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China pushes for stability in Xinjiang

CHINA'S leaders yesterday vowed to maintain stability in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and promised severe punishment for those who led the riots that killed at least 156 people and injured more than 1,000.

An urgent meeting of the nine-member Politburo Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China, presided over by President Hu Jintao, called on Party members and officials at all levels to mobilize to restore order. It also promised punishment to riot leaders and leniency to participants who were misled by agitators.

"Preserving the stability of Xinjiang is currently the most urgent task," the Politburo said in a statement yesterday.

Hu, also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, cut short his trip to Europe and skipped the Group of Eight nations meeting due to the situation in Xinjiang. Hu chaired the urgent meeting on Wednesday night after he returned to Beijing in the afternoon.

The government will "firmly crack down on serious crimes, including assaults, vandalism, looting and arson," to maintain social stability and safeguard people's fundamental interests in Xinjiang, the statement said.

The Politburo Standing Committee ordered authorities to "isolate and crack down on the tiny few" agitators and "unify and educate the majority of the masses."

"Instigators, organizers and violent criminals will be severely punished in accordance with the law," it said. "Those taking part in the riot due to provocation and deceit by separatists should be given education."

Sunday's violence in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang, had a "profound" political background, the statement said.

It was a serious crime, which was masterminded and organized by the "three forces" of terrorism, separatism and extremism at home and abroad, the statement said.

The unrest resulted in great losses and caused great harm to order and stability, it said.

The Standing Committee asked local governments to visit and offer aid to bereaved families, innocent people who were injured and those with property losses.

The statement said all levels of CPC committees, rural organizations, communities, enterprises, institutions and schools should form work groups, enabling each member of the public to strictly implement Party and government policies.

"Cadres and the public should stick to the principle that stability overrides everything," the committee said. It called for "holding high the banner of ethnic unity" and carrying on the tradition that people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang "breathe together, share the same destiny and have their hearts linked to each other."

People should know "the Han ethnic group cannot be separated from minorities, minorities cannot do without Han, and minority groups also cannot do without each other," the statement said.

"Officials should enhance their sense of responsibility and lead the public to maintain economic growth, improve livelihoods and ensure stability," it added.


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