News / Asia

China State Media Blames Syria Rebels for Xinjiang Violence

An armed paramilitary policeman gestures as he patrols with other policemen along a street in Kashgar, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China, June 30, 2013.An armed paramilitary policeman gestures as he patrols with other policemen along a street in Kashgar, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China, June 30, 2013.
x
An armed paramilitary policeman gestures as he patrols with other policemen along a street in Kashgar, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China, June 30, 2013.
An armed paramilitary policeman gestures as he patrols with other policemen along a street in Kashgar, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China, June 30, 2013.
Reuters
Chinese state media on Monday blamed Syrian opposition forces, in unusually specific finger-pointing, for training Muslim extremists responsible for the deadliest unrest in four years in China's far-western region of Xinjiang.

China traditionally has blamed violence in Xinjiang, home to Muslim Uighurs, on Islamic separatists who want to establish an independent state of "East Turkestan."

This appears to mark the first time Beijing has blamed a group in Syria, and fits a common narrative of the government portraying Xinjiang's violence as coming from abroad, such as Pakistan, and not due to homegrown anger.

Chinese President Xi Jinping presided over a forum in Beijing last Saturday on maintaining stability in Xinjiang. Paramilitary police have flooded the streets of the regional capital Urumqi after 35 people were killed in two attacks last week, which China has blamed on a gang engaged in "religious extremist activities."

Many Uighurs in Xinjiang resent what they call Chinese government restrictions on their culture, language and religion.

The Global Times, a tabloid owned by the Communist Party mouthpiece, the People's Daily, said that some members of the East Turkestan faction had moved from Turkey into Syria.

"This Global Times reporter has recently exclusively learned from the Chinese anti-terrorism authorities that since 2012, some members of the 'East Turkestan' faction have entered Syria from Turkey, participated in extremist, religious and terrorist organizations within the Syrian opposition forces and fought against the Syrian army,'' the newspaper said.

"At the same time, these elements from 'East Turkestan' have identified candidates to sneak into Chinese territory to plan and execute terrorist attacks.''

Differing reports

Authorities had arrested a 23-year-old "terrorist," known in Chinese as Maimaiti Aili, belonging to the East Turkestan Islamic Movement [ETIM], the report said, adding that he had taken part in the Syrian war.

Dilxat Raxit, the Sweden-based spokesman for the exiled World Uyghur Congress, called the report unrealistic.

"Uighurs already find it very difficult to get passports, how can they run off to Syria?'' Raxit told Reuters by telephone.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying declined to directly answer questions on whether Syrian rebels had joined forces with the East Turkestan movement.

Hua only said at a regular briefing that China has "also noted that in recent years East Turkestan terrorist forces and international terrorist organizations have been uniting, not only threatening China's national security but also the peace and stability of relevant countries and regions."

Officials in Xinjiang and China's ministry of public security were not immediately available for comment.

Evolving approach

Pan Zhiping, a retired expert on Central Asia at Xinjiang's Academy of Social Science, said it was possible that the attackers in Xinjiang were involved in the Syrian war, citing members of the East Turkestan movement who had taken part in the Chechnya war, and were extradited by Russia to go on trial in China.

"They are definitely more dangerous, these people, we can call them desperados. They are highly trained and not ordinary citizens," said Pan.

The report by The Global Times follows attempts by China to take a more proactive role in solving the crisis in Syria. China, a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, has been keen to show it is not taking sides, and it has urged the Syrian government to talk to the opposition.

Police in Xinjiang have detained 19 people for spreading online rumors that triggered Wednesday's attack in northern Shanshan county, state media said on Monday.

The increased security comes four days before the fourth anniversary of the July 2009 riots in Xinjiang that pitted Uighurs against ethnic Chinese, resulting in nearly 200 people being killed.

Two days after the deadly attack, more than 100 people riding motorbikes and wielding knives attacked a police station in Xinjiang, state media reported.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Christmas Gains Popularity in Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid