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China Reform Monitor - No. 1317

China's quiet footprint in Afghanistan;
Beijing woos Taiwanese entrepreneurs

Edited by Joshua Eisenman
February 27, 2018

February 1:

Local governments moved 2410 people from four prefectures in southern Xinjiang to find jobs elsewhere,
the official Xinjiang Daily reports. Some 1300 were moved to other provinces, 610 stayed in Xinjiang and another 500 were assigned work nearby. Poverty alleviation in Xinjiang is more difficult compared to other places because there are "ethnic issues involved," Yu Shaoxiang of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences told the official Global Times. Organizing people to work away from home would help them better integrate with the rest of China and also helped maintain security in the restive region, Yu said. In 2017, Xinjiang raised 4.17 billion yuan in 2017 to relocate poor people to more developed areas, Xinhua reports.

February 2:

Chinese troops have been in Afghanistan's remote and mountainous Wakhan Corridor for more than a year,
the Times of India reports. "The Chinese army first came here last summer accompanied by the Afghan army," said Abdul Rashid, a Kyrgyz chief, who saw vehicles flying Chinese flags. The Afghan army arrived days earlier "and told us that the Chinese army would be coming here. We were strictly told not to go near them or talk to them and not to take any photos." The Chinese have been bringing "a lot of food and warm clothes," said another resident. After their March visit the Chinese returned in June for about a month and "since then they come every month to distribute food." In December, Beijing and Kabul began talks over the construction of a military base in the Wakhan Corridor with financing, equipment and training provided by Beijing. Beijing fears that Uighur militants and/or Islamic State group fighters are passing through the freezing, barren panhandle of land into Xinjiang.

February 7:

Police in China are using sunglasses equipped with facial recognition technology to identify suspected criminals. The glasses are connected to an internal database of suspects allowing officers to quickly scan crowds for fugitives. Police officers take a photograph of a suspicious individual and then compare it to pictures stored in an internal database. If there is a match, information such as the person's name and address will then be sent to the officer. The sunglasses have already helped police capture seven suspects,
the BBC reports. Police used the new equipment to identify seven suspects at a train station in Zhengzhou, Henan.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: China is a world leader in facial recognition technology, and is building what it calls "the world's biggest camera surveillance network." About 170 million CCTV cameras are already in place and some 400 million new ones are expected to be installed in the next three years. The new cameras combine artificial intelligence with facial recognition technology.]

A start-up incubator near Shanghai called the Jinshan Cross Strait Youth Entrepreneurship Base is offering free office space, subsidized housing, tax breaks, and up to 200,000 yuan to attract Taiwanese entrepreneurs. The center, which was established in 2015 as part of China's influence campaign targeting Taiwanese youth at the cost of about 5 million yuan, is now host to 165 projects, 40 of which are Taiwanese. Jinshan is among at least 53 incubators across China styled like a Silicon Valley start-up, with brightly colored walls, rows of computer desks and posterboards describing its companies,
Reuters reports. "Before 2015, the government targeted mainly commercial or business interests in Taiwan. But after the Sunflower movement, they shifted their focus to winning the hearts of younger people, because they see them as the future and they see them as the biggest destructive force," said Zhang Zhexin at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies. "We want to be a window to young Taiwanese to help them understand the mainland," said Dong Ji, the industrial zone's deputy Communist Party committee secretary. One Taiwanese who registered his start-up in Shanghai last year said: "You can be reduced to becoming a political tool. If you take their benefits, there may be some sort of conditions later. You may lack some sort of freedom, or they may ask something of you."

February 8:

Eleven ethnic Uighur Muslims from China, missing since their dramatic escape from a Thai jail last year, have been detained in Malaysia and Beijing wants them back,
the South China Morning Post reports
. Some Western foreign missions are trying to dissuade authorities from sending the Uighurs to China. Twenty Uighurs broke out of a cell near the Thai-Malaysian border in November by digging holes in the wall and using blankets as ladders. The escapees were part of a group of more than 200 Uighurs detained in Thailand in 2014. Malaysia said two days after the escape that it had arrested one of them and that he would be handed over to Thailand.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Thousands of Uighurs have escaped unrest in Xinjiang by travelling clandestinely via Southeast Asia to Turkey. In 2014, Malaysia detained 155 Uighurs, more than half of them children, who were found crammed into two flats in Kuala Lumpur. It is unclear if they were sent to China. In September, deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said Malaysia had, since 2011, arrested 29 Uygur "militants" and deported them to China.]

Related Categories: China; China and East Asia Program

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