Armed policemen from the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Unit climb up a building during an anti-terrorism drill in Beijing, September 23, 2010. REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic
As Beijing takes a harder look at the growing threat of global terrorism, China may be learning from the U.S. on counterterrorism techniques and tactics.
Chinese security forces staged an assault on a mock facility bearing a strong resemblance to the compound U.S. forces raided in 2011 to bring down Osama bin Laden, reports the New York Times. The Chinese mock raid, led by Zhang Yue, leader of the Bayingolin special force squadron of the Xinjiang Armed Police Corps, was aired on state television.
The “raid” was carried out in Xinjiang, a Western province plagued by violence and unrest. The region is home to the Uyghurs, a Muslim minority that has an uneasy relationship with Beijing. Observers believe that aggressive responses to perceived threats by Chinese authorities have resulted in violent retaliation by extremists.
Over the years, local militants have clashed with authorities and citizens, leaving hundreds dead. Several militant attackers, suspected affiliates of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, a radical separatist organization targeted by the Chinese government, slaughtered over 30 people in a train station in Kunming with machetes. Uyghur militants fighting alongside the Islamic State threatened in late February to return home and “shed blood like rivers.”
China has significantly stepped up its security presence in Xinjiang. More than 10,000 Chinese security forces marched through the streets of Xinjiang’s provincial capital last month. To enhance its abilities to fight terrorism at home and, possibly, abroad, China appears to be studying with the U.S. playbook.
The recent mock raid featured moves reminiscent of American counterterrorism tactics.
“The movements, room-clearing techniques and shooting drills are all basic special operations techniques,” Colonel David S. Maxwell explained to the New York Times, adding that there was little doubt that Chinese troops were copy American combat techniques. Mimicry may not be enough to get China where it wants to go though.
“There is a big difference between demonstrating choreographed skills and being able to conduct combat operations in the fog and friction of real war when things go wrong, as they did for the assault on Abbottabad,” Maxwell told reporters. Filming propaganda footage is noticeably different from actual in-the-field combat.
Such exercises are the only real training opportunities available to China’s counterterrorism forces though.
While China is not directly involved in global counterterrorism operations, Chinese troops regularly conduct joint counterrorism drills with neighboring countries.
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