Con­sulate at­tack con­demned

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By CHEN JIA in San Fran­cisco chen­jia@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

The Chi­nese gov­ern­ment con­demned an ar­son­ist at­tack on China’s con­sulate gen­eral in San Fran­cisco on New Year’s Day and urged the US to en­sure the safety of Chi­nese mis­sions in the US and find the per­son re­spon­si­ble promptly.

Lo­cal po­lice and the FBI are in­ves­ti­gat­ing the case.

At 9:25 pm, a per­son got out of a mini­van parked in front of the con­sulate build­ing, splashed two buck­ets of a flammable liq­uid on the front gate and set it on fire, sur­veil­lance video of the con­sulate showed.

No in­juries were re­ported, but the build­ing was se­verely dam­aged.

Chi­nese For­eign Min­istry spokesman Qin Gang said on Thurs­day in Bei­jing that China con­demned the act and urged the US gov­ern­ment to en­hance se­cu­rity on Chi­nese diplo­matic mis­sions and per­son­nel. He also asked the US gov­ern­ment to make a prompt in­ves­ti­ga­tion and bring the per­son or per­sons re­spon­si­ble to jus­tice.

Chi­nese diplo­matic mis­sions over­seas are rarely attacked. The last time China’s San Fran­cisco con­sulate was attacked was five years ago when an uniden­ti­fied per­son set fire to the visa of­fice.

The Chi­nese con­sulate gave its sur­veil­lance cam­era tapes as ev­i­dence to the FBI.

“We have ini­ti­ated emer­gency se­cu­rity pro­ce­dures and are in close touch with the San Fran­cisco po­lice,” Wang Chuan, spokesper­son for con­sulate, said on Thurs­day morn­ing. “No visa ap­pli­ca­tion or non-visa ser­vices are af­fected.”

FBI spokesman Peter Lee said the bureau was not in­ves­ti­gat­ing the event as an act of ter­ror­ism and the fire was caused by a gas-based liq­uid with ac­cel­er­ants.

Wang said the steel-en­cased wooden door and glass win­dows at the main en­trance were charred and dam­aged in the fire and would not be fixed any time soon, as they were be­ing held as ev­i­dence.

No con­firmed de­tails of the sus­pect’s na­tion­al­ity or iden­tity have been made avail­able to the me­dia, he said.

Zhu be­lieves the case will have a neg­a­tive im­pact on anti-ter­ror­ism co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the US and China. “The US re­leased the three Uygurs and trans­ferred them to Slo­vakia be­cause ‘they do not pose a threat to the US’. This is a very shaky ex­cuse. Uygur rad­i­cals do not at­tack Amer­i­can po­lice or kill Amer­i­can civil­ians, but they do pose a se­cu­rity threat in­side China,” Zhu said.

He said the case re­veals the lim­its in anti-ter­ror­ism co­op­er­a­tion, as well as lack of trust be­tween the two coun­tries. “The US im­me­di­ately con­demned bomb­ings in Rus­sia, but has not done so sev­eral weeks af­ter sui­cide bomb­ings in Tianan­men Square,” he said.

“Ter­ror­ism may take dif­fer­ent forms or re­sult from dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tions, but all kinds of vi­o­lence is in­ex­cus­able and must be stopped. As the global leader in the anti-ter­ror cam­paign, the US should be con­sis­tent and con­demn all ter­ror­ist acts and work with other coun­tries to curb ter­ror­ism glob­ally,” Zhu said.

Bon­nie Glaser, a se­nior ad­vi­sor for Asia at the Center for Strate­gic and In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies, said the US and China have some over­lap­ping in­ter­ests in fight­ing ter­ror­ism, but they also have dif­fer­ences, mostly over whether var­i­ous groups in Xinjiang should be con­sid­ered ter­ror­ists.

“This is a long stand­ing dif­fer­ence, it is not new. It is un­likely to un­der­mine co­op­er­a­tion where shared in­ter­ests ex­ist,” she said.

Glaser be­lieves that since this is the last of the Uygur de­tainees, the is­sue will no longer be a thorn in the side of the re­la­tion­ship go­ing for­ward.

At the State Depart­ment, spokes­woman Marie Harf said on Thurs­day that the US has long main­tained its po­si­tion that it will not repa­tri­ate Uygurs to China from Guan­tanamo due to the US hu­mane treat­ment poli­cies, im­ply­ing that some of them might be abused once back in China.

“As we al­ways said, we take pos­i­tive steps to re­duce the de­tainee pop­u­la­tion at Guan­tanamo Bay. And it is cer­tainly our po­si­tion that th­ese Uygurs’ trans­fer marks an im­por­tant step in fur­ther­ing that ob­jec­tive,” Harf told the daily brief­ing.

Harf said that the US re­mains deeply con­cerned about dis­crim­i­na­tion and re­stric­tions placed on Uygurs and other Mus­lims in China. “We raised that is­sue with the Chi­nese. We cer­tainly don’t want this to im­pact our broad re­la­tion­ship,” she said.

Harf said that broadly speak­ing, there is never any jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for vi­o­lence against civil­ians, but she added that in th­ese spe­cific cases, the US takes a look at the facts and makes its own de­ter­mi­na­tions.

In a brief­ing early this week, Harf did not con­demn re­cent vi­o­lence in Xinjiang and in­stead called on the Chi­nese se­cu­rity forces to ex­er­cise re­straint.

“It is ir­ra­tional for the US to call for Chi­nese se­cu­rity forces to ex­er­cise re­straint, given that it has never ex­er­cised re­straint it­self when deal­ing with ter­ror­ists,” said Li of the China In­sti­tutes of Con­tem­po­rary In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions.

The US has de­tained 22 Uygurs at Guan­tanamo since 2002. Most were cap­tured near the Pak­istan-Afghanistan bor­der in late 2001, and were be­lieved to have trained with the Tal­iban. Con­tact the writ­ers at zhouwa@chi­nadaily.com.cn and chen­wei­hua@chi­nadai­lyusa.com. The As­so­ci­ated Press con­trib­uted to this story.

CHEN JIA / CHINA DAILY

Wang Chuan, spokesman of the Chi­nese con­sulate gen­eral in San Fran­cisco, in­tro­duces the dam­ages done by an ar­son­ist at­tack on the con­sulate which hap­pened on Wed­nes­day evening.

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