Xinjiang's party chief urges 'firm hand' in anti-terror crackdown and engaging with Uygurs

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 July, 2014, 3:00pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 July, 2014, 2:46am

Xinjiang party chief Zhang Chunxian has vowed to use an iron fist to stop terrorists, while also pledging to use an education campaign to engage ethnic Uygurs more effectively.

Zhang vowed to respond to violence "firmly' and "precisely" during a visit to a military outpost in Urumqi with armed forces commander Wang Jianping yesterday, according to local news portal

In the meeting, Zhang said the paramilitary police played an essential role in the long-term stability of the region.

Xinjiang has become the front line in Beijing's national anti-terrorism crackdown, with the central government blaming the recent spate of violence around the country, including bombings and knife attacks, on separatists seeking to establish an independent Islamic state.

However, human rights groups and the mainly Muslim Uygurs say Beijing's hardline stance against religious practices and human rights violations in Xinjiang are only driving more people to extremism.

Several Uygur academics last week expressed support for the anti-terror campaign, saying militants sowing dissent and attacking innocents did not represent the majority's views.

President Xi Jinping, while urging tough punishment for terrorists, called for a campaign to better engage and integrate Uygurs in the region during a visit in April.

He encouraged the minority group to learn both their mother tongue and Chinese, and called for more development and jobs.

Earlier this week, government websites in Xinjiang issued notices that officials, civil servants and students were banned from participating in Ramadan, a holy month of fasting for Muslims.

The Turpan city website warned "civil servants and students cannot participate in fasting and other religious activities".

The Xinjiang Tarim River Basin Management Bureau posted photos of Muslim cadres at a meal to celebrate the anniversary of China's Communist Party on a date coinciding with Ramadan.