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President Hu Jintao visits Xinjiang
Published on: 2009-08-26
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BEIJING — President Hu Jintao made his first trip to China's restive western region of Xinjiang after last month's deadly ethnic riots, urging government officials and security forces Tuesday to focus on maintaining stability in the region and warning separatists that they are "doomed to fail."


China Central Television showed Hu meeting with ethnic groups and local residents, visiting factories and talking with military troops.


"You should make upholding social stability the most urgent task and maintain great strength to ensure triumph in the struggle to maintain stability in Xinjiang," Hu told a group of soldiers and police who had been involved in quelling the violence that left nearly 200 people dead and another 1,700 injured.


The unrest marked China's worst ethnic rioting in decades, exposing deep anger among the minority Uighurs (pronounced WEE-gers) and prompting outrage among the majority Han Chinese.


Violence broke out July 5 after police stopped an initially peaceful protest by Uighur youths, prompting crowds to smash windows, burn cars and attack Han Chinese. Two days later, Han vigilantes carried out revenge attacks on Uighurs.


Uighurs have long complained of discrimination and economic marginalization by Han migrants who have flooded into Xinjiang since communist troops entered the region in 1949. Like Tibetans, another restive minority, many Uighurs claim they were independent for much of their history.


The ethnic violence shook China's leadership, prompting Hu to cut short his trip to a G-8 summit in Italy to return home to deal with the domestic crisis.


Beijing has repeatedly accused exiled Uighur activist Rebiya Kadeer of fomenting the recent violence, but have offered little proof.


On Tuesday, Hu said that any separatist groups seeking independence in China would not succeed.


"The victory of this struggle fully showed the power of the party and the people," he said. "The splittist forces are doomed to fail and their sabotage activities will not shake the overall situation of the stable development of the reform in Xinjiang."


Hu said China would continue to focus on economic construction, uphold social stability, and focus on developing all ethnic groups.

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