Governor: Xinjiang must make fighting separatism "top priority" for social stability

09:41, March 06, 2011      

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Fighting separatism must be made a "top priority" in Xinjiang to safeguard social stability in the far west China's ethnic region that was rocked by a deadly riot almost two years ago, its governor warned Saturday.

"Currently, the overall situation in Xinjiang is stable and getting better and better," said Nur Bekri, chairman of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region government, while attending the ongoing annual parliamentary session in Beijing.

Despite the impact of global financial crisis and the July 5 riot in 2009, Xinjiang's tourism, as a barometer of social stability, still grew drastically last year, he said

The number of domestic and overseas visitors to Xinjiang rose by 44.8 percent and 43.5 percent, respectively, year-on-year in 2010, the official said.

Meanwhile he warned that "the foundation of social stability is still weak and the challenges for safeguarding social stability are still severe."

"We must place social stability on a key position while boosting the region's social development," he said.

"We must make fighting separatism our top priority in a bid to safeguard Xinjiang's social stability, and closely guard against and severely crack down on the 'three evil forces' (of terrorism, separatism and extremism)," he added.

Facts have shown Xinjiang has gradually recovered from the riot in 2009, which left 197 people dead and more than 1,700 injured.

On Aug. 19 last year, three attackers drove an explosive-laden electric tricycle into a crowd on the outskirts of Aksu in southern Xinjiang. The blast killed eight and wounded 15 others.

The casualties included three security enforcers, three civilians, and two attackers. Police did not categorize the attack as a suicide bombing but said two of the attackers died while carrying out the attack.

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