China misuses global fear of "terrorists" to pursue a self-preserving agenda under the guise ofanti-terrorism. In fact, the government now uses a broad definition of "terrorism" to seek support for violent activities it has hidden in years past. The global community simply cannot idly wait while such atrocities are happening to minorities throughout China, and particularly in Tibet.
The United Nation's failure to clear definitional ambiguity has allowed the United States – by virtue of its key role in the "War on Terror"– to assume primacy in delineating what terrorism is. The U.S. State Department defines "terrorism" as an "activity that (1) involves a violent act or an act dangerous to human life, property, or infrastructure; and (2) appears to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, kidnapping, or hostage-taking." Although general, two criteria are key: terrorism must be physically dangerous and utilize violence as a coercive means towards a larger end.
Unfortunately, China has utilized the "War on Terror" to pursue ulterior motives. This is particularly noticeable in Tibet and Xinjiang, where the regime often utilizes crushing repressive force. Indeed,Amnesty International in 2004 wrote, "Chinese leaders are now seeking to gain international acceptance for their counterinsurgency campaign (against minorities) as part of the larger war on terror."The Chinese definition of terrorism lacks the U.S. description's two-pronged clarity. Rather, the government document describing terrorismmentions "terrorist" on fifteen occasions, but fails to ever define the term itself. This allows China to violate the human rights of minorities like Tibetans and Uyghurs, while it claims to the world it is doing "good."
The implications for human rights and global governance are crucial. The International Journal of Human Rights in 2010 noted, "Internationally, Beijing has reconfigured its discourse regarding Xinjiang and the Uyghurs to... gain international recognition of its 'legitimate' struggle against Uyghur terrorism" (Clarke, 2010). This is the same strategy China uses regarding Tibet, where it recklessly seeks to discredit the Tibetan cause with jabs at the "separatist" forces, and a supposedly evil "Dalai clique."
The reality is the "Middle Way" that His Holiness the Dalai Lama espouses seeks peaceful resolution, and also desires human rights for all. The Journal further observed, "the 'war on terror' has permitted China to not only deploy significant repressive force... but also to establish the political and legal framework through which to confront any future challenges to state power."
The issue is rooted in the international community, as no country risks its potential to address future "terrorism" by chastising China for its abusive definition. UN nations therefore are currently valuing ambiguity over the actual loss of life occurring in Tibet and Xinjiang; this absolutely must change. The UN must push to form a clear definition of terrorism, one that does not allow China to violate the rights of peaceful Tibetan supporters.
Rather than force the UN to establish a strong definition, the global community watches idly as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is repeatedly violated. The vicious cycle of internationally-supported definitional ambiguity therefore continues, as does the ability for China to pursue violent repression under the guise of "anti-terrorism" against minorities. Unless the world would rather let Tibetans and Uyghurs suffer, the international community should push for a clear definition; it should be one that does not allow for reckless rights violations against minorities.