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.