China's restive far western region of Xinjiang is considering drafting anti-terror laws for the first time, following a string of deadly incidents, a state-run newspaper said on Friday.
Authorities are keen to clamp down on unrest that has killed more than 100 people during the past year in the resource-rich region, where tensions have been simmering between a large Muslim Uighur minority and growing numbers of ethnic Han Chinese.
Work on the anti-terror law is planned to start this year, although finalising a draft may take several years, legislative official Bo Xiao said.
"The legislation is in the second phase of this year's legislative work plan," said Bo, director of a regional law-drafting body, adding that present discussions are centered around the feasibility and impact of the law.
China uses its Criminal Law to tackle what it calls terror-related crimes in Xinjiang, but regional officials have found existing laws inadequate in some cases. Some said that Muslim extremists in the region received help from militants in neighbouring countries.
While authorities have adopted a tougher stance against dissent in Xinjiang, many Uighurs resent curbs on their culture and religion, despite Beijing's claims that they are granted broad freedoms. This week authorities denied legal access to detained scholar Ilham Tohti, a professor who has championed the rights of Uighurs, charged with separatism.
In February, Chinese forces killed 11 "terrorists" near the region's border with Kyrgyzstan. Five suspected Islamist militants were arrested in October, after what police called a "terrorist attack on Beijing's central Tiananmen square".
Exiles and rights groups say the real cause of the unrest is China's policies, including curbs on Islam and the Uighur people's culture and language, charges the government has denied.
Updated Date: Feb 28, 2014 09:59:40 IST