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ASEAN tie-up can help enhance terrorism fighting cooperation

Zhang Yan
Updated: Oct 24,2015 10:24 AM     China Daily

China has called for intensified intelligence sharing with ASEAN countries, as a rising number of Chinese terrorism suspects are traveling to the Middle East through Southeast Asia.

Chinese police will enhance law enforcement cooperation with their counterparts in ASEAN countries on counterterrorism, particularly in intelligence exchanges and joint investigation of individual cases, Li Wei, vice-minister of public security, said on Oct 23.

With their help, China hopes to get a clear picture of the number and scale of the activities of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement-a separatist and terrorist organization-in ASEAN countries and bring suspects back to China, Li said at a two-day China-ASEAN Ministerial Dialogue on Law Enforcement and Security Cooperation that started on Oct 23 in Beijing.

The East Turkestan Islamic Movement was officially listed as a terrorist organization by the United Nations in 2002.

Chinese police have said that in recent years, a rising number of East Turkestan Islamic Movement suspects have illegally crossed the Chinese border into Southeast Asian countries including Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia.

In these countries, the suspects usually purchase fake passports to travel to Turkey, then move on to Syria and Iran to receive training and conduct terrorist activities either locally or back in China.

In July, Thailand repatriated 109 illegal immigrants to China, who had planned to head to Syria or Iraq via Turkey to join local extremist forces, according to the Chinese Ministry of Public Security.

Chinese police accused those repatriated, many of them ethnic Uygurs, of entering Thailand illegally with counterfeit passports.

Li acknowledged that China is still facing a “complex and tough task to fight terrorism”, although such actions have achieved progress.

Li said it’s urgent for China and ASEAN countries to set up and improve anti-terrorism mechanisms.

Sar Kheng, vice-prime minister of Cambodia, said it’s necessary for China and ASEAN countries to establish a high-level communication platform, under which they could enhance mutual trust and efficiency to combat such crimes.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, was established in 1967 in Thailand. Today, it has 10 member states.