Only a sin­cere US can fight ter­ror­ism

China Daily (Canada) - - COMMENT -

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.

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