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China Hopes Peace Can Resume Soon - 2001-10-08

China's government responded to the U.S.-led strikes on terrorist-related targets in Afghanistan by saying it hoped for an end to violence and a restoration of peace. Chinese officials say they hope "peace can be resumed as soon as possible," and that the U.S.-led air and missile strikes will "avoid hurting innocent civilians." The Foreign Ministry statement, carried by the official Xinhua news agency, also said China "opposes terrorism in any form."

China carefully watches developments in Islamic-ruled Afghanistan because the troubled nation borders China's strategic and oil-rich Xinjiang region. Xinjiang is a traditionally Muslim enclave, where there have been occasional bombings and other attacks on Chinese government facilities and officials over the years.

Millions of Muslims live in China, and many of them differ ethnically and linguistically from the majority Han Chinese. Human rights groups have accused Beijing of mistreating some Muslim groups, a charge China denies.

Meantime, Japan's prime minister says the U.S.-led strikes on targets in Afghanistan will not delay his planned visit to Beijing Monday. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi ordered a nationwide tightening of security in Japan, and said he supports the U.S.-led military action in Afghanistan.

Japan is considering providing non-combat assistance and logistical support to the U.S.-led war against terrorism. But any move by Japan to play a larger military role deeply worries its neighbors, South Korea and China, who were treated brutally by Japanese forces before and during World War II. Mr. Koizumi's trip to China includes a conciliatory gestures designed to ease those concerns.