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Published: Thursday, 9/10/2009

China's troubles

STRIFE between Uighurs and Han Chinese, refugees pouring in from Myanmar, and heightening tensions with India are examples of problems that face China on its edges.

In Urumqi, in the Xinjiang region, Han Chinese, brought there by Beijing to water down the Muslim, independent-thinking Uighurs, claim that Uighurs are attacking them in the streets with hypodermic needles filled with the AIDS virus, and complain the government isn't doing enough to protect them. Street disturbances lasted days.

The government of Myanmar, in advance of elections set for next year, allegedly clamped down militarily on separatists in the Kokang region, which borders China. The result was a flood of refugees into China, to the displeasure of Beijing, which has to deal with them. China is otherwise the Myanmar government's best friend and greatest protector.

Of similar concern is the heating of tensions between China and the other Asian giant, India, in the Tawang region, part of long-standing wrangling between the two giants over their 2,521-mile border zone. Both sides have added to the danger of an outbreak of fighting by building up their military forces in the area.

Two points emerge from this prickly situation. The first is that it is difficult being China. The second is a hope that China and India, both of which will be at the G-20 summit meeting in Pittsburgh, will take that opportunity to soothe relations.

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