Xinjiang plans 'Great Wall' against militants

BEIJING • China's violence-prone far-western region of Xinjiang will build a "Great Wall" along its borders to prevent infiltration of militants from outside the country, state media reported yesterday, citing the regional governor.

Hundreds of people have been killed in Xinjiang in the past few years in violence between Uighurs - a mostly Muslim people who speak a Turkic language - and ethnic majority Han Chinese.

It borders Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.

Governor Shohrat Zakir said Xinjiang would step up border measures to create a "Great Wall", the official China Daily reported.

Technology along the border would be improved and roads and other infrastructure increased, he said at the opening of the regional assembly's annual session, adding: "The overall situation was stable in 2017... We won't allow separatism to stage a comeback, and will ensure religious extremism never rises again from the ashes and terrorist attacks are doomed."

The "Great Wall" comments are similar to those President Xi Jinping made last year when he told Xinjiang lawmakers of the need to build a "great wall of iron" to safeguard stability.

The Xinjiang authorities have also started collecting DNA and other biometric data from the whole population, as part of security measures.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 24, 2018, with the headline 'Xinjiang plans 'Great Wall' against militants'. Print Edition | Subscribe