Page last updated at 15:45 GMT, Friday, 18 September 2009 16:45 UK

China vows separatism crackdown

Chinese soldiers in Xinjiang (3 September 2009)
Tensions remains high after the unrest in Xinjiang province

China's ruling Communist Party (CPC) has vowed to take tough action on ethnic separatist activity, as it concludes its annual conference.

The pledge follows recent unrest in the restive western Xinjiang province in which almost 200 people died.

The CPC also repeated its commitment to tackling corruption, building its power base and strengthening the economy.

But no reference was made to Xi Jinping, the man believed to be being groomed to succeed President Hu Jintao.

Following its four-day summit, the CPC announced it intended to "effectively prevent and resolutely crack down on ethnicity-related separatist activities".

"Under the new circumstances, we should continue to promote the progress of ethnic unity to ensure the country's long-term social stability and harmony," it said.

Tensions remain high in Xinjiang province, two months after violence broke out between Muslim Uighurs and Han Chinese. Beijing has blamed the unrest on Uighur separatists.

Relations were made worse in late August by a series of attacks using hypodermic needles.

Tens of thousands of Han Chinese, who said the attacks were aimed at them, took to the streets in protest, demanding that the government take action.

Seven people have since been jailed over the attacks.

Heir apparent

The CPC recommended strengthening intra-party democracy at a grassroots level as a way of ensuring unity, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

Chinese President Hu Jintao (L) and Xi Jinping in the Great Hall of the People, Beijing (13  March 2009)
Mr Xi has been widely tipped as the man to succeed Mr Hu

It also vowed to continue to promote economic growth, warning that the foundations of the recovery were "not stable, not solid and not balanced".

But no announcement was made of Mr Xi's widely predicted promotion to a powerful military commission, something which had been seen as an indication that he was being groomed to take over the party leadership from Mr Hu.

Mr Xi became the heir apparent when he was appointed to the Politburo Standing Committee two years ago, and is widely seen to have done well in his position of vice-president since then.

President Hu was elected to the military commission in 1999, paving the way for his rise to the presidency less than four years later, and Mr Xi is expected to follow the same trajectory.

Analysts say the announcement could now come after National Day celebrations in early October, marking 60 years of Communist rule in China.

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