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15-05-06, 14:27
China: U.S. Hindering Anti-Terror Campaign


By CHRISTOPHER BODEEN Associated Press Writer
© 2006 The Associated Press

BEIJING — A top Chinese official accused the United States Friday of hindering the global anti-terror campaign by refusing to hand over five Chinese Muslims released from the Guantanamo Bay detention center.

Parliament Vice Chairman Ismail Amat, the highest-ranking member of the Muslim Uighur minority in the Chinese Communist Party, said his nation suspects the five men, who were captured during the U.S. assault on Afghanistan in 2001-2002, are members of a terror group.

"I think America is implementing a double standard in fighting terrorism. This is unacceptable to us," said Amat, who is also a member of the party's Central Committee, the heart of Chinese power.
The U.S. military flew the men to Albania last week after Washington concluded they posed no terrorist threat to the United States but might face persecution if they returned to China.

Beijing has demanded they be returned to China and linked them to the East Turkistan Islamic Movement, which it says has ties to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terror network.

"They received Taliban or al-Qaida training in Afghanistan," Amat said. "They are hard-core terrorists and should be dealt with under the law."

Asked whether China had evidence against the men, Amat implied that their mere presence in Afghanistan was enough.

"The Americans caught them in Afghanistan," Amat said. "They were serving in a terrorist organization. They should be dealt with under the law."

China has been fighting a low-level insurgency against Islamic separatists in its western territory of Xinjiang, whose Uighur ethnic majority has close cultural and religious ties to other Central Asian groups. Xinjiang is sometimes referred to by Uighurs as "East Turkistan."

Beijing blames Uighur separatists for sporadic bombings and other violence in the Xinjiang region. But diplomats and foreign experts are skeptical and say most violence stems from personal disputes. China's military brutally suppressed a series of Uighur protests in the 1990s and is believed to continue to execute accused separatist activists.

No terrorist acts have been reported for years in Xinjiang.

While giving no figures for arrests, Amat said "mere followers" were sent to labor camps to be educated in "a correct understanding of ethnic unity and social stability," while organizers were "dealt with severely under the law."