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Passport relaxation assists opening-up

Updated: 2016-03-09 07:30
By Cui Jia (China Daily)

Xinjiang will step up efforts with neighbors to prevent people from illegally crossing borders

Xinjiang's move to make it easier for residents to apply for passports could be used by extremists and terrorists there to carry out jihad, or "holy war", abroad but the tight controls of the past are no longer suitable for an area aiming to be more open, said a senior official of the region.

"Xinjiang tightened its passport application process in 2006 and we subsequently simplified the procedure in August 2015, which is now in line with China's exit and entry regulations," said Che Jun, who is in charge of maintaining social stability of the region.

Getting a passport is often complicated and takes more time in Xinjiang than in other regions because of the terrorism threats faced by Xinjiang and its ongoing anti-terrorism campaign.

"We can't lose the benefits of a more relaxed process just because we fear some people may use their passport to carry out "holy war" in foreign countries. Xinjiang needs to be more open," said Che, who is also a deputy to the Xinjiang delegation of the National People's Congress. He made the remark on Tuesday during a group discussion session open to reporters at the NPC's annual session.

He said that although the procedure to apply for a passport has been streamlined, Xinjiang will step up efforts to control its borders with the assistance of neighboring countries to prevent people crossing the border illegally.

Xinjiang borders eight countries, including Afghanistan and Pakistan. Some Xinjiang people have been found to have joined terrorist training camps in neighboring countries after illegally crossing the border. The region has always been seen as important in China's battle against terrorism and is thought to be facing growing threats from foreign separatists and extremists.

Security in Xinjiang is improving and the autonomous region is significantly more capable of handling terrorist threats, the region's top leader Zhang Chunxian said during the session.

He said the number of terrorist attacks fell considerably in 2015, despite the increasingly complicated global anti-terrorism situation. He vowed to continue to strike hard against terrorist activities as long as they exist.

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