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

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid