China believed, had “strong influence” on those groups.

“The maliks can help us very much,” Mr. Yi was quoted as saying.


His comments were echoed by Mirwais Nab, a First Secretary at the Afghan Embassy in Beijing, who said the CPC's agreement with JI both “legitimised Chinese sovereignty over Xinjiang and demonstrated that the Chinese no longer believed they could rely on the Pakistan government… alone to look after its interests”.

Mr. Nab claimed that officials in the CPC Central Committee's International Department, which handles party-to-party ties and directs the Foreign Ministry, had told him China “would invest in projects in JI-friendly areas in the FATA [Bajaur and Mohmand]” regions.

The MoU signed between the CPC and the JI in early 2009 called for cooperation on justice, security and development, with the JI specifically agreeing to back China on Xinjiang.

Han Hua, an influential South Asia scholar at Peking University, told U.S. officials the deal between the CPC and JI “simply reflected the CPC's desire to show respect for Muslim culture and religion without lending support to radicalised elements in Pakistan”.

Other cables reflected China's security concerns about Pakistanis residing in the country, and the strict measures taken by Beijing to deport Pakistani citizens.

A cable from September 2006 noted that more than 20 Pakistanis, who were in the process of obtaining UNHCR refugee status, were “hiding out” at the U.N. agency's Beijing office “because they fear Chinese authorities will find and deport them”.

UNHCR Senior Regional Protection Officer Lam Naijit was quoted as saying many Pakistani families, including those with small babies, “were camped out in the UNHCR elevator lobby area, crowded onto the floor”.

The cable did not say who the Pakistani citizens were, or whether they were eventually deported.

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2021 1:25:07 PM |

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