Opinion / Editorials

Security a growing concern

(China Daily) Updated: 2014-05-07 09:14


Also targeted at innocent passers-by.

In striking similarity to what happened in Kunming on March 1, and in Urumqi on April 30, a knifewielding man's hacking spree at Guangzhou's main railway station sent shock waves around the country.

Initial eyewitness accounts, including mentions of a "white cap" and claims of more than one attacker, prompted immediate associations with the terrorist attacks in Kunming and Urumqi and extremists.

But the police authorities in Guangzhou have detained the perpetrator and confirmed he acted alone, although they are yet to ascertain the identity of the suspect and reason for the attack. At this point, we can just pray this is an isolated incident of a nonterrorist nature by a disturbed citizen, rather than a followup to the tragic episodes in Kunming and Urumqi.

But no matter what it turns out to be, no matter who did it, and why, this is a bloody footnote to what the country's first bluebook on national security has observed.

The national security report, whose release coincided with Tuesday's attack in Guangzhou, warns of an upsurge in homegrown terrorism, along with similar nonterrorist violence.

That the Urumqi attack was carried out during President Xi Jinping's visit to the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region was a provocative declaration of war by the separatist elements there. They are the biggest threat to both national security and public well-being, and their threat goes far beyond the physical damage any terrorist attack can inflict. They are sowing seeds of distrust and hatred between different ethnic groups, the long-term consequences of which could be far more hazardous.

Not all cases of violence have a terrorist agenda behind them. Many are the violent endings of stories of injustice and frustration. In several prominent previous cases, hysterical attackers resorted to violence simply to have their stories of injustice heard. Widening wealth gaps, rude law enforcement, or brutal land seizures could all be the spark that lights the fuse to a violent act.

The latest incident will further heighten vigilance nationwide and accelerate the process of properly arming the police. Preparedness is an effective safeguard against similar attacks.

But a lot more needs to be done to address the root causes. That terrorism has found a home on our soil and become a regional epidemic in some areas, and that more conflicts that could have been resolved peacefully have seen violent endings are worrisome signs that something needs remedying.

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