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China mulls new law to deploy counter-terrorism troops abroad

Press Trust of India  |  Beijing 

China has drafted a new legislation to deploy troops in counter-terrorism missions abroad with the consent of the nations involved, a law if passed could enable Chinese military to directly take on Xinjiang militants active in neighbourhood countries including Pakistan.

The draft of the country's first counter-terrorism law includes clauses that would authorise the army and the paramilitary police to carry out counter-terrorism missions abroad if the deployment had the consent of the countries involved, Chinese delegates told the Xiangshan Forum last week, according to analysts at the regional security meeting.

The draft legislation was submitted to the National People's Congress, (China's national legislature) Standing Committee in October and is not yet approved, the Hong Kong based South China Morning Post reported today.

Li Wei, a counter-terrorism analyst at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said the legislation would authorise Chinese troops to fight terrorism beyond its borders.

"(The draft) also makes clear the prerequisites for such an operation - the consent of all other countries involved," Li said.

The new law is being contemplated amid stepped up militant attacks carried out by East Turkistan Islamic Movement, (ETIM) stated to be AlQaeda backed outfit in Xinjiang where Muslim Uygurs are restive over the increasing settlements of Hans from other provinces.

A number of ETIM militants were reported to have been killed during air raids carried by Pakistan military in the tribal areas in recent months.

Pakistan Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif during his visit this month promised to step up crackdown on the militant group.

Xinjiang borders Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, (POK) and Afghanistan.

Li said Chinese troops rarely ventured abroad, with the most recent instance being in 2004 when armed police were sent to guard the embassy in Iraq.

Renmin University international relations professor Jin Canrong said China was cautious about taking part in overseas operations, given its long-standing principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries. But it was now prepared to be more proactive.

"It's faced with escalating domestic terrorism threats, which have been proven to be connected to training and other terror activities abroad. Neighbouring countries are also calling on China to help in areas such as training counter-terrorism units and fighting Islamic State," he said.

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First Published: Tue, November 25 2014. 19:17 IST