Terrorism in China refers to the use or threatened use of violence to affect political or ideological change in the People's Republic of China. The definition of terrorism differs among scholars, between international and national bodies, and across time, and there is no legally binding definition internationally. In the cultural setting of China, the term is relatively new and ambiguous.
Many media and scholarly accounts of terrorism in contemporary China focus on incidents of violence committed in Xinjiang, as well as on the Chinese government's counter-terrorism campaign in those regions. There is no unified Uyghur ideology, but Pan-Turkism, Uyghur nationalism, and Islamism have all attracted segments of the Uyghur population.
Recent incidents include the 1992 Urumqi bombings, the 1997 Ürümqi bus bombings, the 2010 Aksu bombing, the 2011 Hotan attack, 2011 Kashgar attacks and the 2014 Ürümqi attack, the 2014 Kunming attack, etc.
The government of the People's Republic of China identifies terrorism as one of "Three Evils" which also include separatism and extremism. These forces are seen by Beijing as inter-connected threats to social stability and national security. In particular, terrorism is viewed as a violent manifestation of ethnic separatism, and separatism is understood as a corollary of religious zealotry. The government has embarked on strike-hard campaigns to suppress these tendencies, particularly in Xinjiang and Tibetan regions.
Since the 11 September attacks in 2001, the PRC government has strengthened its involvement in multilateral and bilateral counter-terrorism efforts. As a result of these efforts, some Uyghur separatist movements have been labelled as terrorist groups by the United Nations and U.S. Department of State. There have been allegations that the Chinese government has been applying charges of terrorism in an inconsistent and sometimes politically motivated manner. China has since embraced America's "Global War on Terror."
The concept of terrorism, as it evolved and is understood in the West, did not exist in imperial China. In that setting, political criminality took the form of violence against the emperor, and was viewed as harmful as it induced fear and led to "chaos." With the exception of "good" political violence against rulers whose lack of propriety and virtue resulted in loss of the mandate of heaven, violence was seen as contrary to human nature and the Tao. Kam Wong argues that the dynamics of imperial China form the basis for contemporary Chinese understandings of terrorism.
Fear of chaos and social disorder is a powerful factor in mobilizing political will to combat potential threats. In the modern context, any group or force with the potential to challenge the existing social order or the political security of the rulers may be considered a form of terrorism, "to be condemned unrelentingly and suppressed at all costs," according to Wong.
There is currently no clearly established definition for terrorism either nationally or internationally, though the National People's Congress is in the process of drafting legislation that would clarify the use of the term in Chinese law. The draft legislation, as reported by Xinhua News Agency, classified as terrorism acts that "cause or aim to cause severe harm to society by causing casualties, bringing about major economic losses, damaging public facilities or disturbing social order." Human rights groups charge that the term is sometimes applied to non-violent dissidents in China.
"If you do not wage jihad, you will never be able to get rid of the oppression of the infidels which makes you abandon the religion and which makes slaves of you. Thus, you will not be able to be rescued from the oppression of this world and the torments of the hereafter, or find eternal happiness until you return to the religion of Allah. . ." – Abdul Haq (Memetiming Memeti), a commander in the Uyghur separatist movement Turkistan Islamic Party (East Turkestan Islamic Movement), from a video released by TIP, February 9. 2009.
"We have to conquer our own country and purify it of all infidels. Then, we should conquer the infidels' countries and spread Islam. The infidels who are usurping our countries have announced war against Islam and Muslims, forcing Muslims to abandon Islam and change their beliefs." – Abdullah Mansour, current leader of the Uyghur separatist movement Turkistan Islamic Party (East Turkestan Islamic Movement), from "The Duty of Faith and Support," Voice of Islam/al-Fajr Media Center, August 26, 2009.
Media reports and scholarly studies of terrorism in contemporary China frequently focus on members of the largely Muslim Uyghur ethnic group, who are concentrated in the Northwestern province of Xinjiang. Throughout its history, the region now known as Xinjiang was ruled intermittently by China, while the local Uyghurs identify more closely with the cultures of Central Asia and had resisted attempts at assimilation to Han Chinese culture. From 1933 to 1934, Uyghurs founded a short-lived independent Islamic republic, and the Soviets supported Communist Uyghur rebels in the Ili Rebellion from 1944 to 1949 against the Republic of China to establish the Soviet satellite state, the Second East Turkestan Republic, before the Incorporation of Xinjiang into the People's Republic of China in 1949. After the Sino-Soviet split, the Soviet Union amassed troops on the Russian border with Xinjiang, and bolstered "East Turkestan" separatist movements, which received moral and material support from other regional militant groups. China accused the Soviets of engineering riots, and improved the military infrastructure there to combat it.
In the 1980s, Chinese authorities relaxed some of its repressive policies against ethnic minorities, and loosened border controls which allowed Uyghurs to travel to the Mecca Pilgrimage. During this period, some Uyghurs came into contact with radical Islamist groups operating in Central Asia and Pakistan, while others were studied in Koranic schools associated with Islamist movements. The increase in fundamentalism has been linked to the Islamic revival of the 1980s, following Deng Xiaoping's political reforms which sought to reduce the suppression of religion and promotion of atheism that was widespread during Mao's rule. Rémi Castets has commented that this led to a "more militant logic using Islam as an instrument for distinguishing Uyghur values from the non-clerical and atheistic values promoted by the Chinese authorities." Following the fall of the Soviet Union and the independence of the former Soviet republics in Central Asia, the Chinese government feared a resurgence of separatist movements, as well a spread of radical Islam in the region, which could destabilize its infrastructure in Xinjiang. During this time, countries such as Kazakhstan and Kirghizstan offered asylum to Uyghur refugees, and recognition to groups pursuing independence. To combat this, the Beijing government settled border disputes and offered economic co-operation with the Central Asian republics through the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation, and successfully persuaded these countries to ban Uyghur separatist groups residing there, as well as to extradite suspected Uyghur separatist refugees.
A chain of aggressive and belligerent press releases in the 1990s making false claims about violent insurrections in Xinjiang, and exaggerating both the number of Chinese migrants and the total number of Uyghurs in Xinjiang were made by the former Soviet supported URFET leader Yusupbek Mukhlisi.
There is no single Uyghur agenda, and grievances of Uyghurs against the Chinese government are mostly political in nature. While some Uyghurs desire an independent state in line with Turkic ethnic groups of Central Asia, others desire an autonomous relation with China while retaining their distinct culture, whereas others desire extensive integration with the Chinese political system.
The desire for independence or greater political and cultural autonomy largely stems from resentment over perceived restrictions to religious and cultural expression, ethnic conflict with the local Han Chinese population, income inequality, and the perception that Beijing's government is misallocating Xinjiang's natural resource wealth. Some groups have adopted violent tactics in pursuit of these goals, mostly the establishment of a separate Uyghur state called East Turkistan or Uyghuristan, which lays claim to a large part of China. Entities identified in Chinese government documents as having involvement in violent attacks include the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), East Turkistan Liberation Organization (ETLO), United Revolutionary Front of East Turkestan (URFET), and the Uyghur Liberation Organization (ULO). Members of these groups are believed to have received training in Central Asian nations such as Afghanistan and Pakistan. Such violent groups has been noted as frequently splintering, merging, and collapsing, which makes claims difficult to substantiate. China's Muslim Hui people, who are comparatively well integrated into Chinese society, regard some Uyghurs as "unpatriotic separatists who give other Chinese Muslims a bad name," according to the New York Times.
The Uyghur terrorist organization East Turkestan Islamic Movement's magazine Islamic Turkistan has accused the Chinese "Muslim Brotherhood" (the Yihewani) of being responsible for the moderation of Hui Muslims and the lack of Hui joining terrorist jihadist groups in addition to blaming other things for the lack of Hui Jihadists, such as the fact that for more than 300 years Hui and Uyghurs have been enemies of each other, no separatist Islamist organizations among the Hui, the fact that the Hui view China as their home, and the fact that the "infidel Chinese" language is the language of the Hui.
Scholars have indicated that violence in Xinjiang is based on an assortment of ideologies, and there is no single dominant ideology among the Uyhurs. As James Millward writes, incidents have "been discontinuous and characterized by a variety of ideologies, Islam being only one of them." Islam, Pan-Turkic nationalism, and Uyghur nationalism are all factors in unrest in the Xinjiang region. There are six incidents in China from 1990 to 2005, according to Ogden, that meet the strictest definition of terrorism, meaning the use of "random" violence against innocent civilians to cause terror, and excluding calculated violence against the state to advance a secessionist movement. Among the events identified by Ogden was an incident on 6 February 1992 when Uyghur separatists (possibly belonging to the East Turkestan Islamic Party) detonated a bomb on a public bus in Urumqi, and a bomb attack on a hotel in Kashgar on 17 June 1992. Instances of violence by ethnic Uyghurs against security forces, organs or infrastructure of the state are far more common, but are distinguished by scholars from terrorism aimed against the civilian population. According to Martin, Chinese authorities frequently classify any act of violence or separatist activity in Xinjiang as a manifestation of terrorism, while comparable acts by ethnic Han Chinese would not be classified in this manner.
On 27 May 2014 a rare mass trial was held at a packed sports stadium in Xinjiang where three people were sentenced to death and another 53 received lengthy jail terms, after being convicted of terrorism charges. 39 people had been sentenced at a similar gathering a week previous. An anti-terror campaign which began in 2013 and continued into 2014 preceded the sentencing trials. The campaign included attacks on railway stations and a market in Xinjiang in which seventy people were killed and several hundred wounded.
The East Turkestan Islamic Movement (Turkistan Islamic Party) is allied with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan along with the Pakistani Taliban (Tehreek i Taliban Pakistan) and Al-Qaeda.
Al Qaeda appointed TIP (ETIM) member Abdul Haq al Turkistani to their Shura Majlis. Al Qaeda also appointed TIP (ETIM) member Abdul Shakoor Turkistani as military commander of their forces in the FATA region of Pakistan.
Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri released a statement supporting Jihad in Xinjiang against Chinese, in the Caucasus against the Russians and naming Somalia, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan as places of warfare. Zawahiri endorsed "jihad to liberate every span of land of the Muslims that has been usurped and violated, from Kashgar to Andalusia, and from the Caucasus to Somalia and Central Africa". Uyghurs inhabit Kashgar, the city which was mentioned by Zawahiri.
Al-Qaeda ideologue Mustafa Setmariam Nasar wrote in support of the East Turkestan Independence Movement. In 2006 Kavkaz Center reported that Al-Qaeda media arm Al-Fajr released a video urging Muslims to go on Jihad in support of the East Turkestan Independence Movement.
TIP (ETIM) sent the "Turkistan Brigade" (Katibat Turkistani) (Arabic:كتيبة تركستاني) to take part in the Syrian Civil War, most noticeably in the 2015 Jisr al-Shughur offensive. The leader of TIP (ETIM) in Syria is Abu Rida al-Turkestani (أبو رضا التركستاني).
Al-Qaeda included an article in its magazine "Resurgence" promoting East Turkestan Independence titled "Did You Know? 10 Facts About East Turkistan", the article was ridden with errors and false claims such as claiming Quranic education was banned, and included other claims such as "East Turkistan has never been a part of China" and it was "independent of China for more than 1,800 years", "In 1949, 93 percent of the population of East Turkistan was Uyghur (Turk Muslims) while 7 percent was Chinese", and that "After the Communist takeover in 1949, more than 4.5 million Turkish Muslims were killed by the Communist government", with Al-Qaeda calling for the "occupied Muslim land" "East Turkistan" to be "recovered [into] the shade of the Islamic Caliphate".
Turkish passports were used by Uyghurs who were seeking to contact Mujahidin Indonesia Timor, a pro-ISIS organization in Sulawesi in Indonesia.
The Turkish BGNNews agency reported that Uyghur fighters joining ISIL were being helped by businessman Nurali T., who led an Zeytinburnu district based network in Istanbul, which produced counterfeit Turkish passports numbering up to 100,000 to give to Uyghurs from China and help them go to Turkey form where they would enter Iraq and Syria to join ISIL, Uyghurs from China travel to Malaysia via Cambodia and Thailand and then travel onto Turkey, since a visa is not needed for travel between Turkey and Malaysia, then staying at locations in Istanbul, and then going to Iraq and Syria by traveling to southeastern Turkey, the information was revealed by AG who participates in the network, he noted that even though Turkish authorities are able to detect the fake passports they do not deport the Uyghurs and allow them into Turkey, AG said that: “Turkey has secret dealings with the Uighurs. The authorities first confiscate the passports but then release the individuals.”
Tibet, the homeland of 7 million Tibetans, about half of whom live in the Tibetan Autonomous Region ("Tibet") and slightly more in the neighboring provinces of Qinghai, Yunnan, Gansu and Sichuan, lies for the most part within the People's Republic of China. For centuries Tibet resisted Chinese influence and control, with varying effectiveness. During periods when China was dominant, little more was involved than a Chinese governor and a garrison in Lhasa and Chinese administration in border areas such as Amdo and Kham with mixed populations of Tibetans and Chinese; no attempt was made by the Chinese to displace the Tibetan aristocracy or political and religious institutions of Tibet. From 1912 until 1950, Tibet experienced a period of de facto independence from Chinese rule, following the fall of the Qing dynasty. However, in 1950 the Chinese successfully incorporated Tibet and its outlying areas, occupied it, displaced Tibetan political and religious institutions, and assumed governance of the nation. Tibetan resistance since 1950 has taken a variety of forms, including instances of armed resistance that has been described as terrorism by Chinese authorities.
Discontent surrounding the Chinese-implemented land reforms and assimilation policies in Tibetan areas led to revolts and intermittent warfare. Some Tibetan paramilitary groups during the period, such as Chushi Gangdruk, received covert material and training support from the Central Intelligence Agency and the Taiwan-based Kuomintang government. The resistance culminated in the 1959 Tibetan Rebellion. The uprising was suppressed by Chinese forces, leading to the flight of the 14th Dalai Lama and some 100,000 other Tibetans to India.
In the aftermath of the revolt, Chinese authorities imposed radical social reforms and further restrictions to religious freedom. The Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution further intensified Tibetan resentment against Chinese rule and strengthened group identification. By 1980, Deng Xiaoping's ascension to leadership and the implementation of the Chinese economic reform program led to reform of earlier repressive policies against ethnic minorities, and granted nominal political autonomy to Tibet. While the Chinese government has invested considerably in the development of the Tibetan economy, education system and infrastructure, the continuing restrictions to religious expression and political participation resulted in resentment amongst the Tibetan populace, leading to the 1987–1989 Tibetan unrest. The unrest prompted Chinese authorities to focus more on the economic, educational, and infrastructural development of the region, intensify efforts to undermine the religious and political influence of the Dalai Lama, and encourage ethnic Han migration to the region.
Ogden notes that many Tibetans desire greater cultural and political autonomy, if not full independence, and outbreaks of violent clashes with authorities in the region occur only intermittently, such as in the 2008 Lhasa violence. Ogden credits the low incidence of conventional terrorism in Tibet to an undereducated population, swift and harsh responses to terrorism by the Chinese state, and the pacific influence of Buddhism. Nonetheless, there are segments of the Tibetan and Tibetan diasporic population who reject the leadership of the Dalai Lama and view violent opposition as the only viable route towards independence. Notable instances of violence against civilians include a series of attacks 1996 in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa, and a bombing in a public square in the city of Chengdu in April 2002, which Chinese authorities allege were carried out by Tibetan separatists. Chinese authorities adopt a broad definition of terrorism with respect to Tibet, and have labelled a variety of protests and expressions of opposition as terrorism. In 2012, for instance, authorities referred to the Dalai Lama's prayer sessions for Tibetan self-immolators as "terrorism in disguise." Authorities have also ascribed terrorist motives to Tibetan exiles who call for independence, and to Tibetan monks who travel to India without government authorization.
Under China's criminal law, acts of terrorism can carry a prison sentence of up to ten years. Since 2001, over 7,000 Chinese citizens have been convicted on terrorism charges. However, the law does not clearly define what constitutes a terrorist group or activity. In October 2011, Chinese authorities began crafting a bill that would more clearly define terrorism. According to the state-run Xinhua News Agency, the draft bill defines terrorist acts as those that are intended "induce public fear or to coerce state or international organisations by means of violence, sabotage, threats or other tactics...These acts cause or aim to cause severe harm to society by causing casualties, bringing about major economic losses, damaging public facilities or disturbing social order."
Human rights and international law experts have raised concerns over the implications of the bills in light of the lack of judicial independence in the People's Republic of China. A representative of Human Rights Watch was reported as saying "strengthening law enforcement powers without appropriate judicial checks and balances is dangerous," and further noted that it was unclear how and by whom groups and individuals would be designated as terrorists.
The government of the People's Republic of China identifies terrorism as one of "Three Evils", alongside separatism and religious fundamentalism. These forces are seen by Beijing as inter-connected threats to social stability and national security. In particular, terrorism is viewed as a violent manifestation of ethnic separatism, and separatism is understood as a corollary of religious zealotry.
China's Ministry of Public Security issued a list of what it considers terrorist threats on 15 December 2003. These include the Eastern Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), the East Turkestan Liberation Organization (ETLO), the World Uyghur Congress, and the East Turkistan Information Center. The Ministry further named eleven individuals as terrorists.
The Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement, whose aim is to the establishment of a fundamentalist Muslim state to be called "East Turkistan" and the conversion of all Chinese people to Islam, operates throughout Central Asia and claimed responsibility for over 200 acts of terrorism from 1990 to 2001, resulting in at least 162 deaths and 440 injuries. Chinese authorities allege the group has a close relationship with al-Qaeda, and that it receives funding and training in Afghanistan. Rémi Castets has said that while "it is possible that these movements, and particularly the ETIM, might have had contacts with the bin Laden network and more probably with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan," direct ties are likely minimal because of "bin Laden's silence on East Turkistan." The group was considerable weakened following the American-led invasion of Afghanistan which saw the death of its leader Hasan Mahsum, as well as Emir Abu Mohammed, who was killed in October 2003 in raid on an al-Qaeda training camp in Waziristan by Pakistani forces.  According to Stratfor, following the death of Mahsum, the group fractured and a successor movement with ties to Central Asian militants was formed in Afghanistan, under the leadership of Abdul Haq. The reformed ETIM issuing several videos including threats to attack the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, although no such large-scale attacks took place. Haq was allegedly killed by a US drone strike in Afghanistan in March 2010.
ETIM's capabilities and existence as depicted by the Chinese government has raised doubt amongst Uyghur dissident groups; according to Uyghur expert Dru Gladney, the majority of information on ETIM derive from Chinese government sources and lack independent verification, while other analysts noted that the ETIM was "obscure but not unknown" before the 9/11 attacks, having been documented for over 20 years by both Chinese and non-Chinese scholars. Furthermore, Uyghur dissident groups criticized the inclusion of the World Uyghur Congress and East Turkistan Information Center, claiming that both groups are NGOs based in Germany which mainly serve to report information. Chinese state-media published a statement from terrorism scholar Rohan Gunaratna, who claimed that the ETIM had "many sympathizers and supporters" within the WUC.
Out of these groups, the ETIM and ETLO were also designated to be terrorist groups by Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and the United Nations. The United States refused China's request to designate the ETLO as such in 2003, although US State Department says the ETLO has engaged "small politically-motivated bombings and armed attacks".
Following is a partial list of events that have been described as terror attacks or attempted terror attacks by non-state actors in the People's Republic of China. Due to variations in the definitions and applications of the term, the characterization of some events as terrorist attacks may be disputed. Many incidents listed occurred in Xinjiang or Tibet—areas where foreign journalists have extremely limited access, and are closely monitored if and when they gain permission to report in the regions. As such, many reports of violence or terror attacks cannot be confirmed independently, and foreign reporting frequently relies on information released by the government of China or in the state-run press. In several instances, conflicting narratives of these have emerged from witnesses or from diaspora groups.
|5 February 1992||Urumqi, Xinjiang||5 February 1992 Urumqi Bombings||Two buses exploded in Urumqi, resulting in at least 3 deaths, and 23 injured. Unconfirmed reports indicated the attacks were perpetrated by the East Turkestan Islamic Party. According to government documents, other bombs were discovered and defused in a local cinema and a residential building.|
|13 January 1996||Lhasa, Tibet||Four major attacks were acknowledged, although unofficial sources reported more. The attacks generally targeted and successfully wounded people, whereas earlier bombings targeted buildings, such an obelisk on the Qinghai-Tibet highway. On 13 January, a Tibetan Buddhist monk exploded a homemade bomb at a shop owned by Han Chinese. Five days later on 18 January, the house of Sengchen Lobsang Gyaltsen, the head lama of the Panchen Lama's Tashilhunpo Monastery, was bombed. Gyaltsen had opposed the 14th Dalai Lama to ordain Gyaincain Norbu in the 11th Panchen Lama controversy. He was out of his house at the time of the explosion, but a person nearby was "seriously injured", according to the South China Morning Post. No group claimed responsibility for the bombings, but China blamed forces loyal to the Dalai Lama. On 18 March, a bomb exploded at the regional government and local Communist Party compound. The government temporarily shut down tourism in Tibet in response. China initially denied all of the blasts, but later attributed them to separatists. The final blast of the year was detonated by remote control at 1:30 am on Christmas Day, in front of the central Lhasa municipal government offices. Five people were injured, including two night watchmen and three shopkeepers. The official Radio Tibet called the blast "an appalling act of terrorism", and the Chinese government offered a $120,000 reward for the perpetrator. Vice Chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region Gyamco called on residents to "heighten our alertness and strengthen preventive measures".|
|27 February 1997||Urumqi, Xinjiang||Urumqi bus bombs||Bombs detonated on three buses in Urumqi, leaving nine dead and 68 seriously wounded. The Uyghur Liberation Party claims responsibility for the bombings.|
|February – April 1998||Qaghiliq, Xinjiang||A series of six explosions occurred in February and March aimed at economic and industrial targets. The following month, authorities reported that bombs exploded at homes and offices of local communist party and public security agents.|
|16 March 2001||Shijiazhuang, Hebei||Shijiazhuang bombings||108 civilians were killed when several ANFO bombs (similar to those used by the IRA and in the 1993 World Trade Center and 1995 Oklahoma City bombings) tore through four city blocks in the city of Shijiazhang. The perpetrator, 41-year-old Jin Ruchao, was allegedly motivated by hatred of his ex-wife.
The government account was greeted with skepticism, however; and some sources suggested Jin may have been a scapegoat, and that the bombings may have been the work of disgruntled former factory workers frustrated by layoffs. The bombings were described in the New York Times as the deadliest mass murder in decades, and was characterized by China scholar Andrew Scobell as perhaps the worst terrorist act in the history of the People's Republic of China.
|3 April 2002||Chengdu, Sichuan||On 3 April 2002, a bomb described as a "simple fuse device" detonated in Tianfu Square in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan. According to local media reports, one individual was seriously injured, and many others were hurt in the blast. Two men were apprehended: 52-year-old Tibetan religious leader Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche, and 26-year-old Lobsang Dondrub. On 2 December, Rinpoche was given a two-year suspended death sentence for "causing explosions [and] inciting the separation of the state." Dondrub was also sentenced to death, and executed on 26 January 2003. The men maintained their innocence, and international observers expressed concerns over the legality of the trial.|
|5 January 2007||Pamirs Plateau, Xinjiang||Xinjiang raid||Chinese armed police raided a suspected East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) training camp in Akto County in the Pamirs plateau near the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. A spokesperson for the Xinjiang Public Security Bureau said that 18 terror suspects were killed and 17 captured. The raid also resulted in the death of one Chinese police officer and the injury of another. The Bureau said they confiscated hand grenades, guns, and makeshift explosives from the site.|
|9 March 2008||Urumqi, Xinjiang||State-run Xinhua News Agency reported that authorities had successfully foiled a terrorist attack on a commercial jet. The Southern China flight departed from Urumqi, and made an emergency landing in Lanzhou while en route to Beijing. Two individuals were reportedly taken into custody after flight crew discovered flammable material in the plane's toilet. Xinjiang Governor Nuer Baikeli told reporters that the perpetrators "attempted to create an air disaster," but authorities provided no further details.|
|4 August 2008||Kashgar, Xinjiang||2008 Kashgar attack||Suspected ETIM militants reportedly drove a truck into a group of approximately 70 jogging policemen. According to official Chinese media accounts, they then got out of the truck wielding machetes, and lobbed grenades at the officers, killing 16 people. Three tourists in the vicinity provided a different account of the event concerning the attackers, saying that they appeared to be wearing paramilitary-like uniforms, attacking other officers with machetes.|
|10 August 2008||Kuqa County, Xinjiang||Xinhua reported that seven men armed with homemade explosives reportedly drove taxis into government buildings, in Kuqa, Xinjiang, injuring at least two police officers and a security guard. Five of the assailants were shot and killed. The attacks began at 2:30 am when five assailants drove taxis into the local public security and industry and commerce buildings. The Communist Party chief in Xinjiang condemned the attack as an act of terrorism, and suspected the ETIM was responsible.|
|12 August 2008||Yamanya, Xinjiang||Chinese media reported that three security officers were killed in a stabbing incident in Yamanya, near Kashgar in Xinjiang. The report did not specify what the attacker's affiliations were.|
|5 July 2009||Ürümqi, Xinjiang||July 2009 Ürümqi riots||Eligen Imibakhi, chairman of the Standing Committee of the Xinjiang Regional People's Congress, blamed 5 July riots on the "Three evils", which were "extremism, separatism and terrorism".|
|19 August 2010||Aksu, Xinjiang||2010 Aksu bombing||According to Chinese media reports, six ethnic Uyghur men were allegedly involved in loading a vehicle with explosives and driving into a group of security officers at a highway intersection near Aksu, Xinjiang. Seven people, including two attackers, were killed, according to police. In the wake of the attack, authorities in the region vowed to crack down "relentlessly" on criminal activity.|
|18 July 2011||Hotan, Xinjiang||2011 Hotan attack||Chinese media reported that 18 people died when 18 young Uyghur men stormed a police station in the city of Hotan. The men stabbed a security guard and two female hostages, and killed another security guard with a bomb. The attack ended when security officers shot and killed 14 of the attackers. Chinese media described the attackers as rioters and thugs, though subsequent accounts called the event a terrorist attack. The Germany-based World Uyghur Congress claimed that the authorities provoked clashes by opening fire on Uyghurs participating in a non-violent protest against heavy-handed security crackdowns in the city. The Turkistan Islamic Party later claimed responsibility for the attack.|
|30–31 July 2011||Kashgar, Xinjiang||2011 Kashgar attacks||At least 18 people died in a series of alleged terrorist attacks in the city of Kashgar. According to state-run media accounts, the violence began when two Uyghur men hijacked a truck, ran it into a crowded street, and started stabbing people, killing six. The attack ended when the assailants were overpowered by the crowd, which killed one attacker. On the second day, state media reported that a "group of armed terrorists" stormed a restaurant, killed the owner and a waiter, and set it ablaze. They then proceeded to indiscriminately kill four more civilians. Armed clashes then reportedly ensured, ending with police capturing or killing the attackers. The Turkistan Islamic Party later claimed responsibility for the attack. One of the suspects appeared in a TIP video training in Pakistan.|
|29 June 2012||Xinjiang||Tianjin Airlines Flight GS7554||Chinese official media reported that six men attempted to hijack Tianjin Airlines flight GS7554 from Hotan to Urumqi, Xinjiang. The men reportedly sought to gain access to cockpit ten minutes after takeoff, but were stopped by passengers and crew. A spokesperson for the Xinjiang government said the men were ethnic Uyghurs. Xinhua reported at least 10 passengers and crew were injured when six hijackers tried to take control of the aircraft. The World Uyghur Congress contested the official account of events, claiming instead that a dispute over seating broke out between Uyghurs and ethnic Han. The WUC suggested the event was being used as a pretext to "reinforce repression" in Xinjiang.|
|24 April 2013||Xinjiang||2013 Xinjiang ethnic clashes||It was an incident of ethnic clash that took place between Muslim Uighur and Han Chinese community.As reported by BBC nearly 21 people were killed in the incident including 15 police officers.|
|26 June 2013||Lukqun, Xinjiang||At least 35 people were killed in clashes between ethnic Uyghurs and police in the deadliest altercation in the region since 2009. Chinese official media reported that a group of 17 knife-wielding Uyghur men attacked a police station and government building. Chinese authorities pronounced the event a terrorist attack, and blamed separatists and overseas forces for fomenting tensions. The World Uyghur Congress blamed the event on "continued suppression and provocation" by Chinese authorities in the region. Foreign media outlets were prevented from visiting the area to investigate.|
|28 October 2013||Tiananmen Square, Beijing||2013 Tiananmen Square attack||A fiery car blaze at Tiananmen Square that killed five and injured dozens was a premeditated terrorist attack, Chinese police said after making five arrests in connection with the case.|
|1 March 2014||Kunming, Yunnan||Kunming station massacre||An unidentified group of knife-wielding men and women attacked people at the Kunming Railway Station. The attack left 31 civilians and 4 perpetrators dead with more than 140 others injured.|
|30 April 2014||Ürümqi, Xinjiang||April 2014 Ürümqi attack||A knife attack and bombing occurred in the Chinese city of Ürümqi, the capital of China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. The attack left three people dead and seventy-nine others injured.|
|22 May 2014||Ürümqi, Xinjiang||May 2014 Ürümqi attack||Two sport utility vehicles (SUVs) carrying five assailants were driven into a busy street market in Ürümqi. Up to a dozen explosives were thrown at shoppers from the windows of the SUVs. The SUVs crashed into shoppers then collided with each other and exploded. 43 people were killed, including 4 of the assailants, and more than 90 wounded.|
|28 November 2014||Xinjiang||Militants with knives and explosives attacked civilians, 15 dead and 14 injured. 14 of the 15 deaths were attackers.|
|6 March 2015||Guangzhou||Three ethnic Uyghur assailants with long knives attacked civilians at Guangzhou train station, 13 injured.|
|24 June 2015||Xinjiang||Group killed several police with knives and bombs at traffic checkpoint before 15 suspects died in armed response|
|18 September 2015||Aksu, Xinjiang||Sogan colliery attack||An unidentified group of knife-wielding men attacked off-duty workers at a coalmine, killing 50, among them 5 police officers.|
|29 December 2016||Xinjiang||Islamic militants drove a vehicle into a yard at the county Communist party offices and set off a bomb but were all shot dead. Three people were wounded and one other died.|
According to politics professor Chien-peng Chung, following a spate of unrest and violence in Xinjiang and Tibet in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Chinese authorities adopted a variety of approach to suppress what it considers the "three evils": terrorism, separatism, and religious fundamentalism, which the government considers to be interconnected threats to its authorities. To combat these, the government promoted economic development through investments in infrastructure, tourism, and capital investment to spur growth, and encouraged ethnic Han migration into the western regions. In addition, authorities launched "strike hard" campaigns against crime, which also had the effect of targeting expressions of separatism and unauthorized religious practice.
Chung noted that in recent years, Chinese authorities have allowed for a gradual expansion of individual freedoms in many spheres, all the while maintaining strict control over religious, cultural, and literary associations of ethnic minorities in Xinjiang and Tibet. In 1997, a "strike hard" campaign began in Tibet and Xinjiang involving in tightly controlling religious activities and festivals. In Tibet, authorities sought to curtail the influence of the Dalai Lama by banning all displays of his image, and in 1995, authorities replaced his choice of the number two Panchen Lama with a Beijing-approved candidate. In Xinjiang, authorities placed restrictions on unofficial religious practices, and closely monitored Muslims returning from madrasah schools overseas.
Chung also noted that corresponding to the launch of strike-hard campaigns and economic stimulus efforts, there was an apparent decrease in the level of organized violent protest or bombings in the Western autonomous regions. Whereas levels of anti-government violence were high from 1987 to 1997, reported instances were virtually non-existent in the several years that followed. In the aftermath of the strike-hard campaigns, Tibetan and Uyghur dissident groups overseas have adjusted their strategies in promoting their causes: as of 1998 the Dalai Lama has no longer called for outright Tibetan independence, and Uyghur groups have become more adept in framing their cause as one of human rights and free elections. Chung noted that while instances of violent organized protest and bombings have decreased, heightened tensions between local ethnic groups and the Han Chinese who have migrated into Xinjiang and Tibet en masse since the 1990s. According to Chung, in terms of public relations and reporting incidences of violence, local authorities are encouraged to take accounts of foreign investments so that they would not be discouraged by violence, but at the same time, authorities needed justifications to initiate actions against separatist groups.
The government of the People’s Republic of China has engaged in cooperation at the bilateral and multilateral level to gain support for its efforts to combat terrorism and ethnic separatism. This has increased following the September 11 attacks in the United States, which led to the global War on Terror.
Much of this cooperation involves the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, which includes several Central Asian states home to large ethnic Uyghur populations. The Chinese government has periodically requested that authorities in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan crack down on Uyghur secessionists, and that they extradite suspected terrorists and separatists to China. The Government of Kazakhstan has consistently extradited Uyghur terrorist suspects to China and in 2006 participated in a large-scale, joint counter-terrorism drill.
The Chinese and Kyrgyz governments increased security along their borders with each other and Tajikistan in January 2007 after Chinese government officials expressed concern that possible terrorists were traveling through Xinjiang and Central Asia to carry out attacks. The warning followed a high-profile raid on a training camp in Akto County, Xinjiang run by suspected East Turkestan Islamic Movement members.
In 2006, American forces captured 22 Uyghur militants from combat zones in Afghanistan and Pakistan on information that they were linked to Al-Qaeda. They were imprisoned for five to seven years in Guantanamo Bay, where they testified that they were trained by ETIM leader Abdul Haq, at an ETIM training camp. After being reclassified as No Longer Enemy Combatant, a panel of judges ordered them released into the United States, as they could not be released back to China because of human rights concerns. A Chinese government spokesman denounced the move as a violation of international law and demanded the return of the men to China.
BEIJING, 15 December (Xinhuanet) – China's Ministry of Public Security Monday issued a list of the first batch of identified "Eastern Turkistan" terrorist organizations and 11 members of the groups. [...] This is the first time China issued a list of terrorist organizations and terrorists.
...We are fighting China... China is an enemy who has invaded Muslim countries and occupies Muslim East Turkestan. There is no greater obligation, aside from belief in Allah, than expelling the enemies of Muslims from our countries.... We are fighting China to make them testify that 'there is no God but Allah, Mohammed is the Messenger of Allah' and make them convert to Islam....
The leader of a Chinese separatist movement, believed to have links with al-Qaeda, has been killed in a US missile strike, Pakistani and Taliban officials have said.
On 5 February 1992, four bombs exploded in public buildings and on two buses, line 2 and line 30, in Urumqi, Xinjiang, China. The bombings resulted in three deaths and 23 injuries.1997 Ürümqi bus bombings
On February 25, 1997, three bombs exploded on three buses (line 10, line 44, and line 2) in Ürümqi, Xinjiang, China. Nine people were killed, including at least three children, and a further 74 were injured. Another bomb in the south railway station (the main station in Ürümqi) failed to explode. Steel balls, screws, and nails were found in the bombs.
Uyghur separatists had committed the bombings. Responsibility for the attacks was claimed and acknowledged by factions of certain diaspora Uyghurs.2008 Kashgar attack
The 2008 Kashgar attack (Chinese: 2008年喀什袭击事件) occurred on the morning of 4 August 2008 in the city of Kashgar in the Western Chinese province of Xinjiang. According to Chinese government sources, it was a terrorist attack perpetrated by two men with suspected ties to the Uyghur separatist movement. The men reportedly drove a truck into a group of approximately 70 jogging police officers, and proceeded to attack them with grenades and machetes, resulting in the death of sixteen officers. Foreign tourists who witnessed the scene provided a divergent account of events, saying that the attackers appeared to be machete-wielding paramilitary officers.2011 Hotan attack
The 2011 Hotan attack was a bomb-and-knife attack that occurred in Hotan, Xinjiang, China on July 18, 2011. According to witnesses, the assailants were a group of 18 young Uyghur men who opposed the local government's campaign against the burqa, which had grown popular among older Hotan women in 2009 but were also used in a series of violent crimes. The men occupied a police station on Nuerbage Street at noon, killing two security guards with knives and bombs and taking eight hostages. The attackers then yelled religious slogans, including ones associated with Jihadism, as they replaced the Chinese flag on top of a police station with another flag, the identity of which is disputed.
After a firefight with police around 1:30 p.m., 14 of the attackers were killed, and four were captured. Six of the hostages were rescued alive, while two were killed in the attack. Local and national governments said the attack was organized terrorism motivated by religious extremism, and found that two of the attackers have links to the militant East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM). A team from China's counter-terrorism office was sent to Hotan to investigate the attack. ETIM acknowledged responsibility for the attack on September 8, as well as for the attacks in Kashgar later that same July. Six men were handed prison or death sentences for their involvement in both attacks later in September.2011 Kashgar attacks
The 2011 Kashgar attacks were a series of knife and bomb attacks in Kashgar, Xinjiang, China on July 30 and 31, 2011. On July 30, two Uyghur men hijacked a truck, killed its driver, and drove into a crowd of pedestrians. They got out of the truck and stabbed six people to death and injured 27 others. One of the attackers was killed by the crowd; the other was brought into custody. On July 31, a chain of two explosions started a fire at a downtown restaurant. A group of armed Uyghur men killed two people inside of the restaurant and four people outside, injuring 15 other people. Police shot five suspects dead, detained four, and killed two others who initially escaped arrest.
The government says the attackers confessed to Jihadist motives and membership in the terrorist group East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), while an overseas pro-Uyghur independence group claims the attackers were frustrated by a lack of options for nonviolent anti-government protest. Businesses temporarily closed down and riot police patrolled the city until August 4. ETIM acknowledged responsibility for the attack on September 8, as well as for the attack in Hotan earlier that same July. Six men were given prison or death sentences for their involvement in both attacks later in September.2013 Tiananmen Square attack
On 28 October 2013, a car crashed in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China, in what police described as a terrorist suicide attack. Five people died in the incident; three inside the vehicle and two others nearby. Police identified the driver as Usmen Hasan and the two passengers as his wife, Gulkiz Gini, and his mother, Kuwanhan Reyim. An additional 38 people were injured.Chinese police described it as a "major incident" and as the first terrorist attack in Beijing's recent history.
The East Turkestan Islamic Movement, or Turkistan Islamic Party, claimed responsibility and warned of future attacks.April 2013 Bachu unrest
On 24 April 2013, ethnic clashes occurred in Bachu (Marelbexi) County, Xinjiang, China. The violence left at least 21 people dead, including 15 police and officials.April 2014 Ürümqi attack
On 30 April 2014, a knife attack and bombing occurred in the Chinese city of Ürümqi, Xinjiang. The incident, a terrorist attack, left three people dead and seventy-nine others injured. The attack coincided with the conclusion of a visit by Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China to the region.At approximately 7:10 pm local time, a pair of assailants attacked passengers with knives and detonated explosives at the city's railway station. Police closed off all entrances to the station in the immediate aftermath of the attack, but it was reopened at 9 PM with increased security. It is not known how many individuals were involved in the attack, but two individuals are suspected. The Turkestan Islamic Party claimed the responsibility of the attack.Chinese Assassination Corps
The Chinese Assassination Corps (or China Assassination Corps, Chinese: 支那暗殺團) was an anarchist group, active in China during the final years of the Qing dynasty. One of the first organized anarchist movements in China and fiercely anti-Manchu, it aimed to overthrow the Aisin Gioro and the Empire of China through the use of revolutionary terror.Foreign fighters in the Syrian and Iraqi Civil Wars
Foreign fighters have fought on all four sides of the Syrian Civil War, as well both sides of the Iraqi Civil War. The conflicts are sectarian, with foreign Sunnis fighting for the Syrian opposition and the Islamic State, foreign Shias fighting for the Syrian government, and foreign leftists fighting for the People's Protection Units.
Many foreign nationals have fought in the conflicts and some of them have died. Fighters include those from the Gulf Arab states, Tunisia (following its own Tunisian revolution), Libya (following the Libyan Civil War), China, other Arab states, Russia, including the North Caucasus region, and Western countries. Estimates of the total number of foreign Sunnis who have fought for the Syrian rebels over the course of the conflict range from 5,000 to over 10,000, while foreign Shia fighters number around 10,000 or less in 2013. Over 600 foreign fighters were killed in the first half of 2013 alone. The Soufan Group reported on 15 October 2016 that there has been "a significant increase in the number of foreign fighters travelling to Syria" since 2014. The U.S. State Department reported on 2 June 2016 that their "intelligence community" estimates that possibly "in excess of 40,000 total foreign fighters have gone to the conflict [in Syria] and from over 100 countries" while six months prior, the Russian Defense Ministry estimated that there were about "25-30,000 foreign terrorist mercenaries are fighting for ISIL" alone. In addition to Sunni foreign fighters, Shia fighters from several countries have joined pro-government militias in Syria, leftists have joined Kurdish fighting forces, and private military contractors recruit globally.
The phenomenon causes concerns in the home countries of the foreign fighters. The phenomenon is not new, but the size and variety of origins in this case were unusual.In December 2018, Kurdish authorities held 550 foreign women about 1200 in captivity. A large part of the children were born in Syrian territory controlled by ISIS. Many of the women still shared ISIS ideology and lacked passports and therefore Kurdish authorities were reluctant to release them. While initially the women and children were kept along civilian Syrian refugees, this proved untenable as hard-liners among the women caused problems when they ganged up and assaulted women who took off the Islamic burqa. They also prevented other women and children from listening to music provided by their captors.Hasan Mahsum
Hasan Mahsum (or Hassan Makhdum), also known as Abu-Muhammad al-Turkestani and Ashan Sumut, was the leader of the Islamic extremist group East Turkestan Islamic Party, and suspected of having ties with Al Qaeda.
He was shot dead in a counter-terrorism operation on October 2, 2003 by the Pakistani Army.June 2013 Shanshan riots
On 26 June 2013, 35 people died in the riots, including 22 civilians, two police officers and eleven attackers.List of terrorist incidents in 1998
This is a timeline of incidents in 1998 that have been labelled as "terrorism" and are not believed to have been carried out by a government or its forces (see state terrorism and state-sponsored terrorism).Pishan hostage crisis
The Pishan hostage crisis occurred on the night of December 28, 2011, in Pishan County, Xinjiang, China. A group of 15 Uyghur youths crossing the border into Pakistan for jihadist training kidnapped two goat shepherds for directions. They were soon confronted by a group of five Pishan policemen, who tried to negotiate for the shepherds' release. The group attacked the policemen with knives, killing one and injuring another. The police shot back, killing seven hostage-takers, wounding and capturing four, freeing the two shepherds. The Xinjiang government called the kidnappers "violent terrorists", while an Uyghur exile group claimed the kidnappers' actions were the result of "police repression".Tenzin Delek Rinpoche
Lithang Tulku Tenzin Delek Rinpoche or Tenzing Deleg (Tibetan: བསྟན་འཛིན་བདེ་ལེགས་, Wylie: Bstan 'dzin bde legs) (1950 – 12 July 2015) was a Tibetan Buddhist leader from Garze, Sichuan. He was born in Lithang, Tibet. He was arrested on April 7, 2002 during a raid on Jamyang Choekhorling in Garze, Sichuan, China. He was accused of being involved in a bomb attack on April 3, 2002 on the central square of Sichuan's provincial capital, Chengdu.He was convicted for alleged involvement in a series of unsolved bombings in his region by the Chinese authorities and sentenced to death in December 2002 along with Lobsang Dhondup, a 28-year-old assistant of his. Lobsang was executed almost immediately in late January 2003, marking the first execution of a Tibetan for political crimes in 20 years. Tenzin Delek's trial began on November 29, 2002 before the Local Court in Garze and was sentenced to death with a two-year execution adjournment. Overseas human rights groups and United Nations human rights experts protested that the case against him was seriously flawed, that he did not receive a fair trial, and was mistreated in detention.His sentence was commuted to life imprisonment on 26 January 2005. Many overseas advocates of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche continued to fight for a retrial.
Tenzin Delek is also widely known for working to develop social, medical, educational and religious institutions for Tibetan nomads in eastern Tibet, as an advocate for environmental conservation in the face of indiscriminate logging and mining projects, and as a mediator between Tibetans and Chinese.In November 2009, 40,000 Tibetans in Tenzin Delek Rinpoche's home area signed a petition asking for a re-trial. They staged a hunger strike at the county seat of Lithang for a few days, which led to the temporary arrest of about 70 Tibetans.He died on 12 July 2015 in Chengdu, China at the age of 65. Prior to his death Tibetans and rights groups had called for his release on medical parole. His death was followed by calls for the release of his body in order to determine the cause of death and carry out traditional funeral rites; one protest was met by China's security forces opening fire, injuring several Tibetans. Chinese authorities cremated the body without an autopsy.Three Evils
The Three Evils are defined by the Chinese government as "terrorism, separatism and religious extremism". The phrase is frequently used when referring to counter-terrorism operations undertaken by China, the Central Asian republics, and Russia.Human Rights Watch has criticized counter-terrorism cooperation by members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation in targeting the three evils, accusing the members' governments of violating international laws regarding human rights.Holly Cartner, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said, "For many years SCO governments have been criticized for their poor human rights records. The SCO's policies could worsen human rights conditions and seek to justify abuse. It's therefore imperative that the European Union and the United States place even greater emphasis on human rights issues in the region."Uzbek President Islam Karimov once said that the SCO "can firmly crack down on the 'three evils'."Turkistan Islamic Party
The Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP, Arabic: الحزب الإسلامي التركستاني) or Turkistan Islamic Movement (TIM), formerly known as the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) and other names,[a] is an Islamic extremist organization founded by Uyghur jihadists in western China, considered broadly as a terrorist group. Its stated goals are to establish an independent state called "East Turkestan" in Xinjiang. According to a Chinese report, published in 2002, between 1990 and 2001 the ETIM had committed over 200 acts of terrorism, resulting in at least 162 deaths and over 440 injuries.Since the September 11 attacks, the group has been designated as a terrorist organization by the European Union, Kyrgyzstan, (The Eastern Turkistan Islamic Party, Organization for Freeing Eastern Turkistan, and the Islamic Party of Turkistan were outlawed by Kyrgyzstan's Lenin District Court and its Supreme Court in November 2003.) Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, China, the United States, and Pakistan outlawed the group. Its Syrian branch Turkistan Islamic Party in Syria is active in the Syrian Civil War.Xinjiang conflict
The Xinjiang conflict is a conflict in China's far-west province of Xinjiang centred around the Uyghurs, a Turkic minority ethnic group who make up the largest group in the region.Factors such as the massive state-sponsored migration of Han Chinese from the 1950s to the 1970s, government policies promoting Chinese cultural unity and punishing certain expressions of Uyghur identity, and heavy-handed responses to separatist terrorism have contributed to tension between Uyghurs, and state police and Han Chinese. This has taken the form of both frequent terrorist attacks and wider public unrest (such as the July 2009 Ürümqi riots).
In recent years, government policy has been marked by mass surveillance, increased arrests, and a system of "re-education camps", estimated to hold hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs and members of other Muslim minority groups.Xinjiang raid
The January 2007 Xinjiang raid was carried out on January 5, 2007 by the Chinese police against a suspected East Turkestan Islamic Movement training camp in Akto County in the Pamir plateau.
A spokesperson for the Xinjiang Public Security Department said that 18 terror suspects were killed and 17 captured. The raid also resulted in the death of one Chinese paramilitary officer Huang Qiang, age 21, and the injury of another officer. Authorities confiscated hand grenades, guns, and makeshift explosives from the site.In reaction, many exiled Uyghur leaders quickly questioned the motives behind the raid. Rebiya Kadeer, a Uyghur human rights activist, called for an independent UN investigation into the raid, while Alim Seytoff, executive chairman of the World Uighur Congress, claimed the Chinese government has yet to produce evidence to substantiate the camp's connections to terrorism. In response, Zhao Yongchen, vice head of the Xinjiang counterterrorism forces, reiterated the reality of the camp's terrorist threat.