'Some CCP members back hits in Xinjiang'

BEIJING • Officials from China's ruling Communist Party (CCP) have supported violent attacks in restive Xinjiang, said a top regional official in remarks highlighting internal opposition to tough local policies.

Xinjiang, the homeland of the mostly Muslim Uighur ethnic minority - many of whom complain of discrimination and controls on their culture and religion - is often hit by deadly unrest.

China blames the violence on separatists but rights groups point to Beijing's own actions as a driver.

Mr Xu Hairong, the region's top anti-graft official, on Tuesday accused some local party members of participating in the unrest, pointing to a division in implementing Beijing's anti-separatist stance.

"Some communist cadres... even support or take part in violent terrorist attacks," Mr Xu said in the state-run China Discipline Inspection News.

He did not give details but added that some officials were "wavering on the big issues of opposing anti-separatism and maintaining ethnic unity".

The article came days after the authorities said Chinese police had killed 28 members of a "terrorist group" in Xinjiang, in the bloodiest such operation in months.

It also came after the editor of the Xinjiang Daily, the CCP's mouthpiece in the region, was dismissed for what anti-graft officials said were offences, including publicly criticising party policies.

The authorities launched a "strike hard" campaign after a bomb rocked the main train station in the regional capital Urumqi last year as President Xi Jinping was wrapping up a visit to the city.

The crackdown, which has seen mass trials and multiple executions, has been condemned by human rights groups.

Xinjiang in China's far west is a resource-rich region abutting central Asia. The CCP is officially atheist and bans all of its officials - including Uighurs - from religious faith.

Schools and government offices annually attempt to stifle Ramadan fasting as part of the ban. But officials persist in religious beliefs despite the policy, Mr Xu said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 26, 2015, with the headline ''Some CCP members back hits in Xinjiang''. Print Edition | Subscribe