10,000 Chinese Troops March West For ‘All-Out Offensive’ Against Terrorism


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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter
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Thousands of Chinese troops have poured into China’s unruly Western regions for an “all-out offensive” against terrorism and violent extremism.

In a show of force, 10,000 armed police held a rally in Urumqi, Xinjiang, where hundreds of people have died over the past few years, reports Reuters.

China blames Muslim Uighur separatists, specifically the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, for the spread of violence in the area. China has been putting increased pressure on the region as a result.

Outside observers suggest that discriminatory policies against the local minorities are creating tension between the Uighur people and the Han majority. Last November, authorities demanded that all Uighur residents hand in their passports, and earlier in February, China said that GPS tracking systems would be installed in every vehicle in the region. There have also been reports of restrictions and regulations regarding religious activities.

No matter the reason, violence continues to plague the region, and, in some instances, spread beyond its borders.

Earlier this month, three knife-wielding separatists killed five people in Xinjiang, and towards the end of December, four terrorists set off a bomb at a government office, killing one and injuring several others.

One of the worst attacks occurred in 2014 at the Kunming Railway Station. Eight militants armed with machetes slaughtered 31 people and injured 140 others.

China is determined to curb the violence to stabilize the region.

Public security spending in restive Xinjiang grew by 19.3 percent in 2016 to over $4.3 billion.

Monday’s rally in Urumqi was the second in a week. Last week, hundreds of armed police marched through the city, vowing to “relentlessly beat” separatists. China has not shown this level of force in Xinjiang since the riots in 2009, when 197 people were killed and another 1,700 were injured.

Xinjiang’s Communist Party secretary Chen Quanguo said Monday that Chinese troops will address the “grim conditions” in Xinjiang. “Bury the corpses of terrorists and terror gangs in the vast sea of the people’s war,” he told the soldiers.

The Xinjiang Daily told the troops to “hold their swords high and prepare for battle,” adding that this fight “is a battle between good and evil, lightness and dark, between progressive and reactionary forces.”

Around 1,500 troops have also been dispatched to Hotan, Kashgar and Aksu, three other cities referred to as the “frontlines” in the people’s war on terror in Xinjiang.

Some observers suggest that such displays of force are disproportionate responses to the situation in Xinjiang, indicating that the rallies, which has involved a great deal of pageantry, may be political.

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