Terrorism moving from Middle East to Southeast Asia, warns Chinese expert at Singapore forum

Global Times
Huang Panyue

Extremists are increasingly flowing from the Middle East into Southeast Asia, making the region "the hub of world terrorism activities," a Chinese delegate has warned the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore.

Speaking to the Global Times in Singapore on Sunday, delegate Zhang Chi, an associate professor at the Institute for Strategic Studies, People's Liberation Army (PLA)'s National Defense University, said Southeast Asian countries must cooperate more deeply with China on anti-terrorism.

China and some Southeast Asian countries have already begun joint anti-terrorism drills and will expand cooperation in the near future, Zhang noted.

Terrorism spreads fast, Zhang said, and Southeast Asia's religious landscape and relatively less developed political and economic conditions make the region "a hotbed for extremists."

Almost 200 people were killed during a terrorist attack in the Philippines Malawi City in May last year, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Isnilon Hapilon, leader of a militant group in the Philippines founded with funds from Al Qaeda, which has also pledged loyalty to Islamic State, was held responsible for the slaughter by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

China has been enhancing anti-terrorism cooperation with Southeast Asian countries including weapons and drills, Li Wei, a counter-terrorism expert at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations in Beijing, told the Global Times.

In early May, Chinese State Councilor and Minister of Public Security Zhao Kezhi held talks separately with Chansamone Chanyalath, Lao minister of national defense and Somkeo Silavong, Lao minister of public security, Xinhua said.

China was willing to work with Laos to boost cooperation in safeguarding national security, anti-terrorism and fighting drug-related crimes, Zhao said during the meeting.

Knowing that China's western Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region is heavily protected, terrorists are increasingly entering China from the southeast and east, Li said.

China, India and other countries are cooperating in fighting separatism, extremism and terrorism from Central Asia under the framework of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Zhang noted.

In December, eight SCO countries held an anti-cyber-terrorism joint drill to improve coordination and share experiences in Xiamen, East China's Fujian Province, Xinhua reported.

Counter-terrorism cooperation is an important issue for the SCO, and the organization has staged biennial military Peace Mission exercises since 2003 to deal with the threat of "terrorism, separatism and religious extremism."

The latest, Peace Mission 2016, was held in Kyrgyzstan in September 2016.


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