China is trying to combat the growing threat of terrorism within its borders with awe-inspiring displays of force and pageantry in the always restive region of Xinjiang
On Monday morning in Urumqi, the region’s capital, more than 10,000 armed police took part in a massive anti-terrorism rally that also included armored vehicles driving through the streets while helicopters hovered above.
At the rally, Chen Quanguo, Xinjiang’s Communist Party secretary, urged the assembled ranks of armed police to realize “the grim conditions” facing the region’s security. “Bury the corpses of terrorists and terror gangs in the vast sea of the people’s war,” Chen said, according to Reuters.
This was just the latest in a series of mass rallies that have taken place in major cities around the region coming in response to a surge in violence. Earlier this month, three knife-wielding assailants were shot dead by police following an attack that killed five people and injured another five in Hotan prefecture.
Along with anti-terror rallies, China has also responded by ordering that every single vehicle in the sprawling Bayingolin Mongol Autonomous Prefecture must have a government-developed GPS tracking system installed by July — or else they will not be given gas at any service station.
Following the rally in Urumqi, some 1,500 armed police were sent off to patrol cities in Xinjiang that are at the “frontline” of the conflict, such as Kashgar:
The Aksu prefecture:
And the Khotan prefecture:
Public security spending in Xinjiang jumped by 19.3% in 2016 to over 30 billion yuan. These “frontier” troops will be accompanied by helicopters, allowing them to conduct operations anywhere inside Xinjiang’s rugged and vast interior.
China has blamed Uighur separatist groups for regular episodes of violence in the region, sometimes cracking down on militants with deadly force. However, in recent years, rather than contain the conflict, China’s efforts seem to have caused the movement to spread outside of the region’s borders to Beijing, Kunming, Bangkok and Kyrgyzstan.
Meanwhile, international observers have laid the blame for unrest at the feet of the government itself. In recent years, Uighurs have complained about a number of measures that they say discriminate against their religion by cracking down on religious holidays, customs, and even long beards. In 2015, Uighur shopkeepers were urged to sell alcohol and cigarettes, or else be shut down.
Last November, the government even went so far as to demand that all residents of Xinjiang hand in their passports to local police stations for “examination and management,” in an attempt to prevent more Uighur militants from fleeing the country.
[Images via www.ts.cn]
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