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‘Chinese Military Shifts Focus to Ethnic Minorities’

Posted August. 06, 2008 06:44,   


The priority of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army has changed from deterring Taiwan’s independence to preventing separatist movements by ethnic minorities and fighting terrorism.

The Hong Kong daily Ming Pao said yesterday that the change was prompted by growing terrorist activities in the autonomous region of Xinjiang and improving ties between Beijing and Taipei.

The Liberation Army Daily said Monday that the Nanjing army, which had deterred Taiwan from declaring independence, conducted large-scale anti-terrorism drills July 30. The exercises included fighter planes and bombers in Xinjiang and the Gobi Desert as ordered by the Military Commission of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee.

In the drill conducted in the Gobi Desert, fighter planes and bombers coming from Nanjing, Suzhou, Wuhu, Huaining, Zhangshu and Quzhou fired several dozens of air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles in a real-life simulation.

The Nanjing army conducted the exercise given that terrorist attacks or separatist movements are likely in regions where ethnic minorities reside such as Xinjiang and Tibet.

In the drill, China’s military checked if fighter pilots could adapt to dry heat in the northwest. They flew to targets in the Gobi Desert 3,500 kilometers away from Nanjing and hit them.

In the wake of the suspected terrorist attack in Xinjiang Monday, the Chinese government has tightened security across the nation.

In Beijing, armed police patrol subways and more security guards are deployed at major bus stops and tourist attractions such as Tiananmen Square.

Police in plain clothes and uniforms are also deployed at the entrance to Zhongnanhai, a complex of offices and residences for senior officials of the Communist Party.

Armed police and security have heightened security in autonomous regions such as Tibet and Xinjiang.

China’s Xinhua News Agency announced yesterday, “The (two) suspects behind the terrorist attack on the outskirts of a city in Xinjiang turned out to be a taxi driver and grocer.”

The Public Security Bureau in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region said, “The bombs seized in their vehicle are similar to those captured from the East Turkestan Islamic Movement by Chinese police in January last year.”

Whether the bombs belong to the movement remains unknown.