China allows full Internet access in Muslim region after months

China restored full Internet access in a region what Uighurs call "East Turkestan" on Friday, the local government said.

China allows full Internet access in Muslim region after months

China restored full Internet access in a region what Uighurs call "East Turkestan" on Friday, the local government said, ending 10 months of blocked or limited access following deadly ethnic rioting there last July.

The curbs had been widely criticised by human rights advocates. Besides restricting communication, the curbs had also hurt commerce in the region, home to about 20 million people, mainly Uighurs -- a native Muslim people and culturally tied to Central Asia and Turkey.

The local government said it restored services "to meet the needs of maintaining stability, boosting social and economic development and the calls from all ethnic groups", according to an announcement on its website (www.xinjiang.gov.cn).

The region, that China named "Xinjiang" after control, cut off local access to the Internet, international phone calls and text messaging after members of China's Han majority ethnic group launched revenge attacks for protests by Muslim Uighurs in the regional capital, Urumqi. In all, 197 people died in the clashes.

Earlier this month, Zhang Chunxian was named Communist Party secretary of Xinjiang -- a position outranking the provincial governor -- replacing the hardline Wang Lequan, who had run the remote region since 1994.

East Turkestan has about 7 million Internet users, state media said.

But the announcement also threatened severe punishment for anyone caught spreading "harmful" information via the Internet.

"The web users should not do anything that hurts the Internet environment or harms ethnic unity, social stability and national interests," it added.

Last December, Xinjiang allowed access to two state-run websites, and in March allowed access to two portal websites. International long-distance calls and mobile text messages also have gradually resumed.

Agencies

Last Mod: 14 Mayıs 2010, 16:39
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