Chinese state newspaper Xinhua has published an extensive article announcing the “People’s War” on terrorism, vowing “to introduce a counter-terrorism law at national level” and crush terrorists “like rats” for acts such as the Xinjiang railway attack last year.
“To fight such crimes, China has waged a ‘people’s war’ on terrorism, using every force in its power to deal a crushing blow to terrorist activities,” the editorial notes, which, in common Xinhua style, does not have a byline. The “people’s war” approach indicates that China is hoping to take initiative within the war on terror and become a leader in its own right against radical Islam, independent of the efforts led by the United States over the past decade.
The use of the phrase “people’s war” also harkens back to the military and political strategy of Mao Ze Dong, which called for a “protracted people’s war” against the upper classes that would last for years, with the intention of uprooting the upper classes of the nation and plunging the nation into a chaos from which the proletariat would allegedly surface triumphantly. Taken with the recent New York Times report that Xi’s government is attempting to reimplement Maoist ideology in every possible vehicle of the state, the application of Maoist terms to the War on Terror provides further evidence of a dangerous escalation in the presence of Maoist thought in state propaganda.
Calling the railway attack— which killed 46 people– “China’s 9-11,” the article claims that the bombing gives China the moral authority to ruthlessly pursue and eliminate terrorism. While Islam is not explicitly mentioned anywhere in the article, the terrorists involved in the Xinjiang attack are believed to be of China’s Uyghur minority, who are largely Muslim.
The article also details specific actions the Chinese government is taking, such as implementing terror drills in kindergarten classrooms and railway stations. Both drills to survive bombings and knife attacks have begun. The newspaper notes the government will also “introduce a counter-terrorism law at national level,” though did not specific what law. In Xinjiang, counter-terrorism measures have included banning burqas, long beards, and the open celebration of Ramadan.
Xinhua also quotes President Xi Jinping as saying at a Communist Party meeting: “(We must) make terrorists become like rats scurrying across a street, with everybody shouting ‘beat them!'”
In July, an article in Xinhua called for China to join the United States and “combat all forms of terrorism” together. This latest editorial, however, appears to indicate that China is ready to fight terrorism alone, at least domestically, and particularly in light of the threat the Islamic State poses to the Chinese government.
It was estimated by mid-December that up to 300 Chinese citizens had left their home countries to fight for the Islamic State. China’s Global Times newspaper, which is also state-run, reported in September that many of these are ethnic Uyghurs, a small minority compared to the majority Han Chinese nation. China has not yet, however, contributed to efforts in Syria and Iraq to eliminate the Islamic State, despite evidence that Chinese ammunition has helped the terrorist group.