Relatives of victims are overcome with emotion at a wreath laying ceremony on March 7, 2014, at the train station in Kunming, Southwest China's Yunnan province, where 29 people were killed in a terrorist attack on March 1. [Photo by Xue Dan/China Daily]
Many have wondered why group after group of ethnic Uygurs have been found illegally entering Thailand and Vietnam.
Now we have the answer.
Contrary to our Western colleagues' portrayals, they were not innocent, helpless members of an ethnic minority fleeing "suppression" at home in pursuit of "freedom".
They are religious extremists headed to the forefronts of Islamic Jihad, and devotees of the Islamic State group.
Ad hoc police operations since May have unveiled a people-smuggling corridor across the country's southwestern border, through which militants from the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region have been transferred to the frontlines of Islamic jihad in Syria, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan via Southeast Asian countries.
A number of criminal rings have been busted, revealing an intricate underground network sprawling across national boundaries. In November in Shanghai, 10 Turks were arrested for allegedly organizing Chinese nationals to illegally cross national borders. They were caught while trying to smuggle nine ethnic Uygurs, including one wanted terrorist, from Xinjiang out of the country on fake Turkish passports.
The Turkish authorities' shilly-shallying over the East-Turkistan Movement has made their country a favored stopover for Uygur militants from Xinjiang on their way to terrorist camps in other countries. The involvement of overseas elements along the pathway of terror raises an imperative task for our diplomatic and law-enforcement authorities to seek closer collaboration with their foreign counterparts.
Our requests for assistance may not always find sympathetic ears. But it must be made very clear that this is not only about Chinese national security. It is also about religious extremism, the dangerous, immediate prelude to acts of terror.
Double standards in the fight against terror and acquiescence in religious extremism do no good to any party. Instead, they brew a universal threat to all.
The Uygur militants seeking to join the ranks of foreign jihadists have proven themselves a dangerous crowd.
The terrorist attack in Kunming in March last year, which left 29 dead and 143 injured, was the terrorists' Plan B, an "on-the-spot jihad", after their plan to flee the country was frustrated.
The following month, two Vietnamese officers, at a checkpoint on the China-Vietnam border, were killed in an improvised "jihad" when Vietnamese officers were about to repatriate 16 Chinese nationals, all ethnic Uygurs from Xinjiang who had illicitly entered their country.
Wherever such people end up, they bring with them the evil seeds of terror. That is why any country that shelters them will regret it sooner or later.