China fears both world and domestic troubles if US attacks Syria

  • Sutirtho Patranobis, Hindustan Times, Beijing
  • |
  • Updated: Aug 30, 2013 08:55 IST

An attack by US on strife-torn Syria could potentially ignite the volatile region of West Asia with the Syrian army and its allies launching an attack on Israel and Tel Aviv retaliating with force, China warned on Thursday.

Besides igniting the West Asian region, ripple effect of the attacks would hit hard on world economy's fragile recovery, a commentary on state-run Xinhua news agency said.

China and Russia had firmly opposed a proposal to attack Syria an UN Security Council meeting on Wednesday.

"The looming attack has already sent chills through world economy, as global stocks tumbled Tuesday while oil and gold prices surged to multi-month highs," it said.

But it's not only the impact the US attack would have on the world that's bothering China. Beijing is also worried about a more direct fallout: the return of members of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) who are fighting in Syria would try to sneak back to China and carry out terrorist attacks in Xinjiang in the northwest of the country.

China has accused the ETIM of carrying out attacks in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and blamed the group for inciting separatism in the region.

"It is likely that the ETIM members will withdraw (from Syria if the US launches an attack). Their final proposition is to return to China to carry out attacks in China," Li Wei, director of the Institute for security and Arms Control Studies - an institute attached to the Ministry of State Security - told journalists on Thursday.

Li, speaking at a talk organised by the All China Journalists Association, said ETIM members were fighting in Syria to study how "international terrorism works" and how to mastermind attacks in XUAR. They have already gained experience by fighting wars in Chechnya and Iraq.

On the world front, the Xinhua commentary said it is the UN, not Washington, which should "play the leading role in marshalling an international response to the Syria crisis, because the most representative world body is the best platform to make the most objective analysis and take the most appropriate action."

The commentary added that the UN inspection team was yet to reach a conclusion on the alleged use of chemical weapons. However, Washington, it added, had already pinned the blame on the Syrian government without coming up with any hard facts to support its claim.

"Before the UN findings were read out, any US-led military action will not have the backing of the UN Security Council," it added.


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