An armored vehicle takes part in a joint anti-terrorism drill conducted by Chinese and Kyrgyz border defense troops in Artux, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, on June 27, 2017. (Photo by Zhang Zheng/chinadaily.com.cn)
Stopping suspected terrorists from crossing borders illegally and smuggling firearms must be prioritized as regional anti-terrorism cooperation continues to intensify, according to China's most senior border control official.
"Terrorist activities have become more organized and internationalized, while terrorists are better equipped and technically trained. Preventing them from crossing borders illegally has become an urgent matter," Chen Dingwu, head of the Ministry of Public Security's Border Control Department, said on Thursday.
Chen made the remarks during the fifth meeting of border control chiefs of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization's member countries in Dalian, Liaoning province. The meeting has been held regularly since 2011.
More than 30 border control and anti-terrorism officials from SCO members－India, Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan－participated in the meeting, discussing further cooperation in border control and anti-terrorism mechanisms in border areas to improve regional security.
China will step up cooperation with SCO members' border control departments by regularly sharing intelligence, conducting anti-terrorism drills and eliminating terrorist cells together to ensure terrorist, extremist and separatist cells have nowhere to hide and cannot grow stronger in border areas, Chen said.
"A large number of illegal goods and personnel were seized in border areas during joint patrol missions conducted by SCO members last year," Yevgeniy Sysoev, director of the SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure, said during the meeting.
Last year, cooperation between border forces from Uzbekistan and Russia prevented members of the Islamic State terrorist organization from penetrating Central Asia. In addition, a joint anti-terrorism operation between Tajikistan and Russia led to the arrest of 26 terrorists, Sysoev said.
Border control cooperation also helped to arrest the suspects who attacked the Chinese embassy in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, in August, he added.
The member countries will continue to carry out joint patrol missions coded "United-2017" this year to further improve and deepen the cooperation mechanism to combat crime in border areas, Sysoev said.
China and Kyrgyzstan held an anti-terrorism drill in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region on Tuesday. Under the SCO cooperation framework, the two countries have conducted joint patrols in border areas 17 times and exchanged more than 130 pieces of intelligence in recent years.
During a speech at the 17th Meeting of the SCO Council of Heads of State in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, earlier this month, President Xi Jinping called for the organization to strengthen regional anti-terrorism institutions to enhance the security capabilities of member countries.