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China Vows to Prevent Terrorist Disruption of Shanghai APEC Meeting - 2001-10-11

Officials in Beijing are vowing to keep terrorist groups from disrupting next week's APEC Summit meeting in Shanghai. It is the highest-profile gathering of world leaders since September's deadly attacks in the United States and could be a tempting target for terror groups.

Foreign ministry spokesman Sun Yuxi says China's government is fighting several terror groups, including one in its northwest Xinjiang, bordering Afghanistan. Afghanistan is home to the organization headed by Osama bin Laden, blamed for the deadly attacks on U.S. targets last month.

Mr. Sun says Chinese officials have what he calls "conclusive evidence" that operatives from "East Turkestan", another name for Xinjiang, are responsible for terror attacks including bombings, assassinations, poisonings, kidnappings and robberies.

Mr. Sun says the East Turkestan organization is getting support from outside China and calls Beijing's struggle against the group "part and parcel" of the international community's fight against terrorism. He would not say where the foreign support was coming from.

The East Turkestan movement is made up of ethnic Uighurs, a Muslim group that resents Beijing's rule and the influx of ethnic Han Chinese into their traditional homeland.

Experts say Uighurs have staged occasional bombings and attacked Chinese government officials, but do not appear to be nearly as well equipped, sophisticated, active or dangerous as the terrorists who leveled the World Trade Center and damaged the Pentagon.

Mr. Sun says Chinese police are on high alert in Shanghai, site of the APEC gathering of world leaders. He says Chinese police "have adopted strict security measures" and that China "will do everything it can to guard against any disruption by terrorists."

Previous gathering of APEC officials in China have seen participants and journalists screened by airport style x-ray machines, put through elaborate procedures to issue credentials and watched over by throngs of uniformed and plainclothes police.

Mr. Sun says China is also working with the international community on the terrorism issue and sharing relevant intelligence information with the United States.

In the past, Washington accused Beijing of violating human rights in its years-long crackdown on dissident Muslims in Xinjang. Foreign human rights groups have said they are worried China will intensify its efforts to crush the Muslim separatists in the wake of the attacks in the United States.