URUMQI: Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region government plans to increase its spending on public security by almost 90 percent this year compared to last year to further maintain social stability following last year's July 5 riot in the regional capital of Urumqi, according to the government's budget proposal released yesterday.
The regional government's spending on public security will reach 2.89 billion yuan ($423 million) this year, up 87.9 percent over last year's 1.54 billion yuan, according to the budget proposal handed over to deputies of the Xinjiang People's Congress during a five-day annual conference that kicked off yesterday in Urumqi.
"The government decided to increase the spending on public security this year to enhance social stability in Xinjiang," said Wan Haichuan, director of Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region's finance department.
"The July 5 riot in Urumqi, which left 197 dead and more than 1,700 injured, had an enormous impact on the Xinjiang people. It has severely damaged social stability in the region," Xinjiang's regional government chairman Nur Bekri said yesterday in his annual work report during the conference.
Strengthening social security in Xinjiang and striking hard against the "three forces" of terrorism, separatism and extremism - which the government believes was the cause of the riot - are priorities of the government, he said.
"The regional government effectively controlled the situation after the July 5 riot in Urumqi. Authorities successfully stopped organized plots planned in Kashgar, Hotan, Aksu and Ili, which prevented the spread of further violence soon after the July 5 riot," Bekri said.
The chairman said the regional government should improve its emergency response mechanisms, so that relevant departments can react quickly to mass incidents, such as the riot, to prevent casualties and to help the injured.
Also, the Xinjiang government should improve measures to prevent the "three forces" from instigating violence in the region via new media, including the Internet and mobile phone text messages, Bekri said.
To prevent further unrest, the government blocked access to the Internet and suspended international calls and text message services in the region 24 hours after the July 5 riot because they were believed to be the vital tools used by ringleaders to instigate violence.
The regional government decided to gradually lift the ban on Internet service on Dec 29 last year because the overall social situation in the region after the riot had become stable. The decision was approved by the central government.
Bekri also said Xinjiang last year invested 94.8 billion yuan to improve people's livelihoods, up 30 percent on the previous year. The money accounted for about 70 percent of the region's total spending last year.
He said 140,000 low-income urban households enjoyed favorable housing policies last year, and 1.46 million people in Xinjiang moved to new and safe homes thanks to a government-subsidized project to rebuild houses in regions bearing high risks of earthquakes.
In addition, 1.21 million people, mostly in the rural areas, had safe drinking water last year and 37,900 people for the first time in their lives got power supply, the chairman said.
Bekri promised the regional government would continue to spend heavily to improve people's living standards this year.