- (Photo: Reuters/David Gray)
Chinese authorities have arrested over 200 suspects as part of the country's recent crackdown on the promotion of terrorist videos.
State-run media announced this week that authorities arrested 232 individuals in the country's northwest region for "[circulating] videos promoting terrorism through the Internet and on portable devices." The arrests have reportedly been made after a string of knife attacks at local train stations plagued the country.
Many of those arrested are suspected of being members of the Muslim Uighur minority found in Xinjiang. Authorities in the country's capital of Beijing have argued that this groups, and possibly members of the Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP) and East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), have carried out recent knife attacks in the country, although these groups have not taken responsibility for the attacks.
The arrests come after the local Xinjiang government announced a ban on spreading or downloading videos relating to terrorism in March. According to the South China Morning Post, the ban also includes videos "advocating violence and terrorism, religious extremism and separation of ethnic groups."
In April, suspects wielding knives and explosive devices attacked a train station in Xinjiang's capital of Urumqi, resulting in the death of three and the injury of 79.
In another tragic incident in late March, a knife attack in Kunming, located in the southwest, resulted in the death of 29 and the wounding of 143. Just last week, one suspect wielding a knife injured six in Guangzhou before being shot and killed by authorities.
In an attempt to counteract the attacks on civilians, police have dispatched armed patrol units in the city of Beijing in an attempt to cover street sections less than 3 kilometers long, therefore upping response time to possible attacks.
Although some Beijing residents have been uncomfortable with the heavy police presence, others have said the armed patrols are necessary to protect civilians. "It is the price we pay for safety. It is unavoidable," Li Yuanyuan, a public servant in Dongcheng district, told the South China Morning Post.
"A few more attacks can make us as terrified as the Americans," she added.