Beijing: China on Thursday termed the situation in the volatile Uygur Muslim province of Xinjiang as "tough", acknowledging for the first time that the local separatist forces were influenced by recent Arab Spring revolt that swept across several Middle Eastern countries.
The situation in northwest Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, remains tough but has been improving, the region`s Communist Party of China (CPC) chief Zhang Chunxian told media here on the sidelines of annual session of National People`s Congress.
"Although the situation remains tough, the overall stability in Xinjiang is improving and under control," Zhang claimed.
He said the "evil forces" of separatism, extremism and terrorism are closely linked with and affected by the international environment such as the 2004 Orange Revolution in Ukraine and the Arab Spring.
Xinjiang, which borders Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) is experiencing a major conflict between nine million Uygurs, who are Turkic-speaking Muslims and Han Chinese settlers, whose numbers have now grown to over 40 per cent of the population of the province which is resented by the Uygur minority.
In July 2009, riots broke out in the capital city of Urumqi, leaving nearly 200 people dead and 1,700 injured while dozens were killed in brutal violence unleashed by militants of the banned East Turkistan Islamic Movement, (ETIM).
China has deployed vast number of troops to control the rebellion and has even raised the issue strongly with Pakistan in the past to prevent infiltration of the militants from there.
Zhang said Xinjiang should contain, resist and prevent the three evil forces of separatism, extremism and terrorism step-by-step in a historical way.
In June last year, six persons had tried to hijack a plane that had taken off from Hotan in the far-western province but were thwarted by passengers and crew.