China warns of continuing terrorist threat in Xinjiang

AP News
Posted: Feb 27, 2016 6:11 AM

BEIJING (AP) — Terrorism still poses a threat in China's restive northwestern region of Xinjiang despite a massive security presence and the passage of tough new anti-terrorism legislation, a top Chinese anti-terrorism officer was quoted on Saturday as saying.

In an online conversation about the law's impact, Public Security Ministry anti-terrorism specialist Liu Yuejin said that it had greatly boosted information sharing both domestically and internationally since taking effect on Jan 1.

Still, Liu said terrorist acts were continuing in some parts of Xinjiang, where resentment against Chinese rule lingers among the native Turkic Muslim Uighur (pronounced WEE-gur) population, which is ethnically, religiously and linguistically distinct from China's Han majority.

"A tiny number of people with terrorist thoughts are still plotting to carry out violent sabotage activities within our borders and violent terrorist incidents continue to take place in parts of Xinjiang," Liu said in the exchange, posted on a website that compiles stories from various Chinese state media and government sources. "Counterterrorism and stability maintenance work remains extremely arduous."

Violence blamed on separatists and Muslim extremists has killed hundreds in recent years, although the past few months have been largely quiet, partly as a result of the massive security effort.

The law has particularly targeted online activity, raising concerns that its requirements that tech companies share information with the government could hurt business interests and further infringe upon human rights.

China says it faces a threat from overseas groups, although many observers question that assertion and say Beijing's definition of terrorism includes nonviolent acts of defiance and innocent support for Uighur culture.