Chinese back effort to eradicate terrorism
By MIRO CERNETIG, The Globe and Mail
With reports from Reuters and Associated Press
Wednesday, September 19, 2001
Under pressure from the United States to join the international fight against terrorism, China is at a crossroads: Will it back a U.S.-led military attack on Afghanistan, the sort of intervention it has long condemned?
It looks increasingly as though the answer is yes.
"China opposes all sorts of terrorism," Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao said yesterday at a regular press briefing. "We support all efforts against terrorists."
However, he said, "the attack on the terrorists should be based on concrete evidence. . . . Any attack should have a clear orientation without hurting innocent people."
China has always believed that countries have no right to interfere with the affairs of other sovereign states, a policy that stems from its fear that others may try to influence China's policies in places like Tibet.
From the days of Mao, Beijing routinely stood apart from the West on such issues.
"China enjoys warm relations with many countries suspected of harbouring terrorists or of being rogue states themselves," noted Frank Ching of Hong Kong's South China Morning Post. "On Sept. 11, the day of the terrorist attack, newspapers in Afghanistan and Pakistan reported that China had signed an agreement with the Taliban regime regarding economic and technical co-operation."
This week, Mr. Zhu denied China has been helping to build telecommunications and dam projects for the Taliban and called the notion of links between Beijing and the Taliban "utterly groundless."
China is expected to back Pakistan's decision to aid U.S.-led forces in any attack on terrorists in Afghanistan.
China also said in recent days it and other nations with interests in Central Asia are forming a coalition to fight terrorism. "The U.S. horror demonstrated that terrorism knows no boundaries and evil won't be wiped out unless all nations join together to fight it," the Shanghai Co-operation Organization reportedly said.
Yesterday, Moscow announced that Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart, Jiang Zemin, have decided to work out a "mechanism" for fighting terrorism in conjunction with the UN Security Council and other international organizations.
A Western diplomat interpreted the statements as a major move by Beijing. The envoy noted Chinese leaders know "international terrorism could severely damage the global economy, and . . . that the Chinese economy and their own political survival is linked to international economic stability."