Beijing, Mar 14 (PTI) China today claimed that no terror attacks took place in the restive Muslim-majority Xinjiang province last year due to heavy security crackdown but acknowledged that terrorists are still active there.
Resource rich Xinjiang, bordering Pakistan occupied Kashmir (POK), and Afghanistan, is on the boil for years following unrest among Uyghur Muslims over the increasing settlements of Han Chinese from other provinces.
It has witnessed some of the deadly terrorist attacks in recent years which also spread to other parts of China. The attacks were officially blamed on the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), which was linked to al-Qaeda in the past and now to the ISIS.
A large number of youth who managed to move out of Xinjiang have reportedly fought along with ISIS in Syria. China, which has extensively deployed its security forces, apprehends that they may return and cause further violence in the province.
The Chinese military recently denied reports that it is in talks with Afghanistan to build a military base to counter infiltration of Uygur militants across the borders.
“There were no terror attacks in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region last year,” the region’s chairman Shohrat Zakir told China’s parliament, the National People’s Congress, (NPC).
“Xinjiang will continue to enforce the comprehensive anti-terrorism measures to keep the region stable,” Shohrat Zakir, chairman of Xinjiang said.
A series of new anti-terrorism measures have been introduced since Chen Quanguo was appointed as Party secretary of Xinjiang in August 2016, state-run China Daily reported.
They included setting up a network of police stations in all cities and townships to quickly react to any emergencies.
Significant results have been achieved in maintaining social stability in Xinjiang, which has always been the frontline of China’s battle against terrorism, Chen said earlier in the annual NPC session.
“Fighting separatism and terrorism is our utmost priority. We will continue to strike hard against such activities and win a people’s war in border control,” Zhu Hailun, secretary of the Xinjiang regional Political and Law Commission told the legislature, the Daily reported.
Zhu said while Xinjiang’s social situation has been stabilised, it is still in a phase in which terrorist activities are active. He warned that the fight against separatism and terrorism is a long-term one.
Maintaining social stability and long-term peace is the goal of Xinjiang, Zhu said.
“Due to the complicated international situation, Xinjiang needs to continue to strengthen its anti-terrorism efforts. There is no room for slacking off,” Zhu said.
China will take strict preventive measures against terrorist activities this year and see them firmly stamped out, Premier Li Keqiang said in this year’s Government Work Report.
Xinjiang will step up security measures in key areas and border areas as well as enforce internet management to maintain social stability this year.
It will further rely on technology to enhance front-line border control and improve infrastructure in border areas, such as improving road conditions, Shohrat said in January.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.