March 1, 2014: Uyghur terrorists attack civilians in China

On March 1, 2014 a group of Uyghur terrorists attacked passengers in the Kunming train station in China, killing 31 and wounding 140.

KUNMING, CHINA – Two wrongs don’t make a right, even if terrorism is involved.

When I was a kid – yes, yes, that was AEONS ago! – we used to dismiss and disparage any product that came with a ‘made in China‘ label. Items manufactured in the PRC (People’s Republic of China) were often of plastic, cheaply put together, and didn’t last long.

My, how things have changed! The PRC has almost taken over the world of making just about anything you purchase. According to the United Nations (UN) China accounted for 28.7 percent of global manufacturing output in 2019, more than 10 percentage points ahead of the US which used to have the world’s largest manufacturing sector until China overtook it in 2010.

Can I get this in any other colour than Commie red? (Photo: Thomas Hawk on flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0)

Aside from its economic prowess, however, the PRC is also known for its brutality in its nation and near abroad. Whether it is its crackdowns in Hong Kong and Tibet, its threatening posture towards Taiwan, or its ridiculous ‘9-dash line’ claim over all the South China Sea, China is acting as a bully.

Of late, one particular action that has attracted a lot of attention is its clampdown on Uyghur Muslims in the northwest province of Xinjiang. Under the ludicrous title of ‘vocational retraining centres‘, China has incarcerated up to a million Muslims and is razing mosques at a record pace. Why? To stop terrorism says China.

As much as this behaviour verges on cultural genocide, there is a sliver of truth to China’s claims. There ARE Uyghur terrorists, as today’s attack illustrates.

On this day in 2014

A group of eight knife-wielding terrorists attacked passengers in the Kunming train station in Yunnan province, killing 31 and wounding 140. The assailants stabbed people at random: although no claim of responsibility was issued, Uyghur separatists associated with the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) were suspected.

I saw a person come straight at me with a long knife and I ran away with everyone.

Victim who was stabbed in the back and chest

So while nothing justifies what China is doing to the Uyghurs in Xinjiang, Uyghur terrorism is real. It is important to recognise – and condemn – violence on both sides.

NB The situation in Xinjiang was covered at length in my third book The Lesser Jihads.

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By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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