China, SE Asia can strengthen cooperation on anti-terrorism

By Li Qingqing Source:Global Times Published: 2019/1/30 20:38:40

A grenade attack on a mosque in the southern Philippines's island of Mindanao killed two people and wounded four on Wednesday, just days after twin explosions at a Catholic cathedral in neighboring Sulu province on Sunday that claimed 21 lives, AFP reported Wednesday. ISIS claimed responsibility for the deadly assault at the cathedral. 

On Tuesday, Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua said that China will give its "firm support" to the country in fighting violent extremism. Indeed, China and the Philippines share broad common interests in non-traditional security issues, and the two countries have great potential in cooperation on anti-terrorism.

Terrorism is a common enemy of the whole human community, and China has been consistently cracking down on it. As a responsible major country, when the Philippines suffers terrorist attacks, China is bound to provide aid. In 2017 and 2018, China donated three batches of arms to the Philippines to help the country combat terrorism.

Southeast Asia is facing a grim situation of anti-terrorism. Terrorist attacks often happen in Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand and the Philippines in recent years. For example, a group of pro-ISIS militants took control of Marawi, a southern Philippine city in 2017. The siege took almost five months to come to an end. The whole of Southeast Asia is now facing a rising challenge: local extremist groups are having more connections with terrorist organizations outside the region. Take ISIS. By recruiting members in Southeast Asian countries, the group is posing a growing threat to Asia.

After Rodrigo Duterte was sworn in as the Philippines' president in 2016, he accurately appraised the situation. Different from the previous government that helped Washington oppose Beijing, Duterte focused on improving the country's security, cooperating with China and cracking down on terrorism. "It's only China that can help us," said Duterte before his first state visit to China. This shows that China has won recognition from its neighboring countries.

China has rich experience in anti-terrorism as well as advanced technology and military equipment. Thus we need to further promote communication with the Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries in fighting terrorism.

China can further cooperate with the whole of ASEAN. In 2018, six ASEAN member countries launched the Our Eyes intelligence initiative. They developed a common database of violent extremists. But as most ASEAN countries still lack the ability to independently deal with terrorist attacks, China can help them by forging cooperation. China also needs Southeast Asian countries' help as some Xinjiang extremists tend to illegally migrate to the Middle East through Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam. 

Some Western countries often impose double standards on Southeast Asian countries' anti-terrorism. China is deeply aware that these countries are facing great difficulty and urgency in anti-terrorism, and thus will firmly support them in combating terrorist attacks. With joined hands, China and ASEAN will together head toward peace and prosperity.

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