Ban on Internet, Mobile to be Lifted in Restive China Region

China has decided to allow international calls, Internet access and other communication services in the restive Uygur region, six months after a communal riot that left around 200 people dead.

International calls and multimedia messaging services through mobile phones will be restored in Uygur as lifting of communication restrictions would continue, Hou Hanmin, spokesperson for the regional government, said Monday.

The facility of short messaging service (SMS) has already been resumed since Sunday night. A cell phone user was allowed to send up to 20 text messages a day at the moment and the number would be increased during the coming Spring Festival, Xinhua quoted Hou as saying.

Mobile phone users in Xinjiang sent 42.84 million text messages Sunday alone. Uygur, in nothwest China, has 11.56 million cell phone users, according to official statistics.

Since December, the government has started allowing access for Xinjiang residents to some state-run websites. Various Internet services such as online banking, securities trading, student enrolment and text messages of weather forecast were also allowed.

Internet connection and mobile phone text messaging services were cut in some areas of Xinjiang soon after the July 5 riot that broke out between the ethnic Uygur Muslims and Han Chinese in the provincial capital Urumqi.

According to officials, the unrest was orchestrated by Uygur separatists with the help of Internet and text messaging.

The ban on communication facilities proved to be effective in dealing with the riot and maintaining stability of the region. However, it also brought inconveniences to people's lives, officials said.