Uighur Separatism: East Turkistan Groups

  • Rohan Gunaratna
  • Arabinda Acharya
  • Wang Pengxin


On January 20, 2009, China issued a white paper “China’s National Defense in 2008” stating that “Separatist forces working for ‘Taiwan independence,’ ‘East Turkistan independence’ and ‘Tibet inde- pendence’” are threatening the “unity and security” of the country.2 The specific term “separatist forces for East Turkistan independence” used here indicates a broad range of Uighur separatist groups (either violent or nonviolent), including the terrorist groups identified by China. On January 21, 2001, China’s Permanent Mission to the UN issued its first official statement referring to the “East Turkistan organizations.”3 A 2002 document titled “East Turkistan Terrorist Forces Cannot Get Away with Impunity,” relied frequently on this generic term, which indicated a collection of several groups, many of which have “East Turkistan” in their names. All these groups were alleged to be responsible for terrorist violence against China from 1990 to 2001. In fact, until August 2002, when the then U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, Richard Armitage, identified East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) as the “leading Uighur international terrorist organization,” very few people, including Uighur activists themselves, had ever heard of these groups.4 Even in China’s 2002 report, the ETIM was not specifically mentioned.


Terrorist Attack Training Camp Chinese Authority Beijing Olympic Game Beijing Olympics 
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Copyright information

© Rohan Gunaratna, Arabinda Acharya and Wang Pengxin 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rohan Gunaratna
  • Arabinda Acharya
  • Wang Pengxin

There are no affiliations available

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