China’s deputy envoy to the United Nations said that while the COVID-19 pandemic appears to have temporarily reduced the risk of terrorist attacks, the socioeconomic fallout from the crisis has the potential to exacerbate conditions conducive to terrorism.
“It could feed into a vicious circle of destabilization and violence and increase the midterm to long-term threat, which ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) and other terrorist organizations are keen to explore and exploit,” Geng Shuang, China’s deputy permanent representative to the United Nations said Monday at a UN Security Council virtual meeting on threats to international peace and security by terrorism.
Vladimir Voronkov, head of the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism, said the global coronavirus crisis underscored the challenges involved in eliminating terrorism, as he presented the Security Council with the latest report on ISIL’s impact on international peace and security.
“This pandemic environment raises several strategic and practical challenges for counterterrorism,” he told council members during a videoconference briefing.
According to the report, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the world is witnessing a surge of activities of terrorist organizations such as ISIL in Iraq and Syria to rebuild their global operational capability. Terrorists including ISIL also are infiltrating North Africa, in particular Libya, worsening regional turbulence. ISIL also has also announced that it may use the virus as a biological weapon.
“During and after the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to further promote multilateralism and strengthen international cooperation in a joint effort to fight terrorism,” said Geng.
Geng said China resolutely implements all relevant UN resolutions.
“We actively participate in international and regional counterterrorism cooperation through the UN, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and other fora. We work closely with other member states in sharing intelligence and combating terrorist financing, transnational organized crime and cyberterrorism,” he said.
“China will work with the international community to analyze in depth the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on global terrorist activities, and continue to have bilateral and multilateral exchange and capacity-building cooperation with other countries, especially developing countries, including those in Africa. We will continue to provide political and financial support to UN counterterrorism efforts for the maintenance of international peace and security,” he added.
Geng noted that China firmly rejects the accusation against it by certain members of the council.
“It is baseless and absurd as usual,” he said.
“Terrorism is our common enemy. There is no such thing as good or bad terrorists. China is firmly opposed to politicization and double standards in counterterrorism,” he said.
Geng said the situation in Xinjiang is entirely an internal issue. It is not a religion issue or a human rights issue but about counterterrorism and anti-extremism, he said.
Xinjiang has suffered deeply from terrorism and violent extremism in the past. To address the threat, Geng said Xinjiang has taken a series of preventive counterterrorism and deradicalization measures.
“These measures are widely supported by the people in Xinjiang and have yielded good results. Xinjiang has not seen a single terror incident in the past three years. Facts speak louder than words. Anyone that is fair-minded can tell right from wrong,” he said.
Geng told the meeting that since late 2018, more than 70 foreign delegations have visited Xinjiang.
“They see first-hand a stable, thriving and developing Xinjiang, and agree that counterterrorism and deradicalization efforts have made this possible,” he said.
“However, it is regrettable that the United States chooses to ignore basic facts and repeat its rhetoric and keep smearing and discrediting the counterterrorism and deradicalization efforts in Xinjiang,” he said.
“We urge the United States to listen to the international community, admit facts, give up bigotry and double standards and stop interfering in China’s internal affairs by using human rights as an excuse,” he said.
Geng said that if the United States truly cares about human rights, it should do its own job first: “Please protect the human rights of the American people. Please step up the effort to combat COVID-19 to safeguard lives and health of the American people.”
In addition, Geng said the UK followed the US again in promoting unfounded charges against China.
“We urge the UK to fix its own problems and stop interfering in China’s internal affairs,” he said.
“Lastly, I would like to emphasize that China is determined to safeguard its sovereignty, security and development interests. No interference against China will succeed, and no one can stop China’s progress,” he said.