Crackdown on crime ahead of trade show

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 August, 2011, 12:00am


Xinjiang police have started a two-month crackdown on crime to boost security ahead of an international trade convention in the restive autonomous region later this month and October's National Day celebrations, it was reported yesterday.

Police launched the crackdown after the regional government pledged to stamp out terrorist and criminal groups in Xinjiang to ensure the safety of the first China-Asia- Europe Expo in Urumqi later this month, and for the National Day 'golden week' holiday, a report on the People's Daily website said.

The two-month crackdown was launched after at least 20 people died in two violent attacks and protests last month in Kashgar, where 80 per cent of the 600,000 population are Uygurs, the region's largest ethnic group, and in another southern city, Hotan .

The central government has blamed Muslim extremists for the two attacks, and sent its elite Snow Leopard anti-terrorism unit to Xinjiang early this month.

The People's Daily report said Xinjiang police had mobilised all available manpower to monitor downtown areas around the clock, including squares, markets, bus stops and railway stations.

Religious gatherings and circulars in the majority Muslim region had been identified as key surveillance targets, including related information on the internet. It said local police set up a specialist team to stop 'illegal religious circulars' hiding 'violent messages'.

Xinjiang party boss Zhang Chunxian told Hong Kong reporters in Urumqi last week that it was impossible for any official administering Xinjiang to eradicate the threat of terrorism entirely.

Security in Xinjiang has been tight since July 2009 when nearly 200 people were killed in fighting between Uygurs and Han Chinese.

Meanwhile, the Xinjiang authorities started issuing permanent residence permits to 'qualified non-locals' yesterday. The regional legislature said the move was aimed at providing migrants with a stable living environment that would help them merge into local communities, the Legal Daily said.

At yesterday's ceremony, only 12 people received the permits, which allow them to live anywhere in Xinjiang, the newspaper said. It said the permits would replace temporary residence permits. But local governments would still have the right to ban 'troublemakers'.


The number of people per square kilometre in Xinjiang

- Average population density on the mainland is 627 per sq km