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China's Ambiguous Stand on Terrorism - 2002-09-11

On the anniversary of last September's terror attacks on the United States, China's government is expressing sympathy for the victims and urging nations to unite against terrorism. But China's tactics in the terror war are drawing criticism from the UN's former top human rights official.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan says September 11 reminded the world that terrorism is the common enemy of humanity.

He called terrorists a serious threat to peace and urges all nations to fight terrorism, no matter where it starts.

Shortly after suicide attacks killed thousands of People in New York and Washington last year, China's President Jiang Zemin offered help to the American president. The help came in the form of intelligence information, political support at the United Nations, and assistance in cutting off the flow of financing to terrorist groups.

President Bush expressed deep gratitude, and the actions helped mend a rift in the often troubled relations between China and the United States.

But the departing chief of the United Nations human rights organization says China uses the war on terrorism to excuse brutal treatment of dissent in Tibet and Xinjiang.

China often complains that other nations ignore or minimize terror attacks by separatists that have killed dozens of people in its far western Xinjiang province that borders Afghanistan. Human rights groups say China invites the criticism by treating peaceful political dissidents just as brutally as it treats people who commit violent acts.