China’s leaders vow to maintain stability

CHINA’S top communist leaders vowed to maintain stability in the west of the country in their first public comments yesterday on the ethnic riots that killed more than 150 people.

Late in the day, some 8,000 troops marched through one of the worst-hit areas of the Xinjiang province’s capital in a massive show of force, an apparent effort to reassure the people and prevent further violence.

With security forces keeping a firm grip on the tense Urumqi, residents tentatively emerged to go about daily life.

An urgent nine-member Politburo Standing Committee meeting, led by President Hu Jintao, called on Communist Party members and officials at all levels to mobilise to restore order after the region’s worst ethnic violence in decades.

The committee promised punishment for rioters and leniency to participants who were misled by agitators.

“Preserving and maintaining the overall stability of Xinjiang is currently the most urgent task,” the Politburo said, according to an account carried by the official Xinhua News Agency.

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