Chinese high-level advisers have refuted the claims from U.S. government intelligence agencies which says over 100 Chinese have been pushed to join the daredevil Islamic State terrorist organization, due to impositions on restrictive religious policies.
Image: Chinese military march during a parade.
A Washington D.C.-based New America Foundation was quoted by China Daily as issuing a report which claimed that China’s control over religious activities in northwestern Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region “could be a push factor driving people to leave the country and look elsewhere for a sense of ‘belonging.'”
Out of an estimated 3,500 foreigners recruited to join ISIS, the report stated that 114 came from Xinjiang, placing the region fifth, among other international contributors.
“Xinjiang followed Saudi Arabia and Tunisia on the list,” the report said.
“Under the influence of extremism, many countries across the globe have seen people joining the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. It is not a problem affecting China alone, but rather a global issue,” Li Wei, an anti-terrorism expert from the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, told People’s Daily Online.
Professor Pan Zhiping at Xinjiang University called the report “a blatant lie and of chaotic logic.”
Pan told the Global Times, “People from the U.S., the U.K. and France have also joined ISIS. Are they all reacting to government polices and suppression?” He added that “the report constitutes rumor mongering, and that the Chinese government does not interfere with proper religious activities in Xinjiang”.
“In fact, both Han and Uyghur Chinese celebrate Lesser Bairam,” Han said.
According to Li, the bigger cause of people joining ISIS is excessive military interference on the part of the U.S. “If the U.S. had not wrongfully started the Iraq war in 2003, there would be no ISIS today. With its counter-terrorism attempts in the Middle East, and now with its provocations in the South China Sea, the U.S. is not a guardian of international peace and stability, but rather a troublemaker itself,” Li said.