Wednesday, May 07, 2014

China on verge of a War on Terror

At least 6 people have been injured following a knife attack at a railway station in Guangzhou, China. The attack has raised concerns that China is experiencing its own War on Terror.

It was not immediately clear how many people were involved in the attack, but one person was shot and then detained by police. One shopkeeper who witnessed the attack said the perpetrators had sat on steps outside the station for two hours before, at 11am, letting out a shout and launching their attack on passengers with half metre long knives.

Chinese state run media reported that police gunned down one of the attackers, captured a second and said two attackers were still at large. Some reports say the men were wearing "white hats", though it is not clear whether these were taqiyah or kufi often worn by Muslims.

Spate of attacks

And while there was no information on the motivation for the attack, it comes a week after an attack at a station in Urumqi, in the western region in Xinjiang [BBC / Reuters]. At least 3 people were killed and 79 injured after a believed suicide bomber detonated a device [CNN / Daily Mail].

It also follows an attack at Kunming station in March that killed 29 people [Wikipedia / tvnewswatch: Kunming terror attacks leave dozens dead many injured] and a terror attack in October 2013 when a four wheel drive vehicle was deliberately driven into a crowd in Tiananmen Square before bursting into flames [Wikipedia].

Chinese authorities have blamed both these attacks on separatists from the Uighur minority group, which lives in Xinjiang [BBC / VoA / Daily Mail]. China's leaders have vowed to tackle the terrorists head on with president Xi Jinping promising "decisive action" [Xinhua].

However, China may be facing only the beginning of what could become its War on Terror [Wikipedia]. It is a war that may be difficult to win [FT]. The roots of separatist violence goes back many years and there is deeply ingrained suspicions and hostility on both sides [CFR / Foreign Affairs].

Growing backlash

Many Uighurs complain that their language and religion are routinely suppressed. As in Tibet, another restive autonomous region, Beijing has practised a policy of assimilation, flooding Xinjiang with Han Chinese who now comprise 40% of the population.

And while the attacks have been perpetrated by a minority there is a danger that resentment and suspicions will increase tensions. The People's Daily has sensibly called for people to remain calm and not to retaliate. "Don't turn your anger for the terrorists into hostility toward an ethnic group," the paper said.

But there are signs that the situation on the ground is very different. tvnewswatch has learned that students in the middle of their studies were ordered to return to Xinjiang from Yunnan after the Kunming attack.  Uighurs say they are being refused reservations in hotels when they travel outside Xinjiang and recently the district police in Guangxi province, which borders Yunnan, warned, "If anyone discovers people from Xinjiang living, doing business or travelling here, please immediately report them." [NYT Sinosphere].

tvnewswatch, London, UK

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