China airs ‘frustration’ after US report challenges Beijing’s terror attack findings

Washington accused of 'double standards' after China questioned over who it blamed, especially Uygurs, for attacks such as 2013 Tiananmen car blast

PUBLISHED : Friday, 02 May, 2014, 1:38pm
UPDATED : Friday, 02 May, 2014, 6:52pm

Beijing expressed strong frustration over a US report that criticised China for failing to provide sufficient evidence of terrorist involvement in recent attacks and its reluctance to step up counter-terrorism co-operation with Washington.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry late last night accused the United States of having “double standards” and making “irresponsible remarks” a day after the US State Department released the Country Report on Terrorism last year.

In general, Chinese authorities did not provide detailed evidence of terrorist involvement
US State Department report

The report challenged some of Beijing’s conclusions on who was responsible for recent violence, including a deadly car blast at Tiananmen Square.

“China expresses dissatisfaction towards the remarks concerning China in the report,” ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in the statement.

“On the anti-terrorism issue, making irresponsible remarks towards other countries and pursuing double standards will not help international co-operation on counter-terrorism.”

The criticisms come at a sensitive time when China’s west has just been rocked by an alleged suicide bombing at a railway station in Urumqi, the capital of the restive Xinjiang region, while President Xi Jinping was visiting the region.

Officials have so far blamed Wednesday's blast on “religious extremists”, killing one and injuring nearly 80 people.

The Country Report said Chinese authorities had labelled as “terrorism” several incidents of violence involving Uygurs, a mostly Muslim, Turkic-speaking ethnic minority concentrated in China’s westernmost regions, especially Xinjiang.

It cited the Tiananmen explosion on October 28 last year, when a vehicle carrying three Uygurs careened into an ornamental bridge and exploded, killing all those onboard and two tourists.

Chinese authorities said it was a terror plot by the separatist group East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM).

But the State Department report said: “There was no independent evidence to suggest ETIM involvement.”

“In general, Chinese authorities did not provide detailed evidence of terrorist involvement, and restricted the ability of journalists and international observers to independently verify official media accounts,” it said.

Qin said China was opposed to linking terror attacks to specific ethnic or religious groups, but asserted Beijing would “resolutely crack down on terrorism at its root”.

The US report also said China’s co-operation on counter-terrorism issues “remained marginal, with little reciprocity in information exchanges”.

“Chinese law enforcement agencies were reluctant to conduct joint investigations with US law enforcement agencies or provide assistance in cases involving suspected terrorists,” the report said.

Qin argued that China always supported conducting such exchanges with other countries, but it should be based on mutual respect and equality.

“China falls victim to terrorism and always firmly opposes terrorism in any form and terrorist acts conducted or backed by any person under any name,” Qin said.

Li Wei, a counter-terrorism expert at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, called on Washington to respect China when stepping up anti-terror co-operation.

Yang Shengmin, an ethnic affairs expert of the Minzu University of China, pointed out that the US had transferred six suspected Uygur terrorists from Guantanamo Bay to the Pacific island nation of Palau, ignoring China’s demand for repatriation.

Twenty-two ethnic Uygurs were captured after the US invaded Afghanistan in 2001. When the US moved towards closing the Cuban detention facility, all were eventually resettled to six different countries including Slovakia, Palau, the Maldives and even the United States instead of China.

Washington cited the Chinese government’s “history of mistreating” Uygurs for the decision, according the The New York Times.

“When the US accuses China of not willing to co-operate, the US is also reluctant to co-operate with China,” Yang said.