China Faces its Own ‘War on Terror’Posted: May 29, 2014
Victor Zhikai Gao is director of China National Association of International Studies. He was a former employee of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and served as English interpreter for Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping in the 1980s.
For CNN, Victor Gao writes: For many decades, unlike their counterparts in many Western countries, Chinese police did not carry guns. Even the armed police in China, charged mainly with guarding foreign embassies, government buildings and important facilities, would normally only carry unloaded guns, keeping the bullets separate.
A police officer firing a gun was a rarity, because China was a safe country.
Recently, however, a major shift is occurring that is significantly changing the landscape, as China faces its own “war on terror.”
With the war in Afghanistan winding down, there has been an intensification of terrorist attacks in China. Most bear the same tell-tale fingerprints. They originate from China’s Xinjiang Autonomous Region, which borders Afghanistan, and are perpetuated by extremists from China’s Uyghur minority, a mainly Turkic-speaking Muslim population.
They aim to indiscriminately kill innocent, unarmed people in public places, demonstrating a complete disregard for human life.
The deadly terror attack Thursday on Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, was the just the latest in a spate of such attacks to strike China since a jeep plowed into a crowd in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in October, killing five.
This week’s attack also involved vehicles — in this case SUVs that drove into crowds at an open market as its occupants tossed out explosives, leaving at least 39 dead and 90 injured, according to Chinese state media.
Other attacks have been carried out by knife-wielding mobs, such as the attack on Kunming train station in March that left 29 dead, according to state media.
An attack the following month on an Urumqi train station also involved a knife-wielding mob that swarmed the station after an explosion was detonated. Three people were killed, included two suspected attackers, and 79 injured, according to state media.
Editor’s note: Victor Zhikai Gao is director of China National Association of International Studies. He was a former employee of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and served as English interpreter for Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping in the 1980s. The opinions expressed are solely those of the author.
- China to adopt big data systems to fight terrorism (wantchinatimes.com)
- China arrests Xinjiang ‘terror gang’ (bbc.co.uk)
- 55 sentenced at stadium ‘show trial’ (edition.cnn.com)
- China Terrorists Killed 3, Injured 79 with Knives, Explosive at Urumqi Railway Station (punditfromanotherplanet.com)
- Blasts kill dozens at market in China’s restive Xinjiang region (chinadailymail.com)
- China: Islamic jihadists attack police station, 11 dead (jihadwatch.org)
- China’s paranoia: SWAT given ‘shoot on sight’ orders; commuters frisked as Beijing heightens anti-terror measures (chinadailymail.com)