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As US Strikes Islamic State, China Sees Similarities at Home

In this May 23, 2014 photo, armed Paramilitary policemen stand guard in Urumqi, China's northwestern region of Xinjiang.
As US Strikes Islamic State, China Sees Similarities at Home
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The government in China says it supports international efforts to defeat terrorism. The statement comes as the United States military attacks targets of the Islamic State militant group in Syria.

Increasingly, China is seeing the fight against the Islamic State as an extension of its own efforts against people it considers religious extremists in Xinjiang.

China is unlikely to give the United States or other countries help in fighting the Islamic State forces any time soon. But the Chinese government does believe that the fight against the militants is similar to its own efforts to deal with growing unrest at home. Hua Chunying is with China’s Foreign Ministry.

Ms. Hua says that China has repeatedly made its opposition to terrorism clear, in all shapes and forms. In her words, “the international community should work together to fight terrorism, including giving support to relevant countries as they make efforts to maintain domestic security and stability.”

Some observers have questioned China’s battle against what it says are violent religious extremists. Over the past year, attacks in China have increasingly targeted innocent civilians. Most of those attacks took place in Xinjiang. However, the root causes of the incidents are sharply disputed. And the government severely limits information about what happened.

Overseas Uighur groups have criticized the government. They say its repressive religious and cultural policies in Xinjiang are fueling tensions. Inside China, individuals who question government policies in Xinjiang are silenced, sometimes in court.

On Tuesday, the Chinese government sentenced Ilham Tohti, an expert on Uighurs, to life in prison on separatism charges. He had long been seen as someone who tried to ease tensions between China’s ethnic Han majority and the Uighur Muslim minority in Xinjiang. The United States, European Union and the United Nations have called for his release.

The court sentence and other policies against Uighurs are expected to make it more difficult for China to win international support for its fight at home.

I’m Jonathan Evans.

*This report was based on a story from VOA reporter Bill Ide in Beijing. George Grow wrote it for Learning English. Jeri Watson was the editor.


Words in this Story

international – adj. of or about more than one nation or many nations; of the whole world

targets n. people or objects aimed at or fired at

repressive adj. controlling or restricting freedoms by force

sentence v. to declare the punishment for a crime; n. the punishment for a crime

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