Sunday, July 12, 2015

Is China Making Its Own Terrorism Problem Worse?

Beijing says radicalized members of its Uighur minority are terrorists with ties to the Islamic State and al Qaeda, but its repressive policies may be helping to fuel the violence.     

By Justine Drennan    

FOREIGN POLICY - February 9, 2015

When an SUV crashed through a crowd at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in late 2013, killing two bystanders and injuring 40, it didn’t take Chinese officials long to name culprits. The attackers, they said, had been members of China’s Uighur Muslim minority, with “links to many international extremist terrorist groups.” Police said they found a flag bearing jihadi emblems in the crashed vehicle and blamed the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, or ETIM, a group named after the independent state China says some Uighurs want to establish in the far-western region of Xinjiang. After the attack, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying called ETIM “China’s most direct and realistic security threat.”
Beijing has long characterized cases of Uighur violence as organized acts of terrorism and accused individual attackers of having ties to international jihadi groups. Back in 2001, China released a document claiming that “Eastern Turkistan” terrorists had received training from Osama bin Laden and the Taliban and then “fought in combats in Afghanistan, Chechnya and Uzbekistan, or returned to Xinjiang for terrorist and violent activities.” Since then, China has frequently blamed ETIM for violence in Xinjiang and elsewhere.