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Old 12-02-2005   #1
CPT Holzbach
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Default China's Far West provinces (inc. Tibet)

Moderator's Note: This thread is supported by the smaller, main thread on China proper, entitled 'China's internal troubles (not the Far West)':http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ad.php?t=14737


Yet another potential front in the "global Islamic insurgency"?

China's far west
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Old 12-02-2005   #2
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Originally Posted by CPT Holzbach
Yet another potential front in the "global Islamic insurgency"?
I see it more along the lines of the rise of ethno-nationalism and the potential for fragmentation of larger states that we have been seeing since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The Xinjiang Problem

Violent Separatism in Xinjiang

Last edited by Jedburgh; 12-02-2005 at 04:24 PM.
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Old 03-19-2008   #3
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Default Insurgency in Tibet?

CTV news had some fairly graphic video of Tibetan "insurgents" operating in Gyanzu (sp?) province last night. What with mass arrests in Lhasa over the weekend and an increasingly nasty dialogue between the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government, it looks as if the younger generation of Tibetans may do more than practice non-violent resistance to the Chinese. Indeed, the Dalai Lama actually offered to resign if things went to open conflict and since his successor was kidnapped by the Chinese quite some time ago, things could get very interesting.
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Old 03-19-2008   #4
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CTV news had some fairly graphic video of Tibetan "insurgents" operating in Gyanzu (sp?) province last night. What with mass arrests in Lhasa over the weekend and an increasingly nasty dialogue between the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government, it looks as if the younger generation of Tibetans may do more than practice non-violent resistance to the Chinese. Indeed, the Dalai Lama actually offered to resign if things went to open conflict and since his successor was kidnapped by the Chinese quite some time ago, things could get very interesting.
I've kind of wondered why no one has taken that issue to the U.N. under the ruberic of decolonization.
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Old 03-19-2008   #5
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Hi Steve,

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I've kind of wondered why no one has taken that issue to the U.N. under the ruberic of decolonization.
That wouldn't work - Tibet was a conquest not a colony of China. Besides that, the entire Free Tibet strategy has been predicated around non-violent global protests (a friend of mine is one of the main organizers).

What I found fascinating with the limited video that they got was that it seemed to be a performance; possibly because of the unique opportunity of having a Western camera crew there (the video is on the CTV site). What with an independence movement starting up in the Uigher province, a lot of social strain between Beijing and Shanghai, radical shifts in the demographic balance and the Olympics coming to town, I suspect that things will get "interesting".
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Old 03-19-2008   #6
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Hi Steve,



That wouldn't work - Tibet was a conquest not a colony of China. Besides that, the entire Free Tibet strategy has been predicated around non-violent global protests (a friend of mine is one of the main organizers).

What I found fascinating with the limited video that they got was that it seemed to be a performance; possibly because of the unique opportunity of having a Western camera crew there (the video is on the CTV site). What with an independence movement starting up in the Uigher province, a lot of social strain between Beijing and Shanghai, radical shifts in the demographic balance and the Olympics coming to town, I suspect that things will get "interesting".

I'm not following--most of the colonies that the UN got hot and bothered about were conquests at some point in time. The fact that Tibet has not been portrayed that way reflects--in my opinion--the idea that only Europeans and people of European descent can be colonialists, racists, etc. So what I'm getting it is a political strategy that would burst out of the mental confines of this old 1960s conceptualization.
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Old 03-19-2008   #7
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Hi Steve,

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I'm not following--most of the colonies that the UN got hot and bothered about were conquests at some point in time. The fact that Tibet has not been portrayed that way reflects--in my opinion--the idea that only Europeans and people of European descent can be colonialists, racists, etc. So what I'm getting it is a political strategy that would burst out of the mental confines of this old 1960s conceptualization.
Ah, okay I see what you are getting at. You are definitely right about the political problems with calling non-Europeans/non-whites "colonizers", but that is only part of the problem. Another part is when the conquest took place - 1950-51, which is not generally accepted as part of the "colonizing period".

Given the convoluted history between China and Tibet, the closest actual analog to a justification for the conquest is exactly the one used by Saddam Hussein in his invasion of Kuwait - "historic association", although Tibet was never actually part of China, while Kuwait was part of Iraq (about 1000 years ago...). This type of post-colonial conquest was pretty much accepted at the time for reasons of political expediency that have not really disappeared (i.e. tensions between the big players).

On another level, there has been a lot of pressure for China to open up for business since the 1970's and, today, too much of the North American economy is built on cheap Chinese goods. Calling for China to "de-colonize" Tibet would a) PO the Chinese for calling them colonialists and b) PO the Chinese for interfering in their "internal affairs" - I doubt that many in the West are willing to do that .

Just getting back to your point about the racialization of the term 'colonialist", you're absolutely right. The Chinese, actually the Han, have been doing this for a long time, including all the usual "worst practices" - e.g. cultural genocide, language imperialism, etc. Take a look at their Anthropology - it's based on that of Lewis Henry Morgan and is decidedly culturally eugenicist in nature.
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Old 03-20-2008   #8
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Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
I'm not following--most of the colonies that the UN got hot and bothered about were conquests at some point in time. The fact that Tibet has not been portrayed that way reflects--in my opinion--the idea that only Europeans and people of European descent can be colonialists, racists, etc. So what I'm getting it is a political strategy that would burst out of the mental confines of this old 1960s conceptualization.
I think this theory that the UN only gets involved in decolonizing white-owned colonies is pretty wrongheaded. More relevant is the fact that China has a seat on the Security Council, just as Russia does vis a vis a similar "colony" in Chechnya. For examples of UN intervention in a nonwhite colonial situation, see Western Sahara, East Timor, etc.
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Old 03-25-2009   #9
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Default An Analysis of Grievances: The Uyghurs of Xinjiang Province, China

The Uyghur population of the Xinjiang Province has mobilized based on three types of grievances: economic, political, and religious. The Uyghur population's grievances lie mostly with the central state government, controlled by the Han majority population. The Uyghur population has a strong identity that is distinguishable from the Han population. They speak their own Turkic language, practice Sufi Islam, and have had a cultural history distinct from that of the Han Chinese. The Chinese government has maintained strong political control in Xinjiang since 1949, when the People's Liberation Army marched in to occupy the region. After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the creation of independent Central Asian states, the Uyghurs began to have hope that the independence of these countries would also help bring independence to their own country.
Uyghur-Han ethnic tensions have been exacerbated by government policies encouraging Han in-migration intended to assimilate Uyghurs into the larger Chinese framework, which existed until the 1970s. These assimilation policies have been perceived as a strong threat against Uyghur identity, culture, ethnicity and traditions. The government brought Han Chinese to Xinjiang through official policies sending transferred work units, demobilized People's Liberation Army troops, people joining family members sent to Xinjiang, and employees of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps. After the 1980s, Han Chinese continued migrating to Xinjiang by their own prerogative. Accompanied by the in-migration is also the diverting of state funds to only help areas that are settled by the Han Chinese. Han Chinese now account for 95% of the population of Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Recent large government infrastructure projects have employed migrant workers, instead of local workers, in spite of preferential policies for ethnic minorities. The Xinjiang region is also natural resource rich, which keeps the region at the center of China's energy policy. The Uyghurs say that despite the economic development that is happening in the area, the profits are not staying in the region, and instead the Uyghurs are placed at a disadvantage because of unbearable tax burdens.
Hans largely dominate the government and Chinese Communist Party levels above the township. There are many concerns within the Uyghur community that the autonomy promised by the government in the 1950s with the establishment of the autonomous region have not been realized. As the People's Republic of China remains a single-party state and continues to prevent various groups from articulating demands and from organizing to pursue their interests. The Uyghurs tend to see the Han Chinese and the state government as one and the same, so the grievances and oppositions towards the Han Chinese and the government tend to coalesce.
Beginning in the mid-1990s, the Chinese government has tightened restrictions on the practicing of Islam by Uyghurs. Mosques near schools have been closed as being "bad influences on children." Fasting during Ramadan was banned in schools, hospitals and government offices. Muslim clerics have been detained for teaching the Koran. Restrictions and scrutiny on Islamic religious practices have increased after September 11, 2001, as the Chinese government aligned the separatist activities of the ethnically Muslim population as terrorism.
Based on these grievances, different groups have mobilized to assert their autonomy; however, the movement for autonomy is not monolithic. Opinions vary, from those who would like to see the autonomy of the region increased, to those would like to establish an independent state. The East Turkestan Independence Movement (ETIM), a more militant group described as a terrorist organization by the People's Republic of China and the US, has pressed for an independent Turkic state called East Turkestan to be created and populated by Uyghur Muslims in the Xinjiang region. Some have alleged that ETIM-linked groups were responsible for the Chinese bus bombings during the Olympics. Other groups, like the Uyghur American Association (UAA), has championed more peaceful means of reconciliation; the president of the UAA, Ms. Rebiya Kadeer, was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2006.
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Old 07-08-2009   #10
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Default Uprising in Urumqi

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Beijing cracks down on a Muslim minority.
7/8/09

Authoritarian states are typically less stable than they appear, and China is no exception. This week's ethnic riots in western Xinjiang province are the deadliest on record since the end of the Cultural Revolution in the 1970s. Until the Chinese government is truly accountable to its citizens -- both the majority Han and other ethnic minorities -- these kinds of deadly uprisings will continue.

Sunday's riots started when around 3,000 ethnic Uighurs, including many high-school and college students, gathered to protest ethnically motivated killings in a factory in China's southern Guangdong province. The riots turned violent but, thanks to China's information firewall, no one knows exactly why. State-run media report that Uighurs had attacked Han Chinese and count at least 156 people killed and more than 1,000 injured.

Government outlets blamed Uighur "separatists" and labeled U.S.-based Rebiya Kadeer, president of the World Uighur Congress, the "mastermind" of the violence. Ms. Kadeer denies this in an article on a nearby page. Yesterday, thousands of Han Chinese, armed with homemade weapons, swarmed the streets of Urumqi, calling for revenge. Police stopped them with tear gas, but not before they had destroyed some Uighur shops. Other protests and violent outbreaks ripped across the city.

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Old 07-08-2009   #11
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I seem to recall reading/hearing that China has a lot of energy reserves in that area - a whole different set of ROE in that neck of the woods and I imagnine the body count was much higher.
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Old 07-08-2009   #12
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I seem to recall reading/hearing that China has a lot of energy reserves in that area - a whole different set of ROE in that neck of the woods and I imagnine the body count was much higher.
I'd suspect so, Goesh. Here's CBC's take on it (and here), but it appears to have the same sources.
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Old 07-08-2009   #13
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Default China's achilles heel

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I seem to recall reading/hearing that China has a lot of energy reserves in that area - a whole different set of ROE in that neck of the woods and I imagnine the body count was much higher.
Energy yes, in addition to access to Central Asian resources and access to Gwadar Port in Pakistan.
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Old 07-09-2009   #14
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Default An interesting "scene setting" article

From Prospect magazine:

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The final stretch on the road to Yarkand, about 125 miles from China’s border with Pakistan, feels like the middle east. Each village is a collage of single-storey mud-brick homes with turquoise door-gates. People travel by donkey cart or scooter-rickshaw. Men greet each other the Muslim way (palm to the chest and a slight bow); women wear headscarves. In small villages many signs are still in Uighur, the local language. But for how much longer?
Source
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Old 07-11-2009   #15
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Default Turkey attacks China 'genocide'

This BBC News report starts with the Turkish Prime Minister calling what has happened 'genocide' and then provides an update on the situation: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asi...ic/8145451.stm

Amazing that the Chinese have not stopped media arriving, but have detained some. IIRC the BBC had a reporter in town when this started, just like they did when Lhasa riots started.

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Old 12-03-2010   #16
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Default Turkistani Islamic Party

Promoting Jihad Against China: The Turkistani Islamic Party in Arabic Jihadist Media, by Kirk H. Sowell. An Independent Report Commissioned by Sky News, August 1, 2010. (PDF)
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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The Turkistani Islamic Party (TIP) is a jihadist organization which claims to represent China‟s Muslim Uighur population. It is the most militant of Uighur groups in the northwestern province of Xinjiang. While experts dispute TIP‟s origins, it claims to be a renamed continuation of the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), which appeared defunct in 2003 following the death of its leader.

Since 2008, TIP has used the global jihadist media to present itself as the successor of the classical Islamic caliphate, operating parallel to Osama bin Ladin‟s al-Qaeda (AQ), with its avowed ambition the Islamization of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). While marginal to Uighur society and never demonstrating significant capabilities, Uighur jihadists garnered increased international attention following al-Qaeda‟s 2001 attacks on the United States and TIP‟s own 2008 threat against the Beijing Olympics.

This report, Promoting Jihad Against China, attempts to address two issues: (1) TIP‟s origins, including its relationship to ETIM; and (2) TIP‟s relationship to the global jihadist movement, including al-Qaeda. The evidence is derived from TIP publications in Arabic jihadist media supplemented by secondary sources in English and Arabic.

While this report was commissioned by Sky News, it is an independent study and Sky News is not responsible for its contents. The key judgments are as follows:

- TIP is a successor organization to ETIM, which likely ceased to exist in 2003. While TIP claims total continuity between the two groups, its emergence in 2008 is more likely a refounding of a defunct organization.

- TIP has deep ties to the Taliban, but appears to have only tangential links to al-Qaeda. TIP supports AQ‟s war against the United States, but has criticized it for ignoring Asian Muslims. Media which habitually describe TIP as “al-Qaeda-linked” would be on firmer ground linking it to the Taliban.

- The primary purpose of TIP’s Arabic publications appears to be fundraising, with little relationship to operations. TIP‟s publications feature highly-theoretical discussions of Islamic history and doctrine targeted to Gulf Arabs sympathetic to jihadism. While fundraising is typically a goal of jihadist publications, this seems more true of TIP than for jihadists in the Arab world.

- TIP has failed to break into the mainstream Arabic information environment. While TIP‟s publications have sufficient presence on jihadist forums to give it exposure to its core audience, it has failed to have impact on mainstream Arabic media similar to that of other militant Islamist groups.
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Old 12-03-2010   #17
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Default Curious move

Bourbon,

The report aside, why would a UK-based global TV channel, owned by Rupert Murdoch's News International, with IIRC extensive interests in China, commission such a report? On a quick scan the report has no clues.
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Old 12-03-2010   #18
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These guys are just one of many nationalist insurgent movements among Muslim populaces that AQ engages with as they conduct Unconventional Warfare to leverage the populaces of others to assist them in their own agenda/goals as an organization.

If the West continues with a historic approach, we will help China conduct counterterrorism against this nationalist insurgent movement and to exert controls over the Chinese Muslim populace they represent.

Or, we can perhaps draw a clearer perspective when looking at an insurgent movement against a government we have issues with than we can when looking at the insurgent movements against governments we tend to think of as "friends."

My recommendation is that we out-compete AQ for influence with this populace. They need an advocate to help them in their very real issues with the Chinese government. The US falls much more closely in line with the historic principles upon which our nation was founded, and also with the overly positive self-image we have of ourselves in the global environment, by taking such a role. Not working to help the insurgent overthrow the government or break away, and not helping the government to suppress their populace. Instead providing a strong third party to help mediate the grievances.

Everyone has come to recognize that good COIN "protects the populace" from the insurgent. What I don't see, however, is the recognition that good FID works to protect the populace from the insurgent and the government. In America we have a great constitution that has proven to be an effective guard of the populace against government abuse. (Recent efforts to nick away at those guards under the guise of current challenges must be resisted by the people!) In other places there are no such guards against government abuse.

Who guards the people of Afghanistan from the abuses of the Afghan government?? Not the US, we actually enable the Afghan government (against our feeble protests) to act in abusive ways that feed the insurgency.

Who guards the people of Saudi Arabia or Yemen or Egypt from the abuses of their governments? Again, not the US, who enables those governments to act with impunity as well.

So, the question is, will we merely ignore this "Chinese problem" (In the current global environment, nothing is localized like that, and these guys are a significant source of foreign fighters to Pakistan) and let the Chinese handle it as they see fit? Do we assist the Chinese with capacity building and CT support to suppress this segment of their populace more effectively (and thereby add ourselves to the insurgent target list)? Or do we break the model that we have been following in Africa and the Middle East and take a neutral role more in line with our national principles?

Just asking. I know what I recommend. These are not problems that can be contained, nor can they effectively be suppressed without increased chance of terrorist acts back home. They must be addressed, as they will not go away until they are.
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Old 12-03-2010   #19
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If the West continues with a historic approach, we will help China conduct counterterrorism against this nationalist insurgent movement and to exert controls over the Chinese Muslim populace they represent.
The Chinese will not need, want, or request our help.

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My recommendation is that we out-compete AQ for influence with this populace.
My recommendation is that we leave it alone. It's not our business, it's not our problem, and it's very unlikely that any side of the story wants us involved in any way. We are not the solution to every problem, and there's no need for us to get involved in every problem. Let it be. We've enough issues elsewhere.

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Who guards the people of Saudi Arabia or Yemen or Egypt from the abuses of their governments? Again, not the US, who enables those governments to act with impunity as well.
The degree to which we "enable" anything is highly debatable. In Saudi Arabia our "enabling" role is absolutely nonexistent: the US could withdraw completely from all engagement with the Saudis with no effect whatsoever on the Saudi relationship with its populace. They don't need our help to contain their populace and they don't care what we think... we'd lose a fair bit of intel (and a whole lot of defence contracts) but that's about it

In Egypt our "enabling" role is minimal: they like the aid but it's not enough to give us enough leverage to force them to change anything, and they don't step on their populace because we enable it. They'd do it in any event. Once upon a time they were dependents, not now. They could survive without the aid, and it's likely that others would replace it if we withdrew.

In Yemen, arguably, we enable a bad government to survive... but I've seen few good options proposed. Important to note that Yemen doesn't face "an insurgency" with "an insurgent leadership" that we can deal with if the government is unsuitable. Yemen faces a crawling chaos of ethnic, sectarian, and tribal conflict; the threat is not an insurgent victory but a descent into Somali-style anarchy.

The whole notion of "enabling" is something you seem to asume but do not demonstrate; I think you vastly overrate what we can or do actually "enable". Certainly in China, no matter what policy we adopt, we will not be "enabling" anything.
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Old 12-04-2010   #20
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My recommendation is that we leave it alone. It's not our business, it's not our problem, and it's very unlikely that any side of the story wants us involved in any way. We are not the solution to every problem, and there's no need for us to get involved in every problem. Let it be. We've enough issues elsewhere.
Agreed 150%


Quote:
In Yemen, arguably, we enable a bad government to survive... but I've seen few good options proposed. Important to note that Yemen doesn't face "an insurgency" with "an insurgent leadership" that we can deal with if the government is unsuitable. Yemen faces a crawling chaos of ethnic, sectarian, and tribal conflict; the threat is not an insurgent victory but a descent into Somali-style anarchy.
Again, agreed with your accurate assesment.

Quote:
The whole notion of "enabling" is something you seem to asume but do not demonstrate; I think you vastly overrate what we can or do actually "enable". Certainly in China, no matter what policy we adopt, we will not be "enabling" anything.
Exactly, it didn't/hasn't/doesn't work with Tibet I don't see how or why it should with ETIM or the Uighur people. Non-intervention not more intervention should be the norm at least if we still believe in the notion of state soveriengty. Ultimately, whatever problems a people has with its government are its problem unless the issues should be so severe as to threaten regional and international security in which case its a regional problem (essentially the Edmund Burke doctrine from the French revolution) and only in the last instance is it an international one....unless you subscribe to the idea of universal peace/government (which demands intervention) which is a dream and not even a nice one. Indeed, in a number of cases (if not the majority) local dis/malcontents tactitly if not overtly assume and rely upon the internationalisation of their greivance. Turning a local issue into a global one which not only complicates its resolution but also involves parties who have no business being invlved in the first place and seek simply to gain in some way. Remove that and you, IMO only, dampen the flames that lead to escalation.

Last edited by Tukhachevskii; 12-04-2010 at 03:58 AM.
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