China media blames Syria rebels for East Turkistan clashes

This appears to mark the first time Beijing has blamed a group in Syria and fits a common narrative of the government portraying East Turkistan's violence as coming from abroad, such as Pakistan, and not due to homegrown anger.

China media blames Syria rebels for East Turkistan clashes

World Bulletin / News Desk

Chinese state media on Monday blamed Syrian opposition forces in unusually specific finger pointing for training Muslim extremists responsible for the deadliest unrest in four years in East Turkistan, (aka Uyghur Autonomous Region of China).

This appears to mark the first time Beijing has blamed a group in Syria and fits a common narrative of the government portraying East Turkistan's violence as coming from abroad, such as Pakistan, and not due to homegrown anger.

Muslim Uighurs resent what they call Chinese government restrictions on their culture, language and religion. Beijing accuses extremists of separatism.

Chinese President Xi Jinping presided over a forum in Beijing last Saturday on maintaining stability in East Turkistan. Paramilitary police have flooded the streets of the regional capital Urumqi after 35 people were killed in two attacks last week, which China has blamed on a gang engaged in "religious extremist activities".".

The Global Times, a tabloid owned by the Communist Party mouthpiece, the People's Daily, said that some members of the "East Turkestan" faction had moved from Turkey into Syria.

"This Global Times reporter has recently exclusively learned from the Chinese anti-terrorism authorities that since 2012, some members of the 'East Turkestan' faction have entered Syria from Turkey, participated in extremist, religious and terrorist organisations within the Syrian opposition forces and fought against the Syrian army," the newspaper said.

"At the same time, these elements from 'East Turkestan' have identified candidates to sneak in to Chinese territory to plan and execute terrorist attacks."

Authorities had arrested a 23-year-old "terrorist", known in Chinese as Maimaiti Aili, belonging to the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), the report said, adding that he had taken part in the Syrian war.

The Global Times quoted a statement from Maimaiti Aili as saying that the ETIM "specifically asked me to carry out sabotage activities in East Turkistan and enhance the 'struggle level'".

Officials in East Turkistan and China's ministry of public security were not immediately available for comment.

The report by the Global Times follows attempts by China to take a more proactive role in solving the crisis in Syria. China, a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, has been keen to show it is not taking sides and has urged the Syrian government to talk to the opposition.

Police in East Turkistan have detained 19 people for spreading online rumours that triggered Wednesday's attack in northern Shanshan county, state media said on Monday.

The increased security comes four days before the fourth anniversary of the July 2009 riots in East Turkistan that pitted Uighurs against ethnic Chinese, resulting in nearly 200 people being killed.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 01 Temmuz 2013, 11:45
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