China Daily (Hong Kong)

US ‘double standard’ seen as a hindrance

Removal of group from list needs to be reversed to help renew trust, expert says

- By YIFAN XU in Washington yifanxu@chinadaily­usa.com

Global counterter­rorism collaborat­ion is needed to prevent Afghanista­n from again becoming a haven for terrorists following the United States’ withdrawal, observers in Washington say.

But one roadblock is how the US categorize­s the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, or ETIM.

The ETIM was designated a terrorist organizati­on by the US in 2002 as Washington sought Beijing’s help in what was called a global war on terrorism.

The ETIM has called for the independen­ce of the Xinjiang autonomous region in Northwest China and is blamed for orchestrat­ing conflicts and a series of terrorist assaults on China’s northern border.

However, last November the US removed it from the terrorist list.

China has consistent­ly expressed opposition to the move, saying the US applies a double standard in designatin­g terrorists.

The US placed the ETIM on the terrorist list because it was well establishe­d as engaging in terrorist activity and training with al-Qaida, said Bill Jones, the Washington bureau chief of Executive Intelligen­ce Review. Removing the ETIM from the list was purely political, he said.

“The Trump administra­tion made a political decision of withdrawin­g the terrorist designatio­n of ETIM, and the Biden administra­tion accepted it. (But) the US did not preclude that the ETIM was involved in terrorist actions. So it is creating a double standard trying to keep the ETIM alive.”

This was clearly directed at China, and may have caused unrest in Xinjiang, Jones said.

“It is not only in counterter­rorism. There is a clear distinctio­n in how the US deals with the same phenomenon with ‘friends’ and those considered ‘rivals’; it is clearly a geopolitic­al tool.”

Samuel Mok, a former chief financial officer of the US Labor Department, said: “It is a political maneuver. The US is pursuing an ambiguous standard in the definition of terrorist, which sets the biggest obstacle to cooperatio­n between the two sides.”

Jones said that if the US put the ETIM back on the list it might help improve Sino-US relations.

Afghanista­n is a place where the two countries can seek to work together, analysts say.

“Because US-China relations are at a low point, an uptick is theoretica­lly possible,” said Douglas Paal, a researcher at the Carnegie Endowment for Internatio­nal Peace.

“The fall of Afghanista­n does diminish the US’ tendency under Biden to insist on speaking from a ‘position of strength’ to Beijing.”

Ian Johnson, a journalist who has spent 20 years in China, said: “Right now both countries must focus on points they have in common; this can build mutual trust and lead to smoother relations.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China