Friday 21 October 2016

China hails Britain's listing of East Turkistan Islamic Movement as terror group

Published 22/07/2016 | 09:56

Chancellor Philip Hammond with Bank of China chairman Tian Guoli in Beijing (Damir Sagolj/Pool/AP)
Chancellor Philip Hammond with Bank of China chairman Tian Guoli in Beijing (Damir Sagolj/Pool/AP)

China has commended Britain's decision to list a group advocating independence for the far-western region of Xinjiang as a terrorist organisation.

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The move bolsters Beijing's claim that it faces an organised violent separatist movement.

China welcomes moves by the international community to recognise the danger posed by the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said in a statement posted on the ministry's website.

"We are willing to work with relevant parties including the UK to enhance pragmatic co-operation on anti-terrorism," said Mr Lu.

Resource-rich Xinjiang is home to the Turkic Muslim Uighur people, many of whom complain that heavy-handed Chinese rule has marginalised them economically.

China has blamed a string of bloody attacks in Xinjiang, western China and Beijing over recent years on the ETIM, also known as the East Turkistan Islamic Party and the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP).

Britain's Home Office made the listing this week, citing a number of attacks within China claimed by the Pakistan-based group and saying it was also active in the Syrian conflict.

"TIP is an Islamic terrorist and separatist organisation founded in 1989 by Uighur militants in western China. It aims to establish an independent caliphate in the Uighur state of Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region of northwestern China and to name it East Turkestan," the Home Office notice said.

Some foreign scholars and terrorism experts have questioned whether the ETIM has sufficient influence and organisational capability to direct attacks within China. However, the presence of Uighur fighters in Syria has been reported by multiple sources.

The Home Office gave no explanation as to why Britain was moving to proscribe the group now. China and Britain have sought to strengthen economic ties since a "golden era" in their relations was announced during a visit to Britain by Chinese President Xi Jinping last year.

The announcement came ahead of a visit to China by new UK Chancellor Philip Hammond and follows the British vote to leave the European Union that has thrown its trading relationship with the continent into question.


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