The long-standing conflict in Xinjiang between the Chinese state and groups of ethnic Uyghurs struggling for independence is central to the understanding of the development of Chinese attitudes towards, and policy on, terrorism. In 1996 a key Chinese Communist Party publication, Document No. 7, stated explicitly that ‘separatism’ in Xinjiang was the most serious threat to China’s security and territorial integrity. 1 If the conflict in Xinjiang had not existed it would have been more difficult for Beijing to manoeuvre itself into a formal (although not an active military) alliance with the United States and other European states in the ‘War on Terror’ launched by Washington after the attacks on the United States by a group acting under the auspices of Al Qaeda in September 2001.