Beijing, Mar 11 (PTI) Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for building a “great wall of iron” to protect national unity and solidarity in the troubled Xinjiang province hit frequently by ethnic strife between Uyghur Muslims and Hans.

He said safeguarding ethnic unity, and reinforcing solidarity between the military, government, soldiers’ civilians, police and the public, as well as between the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps and local communities should be fortified.

Taking part in a panel discussion at the ongoing annual session of the National People’s Congress (NPC) yesterday on Xinjiang, which is hit frequently by terrorist violence, Xi said the province was an important “security barrier” in northwest China which holds a special strategic position and faces special issue.

Hans are China’s ethnic majority while Uyghur are Turkic-speaking group culturally and ethnically close to Central Asian nations.

Xi, who is also the general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and chairman of the Central Military Commission, said governing the region well was of great significance.

He underlined the need to build a “great wall of iron” to safeguard national unity and solidarity in the region.

Bordering Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and Afghanistan, Xinjiang is battling violence which China blames on separatist East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM).

Recent reports said a large number of ETIM members are fighting along with Islamic State, (IS) in Syria China which has deployed large number of security forces in the province apprehends that the ETIM members will return to cause more violence.

A graphic video by purportedly by IS had denounced “evil Chinese Communist infidel lackeys.”

“In retaliation for the tears that flow from the eyes of the oppressed we will make your blood flow in rivers, by the will of God,” one fighter featured in the video said speaking in native Uyghur language.

The video release was timed with the massive counter terrorism drills by Chinese security forces in Xinjiang’s capital Urumqi.

Since Xinjiang is also the starting point for the USD 46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), China wants to restore peace and stability in the province.

In his meeting with legislators from Xinjiang, Xi stressed that maintaining stability in the province was a political responsibility, and that stability-related issues must be handled in a thorough, timely and proper manner.

He called for efforts to make long-term strategies, strengthen the foundation, and achieve lasting peace and stability in Xinjiang.

“Let people of all ethnic groups feel the Party’s care and the warmth of the motherland,” he said.

Xi called for comprehensively implementing targeted poverty alleviation policies and taking the poor areas in southern Xinjiang as the main battlefield in poverty relief.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.