Xinjiang districts get sister Chinese regions

China's Xinjiang province is known mostly for being a hotbed of separatist violence and government crackdowns on free speech. But not all the news coming from Western China is bad: just days after Beijing ended a controversial 10-month Internet blackout there, President Hu Jintao announced an ambitious aid package to bring the region's per-capita GDP up to the national average. The goal is to complete the project in as little as 10 years, and to help meet the deadline, provincial governments are getting involved:

More specifically, 19 relatively affluent regions including coastal and central provinces and big cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, will pipe support into different areas of Xinjiang during the next 10 years. In addition to financial aid, efforts will also be made to improve employment, education and housing conditions for the poor in the region.

If your knowledge of Chinese geography is as rusty as mine, check out this neat color-coded map that highlights the participating provinces and breaks down their expected contributions.

Porfiriy /


Exiled emirate prince plans coup with British lawyer

Here's an unlikely advocate in the enforcement of sanctions against Iran: Sheikh Khalid, the former crown prince of the UAE emirate Ras al-Khaimah (RAK). In 2003, his own father and half-brother staged a takeover and exiled him to Muscat, Oman. Now Khalid fears that the new governance of the kingdom -- which is located 50 miles from Iran and, in Khalid's words, "a rogue state and gateway" for Ahmadinedjad's repressive regime -- poses an international security threat, and he has enlisted the help of a British lawyer to plot a bloodless coup.

The Guardian reports that in 2008, Khalid began to re-enter political life and publicly speak out against his royal replacements. He criticized their opposition to women's rights and democracy, their alleged involvement in terrorist plots, and their enabling Iran's nuclear program by offering up "free trade zones" in RAK.  Meanwhile, he was teaming up with an unlikely friend: British lawyer Peter Cathcart, who has spent the last two years lobbying U.S. congressmen for support and financial backing in overthrowing the RAK regime. And it seems the coup may soon come to fruition: in recent weeks, Khalid has met with Abu Dabhi officials and members of the UAE federal government, all of whom would be crucial in facilitating Khalid's rise to power.

It looks like Sex and the City 2 won't be the only upset in the emirates this summer...