China’s Got Its Own War on Terror

Beijing cites terrorist threat as an excuse to persecute

China’s Got Its Own War on Terror China’s Got Its Own War on Terror

ChinaTerrorism September 11, 2015 Austin Bodetti 8

The news media has in the last decade focused on conflict-affected Muslim minorities in Chechnya, controlled by Russia; Kashmir, controlled by India; and Mindanao,... China’s Got Its Own War on Terror

The news media has in the last decade focused on conflict-affected Muslim minorities in Chechnya, controlled by Russia; Kashmir, controlled by India; and Mindanao, controlled by the Philippines.

But Islamic historical regions elsewhere have received less attention. One such region — known to the Chinese as Xinjiang and its Turkic inhabitants as East Turkestan — has pitted Muslim dissidents against an atheist, communist government.

The Uyghurs, an ethnicity related to peoples in Central Asia and Turkey, have long resisted Chinese authority.

According to Julia Famularo at The National Interest, the Chinese government has responded with an “ideological assault and security crackdown on the so-called ‘three evil forces’ of ethnic separatism, religious extremism and violent terrorism.”

Yet, although foreign analysts are gaining a deeper and more nuanced understanding of Beijing’s hardline security and religious policies in Xinjiang [East Turkestan], it’s also important to consider how the central leadership’s focus on combating the ‘three evil forces’ in the western PRC has consequently shaped elite thinking on how to prevent, manage and respond to threats nationwide.

Many Western observers have criticized the Chinese military and police for abusing human rights, yet the Chinese government has countered by comparing its draconian methods to the U.S.-led war on terrorism and (for some reason) the American Indian Wars.

The East Turkestan Islamic Movement, considered a terrorist organization by Afghanistan, China, the United Arab Emirates, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations, has fought the Chinese government since 1997.

The ETIM has, however, relocated to the Afghan-Pakistani border, restricting its ability to attack inside China. Without a local resistance or revolutionary movement, the Uyghurs rather than the Chinese may be the ones suffering the worst of ethnic conflict and religious intolerance.

“The specters of ethnic separatism, religious extremism and violent terrorism have fundamentally altered the Chinese Communist Party’s threat perception,” Famularo wrote.

“In a quixotic quest to maintain security and stability in the western borderlands, authorities have placed draconian restrictions on the traditional cultural, religious and linguistic practices of ethnoreligious minority groups.”

  • Julian Lee

    September 11, 2015 #1 Author

    So, uh…

    Exactly like America’s, then?


    • Tom

      September 11, 2015 #2 Author

      Well, the Chinese are worried about people within their own borders, whereas the US had to go pick fights half a world away to get as many enemies.

    • Anonymous

      September 11, 2015 #3 Author

      This was a problem for centuries in China, where Islam was brought with the opening of the “silk road” and Mongolian expansion (Yuan Dynasty) in 12th-13th century. The difference is that ethnic Han Chinese are accused of exploiting (for cheap labor) and trying to displace the ethnic Muslim population, fueling the insurgency in the region.

    • Brian R

      September 11, 2015 #4 Author

      Julian, that’s a cheap shot and a poor excuse. There isn’t anyone who can’t point to the past and find a transgression of one group against another. We can split hairs all day and avoid looking at why things are happening and how alleviate those grievances without resorting to aggression.
      This is something that requires patience, compromise and tolerance by all parties (Diplomacy, imagine that…)
      What Austin Bodetti is doing is bringing this information out into the open which is all fine and good. In the end this information is used as an excuse by governments to nit pick at each other and as a bargaining chip for something that they want.

  • Will

    September 11, 2015 #5 Author

    The piece could have added that what the Chinese government calls ethnic separatism the minority dominated regions call resistance to land being transferred to ethnically Han Chinese.


  • WG

    September 13, 2015 #6 Author

    “…an atheist, communist government.”

    China’s five officially sanctioned religious organizations are the Buddhist Association of China, Chinese Taoist Association, Islamic Association of China, Three-Self Patriotic Movement and Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association.
    Fact check much?


    • Municiple

      September 14, 2015 #7 Author

      “officially sanctioned”…not the same as part of the government though is it? Those religious organisations are tolerated but in no way influence policy.
      Think things through much?

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