Tuesday, December 16, 2014

China Concerned Over ISIS Recruits


300 Chinese Said to Be Fighting with IS in Iraq and Syria

BEIJING – Around 300 Chinese are fighting in the ranks of the Islamic State terror group in Iraq and Syria, official Chinese media reported Monday, and noted that Beijing is becoming increasingly concerned about jihadist influence in northwestern China.

“According to information from various sources, including security officers from Iraq’s Kurdish region, Syria and Lebanon, around 300 Chinese extremists are fighting with IS in Iraq and Syria,” the state-run Global Times reported.

Spokesmen from the Chinese Foreign Ministry have on several occasions refused to specify the number of its citizens known to have joined IS ranks, while the government has not filtered updated information on this topic since this past summer.

In July, Chinese special envoy to the Middle East, Wu Sike, first reported that around 100 Chinese citizens, mostly members of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) were fighting or undergoing military training in the Middle East.

China usually blames the ETIM for terror attacks in northwestern Xinjiang province, where a majority of the people belongs to the Uyghur ethnic minority and is follower of Islam.

The authorities believe that the aim of this group is to form an independent state bordering other Muslim countries, including Afghanistan.

Despite its concerns over the issue, Beijing has never – at least officially – expressed any desire to join the U.S.-led international coalition that is fighting against IS militants in Iraq and Syria.

It has also alleged that secessionist forces in Xinjiang receive support from foreign jihadists in planning and executing attacks in the province as well as in the rest of China.

For their part, Uyghur organizations in exile deny the existence of terrorist groups and attribute the violence to repression suffered by the community at the hands of the Chinese authorities.

Uyghurs also complain about inequality in the access to education, health and employment in comparison to the majority Han Chinese ethnic group. 


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