Prevention of Violent Extremism and Human Rights Protection
July 07,2017   By:CSHRS

Prevention of Violent Extremism and Human Rights Protection

ZHANG Xiaoling* & LI Si**

Abstract: In the context of globalization, violent extremist forces pose a serious threat to the fundamental human rights of the people all over the world. Strengthening human rights protection requires reinforcing the momentum to crack down and prevent the violent acts of extremist forces. As one of the countries that is the victim of violence by extremists, China has taken a series of measures to tackle the challenges of violent extremism. As President Xi Jinping has pointed out, “the realization of the full enjoyment of human rights by human beings is the common goal of human society.” While establishing a community of common destiny for all mankind, the international community should take action to effectively address the root causes of violent extremism, maintain a peaceful and secure development environment, and defend the basic human rights and well-being of all peoples, so as to ensure a safe and brighter future for all.

Keywords: violent extremism ♦human rights protection ♦ a community of common destiny for all mankind

I. Violent Extremism Is a Serious Violation of Human Rights

In January 2016, UN then-Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon presented a Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism to the UN General Assembly, stating that violent extremism is a diverse phenomenon, without clear definition. It is neither new nor exclusive to any region, nationality or system of belief. Violent extremism directly attacks the Charter of the United Nations, and poses a serious threat to world peace and security. We must accelerate the establishment of global, national and regional action plans and actively respond to violent extremism.

A. The concept of violent extremism

At present, the international community has not yet formed a unified definition of the concept of violent extremism. Article 4 of the Counterterrorism Law of the People’s Republic of China, which was adopted by the 18th Session of the Standing Committee of the 12th National People’s Congress in 2015, emphasizes that the state shall combat all forms of extremism, such as the incitement to hatred and discrimination and agitation for violence by distorting religious doctrine or other methods, so as to eliminate the ideological basis of terrorism. In accordance with Amendment (IX) to the Criminal Law adopted in 2015, violent extremism refers to propagating terrorism or extremism by way of preparing or distributing books, audio or video materials, or by any other medium, or by way of teaching, releasing or distributing such information, or instigating terrorist activities in any way.1  The legal documents on the provision of violent extremism in China mainly include the Counterterrorism Law of the People’s Republic of China; Amendment (IX) to the Criminal Law; Opinions of the Supreme People’s Court, the Supreme People’s Procuratorate and the Ministry of Public Security on Several Issues concerning the Application of Law in the Handling of Criminal Cases Involving Violent Terrorism and Religious Extremism; and Regulations on Religious Affairs in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, and so on.

Russia was the first country to introduce a specific law to counter extremism, with its Law on Countering Extremist Activity, which was adopted in 2002 and refers to the extremism from the height of the stability of the state power. It refers to an act that undermines the Russian constitutional system and violates the integrity of the Russian Federation, endangers national public security, publicly declares the legitimacy of terrorism or other terrorist activities, instigates racial or religious clashes and social hatred of other races, deliberately promotes the superiority of a certain social class, race, ethnicity, religion, and language while belittling other classes, races, ethnicities, religions and languages, obstructs organs of state power from performing their official duties by violence or the threat of violence, and publicly calls for incitement to carry out the above activities or disseminates or holds extremist materials or articles for the purpose of dissemination. Russian President Vladimir Putin has stressed that extremism, a tool for geopolitics and the redefining of spheres of influence, is used to incite ethnic and religious conflicts. It is also a direct manifestation of extremism to overthrow the current political system by violent means. The spread of extreme ideas in a multi-ethnic country, such as Russia, will lead to serious and irreversible consequences, and the Russian government must always combat and prevent extremism, especially extreme nationalism. Britain emphasizes the definition of extremism in terms of values. According to the British government, extremism refers to all words and acts that are against the fundamental values recognized and promoted by the British government and society, including opposition to democracy, the rule of law, individual freedom and mutual respect and tolerance between different beliefs and ideas. The domestic law or policy in the United States2  is less involved in the definition of violent extremism, and generally uses the concepts of “extremism” and “extremist behaviour” to define extremism through enumerated methods.

In international law, the concept of “violent extremism” was first defined in the Shanghai Convention on Combating Terrorism, Separatism and Extremism, which was jointly signed by the People’s Republic of China, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Republic of Tajikistan and the Republic of Uzbekistan. “Extremism” is an act aimed at seizing or keeping power through the use of violence or changing violently the constitutional regime of a state, as well as a violent encroachment upon public security, including its organizational structure. To counter these purposes, illegal armed formations and participation in them is criminally prosecuted in conformity with the national laws of the states concerned. This legal concept was later developed into the Agreement on Cooperation in Combating Terrorism, Separatism and Extremism 3, which was signed with Turkmenistan and Russia respectively. The Agreements point out that extremism also includes organizing and leading acts of terrorism, separatism and extremism; providing funds, techniques, weapons and training to terrorists, separatists and extremists; providing capital accounts, assisting in converting the property into cash or bills and assisting in transferring funds through transferring accounts, or other ways of settling accounts to cover up or withhold the source and nature of what one knows is gains obtained from such crimes of terrorism, separatism and extremism; recruiting others to participate in acts of terrorism, separatism and extremism; using toxic and harmful substances such as nuclear materials and radioactive materials to carry out acts of terrorism, separatism and extremism, and so on.

According to academic research, the definition of violent extremism also presents a variety of characteristics. (1) From the ideological perspective, some scholars think violent extremism is “a general term for all political and social trends with radical tendencies"4,“any act that individuals or organizations, aiming at realizing values that are seriously separated from the society, reject ideas that are not the same and act against themselves or third parties by violent or non-violent means, resulting in serious social consequences".5 (2) From the religious perspective, some scholars think violent extremism mainly refers to religious extremism, that is “very few people, believers only in name, for the purpose of stealing interests that don’t belong to themselves, take advantage of religion and distort it, and get engaged in the destruction of the mainstream of normal social stability and peaceful development, and don’t coexist with other ethnic groups. This ideological and behavioural system distorts and interprets religion to the extreme for its use.”6  (3) In view of its coverage, some scholars think violent extremism includes religious extremism, ethnic extremism and political extremism. Religious extremism is the practice of a small number of people who exclude outsiders and carry out violence under the banner of religion; ethnic extremism emphasizes the superiority of the ethnic interest and holds negative attitude towards other ethnic groups; political extremism sets itself the task of promoting political ideas that impede social progress. Some scholars say that these three important types of extremisms should belong to those that the criminal law combats.7  

Thus it shows that the international community has not yet reached a consensus about the definition of violent extremism which is often interpreted and defined from different perspectives. This article proceeds from the recognition that violent extremism is, in essence, based on the exclusion of dissidents, an extreme idea, proposition or emotion that is opposed to the core values held by the current political leadership and the public, and is contrary to the mainstream culture of society. Violent extremism, by virtue of all possible means of violence and violent tools, spreads its ideas and carries out extreme terrorist activities to achieve the illegal interests of individuals or a handful of people. Violent extremism includes the basic connotations of three dimensions. The first dimension is the violent nature of its values, which requires the eradication of all dissident thoughts, values and beliefs, and repeatedly declares and establishes their own absolute superiority. “The core feature of extremism is to have its own goals and principles, as well as the attitude that regards opponents as the incarnation of evil. Extremism means ‘anyone who does not support me is against me.'"8  The second dimension is the violent nature of the pursuit of extremes, which aims to fight against mainstream society, overthrow and destroy the core political and legal system established by the current political leadership, disintegrate core values held by the public, infringe on public safety, grab extreme power interests. This is reflected in different areas where it is manifested as political extremism, national extremism, religious extremism, etc. The third dimension is the violent nature of the means of realization. Violent extremism follows a basic logic of maximizing the pursuit of extreme interests at the minimum cost and fastest speed, and when such a purpose is hindered or threatened, it can be done with all possible violent means, disregarding all consequences.

It is worth mentioning that violent extremism is often associated with national separatism and international terrorism in the elaboration of many important legal policy documents and is therefore often subject to conceptual confusion. In fact, violent extremism, national separatism and international terrorism are complex concepts that are highly differentiated. Being extreme means that people tend to hold a simplified rather than a comprehensive view of things or behaviours, and in dealing with things, tend to resolve them in an extreme way. Violent extremism refers to the threat to political leadership or the public by all the extremely violent means in order to pursue the interests of individuals or a small group of people, focusing on extreme ideas, claims and violent emotions. The main features of separatism are resorting to violent and terrorist means, incite extreme nationalism, create national antagonism and conflict and carry out national cleansing and vendetta. International terrorism focuses on actions, violence and frightening atmosphere, characterized by its apparent international orientation, diversification of terrorist means, expansion of striking range and intertwined extremism. Some social phenomena may have the characteristics of the above three forces. Violent extremism occupies a central position in the multi-religions areas, and is the ideological root of national separatism and international terrorism.

B. Violent extremism is a serious violation of human rights around the world

According to statistics, there were 348 terrorist attacks worldwide in 2001, resulting in 4,665 casualties. Compared with 2013, there was a 35 percent increase in 2014. The figure increased to 11,774 in 2015, causing 28,300 deaths, 35,300 injuries, 12,100 people kidnapped or held hostage.9  According to statistics, global terrorist attacks that killed more than 100 people were only 4.2 times per year from 1978 to 2013, and the figure increased to 26 times in 2014. In the first half of 2015 alone, there were 11 terrorist attacks that killed more than 100 people worldwide. The horrific situation is still being aggravated and the world is suffering from extremism.

In January 2015 the terrorist organization Boko Haram launched terrorist attacks in Nigeria, killing about 2,000 people; In May it attacked two villages in Yola, Adamawa State killing at least 80 people; In June, a suicide bomber attacked an outdoor market, killing at least 20 people. And it continued to perform terrorist attacks from June 30 to July 1, killing at least 145 civilians. In March 2015, the extremist organization Islamic State10  carried out a suicide bomber attack on a mosque in Sana, capital of Yemen, killing at least 137 people and injuring 350. In June, it launched suicide attacks in Syria, killing at least 154 people. In July it launched a suicide car bomb attack in Iraq, which resulted in at least 120 deaths and more than 130 injuries.11  In April 2015, the Somali religious extremist organization Al-Shabaab attacked Moi University located in Garissa in northeast Kenya, killing at least 147 people. In November 2015, terrorist attacks took place in Paris, France, killing at least 132 people. There were also a number of terrorist attacks in the United States, such as the San Bernardino shooting in California in December 2015, the Philadelphia shooting in January 2016, Boston Marathon bombing etc. On March 20, 2020, terrorists attacked Brussels International Airport and a subway train in the city.

In addition, according to the Rule of Terror: Living under Islamic States in Syria,  a report produced by the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Syria, the Islamic State’s use of extreme violence in the areas they control in Syria is used to carry out extreme terrorist domination, the usual forms of violence including the arbitrary execution of civilians, the hyping of extreme ideas on social media and other websites and the public display of photographs and videos of massacres, creating an extreme atmosphere of terror. They have claimed that more than 1,700 Iraqi soldiers of the 4,500 people who were captured in the attack on Mosul and Ticritt were collectively executed and that 270 Syrian officers and soldiers were collectively killed in the attack on the al-Shaer natural gas field in Homs, Syria. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has also informed the media that the agency has recently received reports that extremely organized groups of Islamic State fighters have kidnapped civilians in the vicinity of Mosul, and forced them to move into the conflict zone to act as a human shield. According to reliable information, the Islamic State executed more than 200 people in the city of Mosul on November 2, killed more than 180 civilians in the town of Gogjali, detained nearly 400 women in Tyler Afer, and forcibly recruited a large number of children aged 9 or 10 to join the war in the local area.

It is disturbing that violent extremism is escalating rapidly, and that more and more people are being infected with extremist ideas, joining in extremist terrorist organizations, participating in terrorist activities, and seriously challenging the basic human rights in the world.

According to the latest statistics of the Monitoring Group under the al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee established pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolution No.1267, more than 25,000 foreign terrorist combatants from more than 100 United Nations Member States are currently entering Syria and Iraq, as well as Afghanistan, Yemen and Libya, and are involved in anti-government and extreme violence. Nearly 50,000 Twitter users have publicly supported the activities of the extremist organization Islamic State, with an average of 1,000 followers per user. According to estimates of relevant agencies, there are 27,000 to 31,000 international jihadists so far who have come to Syria and Iraq and join the Islamic State terrorist group, an average monthly entry of more than 1,000 jihadists, and these jihadists come from more than 80 countries and regions.12  Data show that thousands of Western jihadists fighting abroad have returned to the United States and Europe since 2014, and the trend towards global terrorism has continued to increase.

C. The relationship between human rights protection and the fight against violent extremism

Violent extremism is a serious violation of human dignity and human rights, hindering the development of politics, economy, society and culture. The fight against violent extremism is an inevitable requirement for the protection of human rights.

1. Violent extremism endangers national political security and unity. Violent extremism, especially political extremism, ethnic extremism and religious extremism, primarily strike and confront the current state power. Through spreading extremist ideas, inciting ethnic hatred, and committing terrorist activities, etc., the national political order is repeatedly attacked, the legitimacy of the regime weakened, national unity undermined, national security threatened, and sometimes the regime even forcibly changed.
2. Violent extremism impacts social and economic development. After traumatic terrorist activities, the social environment is seriously damaged. Public facilities, human and material resources are subject to damage of varying degrees, social production declines, and coupled with negative external effects, results in huge economic losses and the hindering of socio-economic development. For instance, the local tourism industry revenue fell by 30 percent after the 1997 terrorist attack on foreign tourists in Luxor, Egypt. The composite stock market index in Indonesia fell by 10 percent after the 2005 Bali bombings, with the number of foreign tourists visiting the island falling afterwards. At the same time, under the pressure of counter-terrorism, governments need to invest a lot of money in security every year. The growing security costs reduce the benefits of other economic activities.

3. Violent extremism disregards human rights, wantonly violates the personal and property rights of citizens, undermines the normal social order of production and life, and endangers social harmony and stability. Destructive violent attacks, massacres of civilians, the bombing of civilian areas, the use of civilians as human shields, these result in large-scale casualties and property losses, reduced production, and a turbulent society.

4. Violent extremism corrodes public ideas and hinders the development of a spiritual civilization. Through the violation of social ethics and the law, and the influence of deceptive propaganda separated from social morality and social norms, the minds of susceptible young people and the unemployed, who live at the bottom of society and are dissatisfied with society, are led astray. Violent extremism also takes advantage of violent activities to play on people’s fears, and negatively influences the spiritual and cultural development of a society.

On the one hand, a safe political environment, economic environment, social environment and ideological and cultural environment are the basic conditions for human rights protection and human rights development. Violent extremism poses a real danger to the country’s political, economic and social systems, as well as its ideological and cultural foundations. This requires us to emphasize the protection of human rights and improve the specific human rights situation in the country, step up the fight against violent extremism, create a safe and stable social environment, and promote human rights development.

On the other hand, improving human rights protection is both an important condition and a way to eliminate and resist violent extremism. An important reason for the spread of violent extremist sentiment on the global scale is that young people from all over the world suffer from long-term unemployment, lack basic living standards, lack the faith of life, are subject to weak social mobility and know they will forever remain at the bottom of society. The accumulation of dissatisfaction with society, even hatred, coupled with the temptation and deception of foreign ideas, prompt young people to join jihadist organizations, which wave the deceitful banner of religion and participate in terrorist activities. Therefore, the important way to eliminate violent extremism is to strengthen national human rights protection, promote employment, improve the basic living standards of disadvantaged groups, improve social mobility, emphasize respect for equal human dignity and freedom, publicize the inclusive concept of democracy and rule of law and promote human rights development.

II. China’s Practice of Combating and Preventing Violent Extremism

A. China is deeply victimized by violent extremism.

Violent extremism is not a special term applied to any particular country, area, or extremist organization. With the development of information technology in the context of globalization, violent extremism is spreading on a global scale with unprecedented momentum. No country can remain aloof.

China is a victim of violent extremism and terrorism. For a long time, especially since the 1990s, the East Turkestan Separatist Organization inside and outside the territory of China, for the purpose of realizing so-called “East Turkestan”, has planned, organized and implemented a series of explosions, assassinations, arson, and other terrorist violence, that have killed many people and endangered the lives and property of people from all China’s ethnic groups, as well as the country’s social stability, and seriously threatened the security and stability of surrounding areas. On October 28, 2013, the shocking “Jinshui Bridge incident” took place in Tiananmen Square, in the driver of vehicle deliberately hit pedestrians on the sidewalk of Chang’an Street, before crashing into a crowd. After hitting the guardrail of Jinshui Bridge, the jeep burst into flames. The attack resulted in two deaths and 40 injuries. On November 24, 2013, the “Turkestan Islamic Party” issued a video, claiming that members of the organization were responsible for the attack and threatening to continue to carry out more violent attacks on targets in China. On July 5, 2009, violent against people and property in Urumqi in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region caused serious casualties to numerous innocent people. The resulting direct economic loss was 68.95 million yuan. According to the subsequent investigation, this was an intentional and premeditated violent crime commanded and instigated overseas, organized and implemented at home.

The East Turkestan Islamic Movement is recognized as a terrorist organization by the international community. For a long time, this terrorist organization has spread extremism in China, inciting terrorist activities and inspiring a large number of terrorist activities inside and outside Chinese territory with the purpose of splitting Xinjiang from China. These illegal activities have resulted in a significant number of civilian casualties and property losses, and posed a serious threat to the safety and stability of China and other countries and regions. In recent years, extremists have conducted a series of bloody and frightening attacks that have killed innocent civilians and violated human rights so that the pressure of countering terrorism and maintaining stability is increasing dramatically in the border areas. 13 
B. Measures to combat and prevent violent extremism in China

China attaches great emphasis to combating and preventing violent extremism. President Xi Jinping has stressed that “there must be zero tolerance for the three forces of terrorism, separatism and extremism.”14  The rampancy of terrorism and extreme ideological trends is a severe test of peace and development. The consensus needs consolidating to combat terrorism and extremist forces. After many violent terrorist incidents in China, President Xi issued important instructions requiring rapid detection of cases and the arresting and penalizing of terrorists, as well as maintaining a crackdown and high pressure against violent extremism so as to maintain social stability and security.

1. Legal

To implement the requirement of the Fourth Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee “to promptly formulate a number of urgent laws of anti-terrorism, promote the legalization of public safety and construct national security legal system” and to deal with the intensive security situation at home and abroad, China has accelerated the legislative process to support the fight against violent extremism and terrorism, especially with regard to anti-terrorism, and it is committed to building an efficient legal system to combat violent extremism.

On October 19, 2011, the 23rd Session of the Standing Committee of the 11th National People’s Congress ratified on Decisions for Strengthening the Relevant Task of Anti-terrorism.15  This Decisions defined terrorist activities, the organizations engaged in terrorist activities, and those considered to be involved in terrorist activities, which was the first step toward anti-terrorism legislation. In April 2014, special legislation activities against terrorism were initiated, and the anti-terrorism law was drafted. The concept of violent extremism was defined, and the powers and responsibilities of the relevant law enforcement departments were clarified. In September 2014, Opinions of the Supreme People’s Court, the Supreme People’s Procuratorate and the Ministry of Public Security on Several Issues concerning the Application of Law in the Handling of Criminal Cases Involving Violent Terrorism and Religious Extremism was published. It put forward opinions on how to punish criminal terrorist and extremist activities in accordance with the provisions of the Criminal Law and other relevant laws, and set out the criteria for determining those guilty of the crime of organizing, leading or participating in a terrorist organization: “Whoever organizes or gathers other persons to plan or implement such acts to create social panic, endanger public security or threatening state organs or international organizations, causing or intending to cause personal injury, grave property damage, damage to public facilities or social disorder”. The revised Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Regulations on Religious Affairs implemented in 2014 explicitly prohibits the spread of religious extremist ideology. Thus the bottom line rules have been made on the formation of religious groups and the performance of religious activities, and the specific illegal behaviours that are prohibited have been set out. In December 2015, the Anti-Terrorism Law of the People’s Republic of China was promulgated. It stresses that all forms of extremism must be opposed in order to eliminate the ideological basis for terrorism. In 2015, Amendment (IX) to the Criminal Law was passed, new criminal charges such as the crime of terrorism and advocating extremism, inciting and instigating terrorist activities, using extremism to undermine law enforcement, forcing someone to wear apparel with logos advocating extremism and the crime of illegal possession of terrorism and extremism articles were added. Therefore, China’s law enforcement activities have clear guidelines for eliminating extremism and terrorism. 

2. Poverty Alleviation

The Chinese government stresses respecting and guaranteeing human rights, accelerating economic development and regional poverty alleviation, so as to improve the protection of human rights and effectively remove the soil in which the seeds of violent extremism are sown. At the opening of the Beijing Human Rights Forum in 2015, President Xi Jinping sent a letter in which he emphasized: “The Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Chinese government always respect and ensure human rights…There is no best but better human rights guarantee.”16

According to the White Paper on Poverty Reduction and Human Rights issued on October 17, 2016, the central government allocated special poverty alleviation funds of 189.84 billion yuan in the period 2011 to 2015, an average annual growth rate of 14.5 percent. By the end of 2015, the population living in poverty in rural areas had been reduced to 55.75 million. During that period, the central government also allocated 14.59 billion yuan to support and promote the border areas and the livelihoods of people of ethnic minority groups in these areas, with 5.5 billion yuan of the central budget to be invested in infrastructure construction, the improvement of living conditions, and the development of social undertakings within the border areas and the less populated areas inhabited by people of minority ethnic groups. During the period of the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015), the impoverished population has decreased from 39.17 million to 18.13 million in the five autonomous regions and minority ethnic areas in the provinces of Guizhou, Yunnan and Qinghai. China’s performance in poverty reduction represents significant progress in its human rights cause.

3. International Cooperation

China actively participates in the multilateral cooperation mechanisms of the United Nations, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the global counterterrorism forum, and so on ,17 and is enhancing its anti-terrorism partnerships with neighbouring countries.

The Chinese government has approved the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings and the Shanghai Treaty to Crack Down on Terrorism, Separatism and Extremism, and signed the Agreement on Cooperation in the Fight against Terrorism, Separatism and Extremism with the governments of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Turkmenistan and Russia. At present, China has established an anti-terrorism cooperation mechanism with more than 10 countries. Extensive and in-depth substantive cooperation has been carried out in such areas as intelligence exchanges related to terrorism, leads verification, case cooperation and capacity-building. Bilateral and multilateral cooperation mechanism construction in neighbouring countries has been strengthened through the form of joint military drills, cross-border pursuit, border control, financial monitoring and so on. In 2015, relevant departments in China, by combating the East Turkestan Islamic Movement terrorist organization as the primary goal, focused on promoting anti-terrorism cooperation between China and countries in South Asia, Central Asia, and Southeast Asia, and strengthened cooperation with the countries in the Middle East to eliminate extremism.18

So far, China has primarily formed a multi-level international anti-terrorism cooperation system consisting of the United Nations, the SCO, and sub-regional international organizations, China-Pakistan, China-Russia bilateral institutions and domestic institutions.

4. Education

China’s education authorities have strengthened their educational management and awareness campaign aimed at popularizing anti-terrorism and anti-extremism awareness, and carried out anti-terrorist action drills at various universities.

The Xinjiang Autonomous Region Education Commission and the University Work Committee have formulated regulations relevant to the ban on religious activities at schools, and reiterated the role of students, teachers and school administrators. They have stressed actively carrying out education on dialectical materialism and historical materialism in schools, and strengthening patriotism education to enhance the ability of young people to stand against extremism. It also explicitly proposes that religious ideas and religious ceremonies should not be spread in the public schools. In the event of any such action, the local government and the relevant departments shall deal with it in accordance with the relevant laws and regulations.

On a nationwide scale, many universities have held anti-terrorism exercises. Anti-terrorism and anti-extremism publicity and education are carried out through lectures, reports and other channels. And adolescent students have been guided to establish the correct values through ideological education, to avoid being deluded by extremism.

III. To Combat and Prevent Violent Extremism Through Comprehensive Measures

A. To build a community of human destiny to combat and prevent violent extremism

Under the background of globalization, the economic political and cultural integration process is accelerating between countries. It basically creates a global free market including all the major economic entities. The different factors of production, labour, technology, capital and information resources, flow freely worldwide, which means different cultural groups are in competition with one another. While realizing the sharing of resources it also brings entanglements and collisions between different elements. The conflicts between ethnic identity and state identity, between the powerful nations and the weak nations, and between different ideologies, are intricately intertwined. The global community has evolved into a highly intensive and risky society. It not only provides unprecedented openness for the existence and compatible development of different cultural groups, but also continues to catalyse and enlarge the exclusiveness and separation of potential differences between the divergent groups. Such a complex international environment may provide fertile soil for the creation of violent extremism.

Violent extremism is essentially a clash of values. It is a retroaction to the values of peace, justice, civilization and human dignity. Hannah Arendt pointed out that violent extremism originates from the banality of human evil, namely, the narrow pursuit of individual values and the intolerance and absolute rejection of other elements of civilization.19  As Michael Moeller, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, has said, the intolerance of religion, culture and society preached by violent extremists is causing bad effects in many parts of the world. “They have made persistent long-term conflicts more difficult to resolve, resulting in severe humanitarian crises, and are fuelling cultural, religious and national divisions.” Through the activities of territory seizure, the challenge to international boundaries, the implementation of human rights violations and using the internet and social media to publicize atrocities and so on, the violent and terrorist extremist organizations try to challenge our common values of peace, justice and human dignity. Violent extremism overtly insults the fundamental purposes and principles of the United Nations. It not only threatens international peace and security, but also hinders important tasks such as safeguarding human rights, providing humanitarian aid and promoting sustainable development. Therefore, violent extremism is an enemy of all mankind. In order to safeguard world peace and human welfare, all countries should make the fight against violent extremism a priority and work together to cope with this serious challenge.

President Xi Jinping has repeatedly stressed: “In today’s economic globalization, there is no isolated island. As residents of the global village, we should establish a sense of community of human destiny". 20  In addressing the challenges of violent extremism, as long as we strengthen the spirit of global solidarity, we will be able to overcome violent extremism with the participation of all countries, all stakeholders and all people.

B. To combat violent extremism without double standards

As President Xi Jinping has said, “Anti-terrorism cannot be performed with double standards. Similarly, terrorism cannot be linked to specific ethnic religions, which will only create national and religious barriers.” To combat violent extremism, we must avoid double standards, and instead adhere to uniform standards. To prevent and combat violent extremism, terrorism cannot be linked to specific ethnic groups and religions. We oppose the hatred propaganda of violent extremism’s distortion of religious doctrine, and also oppose the equating of a specific ethnic religion to extremism. We oppose concluding the root of extremism is Islamic civilization itself.

C. To take a variety of measures to eliminate the soil in which violent extremism grows

President Xi Jinping pointed out: “No single policy can work alone, and counter-terrorism must adhere to the comprehensive policy and treating both root causes and symptoms”. “Only if young people acquire the dignity of life in their development, can hope beat disappointment in their hearts and will they reject violence consciously and stay away from extreme trends of thoughts and terrorism.”21

To combat violent extremism, we should give full play to the coordinating and leading role of the United Nations Security Council, and the international community should work together to eliminate poverty, reduce social inequalities, and strengthen the protection of human rights through the implementation of the United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, so as to create a social environment that is not conducive to extremism. As President Xi Jinping has said: “Without peace, there will be no sustainable development; without sustainable development, there will be no peace.” “We are determined to build a better future for all people, including millions who are denied opportunities to live a decent, dignified, meaningful life, and who can’t make the most of their potential.” “The international community should take comprehensive measures to promote the creation of a peaceful, just and inclusive society without fear and violence.”

In 2015, United Nations’ then-Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon pointed out in a the speech at the Summit on the Suppression of Violent Extremism held in Washington, it is critical to take military action against a real threat, but only good governance can eradicate terrorism. Human rights, institutions with accountability, fair governance and political participation are some of the most powerful weapons to fight violent extremism. 21 Poverty, inequality and oppression are the hotbed in which terrorism thrives and grows, and terrorist activities lead to more poverty and despair. The international community must have a clear understanding of this and take concerted collective actions. The United Nations Security Council, the Global Counterterrorism Forum and other international mechanisms should be given full play in the fight against terrorism. All social forces should be unified and the national basic guarantees of human rights should be strengthened to prevent the rise of violent extremism and the radicalization which leads to terrorist threats. The struggle against extremism requires not only the suppression of terrorist activities, but also preventing people who are in extreme poverty from plunging into the embrace of extremism. The key to preventing violent terrorism is to create a world in which there is universal respect for human rights and human dignity, the rule of law, justice, equality and non-discrimination, respect for racial groups, ethnic groups and cultural diversity, respect for equal opportunities, to give full play to the potential and promotion of the common prosperity.

At the same time, the international community should further strengthen the governance of cyberspace, and crack down on any person or persons using the internet to spread extremist ideology. Extremists use the internet to spread their ideology and attract new recruits to their cause, and even display violent acts online to create fear among the public. Therefore, we should further strengthen network governance, so as to prevent the spread of extremist ideology.

(Translated by LIU Yan)

*ZHANG Xiaoling ( 张晓玲 ), vice director of the Department of Politics and Law, director of Human Rights Research Center, Party School of the Central Committee of C.P.C.

**LI Si ( 李思 ), research assistant of the Human Rights Institute, Guangzhou University, S.J.D.

1The Amendment also introduced the concept of “extremism” and “extremist crime” on the basis of the original legal concept, and added “the crime of promoting terrorism and extremism, and instigating terrorist activities”, “the crime of undermining the enforcement of the law by making use of extremism”, “the crime of forcing to wear the dresses or symbols that propagates terrorism or extremism”, and “the crime of illegally possessing items that propagates terrorism or extremism”. The purpose is to further promote the development of the system of the counter-terrorism legal concept.

2In August 2011, the United States launched a special policy countering violent extremism; In December, the Obama administration proposed a Strategic Plan to Authorize Local Collaborators to Prevent the Domestic Violence; In February 2015, the US Department of Homeland Security further refined the strategic plan; In September, Obama held an international counter-terrorism conference during the United Nations General Assembly, reaffirming the threat of the spreading violent extremism.

3The Agreement Between the People’s Republic of China and Turkmenistan on Cooperation in Combating Terrorism, Separatism and Extremism, as signed by China’s Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Dai Bingguo on behalf of the People’s Republic of China on April 3, 2006, was ratified at the 24th session of the Standing Committee of the 10th National People’s Congress. The Agreement Between the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation on Cooperation in Combating Terrorism, Separatism and Extremism signed by Minister of Foreign Affairs Yang Jielu, on behalf of the People’s Republic of China on April 3, 2006 was ratified at the 24th session of the Standing Committee of the 11th National People’s Congress.

4Wang Bo, “A Study on the Nature and Intrinsic Structure of Islamic Extremism in Europe”, International Review, no. 4 (2015): 105.

5Lu Youxue and Wu Yonghui, “Analysis of Extremism Crime: Basic Theory and the Legislative Analysis”,Journal of Southwest University of Political Science and Law, no. 2 (2015): 37.

6Li Xinghua, “Synopsis of the Research on Religious Extremism”, North West Ethno-national Studies, no. 4 (2002).

7Zhao Cui, “Some Problems of Extremist Crime”, Journal of Hunan Police Academy, no. 3 (2016).

8Robert Nozick, “Characteristics of Extremism”, trans. Guo Jianling, Soochou Academic, no. 1 (2012): 138.

9Wang Zhen, “Reconsideration on the Transformation of Global Terrorist War”, Arab World Studies, no. 5 (2016).

10News Channel of United Nations official website, accessed November 4, 2016, http://www.un.org/chinese/News/story.asp?/newsID=27067.

11Yang Shu, “New Trends and Features of International Terrorism”, People’s Tribune, no.3 (2015).

12The Soufan Group, Foreign Fighters, “An Updated Assessment of the Flow of Foreign Fighters into Syria and Iraq”, December 2015, p.4, accessed October 29, 2016, http://soufangroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/TSG_ForeignFightersUp_datel.pdf.

13Other cases of violent terrorist attacks are: the Bachu unrest on April 23, 2013; the Kunming Train Station attack on March 1; the bombing in Urumqi on May 22; Urumqi South Railway Station Terrorist Attack on April 30; the Shache county terrorist attack on July 28; and the Shayibak terrorist attack on December 15, etc.

14President Xi Jinping’s keynote speech at the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia.

15The first legal instrument specifically directed against terrorism in China.

16Phoenix Information, “Xi Jinping: The realization of human rights is a common goal of mankind”,accessed November 15, 2016, http://news.ifeng.com/a/20150916/44668084-0.shtml.

17In the conference of “Prevention of Violent Extremism” held in Geneva in April 2016, Ma Zhaoxu, a delegate of China’s Permanent Mission in Geneva, said “[v]iolent extremism is a global threat which needs the mutual responses of the international community. China is committed to giving full play to the leading role of the United Nations and the UN Security Council to forge the widest membership consensus, to take concerted actions, and to resolutely combat violent extremism, especially the use of the internet and social media to spread violent extremist ideology. China actively participates in international cooperation under the framework of the United Nations to jointly safeguarding the stability of regions and world peace”. http://jiangsu.china.com.cn/html/2016/gj_0409/5179123.html, accessed November 1, 2016.

18Guangming Net, “China Has Established Anti-Terrorism Cooperation Mechanism with More Than 10 Countries”, accessed November 20, 2016, http://news.eastday.com/eastday/13news/auto/news/china/u7ai3543917-k4.html.

19Hannah Ahrendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism, trans. Lin Xianghua (Beijing: SDX Joint Publishing Company, 2008), 569-572.

20Speech by President Xi Jinping at G20 Summit in Hangzhou.

21Xi Jinping’s speech at the Headquarters of the League of Nations in Arabia States.

22“Ban Ki-moon Called for Respect for International Human Rights Law and Humanitarian Law in the Fight against Violent Extremism”, accessed November 1, 2016, http://www.un.org/chinese/News/story.asp?NewsID=23490.

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