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Xinjiang separatists warn against visit from H.K. leaders.

HONG KONG, May 14 Kyodo

Separatists in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in China have warned against an upcoming visit by senior Hong Kong officials and business leaders to explore investment opportunities in the remote area, a human rights group and a Hong Kong newspaper said Monday.

The Munich-based East Turkestan Information Center, which supports independence for Xinjiang, also reportedly cautioned the Hong Kong delegation has ''to redouble vigilance'' for its safety during the trip.

But the Hong Kong government said Monday the trip, to be led by Chief Secretary for Administration Donald Tsang, will proceed as scheduled.

Tsang, a number of senior government officials and leading tycoons will visit the western areas of China, including Xinjiang, between Sunday and May 29 to examine business conditions there.

The trip is a Hong Kong response to China's national campaign to develop the western part of the country, which remains impoverished and lagging behind eastern coastal regions economically.

But the East Turkestan Information Center charged any Hong Kong investment in Xinjiang will benefit only the Han Chinese minority and will harm the interests and job opportunities for Uygurs.

A spokesman for the group, Dilixadi, accused Beijing of trying to suppress the Xinjiang independence movement by developing the western region and sending more Han Chinese to dominate the area, the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy reported.

Ethnic conflicts between the Uygurs and Han Chinese will increase in Xinjiang as a result, Dilixadi added.

The East Turkestan group said it does not advocate the use of force to oppose the visit by the Hong Kong delegation, but it will arouse dissatisfaction among Uygurs if the Chinese authorities tighten security by imposing curfews and arresting Uygur independence supporters.

The group called on Beijing to improve the employment situation for Uygurs and to relax restrictions on religion and basic human rights in Xinjiang, as well as allowing companies in Xinjiang to directly meet with Hong Kong business people, according to the Apple Daily in Hong Kong.

Financial Secretary Antony Leung, who is one of the Hong Kong delegates, told reporters Monday the trip will not be affected by the threat, adding they will ''certainly be careful'' during the visit.
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Publication:Asian Political News
Date:May 21, 2001
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