China’s Xinjiang to step up security spending: report

BEIJING — Funding for public security in China’s restive Xinjiang region will nearly double in 2010, state media said Wednesday, following ethnic unrest that left nearly 200 people dead last year.

A budget proposal placed before Xinjiang’s legislature on Tuesday called for 2.89 billion yuan (423 million dollars) to be spent on public security, up from 1.54 billion yuan in 2009, the China Daily reported.

“The July 5 riot in Urumqi… had an enormous impact on the Xinjiang people. It has severely damaged social stability in the region,” the paper quoted regional chairman Nur Bekri as telling the Xinjiang People’s Congress.

Bekri said the priority for Xinjiang security forces in 2010 would be to crack down on the “three forces” of terrorism, separatism and religious extremism, which the government blamed for the unrest, the paper said.

China’s roughly eight million Turkic-speaking Uighurs have long complained of religious, political and cultural oppression by Chinese authorities — which China denies.

Tensions in the vast and remote region bordering on central Asia have simmered for years.

In July, 197 people were killed and more than 1,700 people were injured, according to the government, in violence between mainly Muslim Uighurs and Han Chinese in the regional capital of Urumqi, according to government figures.

So far 22 people, mostly ethnic Uighurs, have been sentenced to death for the violence, drawing sharp criticism from the West and rights groups concerned that the accused were denied fair trials.

Nine executions have so far been reported by state press.

New rules publicised in Xinjiang last week stipulated that governments down to the village level must step up identity checks on suspicious persons and monitor all religious activities, state press reports said.

Local governments must also step up the registration of migrant workers and help set up a region-wide information-sharing network, it said.

The newly amended rules — which come into effect on February 1 — also stipulate that promotions of government leaders will be subject to their efforts to stamp out the “three forces”.

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