Xinjiang police launch new crackdown on knives and separatist propaganda

Explosives and separatist propaganda on banned list too amid crackdown after recent violence; rewards offered for tips on militants

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 03 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 03 July, 2013, 9:14am

Xinjiang police launched a new crackdown on the possession of knives, explosives and separatist propaganda yesterday, and offered rewards of up to 100,000 yuan (HK$125,400) for clues leading to the arrest of separatists.

The ban on knives longer than 22cm - their blades must be no longer than 15cm - appeared to be a first of its kind for the restive western region.

Residents were ordered to hand over all banned materials within 10 days or face "severe punishment", the region's public security bureau said.

Regional Communist Party secretary Zhang Chunxian reiterated that stability was the top political priority. The region has witnessed a new outbreak of violence and unrest in recent days, with 35 people killed in one incident alone.

Authorities have blamed the incidents on "terrorist" and separatist elements, which they say have had help from overseas.

Pan Zhiping , a Central Asian affairs specialist at the Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences, said the ban on knives would be difficult to enforce in Xinjiang, where residents often carry blades for everyday use.

"The length limit of 22cm is rather tight as such knives are not uncommon for household uses," Pan said. "This shows the pressure on keeping stability in Xinjiang is very serious now."

The length limit of 22cm is rather tight as such knives are not uncommon for household uses. This shows the pressure on keeping stability in Xinjiang is very serious now

The ban followed a speech by Zhang on Monday, in which he told rank-and-file cadres to maintain "a high-pressure attack" on militants and step up security.

Zhang vowed to wage a "people's war" against extremism by educating and mobilising the public. As part of that fight, Xinjiang police have offered rewards of 50,000 yuan to 100,000 yuan for clues that help bring violent individuals to justice.

But Jiang Zhaoyong , a Beijing-based expert on minority affairs, questioned the effectiveness of relying on the public.

"It shows the incompetence of the entire public security system and the inefficiency of anti-terrorist mechanisms," Jiang said. "I don't think this will be very helpful because the ties between the police and the public in the region are obviously not strong enough to generate meaningful tips."

The state-run Global Times said 30 Uygur men from Xinjiang had travelled to Turkey after receiving military training in Pakistan. They planned to join rebel forces in Syria, the paper said.

But Dolkun Isa, chairman of the World Uygur Congress' executive committee, said: "This is typical of the Chinese strategy, to try to turn other countries against the Uygurs."

Additional reporting by Kim Wall


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