Beijing, March 11 (IANS) Chinese President Xi Jinping has urged the construction of a "Great Wall of Steel" to safeguard national unity, ethnic solidarity and social stability in the violence-hit Xinjiang region.
Xi made the remarks on Friday during a panel discussion with lawmakers from Xinjiang at the ongoing annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC), Xinhua news agency reported.
Xi called for safeguarding ethnic unity, and reinforcing solidarity between the military and government, soldiers and civilians, police and the publics.
"Xinjiang is an important security barrier in northwest China which holds a special strategic position and faces special issues," Xi said, adding that governing the region well is of great significance.
He stressed that maintaining stability in the landlocked border region, which has a history of ethnic violence and terror attacks, is a political responsibility.
"Stability-related issues must be handled in a thorough, timely and proper manner," the President added.
Xi's comments follow a series of massive "anti-terror" rallies in Xinjiang, which is home to the Turkic-speaking and largely Muslim Uighur minority as well as a growing number of Han Chinese immigrants, the Guardian reported.
Tens of thousands of heavily armed troops have poured onto the region, vowing to wage a "people's war on terror" against militants.
Earlier this month, the Islamic State released a gory online propaganda video in which a Uighur-speaking recruit vowed to spill the blood of "evil Chinese communist infidel lackeys".
In December, security forces killed four militants who allegedly attempted to blow up a Communist party building in southern Xinjiang.
Three more alleged terrorists were killed in February after reportedly attacking civilians with machetes, the daily added.