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Beijing’s claims on terrorism

Publication Date : 31-10-2012


China’s official newspaper has quoted unidentified anti-terrorism sources to claim that Uighur separatists from China’s Xingjian region have joined al-Qaeda terrorists in Syria to fight its regime.

“After receiving orders from al-Qaeda, terrorists from China came to Syria to meet with jihadists already on the ground before forming groups on the front lines,” the paper reported. China’s foreign ministry called for stronger international cooperation in dealing with organisations seeking to overthrow Chinese rule in Xingjian. 

This report should be taken with a bucket of salt. There are separatists in Xingjian. There is little real terrorist threat in that region which cannot be controlled by Chinese authorities. Separatist sentiment in the region, however, could be growing.

By the latest official media report inspired by Chinese authorities, Beijing is attempting to present itself to the world as a victim and not as a patron of terrorism. It needs to do this because the shoe is beginning to pinch in Xingjian.

China cannot expect the world to overlook its role in signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Taliban and Osama bin Laden on Sept 9, 2001 to provide its government telecom facilities on the very day that the twin towers of the World Trade Organisation in New York were brought down through a terrorist attack.

It cannot expect the world to overlook its role in funding and arming jihad outfits for activities in South-east Asia and in India’s northeast and Kashmir documented by the official report prepared by Yossef Bodansky on behalf of the US Congress. It cannot expect the world to overlook Beijing’s symbiotic relationship with the hardcore elements of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence and army that continue to promote terrorism. It cannot expect the world to overlook the evidence unearthed by official Indian Intelligence that separatists and terrorists from India are given arms and sanctuary in China. 

If Beijing worries over the separatist threat in Xingjian it is due to its own huge miscalculation in providing arms to the Shi’ite terrorists of Iran operating in Iraq. This fact was confirmed by a CIA report. It seems to be correct because subsequently, for the first time, jihadis in Pakistan started to target the Chinese in Islamabad and Baluchistan.

The Lal Mosque crisis in Islamabad occurred around this time. Inadvertently China seems to have blundered into the Sunni-Shi’ite crossfire. That is what could be intensifying the problem in Xingjian. In signing the 2001 MOU with the Taliban, Osama had assured Beijing that al-Qaeda would not interfere in Xingjian. Chinese arms for Shi’ite jihadis could have overturned that assurance. 

Taking all this into consideration China deserves little sympathy for its problems in Xingjian. It is being hoisted on its own petard. Politicians across India of course are advocating close ties with Beijing without demanding any preconditions that ensure its changed role in Islamabad. But politics apart, it is only Advani who made the right sounds regarding China. He had to choose between the UK and China. It was a tough choice but he selected the UK. He said: “I feel relieved and proud of my decision.”

Despite his age, Advani confirmed his global stature by being that rare Indian who avoided China. I am referring of course to Pankaj Advani who won the world billiards title in Leeds and decided to skip the International Snooker Championship held in China. 

The writer is a veteran journalist and cartoonist.


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