China says international counterterror forum a success

BEIJING (AP) — China successfully concluded a counterterrorism forum last week in Beijing that attracted representatives from the military and police forces of 31 nations, including France, Pakistan and Israel, a defense ministry spokesman said Thursday.

The four-day Great Wall 2019 International Forum on Counterterrorism themed “special force sniping” allowed participants to exchange strategies and experiences, Ren Guoqiang told reporters at a monthly briefing.

China has been accused of using terrorism accusations to justify crackdowns on peaceful protests and religious cultural activities, especially among minority groups such as Tibetans and Uighurs.

An estimated 1 million Uighurs and members of other Muslim minority groups such as Kazakhs are held in prison-like detention centers — many for indefinite terms — amid reports of harsh treatment and poor living conditions.

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After at first denying their existence, China now says they are training schools meant to teach life skills to those at risk of being recruited by Islamic extremists and “terrorists.”

Scores were killed in the northwestern region of Xinjiang and elsewhere in China over the past decade in attacks blamed on violent separatists. An unknown number of suspects disappeared into police custody, while others were sentenced under vague national security charges.

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