China steps up action after Xinjiang ‘attacks’

China steps up action after Xinjiang ‘attacks’

URUMQI - Agence France-Presse
China steps up action after Xinjiang ‘attacks’

People watching Chinese paramilitary police in armored vehicles during a ‘show of force’ ceremony in China’s ethnically divided Xinjiang region. AFP photo

China has vowed to ramp up patrols and “crack down upon terrorist groups” after staging large military exercises in the ethnically-divided Xinjiang region following clashes that killed at least 35 people.

Beijing also dispatched two high-ranking officials to the far western region June 29 following a top level Communist Party meeting presided over by President Xi Jinping. “We will step up actions to crack down upon terrorist groups and extremist organizations and track the wanted,” Yu Zhengsheng, a member of the party’s Politburo Standing Committee, said after arriving in the Xinjiang capital Urumqi, Xinhua news agency reported late on June 29.

China often labels outbreaks of sporadic unrest in the region as terrorism - claims denied by rights groups for the mostly Muslim Uighur minority who blame unrest on economic inequality and religious repression.

Meng Jianzhu, another senior party official, was also in Urumqi making “detailed anti-terror arrangements”, it said. Meng also called for “24 hour patrols (in) all weather conditions” according to a report by the state news agency yesterday.Their visit and the exercises suggest Beijing sees maintaining stability as a priority ahead of the fourth anniversary on July 5 of riots in Urumqi between members of Uighur and Han Chinese communities which left around 200 dead.

The exercises saw large sections of the city shut down as military vehicles took to the streets with at least 1,000 personnel from the People’s Armed Police, part of China’s armed forces.