China says terrorism tops meeting of Central Asian states

China’s defense minister says fighting the threat of terrorism is a top concern to be discussed by a Beijing-led group of Central Asian states this week.

Wei Fenghe told fellow defense officials from the eight-member Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Beijing on Tuesday that the group stood as a force for peace.

The focus on terrorism reflects China’s hopes to use the grouping to stamp out threats of cross-border support for low-level separatist insurgencies particularly in the predominantly Turkic-speaking region of Xinjiang.

Along with China and Russia, the SCO includes several Central Asian states, together with rivals Pakistan and India, the latter of which is considered one of China’s key strategic competitors for influence in Asia.

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