Tuesday, January 20, 2015

China's Uyghurs and Islamic State

Chinese media report that a group of Uyghurs was arrested on suspicion of trying to join the global terror network.

By Shannon Tiezzi

THE DIPLOMAT - January 15, 2015

A report from China’s Global Times (picked up and summarized by Reuters) says that China has arrested 10 Turkish nationals in Shanghai for their role in assisting ethnic Uyghurs in illegally leaving China. According to Global Times, the Uyghurs intended to use fake Turkish passports to travel to Syria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan to fight alongside Islamist militants. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei did not directly confirm the story, but told journalists that the Chinese media report “has gone into great details… I have nothing new to add.” Hong did elaborate a bit on China’s general position on the issue, saying that “cracking down on illegal immigration is an aspiration shared by the international community, and also the persistent stance taken by the Chinese government.” Interestingly, Hong made no mention of the reported connection with terrorism, which is a major focus of theGlobal Times story. The piece opens by saying that in November 2014, authorities in Shanghai uncovered a organization of Turkish nationals that provided “Chinese terrorists” with false Turkish passports that could then be used to illegally leave the country. Each fake passport cost 60,000 RMB ($9,680), according to the report.