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Xinjiang top political advisor: ethnic unity most important for regional development
2009/08/19

The first and foremost prerequisite for Xinjiang's fast development is ethnic unity, said the region's top political advisor on Monday.

"Greater efforts must be made to boost ethnic unity in Xinjiang after the July 5 deadly violence," said Ashat Kerimbay, chairman of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Regional Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the region's top political advisory body.

"The 60 years' development of the region has laid a sound foundation for Xinjiang's ethnic unity. We will stick to the established principle - things that will harm ethnic unity should not be done and words that will harm ethnic unity should not be said."

"We should protect ethnic unity just like protecting our own eyes," he added.

He said although the riot had an adverse impact on the region's economy, the local government was confident in achieving the economic goal it had earlier set for this year-an annual GDP growth rate of 9 percent since "Xinjiang's economy has been on a fast track thanks to decades of fast development."

A native of Xinjiang, Kerimbay has been chairman of the CPPCC Xinjiang Committee since 2003 and was elected member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China in 2007.

He said the "three forces" of extremism, separatism and terrorism both at home and abroad could not represent any ethnic group in China.

"Instead, they are the public enemy of all ethnic groups in the country because they are unwilling to see the reunification and development of China," Kerimbay said.

He believed the July 5 riot, which has left 197 dead and more than 1,600 injured, was well premeditated and it had burst the bubble of the so-called democracy and human rights claimed by the "three forces".

"We will have a vehement and long-term struggle against the 'three forces'," the political advisor noted. "It's life or death."

Kerimbay said China's policies on ethnic affairs were "the best in the world".

"I have been to more than 30 countries. Many people speak highly of our policy of ethnic regional autonomy," he said.

Statistics showed 60 percent of local officials in Xinjiang are from minority ethnic groups.

"Take me myself for example," said the political advisor of Kazakh ethnic group, "I was born in a peasant family in Yining City in northern Xinjiang. Without such good policies, I would have never been a chairman of the regional CPPCC committee."

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