Jaish good, Uyghur ETIM bad? China adopts double standards on terrorist groups

China is upset over US move to remove ETIM from its proscribed list

xi parade ap (File) Chinese President Xi Jinping inspects a military parade | AP

After Pakistan, it is China’s turn to play “good terrorist“ and “bad terrorist” by adopting double standards when it comes to global sanctions on terror outfits. While China blocked the proscription of Masood Azhar, the dreaded Jaish-e-Mohammed chief, four times at the United Nations Security Council, it is now crying foul over the latest move of the US State Department, which has delisted the East Turkistan Islamic movement (ETIM) from its proscribed list.

The ETIM was formed in 1997 by Uyghurs in Xinjiang with the objective of establishing an independent Turkistan. China along with Pakistan, Turkey and Kazakhstan consider ETIM as a terrorist group that is responsible for causing disturbances in Xinjiang.

But the US maintains that no activity has been reported on ETIM and it is defunct and hence it has been delisted.

Security experts said China’s approach towards ETIM and other terrorist groups is in stark contrast.

“China has been turning a blind eye to terror activities of Jaish-e-Mohammed and its role in several terror attack in India. The terror acts of Jaish are widely known but that did not constrain China from blocking the sanctions against Masood Azhar,” said a top security official.

Intelligence officials also said that China has just not been blocking the UNSC sanctions on Masood Azhar, it has also been supporting terror activities launched by Pakistan by supplying drones and equipment for usage in surveillance and weapon dropping along India’s borders.

It has further been arming the rebels in Myanmar and Northeastern states. “This shows that China is using terrorism and militancy for its gains,” said an intelligence official.

Security officials said the double standards being adopted by China towards proscribing terror outfits for geopolitical gains can result in instability in the region and empower both state actors in Pakistan and non-state actors in the region to unleash terror.

What is a matter of further concern for security agencies is the fact that China had so far been ignoring the activities of ETIM members despite evidence of its links with the Taliban.

Quoting evidence to suggest the links of ETIM with outfits like Al Qaeda, intelligence sources referred to instances when Abdul Haq Turkistani, the chief of ETIM, had appealed to the chiefs of Al Qaeda and Taliban for supporting the Uyghur cause, and Al Qaeda chief Al Zawahiri responded in the affirmative.

Officials pointed towards the 26th report of the analytical support and sanctions monitoring committee, which said there are about 500 ETIM members in Afghanistan mostly concentrated in Badakhshan, Kunduz and Takhar. “But these cadres and their activities have been ignored by China as long as it did not impact the Chinese interests,” said an official.

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