But academics who study terrorism pointed to the changing rhetoric emanating from the White House as a positive sign for U.S.-Chinese relations. While governments ought to take care in branding activities “terrorist” given the license for violent response that such a word implicitly conveys, in this case the term would appear to apply, some suggested, noting that ordinary people have been falling victim.

“The international community has been slow to treat Uighur violence as terrorism; they have shied away from using the term. Typically, what you will hear out of the White House is words like condolences or tragedy, but not terrorism,” said Max Abrahams, a professor of political science at Northeastern University in Boston. “It is an important step for Washington to recognize the attack as terrorism.”