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China welcomes separatists' terror tag

Uighurs bombed mosque
China's discriminatory policies in the province of Xinjiang have caused a resurgence of violence against the state by the Muslim Chinese, or Uighurs  

By Willy Wo-Lap Lam
CNN Senior China Analyst

HONG KONG, China (CNN) -- Beijing has welcomed the United Nations Security Council's classification of the East Turkestan Independence Movement (ETIM) as a terrorist organization.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan said this was "a positive result of the anti-terrorist cooperation between China, U.S. and related countries."

Earlier this week, the UN added the ETIM and an aide to Osama bin Laden, Wa'el Hamza Julaidan, to its list of organizations and individuals whose assets are to be frozen in connection with terrorism.

Official media on Friday quoted Kong as saying China, U.S., Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan had submitted material about the ETIM to the UN Security Council.

Kong said the ETIM had been responsible for "a great deal of violent and terrorist incidents" in China and that it constituted a grave threat to regional security and stability. Asia
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The UN has listed more than 250 groups, businesses and individuals as terrorist units whose assets will be frozen internationally.

Diplomatic analysts in Beijing said the Chinese leadership hoped the UN designation of ETIM as a terrorist unit would facilitate its effort in crushing the pro-independence movement in the restive Xinjiang region.

The ETIM is but one of a host of Uighur separatist groupings in Xinjiang, many of which do not espouse violent tactics against the central government.


However, Beijing is hopeful that the U.S. and UN new classification of the ETIM, which has ties to the Taliban in Afghanistan, will at least blunt Western criticism of Chinese efforts to stamp out Xinjiang separatism.

Sources in Xinjiang said since mid-September last year, Chinese army and police had mounted a "strike hard" campaign in the autonomous region.

A few thousand pro-independence activists, some of whom are neither terrorists nor ETIM members, are believed to have been detained by Chinese authorities.

Beijing has since late last year put pressure on Washington to publicly declare the ETIM a terrorist organization.

But it was only during Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage's visit to Beijing last month that Washington acceded to Beijing's demands.

This is seen by Chinese analysts as a concession made by the U.S. in return for Chinese acquiescence in Washington's possible attack on Iraq.

Chinese Academy of Social Sciences international affairs expert Wang Yizhou indicated America's need for Chinese help in its expanding campaign against terrorism had facilitated China's own fight against terrorism.

"The anti-terrorist atmosphere in the world arena has created many favorable conditions in our fight against terrorism, for example, that against the East Turkestan [movement]," Professor Wang told the People's Daily Web site.


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