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Beijing’s list of most wanted

While India battles terrorism, powerful neighbour China is now intensifying its own war on terror too — and seeking global help, reports Reshma Patil.

world Updated: Oct 21, 2008 23:41 IST
Reshma Patil
Reshma Patil
Hindustan Times

While India battles terrorism, powerful neighbour China is now intensifying its own war on terror too — and seeking global help.

“After the Olympics, China has realised that the biggest national security threat China faces is from international terrorism,’’ Rohan Gunaratna, the author of Inside Al-Qaeda: Global Network of Terror, told the Hindustan Times.

During August, over 30 people died in China’s northwest Xinjiang in suspected terror strikes, the worst in the region since years.

“Despite Chinese efforts, Xingjiang and the rest of China will suffer from terrorism in the coming months,” said Gunaratna, who heads the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research in Singapore.

On Tuesday, Beijing disclosed a list of eight ‘terrorists’ and said it wants to cooperate globally in sharing intelligence, cutting off terror funding and extraditing suspects.

“China is moving towards international cooperation because many terrorists they are looking for are on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border,’’ said Gunaratna.

During Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari’s recent Beijing visit, both nations agreed to cooperate to fight terrorism.

Beijing says that the eight ‘terrorists’ are Chinese nationals and members of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), which the United Nations, in 2002, listed as a terrorist group.

“ETIM is working closely with Al Qaeda and with the Islamic Jihad Union, another group operating closely with Al Qaeda,’’ said Gunaratna.

The ETIM, according to China, is fighting for a separate East Turkestan state. It was blamed for terror attacks this year in Xinjiang, which covers one-sixth of China and borders Pakistan, Afghanistan and Ladakh. It is China’s largest natural gas producing region, home to over eight million Uighurs or Turkic-speaking Muslims who resent the Han Chinese influx and desire more religious freedom.

Since last year, ETIM has ‘plotted, organised and implemented terrorist activities in China to sabotage the Games,’’ said ministry spokesman Wu Heping.

In 2003, China named four East Turkestan terror ‘groups’ and 11 ‘terrorists’. Dilxat Raxit, spokesperson of the World Uyghur Congress, told Reuters the latest list has ‘political motives.’ “They have produced no evidence.’’

First Published: Oct 21, 2008 23:39 IST