China makes it illegal to discuss independence for Xinjiang
Xinjiang was the scene of deadly race riots earlier this year between local Uighurs, a Muslim ethnic minority, and Han Chinese.
Almost 200 people died in Urumqi, the capital of the province, as Uighurs rose up against the Chinese government.
China has accused a tiny minority of Uighurs of wanting to split the vast desert province away from the rest of the country and declare it as independent East Turkestan.
The new law bans locals from using the internet in any way that undermines national unity. It also bans the incitement of ethnic separatism or the harming of "social stability", according to the China News Service. No specific punishment was mentioned for offenders.
Under the law, internet service providers will be required to monitor users and report any sedition. Internet access across Xinjiang was blocked for several weeks during and after the riots in July to prevent protesters from co-ordinating their efforts.
Beijing has also denied charges that its policies in Xinjiang and Tibet have disadvantaged local populations. "There is no such thing as problems being created by Han Chinese migration to Tibet or other minority regions," said Wu Shimin, the vice-chairman of the State Ethnic Affairs Commission.
Critics say that increasing Han populations leave Uighurs and Tibetans as second-class citizens in their own lands.
Meanwhile, a white paper issued by China's State Council resolutely opposed any interference by foreign countries in China's internal politics under the pretexts of "human rights" or "religion". "China's ethnic issues are strictly internal affairs of the country itself," the paper said.
China | Politics | 2009-09-28 | telegraph.co.uk