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ETIM Stands between China and the Taliban

China held its first diplomatic talks with the Taliban on Wednesday August 25, establishing “effective communication” with the insurgent group in Afghanistan. However, the growing relationship between the two countries seems to be contingent on the Taliban’s ties with the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), a Uyghur militant group.

ETIM is an extremist group of native Uyghurs, which is a Muslim minority in China. The ETIM’s stated objective is to form a sovereign nation of East Turkestan. It is to be carved out from Xinjiang province.

In 2002, the United Nations and the US officially designated the ETIM as a terrorist group. “ETIM has a close financial relationship with al-Qaida and many of its members’ received terrorist training in Afghanistan, financed by al-Qaida and the Taliban. A statement from the US Treasury Department in 2002 said, “A number of ETIM and ETIM-linked militants were captured in Afghanistan last fall fighting alongside al-Qaida and the Taliban.”

On August 30, a Chinese government spokesperson for Xinjiang province said, “In the past, the ETIM gathered in Afghanistan, posing a direct threat to the security and stability of Xinjiang. It is hoped that the Afghan Taliban draw a clear line from ETIM and attack them resolutely and effectively.”

Days earlier, on August 27, Xi Jinping, the general secretary of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) said in a meeting in Beijing, “We must resolutely guard against major hidden dangers in the ethnic field. It is necessary to  …  eliminate ethnic divisions and religious extremes.” “We must strengthen international anti-terrorism cooperation.”

Source: Central News Agency, August 30, 2021