Even as Human Rights Watch issued rare praise for the Chinese government, Xinjiang's party chief promised to deal a 'destructive' blow to ethnic separatists who plotted to stir up unrest in the region. Speaking at a meeting organised by the region's political consultative conference, Wang Lequan said it was 'very foolish' to believe development alone could cure Xinjiang's separatism troubles. 'Xinjiang will keep up the strength in cracking down on ethnic separatists,' he was quoted as saying yesterday by the China News Service. '[We] will deal them a destructive blow. Mr Wang, who was promoted to the Communist Party's Politburo last November, vowed there would be no mercy in dealing with separatists fighting for a Uygur homeland in the far western region. 'Separatism will not disappear because our economy is growing. Prosperity alone will not persuade the separatists to give up their conspiracy to split our country and push for independence,' he said. Xian police have been ordered to take immediate action to break up protest rallies. A city government circular lays down responses in cases of 'obstruction of entrances and roads by the masses'. Protests by laid-off workers are common in the northern city, where police are now required to 'take the crowds back to their work units' and 'restore the traffic and normal social order swiftly', according to the circular, the Legal Daily reported yesterday.