Only a sincere US can fight terrorism
In an important move, President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Barack Obama denounced all forms of terrorism during their talks on Wednesday, and pledged to fight them together in the spirit of the Charter of the United Nations and international norms.
International efforts to curb terrorism date back to the 1960s. The UN took the first concrete step in this regard in 1972 when it set up a special committee to deal with the problem, and the next year, the UN General Assembly passed a series of resolutions against terrorism. The fight against terrorism gained pace after the Sept 11, 2001, attacks as the US and its Western allies launched an all-out war against terrorists.
Yet 13 years later terrorism poses an even bigger threat to global peace, and the emergence of the Islamic State, which is wreaking havoc in Iraq and Syria, is testimony to the failure of the US anti-terrorism policy.
The US policy hasn’t succeeded because it ignores the origin of terrorism, and tries to counter violence with more violence. Terrorism is a threat to society because it targets innocent civilians for political and religious gains, and terrorists are nothing but brainwashed cannon fodder. But it is the inequity in international politics and the widening wealth gap among countries that breed ethnic hatred and make radical means attractive to youths.
The US spends heavily to fight terrorism but hardly anything to solve the problems that breed terrorism. For the US, people who attack American targets are terrorists but those who do the same in China are “freedom fighters”. This shows how skewed the US anti-terrorism policy is.
Perhaps the US could learn from China. China has become a major target of terrorists with the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in Central Asia in recent years. But even in its relatively short fight against this common enemy, China’s strategy has been more effective. The reason: it sees all terrorist attacks as evil and welcomes international cooperation in its fight.
Months before Sept 11, 2001, China, Russia and several Central Asian countries established the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to promote cooperation, which quickly listed terrorism as a common enemy. When the US invaded Iraq ignoring global opposition, China was busy helping its Central Asian neighbors prevent the spread of terrorism in the region.
While fighting and helping other countries fight terrorism, China does not use double standards, because it wants to see the end of terrorism in all parts of the world. Since it knows and accepts that poverty and ignorance lead to prejudice, it has been trying to promote economic development in certain regions vulnerable to terrorism. For example, it has provided development aid to war-torn Afghanistan.
The 2014 Conference on Interaction and Confidence BuildingMeasures in Asia held in Shanghai inMay offered another platform for countries to unite in the fight against terrorism. China’s concept of common security won popular support because the participating countries knew that terrorism can be uprooted only by following this concept.
China’s viewsonandfight against terrorism are conducive to theUS’ long-term interests. The twocountries have indeed cooperatedmany times in combating the commonthreat. Butmoresincerity is neededonthe part of theUS; for starters, it should stop resorting to double standardsonterrorism. Hailing thedemonfor attacking one’s perceivedenemy is part of outdated ideological thinking. That such a policy is flawedcan be surmised from the newsthat terroristswhoattackedChinese peopleaimto join the jihad in Syria.
Therefore, China and US have no option but to combat the common enemy of terrorism together. Only when the US and China, the two biggest economies as well as major victims of terrorism, abandon their mutual prejudice and cooperate with each other can the world hope to see the end of terrorism. The author is a researcher in Central Asian Studies at the Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences.