We usually think that authoritarian states are better at counter terrorism. They are not.
KASHGAR, CHINA — Any cursory glance at the news coming out of China over the past few years will pick up on the fact that the PRC is in the midst of a massive crackdown on any group it perceives to be, well, supportive of anything the central boffins don’t like. China is not a democracy and whatever Beijing wants it gets. No room for counter argument.
That nation’s policy in Xinjiang province, in the extreme northwest, is particularly worrisome. This predominantly Muslim area has seen mosques shut down or even razed, religious practice outlawed and a massive influx of Han Chinese to out-populate the locals.
Over 1 million Xinjiang Uyghurs are in ‘training camps’ (read indoctrination concentration camps) and the main government has even decided to mandate what ‘courtyards’ must look like.
The PRC has claimed that its measures in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) are necessary to nip terrorism in the bud. And it is true that in the early 2010s there were indeed terrorist attacks perpetrated by probable Uyghur Islamist extremists, mostly stabbings. So, yes, China has a terrorism problem.
On the morning of 21 June, a group of thugs drove a car into a police building in Yecheng County, Kashgar province and detonated explosives.
On this day in 2014 assailants drove a bomb-laden car into a police station in Kashgar, XUAR, injuring three officers (Chinese news claimed that no civilians were hurt but it is far from certain we can trust this source). Officials added that they had killed 13 terrorists.
States have both the right and the duty to prevent terrorism. But what if that same state is engaged in policies and programs that make matters worse?