China is 'ill-prepared' to combat terror attacks, experts warn

'Grave' problems, ranging from poor intelligence to lack of training and preparedness of local governments, raise attack risk, experts warn

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 07 May, 2014, 3:21am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 07 May, 2014, 11:54am

China's anti-terrorism efforts face "grave" challenges due to problems ranging from poor intelligence gathering to local government capabilities to deal with such emergencies, a government think tank warns.

The just released 2013 edition of the China National Security Studies annual report wrapped up current threats facing the nation, with articles by scholars from various institutions concluding that the terrorism risk had intensified.

"Terror attacks in China have become more active than in previous years in both the number and seriousness of the attacks. The anti-terrorism condition facing China is grave," said the report released by the Centre for International Strategy and Security Studies at Beijing's University of International Relations.

The report comes at a sensitive time after an apparent suicide bomb and knife attack in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, killed the two assailants and a bystander a week ago. It follows a knife attack blamed on Uygurs in Kunming train station in Yunnan in March that killed 29 and injured dozens.

Fears of a terror attack emerged in Guangzhou yesterday as at least one knife-wielding man injured six people at the city's main railway station, although police are investigating the incident.

The report said a suicide car attack by Uygur separatists that killed two people in Tiananmen Square in October was a sign that the "East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) is expanding its attack target from Xinjiang to other areas".

The experience and capacity of places outside Xinjiang make it "more possible for terrorists to launch successful attacks", Professor Wu Shaozhong, from the Chinese People's Public Security University, wrote in the report.

Wu added that even Xinjiang - where the bulk of incidents had occurred - had inadequacies, especially in intelligence gathering, referring to a violent clash in Bachu county, Kashgar, that killed 21 people in April.

A police investigation revealed that the gang started planning the attack seven months earlier, and even tested explosives five times.

Many police officers were not properly trained for terror attacks, Wu said.

Meanwhile, Su Juan, from the University of International Relations, warned that religious extremism was gaining ground via the internet.

Professor Yang Shu, from the Institute for Central Asia Studies of Lanzhou University, told the Post that some Xinjiang extremists were encouraged by similar attacks overseas.