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Along 'Southern Silk Road', deeper anti-terror cooperation needed

2014-06-08 08:19 Xinhua Web Editor: Qin Dexing

It is the fifth year that Muhammad Waseem Ansari, a Pakistani merchant of wooden handicrafts and furniture, has been to China seeking business opportunities.

"China is a huge market. The two countries are reviving the 'Southern Silk Road' together now. I believe we can attract more Chinese businesses and buyers," he said at the second China-South Asia Expo in Kunming, capital of southwest China's Yunnan Province, on Friday.

The "Southern Silk Road" he mentioned is a trade route that linked China's southwestern regions with Southeast and South Asia.

Chinese President Xi Jinping put forward the two concepts of Silk Road economic belt and 21st century maritime Silk Road during visits to Central Asia and Southeast Asia in 2013.

While "Southern Silk Road" contributed much to economic, political and cultural exchanges between China and South Asian countries, new security situations demand regional cooperation into new areas, especially fighting terrorism.


"Terrorism is undoubtedly a challenge," said former secretary of the Indian external affairs ministry Eric Gonsalves when attending the Second China-South Asian Think-Tank Forum Saturday, one of the events held during the five-day expo.

"Without stability, you cannot make progress economically or politically. We must act globally because it involves everyone," he said.

The original route stretched over 2,000 kilometers from Chengdu, capital city of Sichuan Province, through cities in Sichuan and finally took traders to what is now Myanmar by way of Yunnan Province. From there, it extended through to India, Bangladesh and thence to the Middle East.

China and South Asia are home to nearly 2.8 billion people. China's trade with countires in the region has increased from 35 billion U.S. dollars in 2006 to about 100 billion U.S. dollars in 2013.

Fazal ur Rahman, executive director of the Pakistan Council on China, pointed out security is one of the most important aspects of this success.

"Attacks by even small terrorist groups could really jeopardize the Southern Silk Road," he said, adding that neighboring countries should launch joint anti-terror efforts and eradicate root causes of terrorism.

China has pledged to strengthen cooperation against terrorism with Pakistan. The Chinese military is willing to deepen practical cooperation with the Pakistani army, said Chang Wanquan, State Councilor and Defense Minister, when meeting with visiting Pakistani military officials in early June.

In the process of cooperation, ways of thinking count. Gonsalves said cooperating on regional stability through high technology should be the top priority, rather than treating neighbors with suspicion and hatred.

His view is echoed by Ma Jiali, researcher with center for strategic studies of the China Reform Forum.

Ma said problems left over by history like China-Indian boundary issues may pose risks to regional cooperation against terrorism. It is necessary to change the way of thinking in various countries, boost political trust and set aside differences.


A report by the United States indicated that five of the six countries most frequently hit by terror attacks in 2013 were China's neighbors, with more than 4,600 terror attacks occurring within their borders last year.

In recent years, China has also been on high alert in the wake of a spate of terrorist attacks.

A bombing at an open air market in Urumqi, capital of China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, caused many deaths and injuries in May. That followed a string of violent attacks, including one at a train station in Kunming in March and another in Beijing's Tian'anmen Square in October last year.

Several months after the attack, Kunming still cannot forget the nightmare. The city has tightened security to ensure a successful China-South Asia Expo, which is expected to advance transport, trade, cross-border tourism and culture between countries along "Southern Silk Road" this year.

According to the city's public security authorities, 236 patrol cars, 13 anti-terror police tactical units (PTU), 151 movable police boxes and 128 check points have been put on the streets.

Fazal ur Rahman said people should not make terrorism a hindrance or constraint in developing relationships and boosting "Southern Silk Road" economic belt.

"It is a threat, but with regional cooperative mechanism and correct policies by each individual country, we can handle this issue." he added.

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