China raises alerts for Xinjiang
  • Thu, 09/29/2005 - 12:00

BEIJING, China (Reuters) -- China has told police in Xinjiang, in the country's remote northwest, to "prepare for danger" ahead of its 50th anniversary as an autonomous region after accusing a dissident of plotting to sabotage the festivities.

Muslim Uighur militants, whom Beijing calls terrorists or separatists, have been struggling for decades to make the remote northwestern region, formally established on October 1, 1955, an independent state called East Turkestan.

Chinese security chief Luo Gan urged law enforcement officers and armed police in Xinjiang to crack down on criminals to create a "safer environment for economic growth and social progress", the China Daily newspaper said on Thursday.

"The general situation in Xinjiang is very good," Luo, the Politburo member who oversees crime and punishment, was quoted as saying on Wednesday.

But he added that officials at all levels should be "prepared for danger in times of safety" and "keep a clear mind".

The Public Security Ministry said earlier this month that more than 260 terrorist acts had been committed in Xinjiang in the past two decades, killing 160 and wounding 440. It labeled East Turkestan forces the main terrorist threat to China.

"The so-called 'three evil forces', separatism, extremism and terrorism, are held responsible for many of the region's problems," the China Daily said.

Majority-Muslim Xinjiang is home to nearly 20 million people, more than 60 per cent of them considered ethnic minorities in predominantly Han China.

Wang Lequan, the Communist Party secretary of Xinjiang, said last month that Rebiya Kadeer, a minority Uighur businesswoman freed in March after years in jail and exiled to the United States, was plotting to sabotage the anniversary celebrations in Xinjiang, which lies to the north of Tibet.

Kadeer, jailed in 1999 on charges of providing state secrets abroad, was released on medical parole.

Wang, who sits on the politburo, making him one of China's 24 most powerful leaders, said that after Kadeer went abroad, she had conspired with separatists and religious extremists "about how to plan terror attacks and jeopardize our 50th anniversary".

Wang did not elaborate, but said Chinese authorities had reliable evidence of the plot.

October 1 marks the start of China's week-long National Day holiday.

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