China backs Russian anti-terror agreement

Jan. 3, 2012 at 6:22 AM
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BEIJING, Jan. 3 (UPI) -- Chinese lawmakers have ratified an agreement between Beijing and Moscow to strengthen anti-terrorism cooperation between the two nations.

China's top legislative body, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, Saturday approved a pact called the China-Russia Cooperation Agreement on Combating Terrorism, Separatism and Extremism, the Chinese news agency Xinhua reported.

The agreement was ratified 15 months after it was signed in Beijing by Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov -- a meeting that came in the wake of a wave of terrorist killings in Russia.

Chinese officials said the September 2010 agreement "laid a strong foundation for bilateral cooperation between China and Russia" in coping with what Beijing calls the "three evil forces" of terrorism, secessionism and extremism.

This weekend's move came after the National People's Congress had studied the terms of the deal for nearly a week, a statement from the committee indicated.

The deal was signed as Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and a high-level delegation of Russian officials met with Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao after a pair of terrorist incidents in Russia.

Two female suicide bombers killed 39 people and more than 100 were injured in attacks on the Moscow subway system in March 2010 -- an act claimed by Islamic rebels in the North Caucasus region of Chechnya.

Two days later two suicide bombings killed 12 people and injured another 26 in North Caucasus republic of Dagestan.

"China and Russia will maintain international peace and stability and promote the overall recovery, health and stable development of the world economy," Hu said at a news conference with Medvedev after the 2010 meeting.

The anti-terrorism agreement was part of a larger effort to boost ties between the neighbors, which called for Moscow and Beijing coordinate more closely under at the Group of 20 and through the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which includes Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Less than a month after the Russia-China pact was signed, Chechen rebel gunmen launched an attack on the region's parliament building, killing four people before they themselves were slain -- evidence that an ongoing Islamic insurgency was still active in the North Caucuses.

Yang sent a message of condolence to Lavrov after that incident, pledging beefed-up cooperation.

An official statement from Beijing said China "strongly condemns the terrorist attack and resolutely opposes to all forms of terrorism," adding China is "willing to join hands with Russia to concretely implement the China-Russia Cooperation Agreement on Combating Terrorism, Separatism and Extremism."

The agreement shows that security cooperation between the two countries is continuously developing as Beijing attempts to crack down on the "three evil forces" more effectively, a scholar from the Chinese government's foreign policy think tank says.

Zhao Mingwen, a senior fellow at the China Institute of International Studies, wrote that in recent years Russia has supported China in combating domestic terrorism, such as in Xinjiang province. There, groups of what Beijing calls "terror gangs" of native Uighur Muslims are fighting to gain independence from China.

Zhao said Russia helped China identify what it claims is the influence of the banned, Pakistan-based militant group Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement on Uighur separatists.

China, meanwhile, has backed Russia's attempts to crack down on illegal groups and terrorists in Chechnya and other places.

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