This Week in Douchiness: Oppressed Minority Edition

Last week both the Wall Street Journal and the Telegraph had articles about the World Uyghur Congress holding a conference in Tokyo, and China delivered its usual autonomic response, although, interestingly enough, they tagged in rumored Bo Xilai supporter Zhou Yangkang to do it. Western media coverage somehow managed to skirt past the fact that right-wing Nanjing massacre revisionist and nationalist MP Takeo Hiranuma spoke at the conference, and Rebiya Kadeer visited the Yasakuni Shrine. The Chinese press, of course, didn’t miss this at all, and frankly these are significant events that ought to have made it into the Telegraph and WSJ articles. Not only is the Uyghur movement associating itself with a Japanese politician who opposed a woman’s ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne because “If [Princess] Aiko becomes the reigning empress and gets involved with a blue-eyed foreigner while studying abroad and marries him, their child may be the emperor… We should never let that happen,” but Kadeer’s visit to the Yasakuni Shrine is quite simply just spitting in the eye of not just the Chinese government, but the Chinese people. The only apparent purpose it serves is as a gesture to Japan’s right wing, which hardly seems of any value in the long-run if you’re seeking actual solutions to the discrimination and oppression faced by Uyghurs in Xinjiang. UPDATE: It appears that Rebiya also donated 100,000 yen to the Tokyo government’s fund to buy the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands. At this rate I wouldn’t be surprised if she releases a statement next week endorsing the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. SECOND UPDATE: Word is that the reports of far-right funding were erroneous, and that the Uyghur dissident groups were “unaware” of the importance of the Yasukuni Shrine. Not clear whether the reports of right-wing Japanese politicians speaking at the event were also erroneous, but being unaware of the impact of a Yasukuni Shrine visit smacks of geopolitical naivete. Do they know how this game is played?

Meanwhile, the Dalai Lama has reported “rumors” of a Chinese plan to assassinate him via poisoned scarves, a delivery system that Wired’s new science blog Elemental throws some cold water on. Once again, I find myself in the awkward position of agreeing with the Global Times, who said “Let’s put it simply: If the central government wanted to “eliminate” the Dalai Lama, why has it waited for such a long time? Isn’t it foolish to take action against Dalai at such an old age?” And as Wired’s Deborah Blum pointed out, “In that interview with the Telegraph, the Dalai Lama did emphasize that he was just repeating a rumor, nothing that had been verified. So why, you might ask, even bring it up?”

Meanwhile, I heartily recommend Autonomous Region, an excellent Xinjiang blog (and one of the few left still posting regularly) where Batur has lately been turning up several good Taobao finds, including organic free trade fruits and nuts direct from Kashgari farmers, that Xinjiang consumers purchased the most numbers of bikinis and bras via Taobao in 2011 (and also the largest cup sizes compared to all other Chinese provinces), and an awesome t-shirt. Batur is also reliable for news on things like ethnic discrimination in government hiring, the upcoming Urumqi metro, the expected return of Uyghur BBS Uighurbiz, which was shut down after the 2008 riots, a Uyghur movie site, and the problem of Chinese transliteration and name-length limits for Uyghur names on ID cards and plane tickets. A must subscribe for Xinjiang news bites.

To close out, here’s a clip of American bluegrass musician Abigail Washburn jamming in Urumqi.

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