Crackdown ahead of anniversary of riots

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 19 June, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 19 June, 2010, 12:00am

A month-long 'strike-hard' campaign has been launched in Urumqi to crack down on crime as authorities in the regional capital of Xinjiang gear up ahead of the first anniversary of deadly rioting.

The latest crackdown, which runs from tomorrow until July 20, comes on the heels of a series of measures introduced recently to maintain social stability as the rioting anniversary on July 5 looms.

Without specifically referring to the rioting, which claimed almost 200 lives in Urumqi, police said at a meeting on Thursday that the campaign intended to 'severely clamp down on any kinds of crime'.

An extra 1,000 police would be deployed from all bureaus in the city to patrol the streets between June 25 and July 15, China News Service reported.

Items like explosives and poison would be subject to stricter surveillance from now on. Possessing and transporting these items would be severely punished, China News Service reported.

Security at public areas such as shopping malls, hotels and markets, as well as important public facilities like water and electricity plants and financial networks, are also required to be improved.

In the wake of last year's unrest, security has already been so tight in the region that internet service was only recently fully resumed.

Despite his populist approach in his former capacity as Hunan's party secretary, new Xinjiang party secretary Zhang Chunxian, who replaced Wang Lequan, has stuck to the government's hard-line attitude towards the security issue.

A three-month campaign was launched at the start of this week targeting non-permanent residents. Police now carry out door-to-door checks for those who do not have a hukou, or residential certification, in Urumqi in a bid to control temporary residents such as foreigners, the unemployed, and those recently released from jail. But it is still unclear what will happen to those who do not have their residential certifications.

Last week, a large-scale anti-rioting drill involving more than 1,000 police was staged in Urumqi to prepare the city's police force for possible anniversary unrest.

Zhou Daming , a Han Chinese Urumqi resident, said security on the streets had been enhanced in recent weeks as the anniversary approached.

'There have been armed and ordinary police officers patrolling on the streets since July 5. Their presence has been reduced for some time. But more officers and patrol vehicles are coming back to the streets these days,' Zhou said.

The July 5 rioting erupted in Urumqi after a protest by young Uygurs against a factory brawl in Guangdong that claimed two Uygurs' lives. The event later turned into a rampage against Han Chinese that also saw shops and public facilities being destroyed.

In what is considered the worst clash between Han Chinese and Uygurs in recent history, the unrest claimed up to 200 lives. The majority of the victims were Han Chinese while the rest were from various ethnic groups, including Uygurs.