A frontier defence regiment of the People’s Liberation Army in Xinjiang, China, along with Pakistani troops launched a joint patrol in the border area connecting Pakistan-occupied Kashmir with Xinjiang province, reported the People's Daily Online. The exercises were initiated following Chinese state media reports that 114 Uighurs had allegedly fled the region to join the Islamic State group.
The People's Daily Online report said, “A frontier defense regiment of the PLA [People’s Liberation Army] in Xinjiang, along with a border police force from Pakistan, carry out (sic) a joint patrol along the China-Pakistan border.” What was referred to as the “China-Pakistan border” is officially considered Indian territory.
Meanwhile, Chinese President Xi Jinping has asked Muslims to practice their religion 'as part of Chinese society and direction'. During an inspection tour of the autonomous region of Ningxia Hui on Tuesday, Xi urged Chinese Muslims to resist illegal religious infiltration and carry forward the country's patriotic traditions. China had maintained that Muslims were being radicalised in Xinjiang by separatist militant group East Turkistan Islamic Movement, which has its military bases in Pakistan, reported PTI.
New America Foundation, a think-tank in the United States, said religious restrictions on Muslims in China may have prompted them to join the Islamic State group but found that the recruits had no prior experience with jihad. Thus, the think-tank also negated the Chinese theory of radicalisation by the East Turkistan Islamic Movement. Its report said strict Chinese rules such as not allowing Muslims to grow beards or fast during Ramzan had driven many to join the terror outfit.
The Muslim Uighurs regard themselves as culturally and ethnically close to Central Asian nations. There is a long history of discord between Chinese authorities and the indigenous ethnic minority. China has been accused of intensifying its crackdown on Uighurs since the street protests in the 1990s and again in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics in 2008, BBC reported. In 2009, the situation worsened with large-scale ethnic rioting in the regional capital of Urumqi.
Moreover, work to complete the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which connects both countries through highways, railway lines, optic cable networks and pipelines, is ongoing. Once the $46-billion project is complete, Xinjiang and Pakistan's Gwadar Port will have direct access to each other.