Paramilitary leader warns of instability in Xinjiang

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 08 January, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 08 January, 2012, 12:00am


A top official of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC)- a paramilitary organisation set up to consolidate Communist Party control and guard the border 58 years ago- has warned of rising volatility in the frontier region and vowed to step up efforts to maintain stability.

The remark by Che Jun, the political commissar of the XPCC, came on Thursday after a series of terrorist attacks in Xinjiang in past months. He also warned that there was increasing risk of religious extremists infiltrating the paramilitary group mainly dominated by Han.

The Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region covers almost 1.7 million square kilometres and shares borders with eight predominantly Muslim nations.

'There are more factors of instability and uncertainty near [Xinjiang] and there is mounting pressure to maintain long-term harmony and stability,' Che warned at a meeting on Thursday.

This is the second time in two weeks that a senior Xinjiang official has raised the prospect of rising instability in the region. Zhang Chunxian , the party chief of Xinjiang, warned last month that 'some important areas in Xinjiang are in a crucial and complex condition'.

Xinjiang has experienced frequent bouts of violence in recent years. The biggest eruption - which claimed at least 200 lives- took place in July 2009.

Che said 'three evil forces'- religious extremism, minority separatism and violent terrorism- were on the rise in the area. He said the XPCC should strengthen its ability to secure a peaceful border and stop such violent incidents.

Urumqi will host the second China-Eurasia Expo in September. The Communist Party Congress, the most important political gathering of the year, will be held this autumn in Beijing. The leaders are unlikely to tolerate unrest in Xinjiang at this time.

'It is extremely important to maintain the stability of the border region this year, which will be significant and very special,' Che said.