World News

China Appeals for Int'l Support in 'War Against Terrorism'

China is appealing to the international community for "more understanding and support" in what it describes as its fight against terrorism.

The appeal came after masked attackers armed with swords killed 29 people and injured 130 more at a train station in the southwest city of Kunming on Saturday.

China's National People's Congress opens Wednesday amid heavy security in Beijing.

Fu Ying, a spokeswoman for the National People's Congress, sought understanding from the international community.

"Terrorism does not have national boundaries. We wish and expect that our efforts to crack down on terrorism will gain international understanding and support in the future."

Beijing has blamed the attack on militants from the northwest region, Xinjiang, where the mainly Muslim Uighur ethnic minority complains of repression by the government.

Unrest involving Uighurs is not uncommon in Xinjiang. The government has for years quickly labeled any such violence - even street riots or shootouts during police raids - as terrorist attacks.

This tendency, along with Chinese government opacity, has led many to be skeptical about such labels. Gardner Bovingdon, a China ethnic minorities analyst with Indiana University, tells VOA he is worried about a "rush to judgment" in the Kunming case.

"I think we should all withhold judgment until there is more information forthcoming," he says. "There have only been a small number of violent attacks that I think can legitimately be called 'terrorist' that have been attributed to Uighurs in organizations."

Bovingdon tells VOA the only other recent attack that may fall under such a category is an October incident in Tiananmen Square. In that incident, two bystanders were killed when a car plowed through a group of people and burst into flames.

Chinese authorities blamed both the Tiananmen Square car crash and the Kunming sword attack on the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, or ETIM, a shadowy group said to be fighting for independence in Xinjiang.

Washington officially recognizes ETIM as a terrorist organization. But it has been reluctant to acknowledge ETIM's involvement in the Chinese attacks or even to call the incidents themselves "terrorism."

After days of protests in Chinese state media about alleged double standards, the U.S. State Department did acknowledge Monday the Kunming case "appears to be an act of terrorism," since it targeted random members of the public.

In the aftermath of the attack, Chinese authorities have vowed to take firm action to root out terrorist organizations in order to "safeguard national stability," leading some to fear even more widespread restrictions on Uighurs.

James Leibold, a Beijing-based ethnic minorities expert from Australia's LaTrobe University, tells VOA that a widening crackdown could push Uighurs in Xinjiang "even further into desperation."

"They're a group that's very marginalized within Xinjiang society and the penetration of the state deeper and deeper into their lives sometimes leads them to do acts like may have occurred in Kunming."

But for now, it remains unclear why anyone would feel the need to carry out such a brutal attack on innocent bystanders, and why they felt the need to do it in Kunming - more than 1,500 kilometers from Xinjiang.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs