China mobilises one lakh citizen army to get information on terror

The Economic Times, 31 May 2014

BEIJING: Chinese police have mobilised one lakh-strong citizen army here with monetary rewards to gather intelligence against potential terror attacks as part of national anti-terrorism campaign, according to media reports.

The huge public intelligence group, regarded as one of the largest in recent years consisted of community leaders and volunteers across Beijing.

It will collect anti-terror intelligence and report to the city’s public security agency, Beijing Youth Daily and Beijing News reported yesterday.

Each piece of valid information will net a citizen agent a reward of 2 yuan while those who report three pieces of intelligence a day will be offered 200 yuan (about $ 33) a month.

Over eight lakh volunteers have been mobilised to patrol the capital together with the police, Hong Kong based South China Morning Post reported.

China has announced a series of security measures after recent spate of terrorist attacks by Islamic militants from Xinjiang as well as increasing knife attacks by disgruntled elements on public.

Thirty nine people were killed and 94 injured in multiple bomb attacks in Urumqi, capital of China’s Xinjiang province which is the scene of riots and violent incidents in recent years in the back drop of ethnic tensions over resentment by native Muslim Uygurs about the increasing settlements of Hans from other provinces.

China blames East Turkistan Islamic Movement ( ETIM) for various terror attacks in Xinjiang and elsewhere.

Yesterday Chinese President Xi Jinping called for “nets spread from the earth to the sky” to counter Islamist militants in the volatile Xinjiang province and asked officials to prevent infiltration from across the borders.

Addressing officials of Xinjiang, he called for allowing religious demands of the local people within the permissible limits of law amid criticism about attempts by police to restrict Islamic religious activities and dress code.

Seeking international cooperation, Xi called for “walls made of copper and steel” and “nets spread from the earth to the sky” to capture terrorists, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

The recent mass mobilisations have been the largest of their kind. During the 2008 Beijing Olympics, 2.90 lakh citizens joined the local police to patrol the streets.

The city mobilises around seven lakh citizen volunteers each year, mostly pensioners, to patrol the main streets during the annual parliamentary sessions, state-run China Daily said in a recent report.