Beijing faces ‘most prominent’ challenge in Xinjiang

Paramilitary policemen stand in formation as they take part in an anti-terrorism oath-taking rally, in Kashgar, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China, in this file photo. (Reuters)
Updated 10 March 2017
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Beijing faces ‘most prominent’ challenge in Xinjiang

SHANGHAI: Separatists in western China pose the “most prominent” challenge to the country’s security, economy and social stability, the China Daily newspaper quoted a top security official on Friday as saying.
Beijing has long said it faces a determined campaign by a group known as the East Turkestan Independence Movement, or ETIM, in the far western region of Xinjiang, where hundreds of people have been killed in recent years in attacks and unrest between mostly ethnic Uighurs and the majority Han Chinese.
“(ETIM) is the most prominent challenge to China’s social stability, economic development and national security,” Cheng Guoping, state commissioner for counterterrorism and security, was quoted as saying.
The comments come about a week after a video purportedly by the Daesh group surfaced showing Uighurs training in Iraq, vowing to plant their flag in China and saying that blood will “flow in rivers.”
Underscoring the region’s importance in the eyes of China’s ruling Communist Party, President Xi Jinping attended a Xinjiang delegation meeting on Friday on the sidelines of the country’s annual parliamentary session, one of a select group of provincial and regional meetings Xi joins every year.
The official Xinhua news agency reported his attendance on its microblog, but did not give details.
China is worried that Uighurs have gone to Syria and Iraq to fight for militant groups there, having traveled illegally via Southeast Asia and Turkey.
Rights groups say the unrest in Xinjiang is more a reaction to repressive government policies, and experts have questioned whether ETIM exists as a cohesive militant group. China denies there is any repression in Xinjiang.
Cheng said China should “closely check in on whether Afghanistan is becoming another paradise for extremist and terrorist groups. Such a major development may pose a serious challenge to the security of our northwestern border.”
Last month, the Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst think-tank said in a report on its website that Chinese troops were on Afghan soil conducting joint patrols with their Afghan counterparts. China has dismissed such reports.
Security concerns have surfaced as China pursues its “One Belt, One Road” initiative to open up new land and sea routes for Chinese goods, and pours billions of dollars into investment projects around Asia, including central Asia, and beyond.
Cheng said maintaining security where there are related projects was “an important task and a demanding challenge.”
The Global Times, an influential state-run tabloid, said Xinjiang authorities would issue a new anti-extremism regulation this year, possibly later this month, that would “prevent the spread of extremist ideas.”
It said the regulation would supplement an existing counterterrorism law that is focused on acts of terrorism, but did not give details.
“Lawmakers need to distinguish between ethnic habits and extremist practices and understand that not all extremist ideas constitute a crime,” the paper cited Dong Xinguang, deputy director of the standing committee of Xinjiang’s regional legislature, as saying.


India, Pakistan to argue at World Court amid tensions

Updated 23 min 26 sec ago
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India, Pakistan to argue at World Court amid tensions

  • For four days next week, the two countries will argue their case in open court in The Hague
  • Jadhav’s death sentence provoked outrage in India and the case has added to the long-running tensions between the nations

THE HAGUE: The World Court will hear arguments on Monday in a dispute between India and Pakistan about a former Indian navy commander sentenced to death by Islamabad for allegedly being an intelligence agency spy.
The hearings come at a time of particularly strained relations between the nuclear-armed neighbors following a suicide attack on a convoy in Kashmir on Thursday that killed 44 Indian paramilitary policemen.
Pakistan has dismissed Indian accusations it was involved in the bombing, but Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi warned Islamabad on Friday to expect a strong response.
Pakistani authorities say Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav, 48, was arrested in March 2016 in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province, the site of a long-running conflict between security forces and separatists. He was convicted of espionage and sabotage by a military court.
But India won an injunction from the World Court, formally known as the International Court of Justice, the following year. It ordered his execution stayed after India argued that Jadhav had been denied his right to diplomatic assistance under the 1963 Vienna Convention.
For four days next week, the two countries will argue their case in open court in The Hague. The court’s rulings are final and cannot be appealed, but the UN body has no mechanism to enforce its decisions, which major powers have ignored in the past.
Jadhav’s death sentence provoked outrage in India and the case has added to the long-running tensions between the nations, with each accusing the other of supporting cross-border violence along the disputed Kashmir border.
India wants the ICJ to order Pakistan to annul the conviction, ensure the death sentence is not carried out, and release Jadhav.
Pakistan has argued that the ICJ is not a criminal appeals court and said the measures sought are not proportionate to the alleged wrongdoing on the part of Islamabad by not facilitating consular assistance to Jadhav.
India contests Pakistan’s version of events and has said that Jadhav was not arrested in Pakistan, but kidnapped from Iran, where he was working after retiring from the navy.
India also dismissed Pakistani assertions that Jadhav confessed that he was an agent for the Indian intelligence service and had been hired with the intent to “destabilize and wage war against Pakistan”.