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China unveils new anti-terror law to tackle extremism in Xinjiang 

New measures stress that religious extremism is the ideological basis of terrorism and must be prevented and punished, state media reported

world Updated: Aug 06, 2016 21:38 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times
Paramilitary policemen patrol past a building in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.(Reuters File)

China’s Xinjiang province has unveiled a new anti-terror law that authorities say will focus on curbing and punishing religious extremism which is terrorism’s “ideological” basis, state media reported.

The new law, implemented on August 1, is based on China's primary counterterrorism law passed in December 2015, state media reports said.

“The regional law details and supplements the national law in defining terror activities and terrorists, security precautions, intelligence, investigations, countermeasures and punishment,” official news agency Xinhua reported on Saturday.

Home to the Muslim Uyghur community, the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) has experienced bursts of violence in the last few years which have left scores of civilians, government officials and police personnel dead.

Beijing has blamed foreign-trained “terrorists” for the violence, saying that they have sneaked into the region and incited violence.

Rights groups and exiled Uyghur leaders have, however, said that it is Beijing’s repressive anti-minority policies gradually put in place over the decades that have triggered violence in the remote region.

A local woman shouts at Chinese paramilitary police wearing riot gear as a crowd of angry locals confront security forces on a street in the city of Urumqi in China’s Xinjiang Autonomous Region. (Reuters File)

“The legislative commission of the regional people's congress said the new measures stress that religious extremism is the ideological basis of terrorism and must be prevented and punished,” the Xinhua report said.

Nayim Yasen, head of the standing committee of the regional legislature, was quoted as saying that “Xinjiang, as the main battlefield in China's war against terrorism, has gained experience in combating terrorism in recent years, ensuring the practicality and effectiveness of the new law”.

“Extremism is the philosophical basis of terrorism,” Bai Li of the Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences, said.

“Therefore, it is important to prevent and punish extremism in Xinjiang's anti-terror campaign,” Bai added.

The rules emphasise the importance of a mechanism for public reporting of terrorist activity. According to the rules, public security bureaus and state security organisations should be ready to receive information from the public.

The unveiling of the new law comes in the same week that China, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan signed a counter-terrorism law in Urumqi, the capital city of XUAR.

According to China’s defence ministry, the four parties agreed that terrorism and extremism pose serious threats to regional stability, and fully recognised the unremitting efforts made by the militaries of the four countries on fighting against terrorist and extremist forces.

First Published: Aug 06, 2016 21:29 IST