ISSN 2330-717X

China’s Response To Non-traditional Security Threats And China’s Capability Trap To Terror Threat Management – Analysis


By Dr Sheo Nandan Pandey and Prof Hem Kusum


Terror conceptually constitutes part of Non Traditional Security (NTS) threat.  Counter measures, if at all have to correspond to NTS paradigm and balance their outreach between the public security and individual freedom.

While the problem abound both in ‘China Proper’ and ‘China Peripheral’, the tactical veil of terrorism to the incidents in the latter, particularly in XUAR, TAR, IMAR and parts of Sichuan, Yunnan, Gansu and Qinghai provinces do not stand scrutiny of the phenomenon. Course corrections would need an even handed approach. The perils of the incidents yet spell impending disasters to China’s social and national lives. Ponential growth of the menace is symptomatic of China getting caught in vicious ‘capability trap’. When all said and done the PRC may have to live with ‘peripheral nationalism’ in parts of ‘China Peripheral’ .

Proximity effects of the development may have lateral bearings on the neighbouring countries in South Asia, Central Asia and North Asia.



The Associated Press has just released data on the rate of conviction against arrests of terror suspects around the world. [1] It covers 67 countries, including China. It relates to the first decade of post 9/11 new millennium. While it suffers the limitations of comprehensiveness, it has its worth on several counts. It has potential to sensitize people and their nations to take the ‘court route’ in higher interest of rule of law gaining prominence. This is against the Guantanamo phenomenon raising heads in the world at large and China in particular.[2]

Terror conceptually constitutes part of Non Traditional Security (NTS) threat. This is beside the point whether the incidents of protests and violence in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) in China fall in category of terror.[3] Notwithstanding a necessity, and a lot of efforts, the theoreticians and ideologues widely differ on the issue of antidotes to the malaise of NTS. Holding rather constructivist perspective, Barry Buzan, Ole Waever and Jaap de Wilde (Security: A New Framework of Analysis, Lynne Rienner, 1998) advocated “securitization”, which speaks beyond military means. Ralf Emmers (Non-Traditional Security in the Asia-Pacific: The Dynamics of Securitization, Singapore: Eastern Universities Press, 2004), Mely Caballero-Anthony, Ralf Emmers and Amitav Acharya (Non-Traditional Security in Asia: Dilemmas in Securitization, Ashgate Publishing, 2006) and a number of other studies hold credit in similar vein in expanding the horizon beyond what the traditionalist school of security studies could ever prescribe. However, they have little to offer in definite terms when it comes to say where the state action has to stop lest it could encroach upon human rights.

The act of terrorism involves deliberate and indiscriminate violence.[4] The actors are normally non-state even as state and sub-state perpetrators do as well exist in the annals of history. Targets are ordinarily soft. It is quite often high profile. In either case, irrespective of the nature and character of motivation, it is aimed at intimidating. The typology of the phenomenon has now come to cover a large number of fields. It influences audience beyond the immediate victims.

In Beijing’s parlance, as the deliberations at the 23rd Session of the 11th Standing Committee of the National Peoples Congress bear out, the label “terrorist” refers to individuals who organize, plan or implement terrorist activities. “Terrorist activity”, in the same vein, relate to the “activities carried out with the intent of creating social panic” that leads to “loss of life”, “damage to public facilities” and chaos to social order. “Terrorist organization” stands for criminal groups carrying out terror activities. [5] On ground, the term terror has constantly been referred to denote all political and extra-political activities of Uyghur and other ethnic minority nationalities in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), and to a lesser extent, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region (IMAR).

As a matter of principle, the term terrorism encompasses as many as three perspectives-the terror perpetrator, the victim, and the general public. The perpetrators of terror acts do not view themselves as evil and demonic for all the barbaric deeds. They draw support from a section of ideologues on different counts. In the bargain, there are plenty of loopholes and safe havens for the perpetrators of the act. Nonetheless, where and when the state mechanism of control and management transgresses the boundary of rule of law, the combat measures turn counter productive.

Counter terror measures have to balance the outreach between the public security and individual freedom. As a matter of principle, discretions at the hands of the state to fight the phenomenon hold possibilities of impacting civil liberties and human rights adversely. The paper explores the Chinese system of terror control and management. In the run up, it would critically examine the Chinese anti terror legal framework and its working in the backdrop of nature and character of the phenomenon. The paper is schematically organized to go through: Nature and Dimension of the Threat; Intensities and Impacts of the Acts of Terror; Trouble Shooting Palliatives and Measures; and, the inscrutability of the Policy and Action Instruments.

The postulates included: the act of terror invariably constitute ‘violence’ in different forms and shape but ‘all acts of violence’ can not be labeled as the act of terror; terrorist attack in China as elsewhere could conceptually involve a decision of an alleged “individual” and/ or “group” who are not necessarily obedient instruments in a greater game ordained by social science theory on the cause of terrorism; as being a very pejorative term, the plausibility of it being used to delegitimise political action of the opponents can not be ruled out; and, the acts of terror, if any in China is rooted in ‘structural’ factors including ‘peripheral nationalism’ and, it is bound to loom large until the disconnects and anomalies at their back, whatsoever find logical ends. [6]

Variability of the Threat Story

In the Chinese official account, the alleged acts of terror have hitherto been confined to XUAR and TAR. In XUAR again, the happenings took place in just four politically sensitive city locations- Urumqi (Ulumuqi), Kashgar (Kashi), Aksu (Akesu) and Hotan (Hetian). Beginning Feb 5, 1992, there have been seven out of 11 incidents only in Urumqi. While Kashgar witnessed two incidents, first on Aug 12, 208 and the next on July 30th and 31st, 2011, the two other locations, Aksu and Hotan have had share of one incident each respectively in 2010 and 2011.

In Urumqi, the centre of gravity for the terror incidents all through, there have been altogether 43 deaths and 97 injuries. [7] 2008 has predictably gone down as a turning point, when the intensity of the incident was exceedingly high. 31 of the 43 death toll took place then alone. The targets of all the incidents were bus lines, in particular Bus line 2, 10, 30 and 44. It was perhaps meant for drawing world attention and arousing sentiments about the plight of ethnic Xinjiang people at the hands of Han rulers in Beijing. There was a solitary case on Feb 5, 1992, when the alleged perpetrators of the terror acts had targeted a public building, set four bombs and caused death to three persons and injured 23 others. The other set of acts on the part of those perpetrators of terror, supposedly prejudicial to the interests of the Chinese state, included posting of video on internet with appeals of some kind or the other.

In the first incident of Kashgar, that took place on Aug 12, 2008, the alleged perpetrators went on stabbing spree. [8] They had targeted the Chinese Public Security Bureau personnel on duty at a place known as Yamanya. The incident claimed three lives. [9] The intensity of the second incident was graver. 23 people died on July 30 and 31. On the first day, two Uyghur men hijacked a truck, ran it into a crowded street, and started stabbing people. As may as nine persons died. They were overpowered by the crowd, who killed one attacker. On the second day, 12 would-be car-bombers stormed a restaurant with knives, killing 13 people. A firefight ensued with police who captured the group and killed seven of them. [10] East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) claimed responsibility for the attack. One of the alleged perpetrators, named Memtieli Tiliwaldi had reportedly received training at ETIM camp in Pakistan. [11]

Aksu incident is but queer. [12] A three wheeled tempo reportedly rammed past a crowd, which claimed lives of eight people and injured 15 others. The occupants of the vehicle were non-Han origin ethnics of Xinjiang. While it could be an accident, the Chinese government and its security apparatus choose to brand it an incident of terror acts, organized and carried out by the adherents of three evils of ‘Terrorism, Separatism and Religious Extremism’ and Hizb al-Tahrir. [13]

In Hotan, as the Chinese Public Security Bureau release says, 18 ethnic Uyghur youth “clashed with the police personnel at the Public Security Bureau (PSB) station on Na’erbage” on July 18, 2011. [14] Eye witness account, available in several foreign electronic media and social network sites including the reportage of World Uyghur Congress (WUC), suggest that the group of 18 Uyghur youth were part of 100 and odd others, including women and children, who had then marched up to the police station to demonstrate against unfair practices and the police excesses. It included ban on Islamic dresses. [15] They did as well raise slogans and level accusations of kidnappings and torture of their kith and kin. [16] Scuffle ensued and a band of Uyghur youth reportedly attacked the duty officer at the front desk. They have been accused of hurling petrol bomb. [17] They did as well take hostage of a few Han personnel. Zhao Genlin, the Deputy Party Secretary of the Hotan City Police, has since acknowledged that the police firing claimed lives of 14 of the 18 Uyghur youth who had reportedly stormed the police station in rage. [18] In all, the death toll ran to 20, which included four women and an 11-year-old girl named Hanzohre. [19]

The Chinese officials and media did not find cogent and coherent words to describe the alleged perpetrators of the incident. Nuerbage police station Chief Abulaiti Maitiniyazi (Ablet Metniyaz), credited for being present on the spot and responsible for the police action held them little different from being “thugs”. [20] In its first hand reportage, Xinhua News Agency dispatch did as well label the attackers as “thugs”. It did not see the ramification in serious terms. Global Times did not as well trigger any alarm. In his dispatch, Yang Shu went on to caption the story: “Sky not falling in Xinjiang after Hotan Attack”. [21] Hou Hanmin, Chief of the XUAR information office, branded them as “rioters”. [22] Li Wei, an expert with China Institute of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR), sought to term the incident as “terrorist” attack, and the perpetrators as “terrorists”. [23] He arrived at this conclusion as the attack looked organized and “adopted complicated approach”. Pan Zhiping, Director of the Institute of Central Asia at the Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences, found Hotan “prone to the influence of terrorism” as it was inhabited largely by ethnic Uyghur. [24] Characterization of the incident as “long planned” by Yang Guoqiang and Hou Anmin, the two official of the XUAR Publicity Department appear to be tactical official account. [25] Chinese Ministry of Public Security under Meng Jianzhu resorting to the “three evils” doctrine and some of the think tanks seeing foreign hands speak of premeditated explanations by the Chinese state organs, both central and the local smacked premeditated and sweeping summations.

The counterview on the incident suggests a bit of cover up. Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) article, filed just a day after the incident puts a question mark about the veracity of the official version about the locale as much as sequence of the events [26] While suspect of objectivity in the eyes of the Chinese government, some of the blog including Zhongguo Rixian (The China Hotline), China Letter, Today’s Zaman and host of others go to corroborate the UNPO story. The shooting incident did not take place at Nuerbage police station. It happened in Nuerbage Bazar, where more than 100 local Uyghur had gathered to demonstrate against the police crackdown. It was non-market day. [27] They wanted to know the whereabouts of their near and dear ones who were taken into custody in course of house to house searches. Police opened fire, and killed at least 20 people. Josh Summers questioned the authenticity of the Chinese media reportage including the picture as being “cropped”. [28] World Uyghur Congress (WUC) spokesman held that the demonstration of the Uyghur populace on the day was “peaceful” and after the Police opened fire, a group of Uyghur youth did take some of the police personnel hostage to demand the release of their family members detained since July 2009.[29]

Horizon of the Impacts of the Terror Incidents

While terror is an age old phenomenon, the term is yet to have an objective, value free definition. [30] One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. The problem, as Walter Laqueur says, is “ideological”. [31] The confusion stems largely since the academic divide look at the phenomenon from narrow prism of vice and virtue, independent of common denominator. In most of the seminal works, such as those of Michael Walzer’s Just and Unjust Wars (1977), Barrie Paskins and Michael Dockrill The Ethics of War (1979), Richard Norman Ethics, Killing, and War (1995), Brian Orend War and International Justice (2001) and Michael Walzer on War and Justice (2001), as well as articles by Thomas Nagel “War and Massacre”, Elizabeth Anscombe “War and Murder”, and a host of others, commonly found in the journals Ethics or The Journal of Philosophy and Public Affairs, the balance of fairness and otherwise of the “act of violence” is being seen against the tenets of “Just War Theory”. [32] The hall mark of engagement could thus, stretch not beyond Jus in Bello considerations, in particular the “criterion of discriminating (COD) and affording immunity to innocents.[33] As a matter of principle, asymmetric character of the act of terror, irrespective of having been triggered by radicalized non-state or the coercive state factor leaves little leeway for complacence on any count.

Terrorism has something that war has not, and that is the element of surprise. Terrorist attack can be done at any time and at any place. While, war has to be declared and organized, therefore, this gives some time for the other side to get prepared or surrender before the first strike. What makes the two different is that war requires mass organization, governments, countries and thousands of volunteers and military personnel, while terrorism can be performed with just one or two individuals. Again, in terrorism, the perpetrators of the act of violence quite often do not choose the targets, and as a result, most times, innocent people get hurt and die. War, on the other hand knows its targets, and the victims, both combatants and innocent people in the street are euphemistically called “Collateral Damage”. [34]

Violence and explosions are of late common in the People’ Republic of China (PRC). This is not some thing exclusive to a particular region and/ or set of people as being made out. For quite some time in the last decade of the bygone and the first decade of the present millennium, the Chinese and foreign media reported unease (xinshen buan) in rural China. It happened alongside historic resurgence to prosperity and power. It has subsided but would continue to haunt until China resolves its dual system of land tenure and a host of other vexed problems of fundamental nature. [35] The elements of spontaneity in the waves of unrest in Taizhu, Zhejiang province and Lichuan, Hubei and other places in the last couple of months of 2011 suggest a rare disquiet, borne of growing social inequality, abuse of power, and suppression of legitimate grievances setting around rural China. It is now the turn for Urban China, the privileged Child of China’s socio-political and economic dynamics.

Some of the recent mass incidents (quntixingshijian) of protests and violence such as those in Kunming city, Yunnan province (March 26-27, 2011), Fuzhou city, Jiangxi province (May 26, 2011), Lichuan city, Hubei province (June 9, 2011) Xintang Town, Zengcheng, Guangdong province (June 12, 2011), Tianjin city, Hebei province (June 13, 2011), Nanchang city, Jiangxi province (Aug 4, 2011), Qianxi county, Guizhou province (Aug 9, 2011), Wukan village and Lufeng city, Guangdong province ( September 22, 2011) Huzhou city, Zhejiang province (Oct 27, 2011) and a lot of other incidents of the kind speak volumes about the pent up anger of the Chinese populace. Nonetheless, unabated year to year to year rise in the number of mass incidents of protests and violence tell the tale of unfolding simmering in China’s social life. In 2010, the number of such incidents in China had reached an all time high of 180,000. In his study, Prof. Sun Liping of Tsinghua University is quoted to have put the per day figure of mass incidents of protests and violence in urban China running to around 120-250. It is around 90 and 160 in rural China.[36]

The exponential character of the malaise in over all perspectives can be gauged from the fact that it has grown from a paltry 8700 in 1993 to 87,000 in 2005, and exponentially 127, 000 in 2008 in the subsequent years.[37] Some of these incidents were very large in size and impact, and the number of such incidents has been rising side by side. In 2003, there were just nine mass incidents of protests and violence, involving 500 and more people. It touched an all time high of 76 in 2008. [38] There is yet little respite despite the Chinese law enforcing bodies getting proactive. In the words of Yu Jianrong, an academic with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, given China’s effort to enforce “rigid stability”, the “venting incidents” of the kind could spell “massive social catastrophe”.[39]

But for the ethnic and separatist connotations, the mass incidents of the kind in XUAR have been just few and far between. Much talked about and gloated over violent incidents in the Chinese government accounts in 1990s prior to 9/11 included Talip Incident, Yarkand (Jan 5, 1990), Baren Incident, Akto Township, Kashgar (April 5, 1990), Urumqi Bus Bombing Incident (Feb. 1992), Serial Bombings, Yining, Kashgar and elsewhere ( Feb. 1992-Sep. 1993), Hotan Demonstration ( July 7, 1995), Kuche, Kashgar,Aksu Protests, Bombing and Assassination and Crackdown (April-June 1996),Yining (Ghulja) Incident (Feb. 5-8, 1997), and Aksu Police Station Attack And Kidnapping Incident (Jan 2000).

Some of these incidents were innocuous. Talip incident of Jan 1990, for example involved demonstration by several thousand students who opposed the government order for closing down privately run Quranic schools, known popularly as Madarsa. In the same vein, Hotan incident of July 1995 flared after the arrests of three Imams, first two relating Quranic teachings to life situation and the third for advocating improvements in women rights. Prohibition and banning of Uyghur social organization known as mäshräp stood at the back of the trouble. There are then host of other incidents with remote terror connections. Neither August 2001 Kuqa Gun Battle Incident nor Feb. 2002 have Urumqi Suicide Bombing Incident, and even Jan 2005 had Karamay Bus Bomb Incident do not fall in the category of terror. In all the three cases, the perpetrator of the act of violence had personal reason, in particular impulsive violent response to hurt sentiments.

Much of these mass incidents of protests and violence in Xinjiang were thus, not ‘act of terror’, borne of separatist instinct.[40] In the bargain, the authenticity of 2002 Chinese government report on the issue remains suspect of gross fudging.[41] Strange but true, quite a number of mass incidents of protests and protests, taking place during and after the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games do not as well qualify the criterion of terror. Ground realities since testify the fact that the Chinese and foreign intelligence reports on the likelihood of terror attack during 2008 Beijing Olympic were just hoax, if not outright fabrications as the Uyghur activists contended and research studies bear out.[42] Incidents of the kind outside XUAR such as explosions in Shanghai (May 2008), Kunming Bus Bombing (July 2008) do not fully qualify to be acts of terror. In scale as much as in sway, the menace of terror in China is thus, far less than what is being projected. While the Chinese political and academic elites could contest the null test of the hypothesis on one count or the other, it is a plain truth that the hubbub on the menace of terror in China in its entirety does not squarely measure the ground realities.

Menace Control and Management Measures

The fear of unknown has gripped all layers of the Chinese decision making system and mechanism. In 2005, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and State Council issued an internal directive. It got to proclaim reduction of the level of social unrest a major policy goal for 2006. [43] As part of the strategy, the Chinese National People’s Congress (NPC) passed a legislation to impose fine for unauthorized reporting. State control of information thus, leaves least leeway to get to the truth besides and beyond methodological groping. [44]

As being a component of NTS threat, the mass incidents of protests and violence in the PRC theoretically called for extra traditional security threat measures. It could, inter alia, include due process of law while dispensing criminal justice, solid and fair mechanism to redress public concern and dependable social safety net against multifaceted socio-political and economic vagaries. The PRC has instead meticulously harnessed soft and hard components of traditional security measures.

The soft components tend to comprise of measures that could ‘take the fuel out of fire’. Sometimes leaders of protests are taken away; other times they are paid off; still other times they are given what they want. Much of this is done quietly. [45] According to the latest Duihua Foundation report, roughly 25,000 alleged perpetrators of the incidents of protests and violence, in particular those belonging to Falungong sect are facing the music of their lives in Ankang (psychiatric) Hospitals and Laojiao (reeducation through labour) Centers, distributed and spread over to various nondescript locations. Various units of 180,000 strong People’s Armed Police Force (PAPF) were deployed to handle the boiling public wrath in varying proportions in China proper and China exterior.

The PRC has, inter alia, developed a new concept of security and strategy. [46] Euphemistically, it is being called “anti-terrorism with Chinese characteristics”.The most demonstrable side of such measures included enacting plethora of laws, some of which are apparently aimed at silencing human rights violation critics. [47] Yanda (strike hard) coupled with permissiveness and compromises of different denominations rule the roost. [48] There is a specific pattern. In XUAR and TAR, and to some extent in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region (IMAR), the policy instruments and tactics, brought to bear upon squarely emit specter of untold ‘severity and swiftness’, borne of China’s ‘Yanda approach’, characteristic of a summary trial to tame the voice of discord then and there. [49] The dynamics of ‘China proper’ and ‘China peripheral, borne of an array of factors including the baggage of portentous cultural and pseudo-legal righteousness basically lay at the back of Chinese mind. This is while the sources of general social discontents in two settings are no different. [50] This is besides the political issues calling for political correctives.

There is of late incontrovertible change in the flip side of China legal infrastructure in comparison and contrast of yesteryears. From a very small base, the legal profession has grown quickly to a ratio of one lawyer for every 7000 people. Thanks to the ‘2008 Legal Reform’, the ‘defence lawyers’ in China can see their clients without permission from the judicial authorities and without fear of being heard and observed by the Public Security Bureau personnel. Their leeway includes getting access to the case files, too. Damocles sword yet, hangs large in the provisions of Article 306 of the Chinese Criminal Laws 1997. It stipulates detention, arrest and prosecution of defence lawyers on the charges of ‘fabrication’ of evidence. Uncorroborated reports suggest sizeable number of such cases. In criminal and political cases, the sentences are decided by the ‘Court Committee’ and not by the trial judges. Nonetheless, it is CPC and not the Chinese government organ that goes into the appointment procedures. In the bargain, justice in China is not what the merit of the case states but what the ruling elite in the party thinks correct.

In the fist decade of the new millennium, as per the Associated Press (AP) data, there were year after year anti-terror 7,649 arrests and 7,776 convictions of the activists, labeled perpetrators of ‘three evils’ in China. The AP data is far from exact. According to Chinese official mouthpiece, the PRC had made 18227 arrests in Xinjiang in 2005 alone. [51] The number sky rocketed on the eve of 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. As per AP data, Turkey (37242), Pakistan (29050), Nepal (18934) and Israel (7,971) surpassed China. There were 12,897 convictions in Turkey and 2,905 in Pakistan. There is no conviction figure available for Nepal and Israel. There were such 119,044 anti-terror arrests and 35,117 convictions in 66 countries, accounting for 70 percent of the world’s population. As in the case of China, the actual numbers of arrests run higher elsewhere too. The central point in AP report yet remains same and valid. First, China as most other countries have since enacted and put in place anti-terror laws; and, the Second and last, the country has been moving past increasingly to get to court route to criminal justice.

Of 66 entities in the report, Turkey alone shares China’s odds in spirit, if not letter. Both face the odds of ‘peripheral nationalism’ in the estimation of Becquelin, Mackerras, Bovingdon and Gladney besides host of other scholars who subscribe Hechter’s prescriptions with a difference, and hence, the two have gone for almost identical recourse. [52] The aftermath in store can be no different for either. The caveats lay in quality of course correction measures and responses of the people.

Viability of the Policy and Action Instruments

The perils of the incidents of mass protests and violence are thus, writ large on China’s social and national lives. It tells upon the efficacy much less the rationale of most of the preventive and punitive policy and action instruments in place. The phenomenon suggests China’s political dispensation getting viciously caught in ‘capability trap’ to handle an array of contradictions, called maodun in popular Chinese communist lexicon to its development and modernization pursuits.[53]

Much of the policy and action instruments presently in vogue in China peripheral carry meticulously planned but diabolically skewed measures. XUAR, TAR, IMAR and parts of Sichuan, Yunnan, Gansu and Qinghai provinces bear the brunt. Individually and collectively the measures go to stifle political dissents. This is despite the fact that clan or ethnic clashes have dominated the scene there. This is true about all that happened in 1980s, 1990s and the post-9/11 epoch in the first decade of the new millennium.

As the facts on ground suggest, the Chinese official releases on the issue try to blindfold even discerning minds. On January 21, 2002, the Information Office of the PRC State Council released a document titled “East Turkistan Forces Can not Get Away with Impunity. While comprehensive in form, the document lacks thoroughness and hence, the truth of the fact remains victim of propaganda. The US was one to be taken to ride in a stride to put East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) in the list of terrorist organization. Likewise, closer looks on the release of December 2003 document of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security, alleging involvement of the World Uyghur Youth Congress (WUYC), the East Turkistan Liberation Organization (ETLO) and the East Turkistan Information Center (ETIC) in various incidents of violence as act of terror appear far from convincing. Scholarship on the issue tend to dispute the stand of the PRC, US and even United Nations on Al Qaeda and Taliban funding, training and guidance to these organizations. While hard to predict future events, there has been little convincing evidence of collusion of these organizations with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) either. In the bargain, it is hard to buy China’s logic and justify the validity of policy and action instruments.

The specters of terror do loom large over China. What is refuted in academic parlance is the criticality of the menace. Turning blind eyes to the objective reality can not be an answer to plausible woes and wails. Chinese think tanks are not oblivious either. The PRC has but to give up its tactical veil and respond to the problem even handedly in ‘China Proper’ and ‘China Peripheral’. It has to live with peripheral nationalism in ‘China Peripheral’ until a logical conclusion could be successfully reached in times to come.

[1] Global Terrorism Document: The associated Press (accessed on March 22, 2012)

[2] China has 623 prisons for different sets of accused persons, spread over to different parts of the country. Many of them are traditional. Uncorroborated reports of suggest that China has of late set up Guantanamo sort detention centers.

[3] The book On Non-Traditional Security, published by Institute of China Contemporary International Relations (CCIR), talks of as many as 17 phenomena that could fall in the category of NTS. The basket of NTS has since been to growing with one and all issues threatening to human life except those classified as traditional security threat. As for China and among Chinese scholars, there is Prof. Liu Jianyong of Qinghua University who has identified seven major fields of NTS threat- terror, economy, crimes on high seas, drug trafficking, information, illness and ecology. There is then In his paper, Defining Non-Traditional Security and its Implications for China (,cn), Wang Yizhou finds the threat posed by the ‘three evils’ of ‘separatism, terrorism and religious extremism’ in West China not grave enough to be included in NTS threat.

[4] The word “terrorism” got currency first, in 1775 to denote powerful group member oppressing less powerful group members. Moreover, the connotation is ‘interest specific’ and varies as a function of time and historical context.

[5] Zhang Yang and Bai Long, People’s Daily, Oct 27, 2011 (accessed on March 22, 2012)

[6] ‘Peripheral nationalism’ constitute one of the four sets of nationalism in Hechter M. (Containing Nationalism, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000) theoretical framework. The other forms of ‘nationalism’ in Hechter’s typology included state-building, irredentist and unification. The sustenance of ‘peripheral nationalism, as several scholars in the field hold depended on several factors including ’weak/strong local/ outside elite affiliation, national identity and economic engagement. China’s ethnic minority issue in Xinjiang, Tibet and other regions thus confront real life problem.

[7] Urumqi is the capital city of Xinjiang. In Chinese it is called Ulumuqi (乌鲁木齐).It is a multiethnic city, inhabited by over 2.8 million people, belonging to 40 nationalities including the Uyghur, Tajik, Kirgiz, Xibe, Mongol, and Han. Urumqi means “A beautiful Pasture land “. Uyghur has been the majority. However, the Chinese resettlement policy has gradually telling upon the demographic profile of the city. Han population now occupies 40.6% of the total population. In the annals of its history, the city has witnessed an array of rebellious battles. It included the Battle of Urumqi (1870) and Kumul Rebellion (1933). After it got incorporated as one of the five Autonomous Regions of the PRC in 1954, it has witnessed numerous rebellious riots, in particular with the resettled Han populace. Change in demographic profile of the city constitutes one of the key irritant and cause of unrests.

[8] Kashgar, in Chinese known as Kashi (喀什), has a population of over 3.5 million people. It is next to Urumqi in socio-political importance in the region. The name is Middle Iranic in its origin, meaning “Kush Mountains” (from gar/ghar, “mountain”, and Kush/Kâsh, being the same as the ethnonym of the Kushan Empire and the Hindukush mountains in the neighboring Afghanistan. In the annals of its history, it has been most volatile. Han nationality constitutes about 20% of the population and lives apart from the local Uyghur. Anthropologist Dru Gladney has gone on record to point out said that “any small incident in Kashgar has potential to quickly overheat and boil into something much larger”.

[9] Three dead as unrest flares in Xinjiang”. DailyTimes. 2008-08-13. ( accessed on March 22, 2012)

[10] Cheng, Yongsun; Yu, Xiaodong, The Bloody Weekend. News China, October 2011, pp. 23-25.

[11] Zenn, Jacob, ‘Catch 22 of Xinjiang as Gateway’, Asia Times, http://www.atimes/China/MI22aD02.html (accessed on March 22, 2012)

[12] Aksu, in Chinese called Akesu (阿克苏), is the oasis town, located at the southern foot of Tianshan Mountain on the northern rim of Tarim Basin and bordering Kyrgyzstan to the west, has a population of 2.4 million. There are 30 ethnic groups living in Aksu including the Uyghur, the Hui, Russians and Han. The Han settlers now hold the majority with their share of approximately 56% of Aksu’s total population. It is the birthplace of Guizi culture and Duolang culture. It has faced political control and exploitation in its long history. In the 7th, 8th, and early 9th centuries, control of the entire region was often contested by the Chinese Tang Dynasty, the Tibetan Tufan Empire, and the Uyghur Empire; cities frequently changed hands. The Battle of Aksu occurred here on May 31, 1933. The bombing of 2010 reflects the volatile nature of social and political relations in the region.

[13] China’s approach to counter terrorism is the ‘Three Evil Doctrine’, hitherto exclusively applied to ethnic minority groups, in particular to Uyghur and Tibetans. With its clout in Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the doctrine has come to acquire official sanction in Central Asian countries and the Russian Federation. In the eyes of Human Rights in China (zhongguo renquan), the Doctrine, as being practiced in China, stand distinctly apart the UN Convention on the issue.

[14] Hotan, in Chinese 和田) was known as Yu Tian (in) for long. 19th Century European explorers called it Ilchi. It is again an Oasis town in Tarim Basin, just north of Kunlun Mountains, crossed by Sanju Pass, Hindu-tagh and Ilchi Pass. As one of the earliest Buddhist state in the world, the Khotan Kingdom once served as a cultural bridge between India and China.

[15] Choi, Chi-yuk, “Uyghur Resentment at Unfair Practices”, South China Morning Post, July 23, 2011;Choi, Chi-yuk, “Ban on Islamic Dresses Sparks Uyghur Attacks, South China Post, July 22, 2011.

[16] In the Chinese media reports, some of the slogan raisers spoke with Aksu and Kashgar accents. The slogans were akin to what Jihadist elements normally. This goes to suggest the support and/ or complicity of out side elements to the incident. There is dispute on the identity of the flag, reportedly carried and hoisted atop the police station. According to the official account, the flag was black with white Arabic lettering. It suggested Jihadist. Interview of locals, appearing In Financial Times, said the flag was instead blue half moon, attributed to advocates of independence of Xinjiang from the yoke of China. South China Post reporter said it was black with crescent.

[17] (accessed on March 23, 2012)

[18]Olesen, Alexa. “China says 14 Extremists Killed in Xinjiang Attack”. Associated Press, July 19, 2011. (accessed on March 23, 2012)

[19] Xinjiang Clash Killed 20, says Exile Group, South China Morning Post, July19, 2011; Radio Netherlands Worldwide (RNW), July 19, 2011.

[20] Richburg, Keith B. “China: Deadly attack on police station in Xinjiang”. San Francisco Chronicle, July 19, 2011 (accessed on March 23, 2012).

[21] Hotan-attack.aspx (accessed on March 23. 2012)

[22] Shao Wei and Wang Huazhong. “ 4 Dead in Xinjiang Police Station Attack”, China Daily, July 19, 2011. (accessed on March 23, 2012).

[23] Xu Tianran and Zhu Shanshan. “Hotan on High Alert after Attack”, Global Times, July 20, 2011. (accessed on March 23, 2012)

[24] Ibid

[25]; (accessed on March 23, 2012).

[26] (accessed on March 23, 2012)

[27] http;// (accessed on March 23, 2012)

[28] Joss Summers, “What Really Happened in Hotan Riots”, China Letter, July 27, 2011 -say-on-hotan-incident.html (accessed on March 23, 2012)

[29] Rabiya Kadeer, “Hotan Incident was not a Terrorist Attack”, World Uyghur Congress, July 21, 2011 (accessed on March 23, 2012).

[30] The earliest acts of radical acts of violence included Zealots of Judea, called socarii by the Romans, who carried on an underground campaign of assassination of Roman occupation forces. Their motive was an uncompromising belief that they could not remain faithful to the dictates of Judaism while living as Roman subjects. A breakaway faction of Shia Islam called the Nizari Ismalis adopted the tactic of assassination of enemy leaders. The Zealots and the Assassins operated in antiquity, and can be called forerunners of modern terrorism with a difference in aspects of motivation, organization, targeting, and goals of perpetrators of the violent acts.

[31] Laqueur, Walter. The Age of Terrorism, Little, Brown and Company, Boston, 1987.

[32] Just War Theory enjoys popularity over the two other traditions of thoughts of Realism and Pacifism while adjudging the ethical aspect of the act of war. The parameters of the theory include the imperatives of “just cause”, “proper authority”, “right intention”, “and reasonable prospect of success”, “proportionality and last resort”.

[33] Agreements defining limits on acceptable conduct while already engaged in war are considered “rules of war” and are referred to as the jus in bello. Thus the Geneva Conventions are a set of “Jus in Bello”. The criterion of discrimination prohibits direct and intentional attacks on non-combatants and the use of force must be proportionate to the military advantage sought in attacking the legitimate military target.

[34] The phrase collateral damage is prevalently used as a euphemism for unintentional or undesired civilian casualties of a military action. The most common terrorist tactics include; car bombing, aircraft hijacking and suicide attacks. At the moment, the world’s biggest fear is use of Bio-Chemical and Nuclear weapons in wars and terrorism.

[35] Under China’s Land Administration Law, which was firstly drafted in 1986 and amended in 1998, the State owns all urban land, while farmer collectives own all rural land. Notwithstanding, land ownership (土地所有权) and land use rights (土地使用权) stand distinctly apart. As the local government holds the rein of land use, the rural China is bound to suffer the pang of manipulation push to unease and social instability.


[37]Small group incidents of protests and violence include sit-ins (jingzuo), petitions (qingyuan) and rallies (jihui). They are peaceful in intent and purpose. They have been seen taking violent turn on provocations from the Chinese security forces. Quite often counter group do as well work as agent provocateurs. Large group incidents of protests and violence (daguimo quntixing shijian) normally involve more than 500 people. They constitute of incidents where the protestors block roads and highways and destroy public transports facilities (zusai jiaotong); encircle and attack public buildings and officials (chongji weigong); and, gather at a public place and commit mass suicides (quanti zisha shijian).

[38] Tong Yanqi and Lei Shaohua, “ Large Scale Mass Incidents and Government Response in China”, International Journal of China Studies, Vol.1, No.2,Oct 2010, pp.487-508.

[39] Yu Jianrong, “Holding Tight and Not Letting Go: The Mechanisms of Rigid Stability”, Global Asia, June 2010 (accessed on March 23, 2012)

[40] Beijing looks at terrorism as a violent expression of the aim of ethnic separatism and the result of zealous religiosity on the part of one or the minority nationality (shaoshu minzu).

[41] Information Office of the State Council of the PRC, ‘East Turkistan terrorist forces cannot get away with impunity’, People’s Daily, 21 January 2002, print200020121_89078.htm (accessed on March 24, 2012)

[42] See Dr Sheo Nandan Pandey, “2008 Beijing Olympic Security Management:: Myth and Reality of Intelligence Inputs on Terror Attack”, South Asia Analysis Group, Paper No.2918, Nov. 10,2008

[43]中共中央办公厅国务院办公厅转发《中央政法委员会、中央社会治安综合治理委员会关于深入开展平安建设的意见》的通知 (Circular of the General Offices of the Chinese Communist Central Committee and the State Council Regarding the Re-issuance of the “Political and Legislative Affairs Committee and the Committee for Comprehensive Management of Public Security ‘Joint Opinion Regarding Carrying Out Stable and Secure Development , October 21, 2005; 中央综治办负责人就关于深入开展平安建设的意见答记者 (Spokesman for the Committee for Comprehensive Management of Public Security Responds to Journalist’s Questions Regarding Deepening Peaceful Construction) , Dec 5, 2005. Accessed at: (accessed on March 23. 2012)

[44] Dui Hua Foundation,

[45] John Lee, China’s Latest Tibet: Why Beijing won’t Compromise in Xinjiang, Foreign Policy, July 6, 2009

[46] China’s new security concept sought to expand the scope of security to comprehensiveness from the traditional military measures, where terror prevention and control was considered ‘zero-sum-game’ of the nation in question and/ or its allies. The new security concept of China has thus, raised the floor of engagement from individual nation to international. ‘Common security’ and ‘cooperative security’ are the watchwords. The implementation mechanism in vogue constituted of regional and sub-regional security arrangements of different sorts.

[47] For long, the Chinese prosecutors relied on confessions, obtained on the strength of tortures. This attracted media attention world over. The Chinese government enacted laws in 2004 forbidding use of third degree methods for the purpose. 2006 saw enactment of law requiring video graphing of the interrogation process. The new rules issued in 2010 calls for accountability of the prosecuting authority and payments of compensation for the incidents of custodial deaths and injuries. State compensation for physical and mental torture is yet an exception rather than rule.

[48] Zong Shengli, Li Guozhong, 2005年社会治安形势 [The Situation of Social Order in 2005], in Ru Xin, Lu Xueyi, Li Peilin, eds., 2006年:中国社会形势分析与预测 [Analysis and Forecast on China’s Social Development (2006)] (Beijing: Social Sciences Academic Press, 2006), p. 151.

[49] See Dr Sheo Nandan Pandey, “Chinese Counter Terror Intelligence Module: Compatibility to Nov 26 Mumbai Type Terror Attacks”, South Asia Analysis Group, Paper No.2993, Dec 27, 2008; as also Dr Ralph A. Thaxton, Jr, “The Violent Dawn of Reform: Yanda in the Countryside”, Department of Politics, Brandies University, Oct 10, 2009

[50] Protests in China do not generally challenge the decisions of the central authorities. They are poised to oppose local authorities.

[51] “18,000 Uyghur Arrested for ‘Security Threats’ Last Year, South China”, South China Morning Post, Jan 21, 2006.

[52] Becquelin, N. (2000) ‘Xinjiang in the Nineties’, The China Journal, 44: 65-90; Mackerras, C. (2001) ‘Xinjiang at the Turn of the Century: The Causes of Separatism’, Central Asian Survey, 20 (3): 289-303; Bovingdon, G. (2004) ‘Autonomy in Xinjiang: Han Nationalist Imperatives and Uyghur Discontent’, Policy Studies, 11 (1); Gladney, D. C. (1998) ‘Internal Colonialism and the Uyghur Nationality: Chinese Nationalism and Its Subaltern Subjects’, Cahiers d’‚tudes sur la M‚diteran‚e orientale et le monde turco-iranien, 25: 47 63.

[53] ‘Capability trap’ broadly refers to ‘governance’ chasm. It stands for ‘dysfunctional’ state of the system in vogue. Scholarship in the field has developed several indicators, which includes Kaufmann, Krray and Mastruzy (“Governance Matters VIII:Aggregate and Individual Governance Indicators for 1996-2008”, Policy Research working Paper No 4978, Washington, DC: The World Bank) perspectives- (People’s) Voice and Accountability; Political Stability and Absence of Violence; Government Effectiveness; Regulatory Quality; Rule of Law; and, Reining Corruption.



SAAG is the South Asia Analysis Group, a non-profit, non-commercial think tank. The objective of SAAG is to advance strategic analysis and contribute to the expansion of knowledge of Indian and International security and promote public understanding.

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