China Installs New Head of Restive Tibetan Area

Posted February 15th, 2012 at 9:50 am (UTC-5)
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China has appointed a career law enforcement officer to head a restive, ethnically-Tibetan area of Sichuan province, a region where more than 20 Buddhist monks, nuns and their supporters have set themselves on fire in the past year to protest Chinese rule.

State-controlled media said Wednesday that Liu Zuoming was named last week as Communist Party secretary for the flashpoint Aba prefecture — the site of numerous Tibetan protests in recent years.

A local Communist Party website describes Liu as a member of China's ethnic Han majority who has spent the last three decades in local law enforcement. The website says Liu told local officials Saturday they must balance the dual requirements for stability and regional development. He said “there can not be the slightest relaxation on stability, nor the slightest paralysis or laxity.”

In another development, China's official Xinhua news agency says authorities in northwest China's restive Xinjiang region have launched a series of public lectures to promote “proper dress codes and patriotism” among the region's ethnic Uighur population. The lectures will also discourage what Xinhua calls “illegal religious activities.”

Tensions in Xinjiang between Muslim Uighurs and ethnic Han exploded in rioting in 2009, when nearly 200 people — most of them Han Chinese — were killed in the capital, Urumqi.

Separately, China says eight people were killed and four others wounded in a Xinjiang shootout with police in December, during what Beijing described as the rescue of two herdsmen who were kidnapped by “terrorists.” An exile group later said the Uighurs were trying to flee the country and said they had no links to terrorist organizations.

Earlier last year, 18 Uighur men protesting a Chinese ban on veils worn by Muslim women attacked a police station in Hotan with bombs and knives. Two policemen were killed in the violence.