Chinese government passes first ever counter-terrorism bill

NEW legislation to take effect in January will see China step up its domestic counter-terrorism apparatus in a move viewed with suspicion by western governments and human rights activists. 

The state-run Xinhua news agency quoted an official as saying “Terrorist attacks have caused heavy losses of people’s lives and properties, posing a serious threat to our security, stability, economic development and ethnic unity,”

However, the new bill has been criticised as embracing too broad a definition of terrorism, which will, according to Xinhua, be “defined as any proposition or activity — that, by means of violence, sabotage or threat, generates social panic, undermines public security, infringes on personal and property rights, and menaces government organs and international organizations — with the aim to realize certain political and ideological purposes.”

The government has also claimed that increased online activity by potential terrorists has heightened the threat posed by militants globally and within China itself. 

Uyghur separatists in the western regions are believed to be responsible for a number of deadly attacks in recent years, with Xinjiang in particular home to large numbers of Turkic-speaking Muslim Uyghurs. 

China has placed them on a par with the likes of Daesh and Al-Qaeda while international human rights groups have claimed the Uyghur minority is brutally repressed. 

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