On Thursday, officials also said that they had uncovered a plot by Islamic terrorists in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region to disrupt the games by kidnapping foreign journalists, athletes and spectators.Seriously, what kind of support for its cause could any separatist group hope to gain by targeting foreign visitors? Yes, this tactic would embarrass Beijing, but equally it risks alienating the international community. There are better ways to embarrass Beijing.
The police said they arrested 35 people and confiscated explosives and detonators belonging to a Uighur jihadist group based in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang. In the past, officials have announced the discovery of such plots without providing much evidence. Last month, they claimed to have foiled a plan to hijack an airplane and blow up a bus.
While China has faced violent attacks from Muslim groups, unflinching social controls have prevented the emergence of a sustained terrorist threat in the country. Some analysts have suggested that widely publicized discoveries of weapons caches and terrorist plots are part of a larger effort to present domestic unrest as a form of international terrorism that the world should help China suppress.
Beijing wants the Chinese to equate minority critics of the Party with terrorists and terrorism. This much has been clear for several weeks (this post). The Uighurs of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region have stood in solidarity with the Tibetans during the current crisis, and a various protests have taken place recently in that far Western province (this post).