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Terror attacks down, but threats go on

By Cui Jia and Cao Yin | China Daily Africa | Updated: 2017-03-24 07:34

Spreading extremist propaganda online should also be treated as a form of terrorism, expert says

China has seen a decline in violent terrorist acts thanks to tougher security measures, but the country still faces grim threats. The number of attempted attacks remains high, senior security experts said on March 20.

The number of violent attacks involving or orchestrated by terrorist cells dropped last year, according to nationwide public security data cited in a study report released on March 20 by the Law Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. The numbers were not available.

The study was part of the Blue Book of Rule of Law, which was released on March 20 and includes analyses of various issues last year in the fields of legislation and crime.

 Terror attacks down, but threats go on

Anti-terrorism soldiers train in Shenzhen, Guangdong province. China has seen a decline in violent terrorist acts, but still faces grim threats, according to experts. Provided to China Daily

"China's tightened measures against terrorism have driven some suspects underground. And we see more cases of fabricating terrorist-related information and spreading terrorism propaganda," says Huang Fang, the institute researcher who led the study.

The country's first comprehensive anti-terrorism law, which took effect on Jan 1 last year, has improved the legal framework to better fight such crimes, she says.

However, Li Wei, an anti-terrorism expert at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, warns that although there were fewer violent terrorist attacks in the past year, the situation has not fundamentally improved.

"People should realize that more attacks have been foiled at the planning stage. We haven't seen a significant drop in the number of attempted attacks," he says.

Li says terrorist-related activities are still underway in some regions of the country due to the continued penetration of extremism from abroad.

The report released on March 20 also warned that the situation might become more serious, since overseas terrorist groups now have stronger influence in China, and the connection between domestic and foreign terrorist groups has grown deeper.

In addition to stopping terrorist acts, China must fight the spread of terrorist propaganda online and on social media, Li says. Spreading such propaganda should be treated as a form of terrorism because much of the content targets young people and lures them into violence, he adds.

According to the report, a considerable number of terrorist suspects arrested last year were born in the 1980s and 1990s. Additionally, many terrorist cells consist of family members, it said.

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(China Daily Africa Weekly 03/24/2017 page14)

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