China says terrorism tops meeting of Central Asian states at SCO
The focus on terrorism reflects China’s hopes to use the grouping to stamp out threats of cross-border support for low-level separatist insurgencies particularly in the predominantly Turkic-speaking region of Xinjiang.world Updated: Apr 24, 2018 11:05 IST
China’s defense minister said Tuesday that fighting the threat of terrorism is a top concern to be discussed by a Beijing-led group of Central Asian states this week.
Wei Fenghe told fellow defense officials from the eight-member Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Beijing on Tuesday that the group stood as a force for peace.
The focus on terrorism reflects China’s hopes to use the grouping to stamp out threats of cross-border support for low-level separatist insurgencies particularly in the predominantly Turkic-speaking region of Xinjiang.
China will host the SCO summit in the port of Qingdao in June. Along with China and Russia, the SCO includes the Central Asian states of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan as well as Pakistan and rival India, the latter of which is considered one of China’s key strategic competitors for influence in Asia.
Cooperation among member nation defense ministries “has made important contributions to maintain peace in the region and the world,” Wei said.
Wei said the meeting would also discuss the South China Sea, where China has rapidly been consolidating its claim to virtually the entire strategic waterway through the construction of man-made island military bases.
China has encouraged Central Asian countries to play a bigger role in regional affairs as part of SCO. Apart from stepping up security cooperation, China has funneled significant economic investment into Central Asia, a critical hub in President Xi Jinping’s Belt-and-Road infrastructure initiative connecting the Eurasian continent.
Beijing has also sought a bigger role in Afghanistan’s political future, pushing for settlement talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government.