Xinhua Insight: China wages integrated anti-terrorism war

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Police in China's far-western Xinjiang region have offered rewards for citizens who turn over guns, explosives or provide tips in the latest move in the region's year-long special anti-terrorism campaign.

The campaign was launched after a terrorist attack on May 22 in an open market in Urumqi killed 39 innocents and injured 94 others, which was the deadliest attack in recent years in the region.

Individuals will be given 100 yuan (16.2 U.S. dollars) for turning over a grenade, landmine or source bomb, 30 yuan for a detonator, 20 yuan for each kg of dynamite and 10 yuan for each kg of gunpowder, said the reward document, which took effect on Tuesday.

Citizens who provide tips on specific large amounts of explosives, guns and knives will also be given rewards of up to 10,000 yuan. Those whose tips play an especially important role in preventing or breaking up an explosives-related terrorist case will be rewarded between 5,000 yuan and 30,000 yuan.

On Friday, eight suspects were indicted in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang, for their roles in a terrorist attack which left two pedestrians dead and 40 injured at Beijing's Tian'anmen Square in October.

The People's Procuratorate of Urumqi accused the eight of organizing, leading and participating in a terrorist group and endangering public security with dangerous methods.

In May, police in southern Xinjiang's Hotan, Kashgar and Aksu prefectures busted at least 24 terror and religious extremist groups and netted more than 200 suspects, seized more than 200 explosive devices and 1.8 tonnes of materials for explosive devices.

In a mass sentencing on Tuesday in the Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture of Ili in northern Xinjiang, 55 people were sentenced for crimes of murder, separatism or terrorist activities, 38 terror suspects were formally arrested, and 27 others were detained.

"Terrorism is a severe domestic trouble facing China. It poses a challenge and is a test of governance abilities of the central leadership," said Yang Shu, head of the Institute of Central Asian Studies at Lanzhou University.

Since last year, terrorists have launched attacks in Xinjiang as well as Beijing and the southwestern city of Kunming, causing heavy casualties. Terrorist activities have been on the rise in Xinjiang since riots on July 5, 2009 in Urumqi claimed 197 lives and injured more than 1,700.

The number of terror-related gangs busted in Xinjiang increased from about 140 in 2010 to more than 200 last year, according to regional authorities.

The terrorism situation in China has to do with the rampant global terrorism situation, said Yang. A U.S. report on terrorism in April showed the number of terror attacks increased nearly by half in 2013 to reach 9,707 worldwide.

"The continuous turmoil or conflicts in some west Asian and north African countries have left behind a heritage of terrorism," said Yang, adding international terror groups have been expanding influence and the trend is difficult to curb.

Chinese top leaders have vowed to resolutely suppress the terrorists' momentum and severely punish terrorists in order to maintain social stability and national security. In May, many Chinese cities, including Beijing and Kunming, organized large-scale anti-terrorism drills.

Religious extremism is the motivator of terrorism in Xinjiang, said Yang. Police in Xinjiang said the majority of recently netted terror suspects had watched terror videos via the Internet or other means and spread extremism and "jihad."

At a two-day central work conference on Xinjiang's development that closed on Thursday, Chinese President Xi Jinping called on all ethnic groups in Xinjiang to show respect, tolerance and appreciation for each other in a bid to boost ethnic unity.

He also called for "nets spread from the earth to the sky" to defend against terrorist acts in Xinjiang, stressing long-term stability as the main goal for the region.

According to the conference, priorities will be given to improve education, reduce poverty and increase employment in Xinjiang.

Hidden unemployment in rural areas in southern Xinjiang is high due to the rapid growth of the population, barren land and fewer enterprises. The majority of Xinjiang's poverty-stricken population live in the south of the region.

"The stress on employment is a move that hit the right nail on the head," said Yang Shengmin, a professor of Minzu University of China in Beijing.

Improving education is another fundamental move, he said, adding that poorly educated believers are vulnerable to the influence of extremism.

In fighting terrorism, precautions are more important than crackdowns, according to experts.

Economic and social development will be conducive to maintaining stability, but development alone will not solve the terrorism issue, according to the two Yangs.

Special campaigns to curb extremism and identify those groups vulnerable to the infiltration of extremism are urgently needed, said Yang Shu, adding the crackdowns on terrorists are not the ultimate purpose.

It is important to control and prevent the spread of harmful information online and educate people about the truth, said Yang Shengmin.

China needs to strengthen cooperation with other countries in information and anti-terrorism tactics and enact a special anti-terrorism law as early as possible, said Yang Shu.

"Terrorist activities will not disappear all of a sudden as we wish, because it has been constant for hostile forces at home and abroad to carry out sabotage in Xinjiang for nearly a century," said Yang Shengmin.

"Anti-terrorism will be a long and hard war," he said. "But as long as our policy adjustments are fully implemented, all ethnic groups in Xinjiang will realize further common development and unity." Enditem

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