Chinese double standards on terrorism 


China’s counter-terrorism efforts presently focus mainly on its Muslim ethnic Uighur population in Xinjiang region. China’s official use of the term ‘terrorist’ seems reserved almost exclusively for describing those tied to Xinjiang.


China comes under attack for HR violations in Xinjiang


On 01 Nov 2018 meeting of UNHRC China came under intensive attack from western countries including its biggest trade partner; the USA, for human rights violation in its north-western Xinjiang province. Xinjiang province is dominated by Muslim minority Uyghurs (Uighurs) community that is estimated to be close to 10 million. Out of 10 million, one million are said to be under detention for “re-education and skill development”, as termed by the Chinese government.


Here these detainees are “de-extremized” by removing all the symbols of religion like a skull cap, headgears, beard, traditional ethnic dresses etc. Here they are not allowed to keep Roza (monthly fasting in the month of Ramzan), read Quran or Arabic/Turkish language; instead, they are ‘taught’ mandarin, communist values and other soft and hard skills for “growth and development”. In the eyes of the world, China has two standards for dealing with terrorism and Islamic extremism: ruthless within its territory and “pragmatic” outside its boundaries. Pursuant to its double standards it comes down heavily of Uighurs but protects Masood Azhar sitting in Pakistan from being declared as a terrorist.

China is battling extremism and terrorism in the hands of Uyghur Muslims in its north-western autonomous region of Xinjiang, the largest of China’s administrative regions. Xinjiang borders eight countries – Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India (Pak Occupied Jammu and Kashmir). China does not come as heavily on other Muslim groups/ethnicity as on Uyghurs, primarily because they are separatists. The Uyghurs are not allowed to keep Roza, grow beards and read Quran.

China is so scared of their “radicalized” demands that it has ordered Uyghurs to deposit all copies of the Quran with the communist party government agents. Most of Uighurs are Sunni Muslims and Islam is the most important part of their life and identity. They originally are of Turkish descent and speak a mixed form of Turkish language that China wants to alter by replacing with Chinese mandarin. From 1949 onwards China has been settling Han Chinese in the region that has created tension, strife and ethnic conflict between Uighurs and Han Chinese. Despite the vice-like grip over media, the stories of atrocities on Uighurs are very common.

Chinese double standards on terrorism

China’s double standards are exposed by its contrary treatment of two terrorist groups. On one hand, it does not allow any dissent on its soil and snatches away the very basic right of its citizens; to the extent that it bars them from keeping Roza, reading Quran, learning Arabic and Turkish languages, and even keeping beards. On the other, it uses its veto to shelter a world denounced terrorists like Masood Azhar and a whole lot of Jaish-e-Mohammad and Jamaat-ud-Dawa, who have sponsored several mass murders and are a fountainhead of terrorism.

Why China is adopting such a dangerous path on the matter of terrorism, when China itself is suffering the same terror in Tarim Basin, is not difficult to understand. It is not Masood Azhar or his terror network per se that China is trying to protect, but her security/national interest and oppose India’s efforts to bring the head of a terror factory to the book. It is not that China is protecting Pakistan, but its interests in Pakistan like; the CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor). Any action on terror network in Pakistan will invite retaliation from well trenched terrorist networks like Haqqani network, JeM, LeT, Taliban etc.

It will not allow the Chinese to carry on the developmental activities peacefully. A few months back, two Chinese teachers, who were there to teach Mandarin to the children of workers/officers working on various projects in Pakistan, were abducted and killed by the terrorists. So it is an effort by China to buy peace from the terrorists and allow them to carry on their activities unhindered. Further, it needs access to the Indian Ocean and none other than Pakistan can provide that. It uses Pakistan as a counterbalance against India. But in the process, China has missed one very important point that history has taught us: “don’t shelter and nurture snakes in your backyard, one day they will bite your own children”. China needs to clean not only her house but backyard too.


China seeks regional and global support for targeting Uighur Islamists but refrains from backing India’s efforts to weaken the terror groups like the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), who are considered as Pakistani army’s ‘strategic assets’ to wage asymmetric war against India. This selective characterization poses several challenges for the success of counter-terrorism efforts in South Asia. The China-Pakistan nexus extends to shielding Pakistani terrorism at the UN as India’s attempts to get the global body to act against Pakistan-based terrorist leaders have been frustrated by Chinese intransigence.


12 Nov 18/Monday                 Written by Afsana




Many are apprehensive that the Chinese Government is determined to wipe out Islam from the country. It is instructive that petro-dollar rich countries are not coming out to condemn Beijing 

There are no human rights in Communist China and it quells all types of protests ruthlessly but the protests related to religion, secession, democracy, and terrorism are crushed more brutally. There are reports about the oppression of Christians and other religions but the Government-sponsored repression of Muslims all over China especially in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) is unparalleled.

According to a study conducted by the Pew Research Centre in 2009, there were about 21 million Muslims in China, which is more than 1.6 percent of the Chinese population and it is an important minority group in the country. However, analysts claim that the Muslim population is much more and it is in between two to three percent of the total Chinese population.  Out of 55 recognized minority groups in China, 10 groups are of Sunni Muslims. Although significant Muslim populations live in Ningxia, Gansu and Qinghai regions, the biggest concentration of Muslims is in the Xinjiang region. Reports suggest that there are only 36,000 religious places for Muslims and about 45,000 imams in the country and their number is fast-depleting. The Pew Research Centre also claims that the Muslim women fertility rate is at a low 1.7. Hence, the Muslim population is plummeting in the country.

Approximately, 11 million Uyghur Muslims live in the Xinjiang autonomous region. However, the word, autonomous is misleading and there is no autonomy in the region. Thousands of Muslims are forcibly kept in detention centers and re-education camps. Human Rights Watch mention that 800,000 Muslims are languishing in these detention centers while Uyghur leaders residing out of China claim that more than one million Uyghurs are imprisoned. There were cases where both husband and wife were jailed and children were sent to overcrowded orphanages.

Analysts mention that Government agencies take a large number of Uyghur Muslims to these re-education camps and brainwash them against Islam and its teachings. Communist ideologues claim that Muslim masses have to be re-educated as poisonous religious teachings have intoxicated their minds and it is essential to evict those teachings from their thought process. They further claim that re-education is not a punishment, and hence, no judicial procedure is required. Those selected for ‘re-education’ are kept in these camps till their minds are either numbed and/or purged of Islamic teachings and if required they are often sent repeatedly to these camps. Life is difficult in these centers — reports that beatings, torture and the withholding of victuals are commonly used techniques by the authorities to subdue religious-minded Muslims. Human rights activists assert that President Xi Jinping has adopted the repressive policies of Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution.

In August 2016, Chen Quanguo, who was party secretary in Tibet from 2011 to 2016, was transferred and posted at XUAR. Chen was by all accounts a contemptible apparatchik and suppressed Tibetans mercilessly. His predecessor in XUAR Zhang Chunxianwas considered ‘too polite’. After his appointment, Chen started the repression of Kazakhs, Uyghurs and other minorities. He constructed numerous extrajudicial imprisonment camps and enhanced surveillance of Muslims through advanced technology including using the national DNA database and biometrics of persons in the age group 12-65. The number of police stations was increased and stringent regulations were enforced under which religious freedom was restricted. Chen started implementation of the “Strike Hard” policy, initiated by the Government in 2014 but was inactive in XUAR. Chen also issued a draconian “de-extremification" ordinance in April 2017.

At few places, de-radicalization and re-education centers are camouflaged as vocational training centers and even as educational institutions. A US-based non-profit organization claims that the Chinese Government maintains the profiles of minorities and persecutes them on mere suspicion. Several ethnic minorities are prohibited to go abroad. Muslims are not allowed to eat halal meat. Storekeepers are instructed to mix non-halal meat in halal meat and if anybody asks specifically about halal meat, s/he is imprisoned. Muslims are prohibited to keep beards, mosques are being closed, keeping a fast during Ramzan is effectively a crime and in some well-documented cases, Muslims are reportedly being compelled to sell liquor. Beijing’s critics allege the Chinese Government has surpassed the world’s most repressive regimes in putting restrictions on a religious group. The de-radicalization camps and re-education centers are being compared by activists the world over to ‘concentration camps’. Mosques in Ningxia region have also prohibited the azan (calls for prayer) and selling Islamic books are also banned; domes/minarets atop of mosques are being removed and Arabic schools and religious teachings in mosques is barred.

The Chinese Government has also started a new practice from December 2017, which calls for Government officials to stay for five consecutive days in the houses of Muslim families every two months. During the five-day stays, officials ask questions about and closely observe the daily routine, religious practices and political views of the family. Officials also compel the residents to learn Mandarin, sing the National Anthem and ‘appreciate’ Communism. The five-day homestay programme is part of a larger policy under which the XUAR Government has sent 200,000 cadres to the houses of Muslim citizens to observe and make efforts to assimilate them into Han culture.

Chen’s solution to the problem seems to be to either ensure secessionist elements are either eliminated or forced to change their religious and political beliefs to accept the Government line. Chen has the full support of the Communist Party of China and President Xi who introduced a Sinicization policy in 2015 under which minorities were compelled to adopt Han Chinese culture. The policy will change every aspect of the life of the minorities, including food, education, language, lifestyle, politics, religion, philosophy, culture, science and technology and even their value system.

Xi intends to integrate diverse nationalities and enforce a pan-China Han identity. This policy intends to obliterate racial, cultural and linguistic diversity. China, which is an ancient civilization, has more than 290 non-Mandarin languages and it will be difficult to integrate all but the effort is on. ‘Sinicization’ includes assimilation and integration which critics allege is the cultural imperialism of China which it intends to impose not only within the country but also in other East and South East Asian countries under their dominance.

The democratic world needs to come together and think of a sanctions regime against China so it is compelled to stop these inhuman policies towards its minority communities. Why are Muslim countries, usually so vocal on issues of the rights of their co-religionists, unwilling to criticise China? For starters, the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) should pass a resolution to force China to restore the human rights of Muslims in China, and if China does not respond, the OIC countries should stop trade with China. Beijing is committing atrocities on its Muslim communities in the name of curbing terrorism but the Chinese Government should punish only terrorists and not all Muslims. The world community should adopt a long-term strategy to deal with China and its hegemonic ambitions which apparently extend to establishing cultural hegemony.

(The writer is member, United Services Institute of India, and Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses)




Masood Azhar is once again caught in a tape admitting to Jaish-e-Mohammad's role in Srinagar BSF camp attack during a hate speech  in a mosque in Pakistan. In the audio tape accessed by Zee Media, Masood Azhar is heard proudly announcing JeM’s involvement on the terror attack. Azhar also claims that he he has been involved in terror activities for the last 17 years.Last week, China had once again blocked a move by the US, which was backed by India, to designate Masood Azhar as a global terrorist.


 What is inferred from this is that China only worries about Islamist radicals Uyghurs on its own soil and will apply pressure on Pakistan only on that front. When it comes to Jihadis from across the border (Pakistan) that target India, China does not see it as in interest to force Pakistan. Needling India using Masood Azhar could be another way of keeping India on tenterhooks. But it appears that in an attempt to protect its all weather friend - Pakistan, China has lost sight of the bigger picture. China wants to equate itsef with super powers and for the same has been expanding its military and economics (which has also become a concern for many).China’s rise has elicited a range of reactions from around the world. Some countries remain skeptical of China’s military  expansion  while  others (mainly regional) see China as a source of economic opportunity.However, all steps taken in this direction are nullified if the global influence of China turns out to be negative.  Antagonising a neighboring country by supporting terrorism is not what is expected from potential superpowers. China is repeatedly damaging its global image by protecting a terrorist. Its role as a Pakistani terrorist aide would definitely cost it heavily in the long term. Only timely corrective measures in this regard can help China undo the wrong it has committed.


03 Nov 2017/Friday

China’s blockage to another bid by the US, France and the UK to list Pakistan-based JeM chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist by the UN, has weakened the international efforts to fight terror in a comprehensive manner. Notwithstanding this development, the question now is to what is likely to happen next.

Why China abandoned its policy of ambiguity to come out openly in support of Pakistan in protecting Azhar, by finally blocking this motion?

China had no option but to bail Pakistan as designation of Massod Azhar as a global terrorist would have put Pakistan in category of states sponsoring terror and further enhanced its isolation. A worsening security situation in Pakistan would not only retard its economic growth but also ultimately affect China’s ambitious CPEC project. China therefore, would like to be seen as a ‘good-terrorist friendly state’, to garner good will amongst Pakistan based terrorists. More importantly, Pakistan’s support in shielding China in the OIC against caustic remarks on Beijing’s crackdowns on its Muslim Uyghur community, in its restive Xinjiang province, has been well appreciated by China. Islamabad has also stood up against any move to castigate Beijing on its conduct in the South China Sea, number of times in past. So, it is an effective Quid Pro Quo.

How will it affect India ?

With JeM feeling obliged to its masters for the bail out, Pak Army will now seek its pound of flesh, in all probability. With this, Jaish’s foot prints in J &K militancy are likely to increase, which has suffered a serious setback with recent elimination of top militant leadership. With Hurriyatt and other militant groups like HM and LeT more or less marginalised, JeM emerges as a top choice for reviving the dying militancy in J & K. JeM has battle-hardened terrorists and highly motivated suicide bombers. The strategy would be to attempt infiltration of these battle-hardened terrorists along with a fine mix of SSG personnel before the closure of passes on the Line of Control. As the events in Kashmir suggest the JeM is likely to have a lead role in spearheading the militancy in Kashmir. Fidayeen attacks will increase in numbers with an aim to undermine the successes of the security forces. The security situation in Kashmir is likely to be adversely affected with this development.


02 Nov 2017/Thursday

China has indicated it will once again block India’s request at the United Nations Security Council to declare Masood Azhar, leader of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) extremist group, a global terrorist.This is not the first time China, considered an all-weather ally of Pakistan, has halted India’s efforts against Azhar at the U.N. Security Council.As one of the five permanent and veto-wielding members of the U.N. Security Council, China has utilized its veto power twice this year to block India’s proposal of designating the JeM leader a terrorist.


In Sep 2017, at the ninth Summit, BRICS leaders, including Xi Jinping, condemned terrorism in all its forms and even Pakistan-based terror groups like the LeT and the JeM were named. Then why China is protecting the JeM chief Azhar Masood? UN Security Council has already blacklisted JeM as an organization and has proposed to declare Masood as a Global Terrorist which has been backed by all members but China.Why China, who at one end supports crusade against the terrorism, hell-bent upon saving Azhar, head of a terror outfit responsible for several terrorist attacks on Indian soil, including at Airforce Base in Pathankot in January 2016. A very apt logic is in Chankaya’s words “There is some self-interest behind every friendship. There is no friendship without self-interests. This is a bitter Truth”. And the bitter truth is China wants to keep Pakistan safe from international isolation & Pakistani Jihadist groups happy to safeguard Chinese interest in CPEC & OBOR. China feels that by designating Azhar as a terrorist, anti-Indian militant groups including JeM could turn against their own mentor i.e Pakistani. This would have dangerous implications for China, especially for its massive investments and development initiatives in the South Asian country, including the multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project. 


01 Oct 17/Sunday

Though China has repeatedly blocked Indian moves to sanction JeM and its leadership, it has given a clear signal to Islamabad through BRICS declaration that support to non-state actors isn’t a viable long-term policy for Pakistan

Pakistan’s new Foreign Minister has been criticised by the usual suspects for his blunt remarks last week at Asia Society in New York. The minister put up a robust defence of Pakistan’s position on Afghanistan and highlighted the cost of war that Pakistan has suffered. Perhaps for the first time, a senior government minister admitted that the strategic assets of yesterday had turned into liabilities: “You cannot divorce history just to move forward. They [the militants] are a liability and it will take time for Pakistan to work its way through that.” He added, “Saeed, LeT, they are a liability, I accept it, but give us time to get rid of them, we don’t have the assets to deal with these liabilities.”

This admission is in line with the position that the government reportedly took in a national security meeting last year. Contents of this meeting were leaked and turned into a cause for civil-military rupture. The civilians, according to the infamous Dawn leaks, had warned the military and intelligence officials of Pakistan’s likely isolation if the policy towards jihadist proxies was not reviewed and realigned to the changing scenario.

Almost a year later, the BRICS group of countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) in their 2017 declaration expressed ‘concern on the security situation in the region and violence caused by the Taliban, ISIS… Al Qaeda and its affiliates, including Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Haqqani network, Lashkar-i-Taiba, Jaish-i-Mohammad, TTP and Hizbut Tahrir.’ The fact that China was part of this joint declaration should be a wake-up call for Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

FM Asif’s position, therefore, is logical and he would not have made these comments without the tacit endorsement of the military establishment. Given the fragility of the federal government and the uncertain future of the ruling party, Asif was certainly not taking a calculated risk.

While the increased indebtedness and dependence via CPEC are causes for concern, the Chinese influence is an opportunity for Pakistan to reimagine its national security doctrine; and discard what has evidently not worked for decades

Leaving the domestic squabbles aside, it should be clear that China — now viewed as a savior of sorts — has little patience for Islamist groups whether they are pitted against India or not. BRICS was the forum where China sensed an opportunity of signaling its discomfort to Pakistan’s powers-that-be with the latter’s reliance on proxy-groups to achieve foreign policy goals.

Beijing seeks avoidance of regional conflict, as a continued conflict in Afghanistan and South Asia is inimical to its primary interests of economic development and trade integration. With the commencement of now $60 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor, the stakes for Beijing have increased manifold. Beijing views extremism and terrorism as a threat to its economic investments in Pakistan.

In 2013, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang stated that a goal of CPEC is to ‘wean populace away from fundamentalism.’ Beijing has been pushing Pakistan to distance from conflict with India, focus on economic development and trade to achieve stability. After all, China’s current place in the world in large measure is attributable to economic progress. This is what the architects of Pakistan’s security policy need to understand.

While the economic gains through CPEC are dominant in the mainstream public debates, it is clear that Pakistan’s security establishment views Chinese investment as a bulwark against the perennial Indian threat. This is not different from how we viewed our relationship with the United States since the 1950s. Security cooperation with the US was primarily a means to build up the defense apparatus against India. Even though we hardly received any concrete support from the US in 1965 and 1971 wars, the strategic thinking did not change. Now that the cooling off with the US is underway, the Chinese are the replacement for quick cash-flows and security buffers.

What is rarely discussed in Pakistan is that the Sino-Indian trade is close to $100 billion dollars. Despite their competition for influence, the two countries are not going to turn their relationship into a toxic rivalry resembling the Cold War politics of blocs. BRICS was preceded by Sino-Indian standoff on the Bhutanese border. Pakistan’s security gurus and pundits on television could not conceal their excitement. They must have been disappointed when China diffused the Doklam border tension through diplomatic engagement.

Though China has repeatedly blocked Indian moves to sanction JeM and its leadership, it has given a clear signal to Islamabad through BRICS declaration that support to non-state actors isn’t a viable long-term policy for Pakistan. On September 22, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson in a press conference said: ‘The Chinese side hopes that Pakistan and India can strengthen communication and dialogue and properly resolve the issue. This is conducive to jointly upholding regional peace and stability.’

This should be an eye-opener for there is no support for revisionism that is a cornerstone of our foreign policy. China is not likely to take sides in any future Indian-Pakistan conflict and will do its best to avert that.

Pakistan’s security managers need to pay heed to signals emanating from Beijing before it’s too late. One hopes that there are discussions underway in GHQ of viewing the country as a trade-investment hub and managing the conflict with the ‘enemy.’ We have to live with India, Iran and Afghanistan; and it is not going to change. While the increased indebtedness and dependence via CPEC are causes for concern, the Chinese influence is an opportunity for Pakistan to reimagine its national security doctrine; and discard what has evidently not worked for decades.