A crackdown on separatist movements in Xinjiang is being planned by the central government. Xinjiang governor Simayi Tieliwaerdi said the region's government would maintain its 'high-pressure' policy this year. He vowed to 'strike hard on the terror groups that include religious fundamentalists, separatists and terrorists', China News Agency reported yesterday. 'The overall situation in Xinjiang is good. But separatists outside China have not given up their scheming. We will follow central government policy and strengthen our battle against the separatists,' the governor was quoted as saying. The central government has always ruled with a firm hand in the troubled autonomous region. But leaders of groups opposed to rule by Beijing say the US-led war on terrorism has provided officials with an excuse for a new offensive. Dilxadi Rexiti, a spokesman for the East Turkestan Information Centre based in Germany, said: 'I know they will come down hard on us in 2004. All cadres in Xinjiang have already been asked to take classes to study how to combat terrorists. The atmosphere is tense. It is like living in an open jail.' Mr Rexiti said Beijing had tightened its control on Xinjiang since last year. Many opposition leaders have been either arrested or killed. Pro-independence groups, including the information centre, have been labelled 'terrorist groups'. 'Now they can do whatever they like and arrest anyone they suspect. In the past they at least had to observe some legal rules; now they just make arbitrary arrests,' said Mr Rexiti. He described the situation as 'desperate'. Mr Rexiti refused to admit defeat and said his group would carry on. But he said many had lost heart. 'Some liberal-minded people in the west still give us support. But they are just some small groups, not governments. Everyday, more and more Han Chinese arrive. We Uygur have to live in fear,' he added. The central government has for the first time issued a most-wanted list of people it describes as 'East Turkestan terrorists'.