BEIJING (AFP) - China is recruiting foreign experts in counter-terrorism to assist the training of anti-terror personnel, state-run media reported on Thursday, following a spate of deadly attacks which authorities blame on Islamist-inspired separatists.
The People's Public Security University of China will offer visiting professorships to top specialists in the field from countries including the United States, Israel, Pakistan and Australia, the government-run China Daily said.
"The US and Israel have accumulated rich practical experience in fighting terrorism," Mei Jianming, director of the university's Research Centre for Counterterrorism, told the paper. "The US is advanced in overall strategic research, and Israel is very proficient at tactical action in fighting terrorism."
China has vowed a year-long crackdown on terrorism - and last month executed 13 people - following several high-profile attacks blamed on militants from the far-western region of Xinjiang, home to the mostly Muslim Uighur minority.
Since late last year, the attacks have spread outside the region and targeted ordinary citizens rather than government or security personnel. They have included a fiery vehicle crash at Tiananmen Square, Beijing's symbolic heart, in October and a knife assault at a railway station in southern Yunnan province in March that killed 29 people.
Rights groups accuse Beijing of cultural and religious repression that fuels unrest in Xinjiang. The government, however, argues it has boosted economic development in the area and that it upholds minority rights in a country with 56 recognised ethnic groups.
The People's Public Security University of China plans to put 80 counterterrorism specialists, who will be taught to use submachine guns, sniper rifles and other weapons, through a rigorous four-year programme to combat the rising threat, Mei said, according to the report.
"The lessons and training will focus on intelligence gathering, investigating special cases, network information technology, technical and tactical anti-terror action and related international judicial cooperation," Mei said. The university's president Cheng Lin added: "We urgently need to cultivate counterterrorism specialists to improve our preventive and terror-fighting capabilities."
Counterterrorism in China has been "riddled with problems", he said, among them "insufficient intelligence-gathering capabilities".