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Xinjiang cracks down on terrorist threat
By Li Jing (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-08-26 05:55

China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region has taken iron-fisted measures against the "three forces" of separatism, terrorism and religious extremism to protect its economic development, the region's top leader said yesterday.

Speaking at a press conference to announce plans for the Autonomous Region's 50th anniversary, Wang Lequan, secretary of the Communist Party of China's (CPC) Xinjiang Committee, said the regional government has "reliable" evidence showing a Uygur fugitive, who was freed on bail and fled to the United States, had close connections with foreign terrorists.

Rebiya Kadeer, once a wealthy businesswoman, was jailed for eight years in 1999 on charges of endangering national security by giving State secrets to foreigners. She was released on medical parole on March 17 this year.

According to Wang, after going abroad, Kadeer conspired with separatists and religious extremists "to plan terror attacks and jeopardize the region's 50th anniversary," which will be marked on National Day, October, but he did not say what evidence had been collected.

The regional government recently froze Kadeer's assets after learning she had attempted to get her children, who still live in China, to take her money out of the country, Wang said.

When the government investigated her business, it found she had evaded taxes, committed fraud and run up huge debts, he added.

"She had debts totalling 50 million yuan (US$6.2 million)," Wang said. "If she had successfully transferred all her money out of China, who would have paid her debts?

"No country should allow this, so the government must take tough action."

Wang also told reporters about the government crackdown on a separatist group headed by Abdullah Kurban, an ethnic Uygur.

Kurban was killed on Monday after he fired on police who were chasing him, Wang said.

"In the late 1990s, Kurban's terrorist group instigated many riots and other crimes," he said, adding that Kurban had been on the run for five years.

With Xinjiang bordering eight countries, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Russia, "the conditions are very complicated," Wang said, referring to the fight against terrorism.

"Terrorists are now hated and detested in Xinjiang," regional Chairman Ismail Tiliwaldi said. "They are like rats running onto the street, and everyone is screaming: 'Smash them!'"

As to how to celebrate the region's 50th anniversary, Wang said that rather than holding grand ceremonies, the government planned to address 10 major problems facing the region's residents.

The regional government and the central government will jointly invest 2 billion yuan (US$247 million) into building earthquake proof housing for thousands.

"We will also exempt 2.28 million poor students from tuition fees and provide subsidies for them," Wang said.

(China Daily 08/26/2005 page1)

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