Thu, Jul 21, 2016 - Page 6 News List

Britain adds Chinese militant group to terror list

Reuters, BEIJING

Britain has listed the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) as a terrorist organization, a move likely to please China, which has demanded Western support for its fight against a group it says seeks to split off its western region of Xinjiang.

Britain’s Home Office on Friday last week designated ETIM, which it also called the Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP), as an “Islamic terrorist and separatist organization” trying to create an “independent caliphate” in Xinjiang.

The US and the UN have listed ETIM as a terrorist group, although there is some discrepancy internationally over whether ETIM and TIP are the same entity as China claims, and experts have questioned their cohesiveness.

Western countries have long been reluctant to share intelligence with China or otherwise cooperate when it comes to counterterrorism in Xinjiang, saying that Beijing has provided little evidence to prove ETIM’s existence and citing worries about possible human rights abuses.

The addition of ETIM to the list of proscribed organizations comes as leaders from China and Britain have proclaimed the countries are enjoying a “golden age” in relations.

Inclusion on the list criminalizes association with the group, according to the Home Office Web site. Criteria for the listing of a group include factors such as the “specific threat it poses to the UK” and “the need to support other members of the international community in the global fight against terrorism.”

The Home Office said the group is based in tribal regions of Pakistan, had claimed responsibility for attacks in China, “maintained an active and visible presence in the Syrian war” and had detailed its “jihad against the Chinese authorities.”

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not immediately offer a comment on the designation.

Dilxat Raxit, a spokesman for the World Uyghur Congress, the main Uighur exile group, said in an e-mail that Britain had given China the pretense it needed to “increase its crackdown on Uighurs.”

“In China, any Uighurs that are unhappy with China’s systematic policies of suppression are all accused of terror, but China is incapable of providing any evidence able to stand up to transparent examination,” he said.

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