Treatment of Uighur minority has been heavily criticised in the west but Wang Yang says ‘high pressure’ must be maintained
XINJIANG (Reuters) — Xinjiang needs to “perfect” stability maintenance measures and crack down on religious extremism, the ruling Communist party’s fourth-ranked leader has said on a tour of the region where China is running a controversial deradicalisation programme.
Critics say China is operating internment camps for Uighurs and other Muslim peoples who live in Xinjiang, though the government calls them vocational training centres and says it has a genuine need to prevent extremist thinking and violence.
The government has not said how many people are in these centres. Adrian Zenz, a leading independent researcher on China’s ethnic policies, said this month an estimated 1.5 million Uighurs and other Muslims could be held in the centres in Xinjiang, up from his earlier figure of 1 million.
During a visit on 20-25 March to Xinjiang, including Kashgar and Tumxuk in the strongly Uighur southern part of the region, Wang Yang said the situation in Xinjiang was “continuing to develop well”, the official Xinjiang Daily said on Tuesday.
Authorities “must perfect stability-maintenance measures, and maintain high pressure on the ‘three forces’,” the paper cited Wang as saying, referring to terrorism, extremism, and separatism.
“Correctly implement the party’s policy on ethnic minorities, resolutely oppose and crack down on ethnic separatist forces,” said Wang, who heads the high profile but a largely ceremonial advisory body to China’s parliament. “Resolutely oppose and crack down on religious extremist thought, and at the same time ensure the normal religious needs of believers in accordance with the law.”