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Monday, 29 May, 2000, 18:19 GMT 19:19 UK
China clampdown on Muslim region
Kashgar
Kashgar: Focus of propaganda campaign
By Beijing correspondent Duncan Hewitt

China has launched a mass propaganda campaign against separatism in the mainly Muslim region of Xinjiang following a spate of pro-independence terrorist attacks.


xinjiang map
State media said thousands of officials were being sent from house to house in villages near the far western city of Kashgar to warn residents not to support separatism or illegal religious activities.

China has said it is winning the war against separatists and Islamic fundamentalists in Xinjiang, where more than half the 15 million population are Muslim.

Yet while dozens of people have been executed for terrorist offences in recent years, attacks have continued, with up to 19 policemen killed in the north-western region last year.

Religion

The Xinjiang Daily said mass propaganda teams were now touring villages near Kashgar, close to the border with Pakistan in an area which has seen frequent unrest.


Xinjiang, China
Xinjiang is predominantly Muslim
It said the teams had gone from door to door stressing China's claim to Xinjiang.

Film shows and exhibitions have also been organised, while one county staged a drama based on a series of local terrorist incidents.

The paper said the campaign had yielded results with members of the public reporting a number of terrorist suspects to the police.

But it also warned of the dangers of what it called pan-Islamism and pan-Turkism.

Porous borders

The warnings are a reminder of China's fears about the influence of radical Islamic thinking filtering in from central Asia, and the role of exiles in neighbouring states and in Turkey, with which Xinjiang's majority Uighur population shares linguistic ties.

Turkey's leaders pledged not to support separatism in Xinjiang when Chinese President Jiang Zemin visited the country last month.

Yet the mainly desert region's borders remain porous.

And in a sign of the challenge faced by the authorities, the Xinjiang Daily said that separatists had been using what it described as despicable tricks to persuade communist party members to quit the party.

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