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Monday, 21 January, 2002, 11:24 GMT
China denounces separatists' Bin Laden 'link'
Uighur men
Xinjiang's indigenous people are Turkic speaking Muslims
By BBC Beijing correspondent Rupert Wingfield-Hayes

China has launched a scathing attack on separatist groups fighting for an independent state in the far west of the country.

A report released by China's state council says the separatist groups from China's Xinjiang region have received money, weapons and training from Osama Bin Laden.

The report calls on other countries to recognise the nature of the Xinjiang groups and assist China in combating them.

Up to now the East Turkistan Islamic Movement has not been high on the list of world terrorist organisations. That is a situation China wants to change.

Following the 11 September attacks on the US, China is demanding sympathy for its own fight against separatists in the far west region of Xinjiang.

In a 10-page report, China's state council outlines a list of bombings and political murders for which it says Xinjiang-based groups are responsible.

Bin Laden 'link'

More importantly the report makes a direct link between the Xinjiang separatists and Bin Laden. It says leaders of the East Turkistan Islamic Movement met Bin Laden in Afghanistan early last year.

Xinjiang province
Xinjiang is one of China's remotest provinces
During the meeting, the report says, Bin Laden promised what it calls a fabulous sum of money for training and for terrorist operations inside China.

The indigenous people of Xinjiang are Turkic speaking Muslims, many of whom have little affection for rule from Beijing.

A number of different groups have been fighting a sporadic campaign against Chinese rule in Xinjiang for more than a decade.

China's campaign to suppress the separatists has, in the past, been heavily criticised by human rights groups who accuse Beijing of widespread human rights abuses.

By tying the Xinjiang groups to Bin Laden, China clearly hopes to gain sympathy and understanding that its often brutal campaign against the separatists is fully justified.

See also:

08 Jan 02 | Asia-Pacific
China's fearful Muslim minority
15 Nov 01 | Asia-Pacific
China separatists linked with terror
12 Nov 01 | From Our Own Correspondent
China's Muslims look on in anger
09 Nov 01 | Asia-Pacific
Chinese president 'rebuffs' Robinson
08 Nov 01 | Asia-Pacific
Robinson warns China on repression
19 Oct 01 | Asia-Pacific
Terrorism war unites Bush and Jiang
25 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
Iran forges links with China's Muslims
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