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

Computer Crash Halts US Visa, Passport Operation

Problems with database have resulted in extensive backlog of applications, affected State Department's consular offices all over the world More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

World Bank: Boko Haram Stalls African Aid Projects

Islamist group’s terrorism sets back agriculture, health efforts in Cameroon, Chad and Nigeria 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.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid