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China Applauds UN for Naming Muslim Group a Terrorist Organization - 2002-09-12

China is welcoming the U.N. move to name a Muslim Uighur separatist group a terrorist organization. China accuses the group of trying to create an independent state in its western region.

China has long considered the East Turkestan Islamic Movement a terrorist group. Wednesday, the United States joined China and Kyrgyzstan in adding the Uighur separatist group to a U.N. list of hundreds of organizations and individuals whose assets are to be frozen because of their links with the terrorist network al-Qaida.

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Kong Quan tells reporters in Beijing that the move is an encouraging result of China's cooperation with the United States and other countries in fighting terrorism. He says that since 1990, militants seeking an independent state in Xinjiang Province, in China's northwest, have killed 166 people and injured more than 440.

Mr. Kong applauds efforts by Chinese police to crack down on the group, which he says has close ties with Osama bin Laden, the man Washington believes orchestrated the September 11 terrorist attacks. The spokesman says police have uncovered dozens of terrorist bases of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, and confiscated more than 4,000 grenades and other weapons.

Mr. Kong says the group has committed many acts of terrorism inside and outside China, and poses a serious threat to regional security.

But human rights groups have warned that Beijing appears to be using the war on terrorism as an excuse to violate the civil liberties of peaceful Muslim Uighurs. Rights activists accuse China of arbitrarily detaining and persecuting thousands of Muslims living in Xinjiang Province, which borders Afghanistan, Pakistan, and several Central Asian republics.