China latest target of IS in new propaganda video

China latest target of IS in new propaganda video
A chilling video showing Chinese children undergoing military training with the Islamic State group highlights a new threat for Beijing of radicalised Uighur militants.
3 min read
01 March, 2017
The film shows children undergoing military training with the group

China appears to be the next target of the Islamic State group, as a video was released on Monday showing a Uighur militant vowing to "shed blood like rivers" in the East Asian country.

The half-hour video was the first recorded threat by the IS against China, according to SITE Intelligence Group, and highlights the potential risks Beijing faces from IS recruiting Uighur Muslim separatists.

The film shows a Uighur militant directing warnings to China before murdering an alleged informer.

"Oh, you Chinese who do not understand what people say! We are the soldiers of the caliphate, and we will come to you to clarify to you with the tongues of our weapons, to shed blood like rivers and avenging the oppressed," according to SITE's translation.

Chinese children are also filmed undergoing military and religious training conducted by IS militants.

The propaganda film was released by IS' Iraq branch, and possibly filmed in the country, where the group is under siege from Iraqi and Kurdish forces.

Around a hundred Uighurs have joined IS in Syria and Iraq, and Beijing is concerned about the security risk if these battle-hardened and radicalised militants ever return home.

The Uighur Muslim minority inhabit a vast area in western China known as Xinjiang. It has witnessed a number of violence incidents between Chinese security forces and separatists over the past decade.

Uighurs themselves complain of discrimination and say their traditional and religious way of life is being eroded by Chinese domestic policy and an influx of settlers from elsewhere in China.

A number of Uighurs have joined extremist groups such as IS, and China has warned about the potential threat of these militants linking up with international terrorist organisations.

Dr. Michael Clarke, an expert on Xinjiang at the National Security College of Australian National University, told AFP that the video appears to be IS' "first direct threat" against China. 

"It is the first time that Uighur-speaking militants have claimed allegiance to IS," he added.

The video showed China is now "very firmly a target of jihadist rhetoric", Clarke said.

He added that so far China had avoided being named as a potential target by international jihadi groups. 

Clarke added that the film shows signs of a split among Uighur fighters, as it includes a threat against the al Qaeda-aligned Turkistan Islamic Party in Syria.

China has said that "East Turkestan terrorist forces" - referring to the Uighur region - had posted several threats against the government and called for international cooperation to combat these groups.

China has not been the focus of anti-IS propaganda but the militant group has released songs in Mandarin to appeal to potential Chinese sympathisers.

It has also filmed a 81-year-old Uighur militant fighting with the group in Iraq.

Beijing has also shown diplomatic support for the Syrian regime in its battle against rebels and IS.

Agencies contributed to this story.