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.
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

800-Pound Man Determined to Slim Down

Man says he was kicked out of hospital for ordering pizza; wants to be an actor More

Australia Prepares to Resettle 12,000 Syrian Refugees

Preference will be given to refugees from persecuted minorities, and the first group is expected to arrive before late December More

S. African Miners Seek Class Action Suit Against Gold Mines

The estimated 100,000 say say they contracted the lung diseases silicosis and tuberculosis in the mines More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

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 In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs