Friendship 2010 Exercise: “Frightening Effect”

China and Pakistan have started a joint anti-terror exercise named Friendship 2010 on Thursday with special units of more than 100 respectively, Geng Yansheng (耿雁生), ministry of defense spokesman, said on June 24. The exercise in Qingtongxia (青铜峡), northern China, is scheduled to end on July 11, and is the third round of such exercises since 2004. Huanqiu adds some recent-history perspective:

For a long time, the “East Turkestan” forces violently carried out brutal terrorist activities against China with the goal to separate Xinjiang, seriously threatening China’s security and stability. On July 5 2009, “East Turkestan” terrorist group “East Turkestan Islamic Movement” instigated and conducted the apalling Urumqi violent and criminal incident.

When the black hand of the separatist forces reached for China, the Chinese government took vigorous action and drew a line of defense to stop the terrorist forces’ conspiracy from abroad from gaining their purpose. On June 24, the Ministry of Public Security’s spokesman Wu Heping (武和平) told the external world (对外介绍说) that Chinese police had arrested more than ten  members of the “East Turkestan” terrorist group, leading ones among them, all connected to a serious terrorist incident, and material related to criminal offenses, thus foiling the terrorist elements’ destructive schemes. On the same day, Chinese military announced that China and Pakistan would shortly carry out joint counter-terrorist exercises. Abroad, it is generally believed that the exercises will have a frightening effect on “East Turkestan” terrorist elements hiding in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border regions.

The Huanqiu article describes alleged links between the Taliban and the East Turkestan movement on the next page, and continues that

according to the Ministry of Public Security, twenty Chinese nationals were expelled from other countries on December 20, 2009, and Chinese police, in accordance with usual practise, took them over. The police found during their investigations that among them, there were three on the wanted list of fugitive terrorist suspects. “In other words, the ‘East Turkestan’ movement, while sending people outside China, it can also select people within our borders to participate in terrorist activities abroad. These dispatches are not the one-way ones as we viewed them in the past, but is a two-way channel of people.”

On its third page, the Huanqiu report quotes allegations by the China Institute of Contemporary Relations’ Li Wei (李伟), that

the “East Turkestan” movement, the “World Uighur Congress”, and other terrorist organizations are all active abroad, their major power is abroad, but between these organizations, trends of copying each others’ bad examples (同流合污) have emerged, which adds to the threat against counter-terrorism. This kind of development also adds to the need for the members of the United Nations cooperating closely to leave the terrorists with no more places to hide.

It is generally believed that there are contacts between certain secessionist groups in Xinjiang and islamist organizations abroad. The Asian Times wrote in 2002 that

Uighurs are also becoming involved in armed Islamic movements abroad, from Afghanistan (where they fought on the front lines in the war of the Taliban against the Northern Alliance). This is a source of concern for the Chinese leaders. If these Uighur fighters, trained to handle weapons and fight, return to Xinjiang with their contacts in international radical Islamic movements, they could pose a real challenge to China’s security forces. […]

In the post-September 11 era, China is relying on Western governments to remain silent about China’s harsh tactics in Xinjiang in exchange for Chinese support. Beijing is now looking for the same support as that received by Russia in its dealing with Chechen separatists.

Huanqiu’s English-language sister, the Global Times, alleges that [the] three “East Turkestan” groups — the World Uyghur Congress (WUC), the East Turkestan Union in Europe and the East Turkestan Information Center, have proved to have close links with terrorism.

Many factors that may make the World Uyghur Congress, the East Turkestan Union, and the East Turkestan Information Center  look “terrorist” can as easily (and arguably as often reasonably) be blamed on the way China misuses international structures of combating crime. Dolkun Isa (spelled Dolqun Isa by the Global Times) was reportedly arrested for a short time by the UN security service in Geneva while visiting the Human Rights Commission  there, and received an apology from the UN later.  Last year, he was denied entry into South Korea, on the ground that there was an arrest warrant against him – Interpol’s task isn’t to scrutinize the legality of arrest warrants, but only to execute such warrants, explains the Society for Threatened Peoples.

In November 2009, Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office (Bundeskriminalamt, BKA) housesearched the flats of four persons in Munich who were believed to work as intelligence agents for the Chinese government. They were suspected of having spied on the German Uyghur community, by order of the Chinese Consulate General in Munich. The World Uyghur Congress was formed in mid-April 2004 in the Bavarian capital. Several hundred Uyghurs live in Munich, and many of them are politically active. By the end of 2009, an employee of the Chinese consulate general was asked to leave Germany for recruiting informants among Munich’s Uighurs.  In Sweden, an Uyghur man was sentenced to 16 months in prison in March this year for spying on a community of Uighur refugees and passing information to China.

In the past, Beijing voiced concern over links between the ETIM and groups in Pakistan, and called on Islamabad to do more to clamp down on groups operating on its soil, writes The Hindu, and adds that the current military exercise

has assumed particular significance because of its timing. Thursday’s announcement followed last week’s visit to Beijing of Pakistani General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, during which the two countries reaffirmed their strategic and security ties. The Pakistani General is understood to have pledged greater support to China in tackling terror, though his visit was overshadowed by attention on China’s controversial agreement to set up two nuclear reactors in Pakistan.

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Related
Amnesty challenges China, BBC News, July 2, 2010
Taiwan: Wanted, hence Unwanted, September 26, 2009
Shaoguan Incident, Wikipedia

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