China slams US' move to remove ETIM from terrorist outfit list
China accused the United States of applying 'double standards' following the state department's move to remove the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) from its list of terrorist organisations.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin expressed Beijing's "strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition" to the move during a regular press briefing on Friday, reported Liu Zhen for South China Morning Post.
"ETIM is an internationally recognised terrorist organisation that seriously threatens the safety of China and the world....The US backtracking on its designation shows double standards - they are using the terrorist organisation to promote their own interests and holding back international cooperation on counterterrorism," said Wang.
A Chinese analyst said that the move could encourage attacks against China.
Li Wei, a counterterrorism expert from China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, a government-backed think tank in Beijing, termed the move 'irresponsible'.
"Against the current backdrop of increasing terrorist attacks in Europe, the US is applying double standards here....Not only is this decision irresponsible for international counterterrorism efforts, but it's also irresponsible in terms of its own national security," SCMP quoted Li.
The counterterrorism expert also speculated that the US move would send a message to ETIM and encourage its activities against China.
Beijing has accused ETIM of carrying out a number of deadly terror attacks across China and in other countries and claimed that it has ties with al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
Liu writes that the group has been on the United Nations Security Council's list of terrorist organisations since 2002, and it has been blacklisted by the European Union, Britain, and Turkey among others.
Earlier, the US government had removed the ETIM from its list of terrorist organisations after nearly two decades that has led to the weakening of China's anti-terror pretext for a draconian crackdown on Uyghurs in its Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the group had been removed from the list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations in accordance with the Immigration and Nationality Act, according to an order issued on October 20 made public on Thursday.
"I hereby revoke the designation of the Eastern Turkestan Islamic Movement, also known as ETIM, as a 'terrorist organization,'" the order reads, as quoted by Radio Free Asia.
The US move comes amid worldwide condemnation of China's policies in Xinjiang, where a large population of Muslim minorities is detained in re-education camps.
About seven per cent of the Muslim population in Xinjiang has been incarcerated in an expanding network of "political re-education" camps, according to US officials and UN experts.
However, China regularly denies such mistreatment and says the camps provide vocational training. People in the internment camps have said they are subjected to forced political indoctrination, torture, beatings, and denial of food and medicine, besides being prohibited from practising their religion or speaking their language.