Govt sets up national anti-terror team

By Zhang Xiaobo Source:Global Times Published: 2013-8-28 12:26:00

Armed police officers gear up for an anti-terrorism drill in Hami, Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region on Tuesday. Photo: CFP

A national anti-terrorism team has been established to lead an intensified campaign to fight surging terrorism in China, the team announced at its first conference on Tuesday in Beijing.

Guo Shengkun, minister of public security and leader of the team, said the team will fully mobilize governmental resources and take every effort to fight against terrorism before attacks happen to avoid the risk of social damage, according to a statement on the ministry's official website.

"We must upgrade our efforts to fight terrorism, hitting hard the complacency of terrorist acts," said Guo, adding that international cooperation on anti-terrorist efforts will also be deepened.

The country has intensified its anti-terrorism efforts in recent years, especially following an increasing number of terrorist attacks in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, including one in which 15 people including police officers and civil servants were killed in Kashi.

Shortly after the April 23 incident, Chinese President Xi Jinping urged quick action to deal with the situation and ensure social stability. Yu Zhengsheng, a member of the standing committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, went to Xinjiang vowing to set up "strong deterrent power" against terrorism, according to Xinhua.

Another terrorist attack occurred on August 20 in Kashi, Xinjiang, in which a policeman died in action against a violent terrorist group, according to a report by People's Daily Online on Wednesday.

Press officials in both the Kashi and Xinjiang governments declined to reveal more details to the Global Times about this case. No other casualties have been officially confirmed.

"Terrorism has been severe in recent years mainly in Xinjiang. The establishment of the national team has upgraded the anti-terrorism level in China, showing the determined mind of the central government to fight against these terrorists," Pan Zhiping, a research fellow with the Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

This is not the first time for the government to establish such institutions.

The national Anti-terrorism Coordination Team was established in 2001 following the terrorist attack against the US on September 11. The office of the team was set up under the Ministry of Public Security.

By the end of 2005, 36 cities in China, including four municipalities and capitals of five autonomous regions, had seen SWAT teams dealing with terrorist attacks and emergencies.

"Anti-terrorism work is complicated, and requires not only efforts from the police, but also governmental support from security departments, Armed Police, PLA and so on," Li Wei, an anti-terrorism expert with the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times.

That means that the previous team, which merely supported interdepartmental cooperation, is not enough to meet the growing demand to fight against terrorism, Li said.

Xinjiang autonomous region has seen frequent terrorist attacks in recent years, leaving at least 71 people dead since 2012, according to a report by the Global Times on July 1.

Meng Jianzhu, head of CPC Political and Legal Affairs Commission, said in Xinjiang following a terrorist attack on June 26 that police should fight against terrorism with a determined mind to improve the safety situation in the region.

"The name of the newly founded team has replaced 'coordination' with 'leadership', meaning that the team will be more efficient in mobilizing resources to take more severe actions to fight against terrorists," Li said, adding that the move showed an improvement in the anti-terrorism mindset.

According to the official statement, Guo Shengkun, the minister of public security, was assigned as the leader of the team, while leaders of other governmental institutions, including People's Liberation Army and Armed Police, participated in the conference, signifying that these are member bodies of the team.

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