Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

After Attacks, Some Chinese See Common Cause with US

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

After Attacks, Some Chinese See Common Cause with US

Article excerpt

In the aftermath of the attacks on New York City and Washington, Chinese are already suggesting that the catastrophe might be a means for greater cooperation between the US and China - two states that have been at recent loggerheads.

It is too early to tell whether President Bush will still travel to China in mid October for a major economic summit in Shanghai. If he does, the meeting could likely turn into a de facto conference on terrorism, analysts say.

China does not see itself directly in the line of fire for international terror groups, but many here say that growing Islamic radicalism in its western regions "could later affect China," as one professor put it.

China shares a border with Afghanistan and Pakistan, and borders or is near several Muslim-majority Central Asian states created by the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union. Some of those states are dealing with greater levels of Islamic radicalism.

One Chinese official, reflecting a liberal point of view, told reporters privately yesterday that, "This is an opportunity for Chinese-American relations to improve.

"We feel that the US always regards China as a potential challenger," the official says, "but now perhaps the two sides can cooperate more. We see New York as a way to tell the US, 'We are not enemies, the real enemy is below our border.' Why can't we work on this together?"

In recent years, China has joined with Russia to spearhead a regional group called the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. The group was first designed to monitor stability in post-Soviet Central Asia. But its main purpose in recent years is to monitor and combat Islamic extremism emerging from Afghanistan and some surrounding states.

Last year, for example, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, which desires a separate Islamic state, led armed attacks against the government, killing 20 soldiers. Clashes with Muslim rebels in Tajikistan claimed more than 50,000 lives by 1997 and led to the legalization of Islamic political parties in 1999.

"The Shanghai forum is more important than many Westerners think," says a European diplomat. …

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