News / Asia

China Faces Widening Threat of Attacks

Police officers take aim with their weapons at a man playing the role of an attacker as he holds a woman hostage during an anti-terrorism drill at a railway station in Zhengzhou, China, May 7, 2014.
Police officers take aim with their weapons at a man playing the role of an attacker as he holds a woman hostage during an anti-terrorism drill at a railway station in Zhengzhou, China, May 7, 2014.
William Ide
In a little more than two months, China has seen three violent attacks at major train stations. Authorities say extremist terrorists carried out at least two of the attacks, in a widening security threat that has heightened concerns among the public. The violence comes amid government pledges to get tougher on terrorism.

Dozens fled and six were injured when a knife-wielding attacker struck at Guangzhou’s main train station earlier this week. Authorities say they shot the assailant after he refused to respond to warning shots, and it appears he was acting alone. So far, there has been no link between this week’s incident and two other attacks - one in Kunming in early March and another in the capital of China’s restive region of Xinjiang just last week.
 
China cities Urumqi, Guangzhou and KunmingChina cities Urumqi, Guangzhou and Kunming
Authorities say religious extremists carried out the attacks in Kunming and Urumqi, and that the suspects were members of Xinjiang’s mainly Muslim Uighur minority group.

Last week’s attack in Urumqi came just shortly after China’s President Xi Jinping visited Xinjiang and just as he was pledging to take decisive action against terrorists. The deadly bomb and knife attack killed three and injured nearly 80 people.

Government challenge

Han Lianchao, a visiting researcher at Washington D.C.’s Hudson Institute, said with the attack in Urumqi coming so soon after Xi's visit to Xinjiang, it poses a significant challenge to the government. He notes that Xi's claims that he would not hesitate to use iron-fists to deal with terrorists did little to stop the attack. Hao added that the symbolic value of the attack was far greater than the physical damage.

A new policy paper on national security, released this week, says China was hit with 10 terrorist attacks last year alone. While most occurred in Xinjiang, the list also included an attack on Tiananmen Square in Beijing. In the wake of the Guangzhou attack this week, authorities carried out patrols at train stations in Shanghai and Beijing. Analysts say the threat appears to be spreading and it is fueling the discussion.

Over the past few months,  Xi has increasingly put more emphasis on the issue of terrorism in his speeches, and he held the first meeting of his newly formed National Security Commission. The body is the first of its kind for China and is seeking to take what authorities say is a more comprehensive approach to threats at home and abroad.

In places such as Xinjiang, the government so far has relied heavily on economic progress as a cure-all for the problem, but critics say religious oppression and government policies toward minorities are a key source of local discontent.

But in a recent speech, when Xi pledged to send terrorists scurrying into the streets, he also spoke about the need to address social conflicts as a means of preventing such problems in the future.

Social conflicts

Some analysts say this could mark a departure from the government’s past approach in places such as Xinjiang, where authorities have routinely used increased police presence and religious oppression in response to unrest.

Gardner Bovingdon, a China ethnic minorities analyst at Indiana University, said, “When Xi Jinping says he wants to do something else, I think he’s put down a rhetorical marker, but the real question will be does he follow that up with some concrete policies, some changes in policy direction from the ones that we’ve seen? And I fear that he will not.”

James Nolt, a senior fellow at the World Policy Institute said while every country worries about terrorism, he does not yet see any substantial difference between Xi and his predecessors.

“That sort of thing is always a national security concern and I don’t see any change in policy that really represents a very large shift in resources or change in the type of policy," said Nolt. "It is just being talked about more because there has been incidents in the news recently.”

Chinese analysts say violent terrorism is the biggest threat to domestic security and are looking to Xi’s newly formed National Security Commission to play a guiding role in establishing clearer legal and policy guidelines. China’s new report on national security says that while the military played a leading role in handling domestic security in the past, a more comprehensive approach spearheaded by the commission is needed now to deal with the growing complexity of the problem.

You May Like

Pundits Split Over Long-Term US Role in Afghanistan

Security pact remains condition for American presence beyond 2014; deadline criticized More

US Eyes Islamic State Threat

Officials warn that IS could pose a threat to US homeland More

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Moscow says Russian troops crossed into Ukrainian territory by mistake More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: SEATO
May 09, 2014 4:06 PM
China has been making more enemies both inside and outside China. It is bound to get more attacks as long as it is still occupying Xinjang and suppressing religious and cultural freedom among ethnic Uighurs. God bless China !

In Response

by: NEIL from: Perth
May 30, 2014 4:09 AM
Well what about America?R u still remember 911?How can u just superficially believe it is government's problem?Why the most terrorist attacks were made by muslim ?

In Response

by: HANNAH from: CHINA
May 21, 2014 11:39 PM
THANK YOU FOR YOUR BLESSING! IT IS TRUE THAT CHINA HAS MORE AND MORE ENEMIES INSIDE AND OUTSIDE.SOME COUNTRIES BULLY CHINA JUST OUT OF ENVY,BECAUSE CHINA HAS DEVELOPED FAST RECENTLY. HOPE WE ORDINARY PEOPLE CAN BE SAFE ,HAVE PEACEFUL LIFE.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocksi
X
George Putic
August 25, 2014 4:00 PM
How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that was eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports on how one band is bringing Yiddish tango to Los Angeles.
Video

Video Peace Returns to Ferguson as Community Tries to Heal

Thousands of people nationwide are expected to attend funeral services Monday in the U.S. Midwestern city of St. Louis, Missouri, for Michael Brown, the unarmed African-American teenager who was fatally shot by a white police officer August 9 in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. The shooting touched off days of violent demonstrations there, resulting in more than 100 arrests. VOA's Chris Simkins reports from Ferguson where the community is trying to move on after weeks of racial tension.
Video

Video Meeting in Minsk May Hinge on Putin Story

The presidents of Russia and Ukraine are expected to meet face-to-face Tuesday in Minsk, along with European leaders, for talks on the situation in Ukraine. Political analysts say the much welcomed dialogue could help bring an end to months of deadly clashes between pro-Russia separatists and Ukrainian forces in the country's southeast. But much depends on the actions of one man, Russian President Vladimir Putin. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Artists Shun Russia's Profanity Law

Russia in July enacted a law threatening fines for publicly displayed profanity in media, films, literature, music and theater. The restriction, the toughest since the Soviet era, aims to protect the Russian language and culture and has been welcomed by those who say cursing is getting out of control. But many artists reject the move as a patronizing and ineffective act of censorship in line with a string of conservative morality laws. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video British Fighters on Frontline of ISIS Information War

Security services are racing to identify the Islamic State militant who beheaded U.S. journalist James Foley in Syria. The murderer spoke English on camera with a British accent. It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for the Islamic State, also called ISIL or ISIS, alongside thousands of other foreign jihadists. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from the center of the investigation in London.

AppleAndroid