When I read about the bus explosions in Kunming on this past Monday I was a little surprised that the local police weren’t calling it terrorism. I don’t believe that it was done by anyone with a political agenda. This was probably done, as the police are saying, by someone with a local grievance. But isn’t that terrorism?

According to Dictionary.com the first definition for terrorism is “the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, esp. for political purposes.”

Even if the person had a local grievance didn’t he terrorize people? He used violence to intimidate people — two people died. But since the local Kunming and most likely the central governments disagree with me, that makes me wonder how does the Chinese government define terrorism? Is it a word only used to describe aggressors from outside of China or outside of what the government considers mainstream Chinese society? I notice that it is used against some minority political groups in the country — some of whom may have used violence to fight for more civil and political rights (a method I don’t agree with).

If what I am theorizing is true then I’d ask the Chinese government to reconsider. Not only does it hide the truth — that there are the possibility of terrorists in China that aren’t foreigners or minorities, but it also promotes the creation of terrorists in a way too.

Restricting the definition of terrorists to just minorities or foreigners encourages the view that all people from those groups are terrorists. This can cause people to exclude members of those groups from mainstream society making them feel like they don’t belong there. Therefore they choose to fight against a society that oppresses them sometimes by violent means.

The easiest way to stop this before it starts is to use more inclusive language. The Chinese government should be more precise when it describes these types of events such as saying a crime was committed by a specific person from a certain group and only labeling an act as terrorism when a group claims responsibility or grouping the domestic “terrorists” in with the minorities and the foreigners.

It’s a small step but a small step can go a long way to making a big change.

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About JohnG

John Guise is a Canadian who came to Shanghai on a whim after been laid off from his newspaper job in 2003. Four years later, he’s become pretty good at Mandarin and visited a lot of Chinese factories. He's currently a staff writer for a China-based business magazine.

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  1. Pingback: How to Turn My Week Around « One-Eyed Panda’s Journal

  2. The answer is simple. It is not terrorism until China calls it terrorism. Just like “state secrets”, “illegal transactions”, “proper identification”, “valid reasons”.

  3. I just found this pretty awsome article, The Last Patriot, that sheds some light on the first encounters america had with Jihadist back in the late 1700s. Its a really interesting article worth checking out.

  4. I guess it really comes down to the motives of the executioners of the attack. If they were using terror as a device to forward a political or social agenda, then it would be considered terrorism, if it was simply an act of violence, then not.

    @Matt: If piracy can be considered terrorism, then not a nation was innocent of it. Privateers of the times flew all nations’ flags, not just the flag of Islam and they all stole, captured and murdered in the name of something “greater”, not just Allah.

    The review, and perhaps the book?, tries too hard to link the Mediterranean piracy and objections of the times to modern day conflicts in the Middle East and Afghanistan (a world away from Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, I’m afraid). It, rather bluntly, tries to discredit the leftist view that more military is not the answer in the conflicts in the Middle East (or, indeed as an overall foreign policy) is likened to the opposition at the time stating that a navy wasn’t needed. A rather simplistic and ignorant comparison.

    Sometimes you can learn a lot from history, and sometimes it’s just got nothing to do with it.

  5. don’t give a shit really, about what ‘they’ call it……
    you know what it is, i know and people know……

  6. Pingback: So China has Islamic Terrorists Now? « One-Eyed Panda’s Journal

  7. Terrorists mean someone who fight America with violence.
    Fighting against China is instead called freedom fighters.

  8. @Guo Hong: It’s not to say we need to change the definition as it applies to those fighting China, but it does raise the completely valid argument about changing the definition for those fighting the US.

    We don’t need more terrorists.

  9. Islamic terrorists are not capable of attacking China. Islamic terrorists are extremely afraid of China. Islamic militants are like goats in front of China. While visiting China, found that Muslims there are like domestic animals and are used for works such as to clean toilets, lavotaries, streets etc. Islamic militants actually shiver by fear when even hear about China.
    If islamic militants try to attack China then China may eat Islamic militants.

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