BEIJING - An extremist minority that rejects the Chinese Communist Party's "care" is to blame for rising violence stemming from China's restive Xinjiang region, an official said Thursday.
Separatists from the autonomous western region have been blamed for a wave of deadly incidents across China in recent months, including a bloody attack in Xinjiang capital Urumqi in May which left 43 dead.
"The big picture of stability in Xinjiang is controllable and good," Shi Dagang, vice-chairman of the Xinjiang regional government, told a press conference in Beijing.
"The common people side with the party and government because they have felt the party's care and the country's warmth, and that's the reason for the violent forces, extremists and separatists making trouble," he said.
"In Xinjiang only very few individuals are engaged in terrorism activities." In March, a group of knife-wielding assailants killed 29 people at Kunming Railway Station in the south-western province of Yunnan, an attack dubbed "China's 9/11", which officials blamed on Xinjiang separatists.
Exile groups representing Xinjiang's mainly Muslim Uighurs claim cultural oppression and intrusive security measures imposed by the Chinese government are the main causes of tension in the volatile region.
Immigration by majority Han, China's biggest ethnic group, has also led to decades of discrimination and economic inequality, rights groups claim.
Beijing, however, has long attributed Xinjiang-linked attacks to overseas-based terror groups, and claims the government has helped improve the standard of living in the region and pursued policies to develop its economy.
Authorities have launched a crackdown in Xinjiang, sentencing nine people to death last week on terrorism-related charges.
Information about the vast region bordering Central Asia is difficult to verify independently, with foreign and local journalists subject to heavy restrictions.
Shi and several other officials met journalists to discuss the fourth China-Eurasia Expo, a conference set to be held in Urumqi in September.