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China’s terrorism cases on the rise

China’s top judge says the country saw a double-digit in­crease in the number of terror­ism and separatism cases last year, and that more than 700 indi­viduals were convicted.

In an annual report to the Na­tional People’s Congress, Zhou Qiang, the chief justice of Chi­na’s Supreme People’s Court said Chinese courts carried out prosecutions for 558 cases last year. He said the number of cases increased by about 15 percent for terrorism charges and a little more than 13 percent for separat­ism.

Zhou did not say where the ma­jority of the trials took place or give a break down of the number of cases for terrorism or separat­ism, but China did see a sharp increase in violent attacks in its remote and restive region of Xin­jiang last year.

Xinjiang has long been trou­bled by ethnic tensions between its Uighur Muslim group and the country’s Han majority.

Rights activists and exiled Ui­ghur groups say it is the govern­ment’s repressive cultural and religious policies there that are fueling the unrest, but China says the spread of religious extrem­ism is to blame. Earlier this week, a top communist party official in Xinjiang warned that some ex­tremists have even traveled over­seas to join the Islamic State and recently returned home.

Xinjiang has typically led the rest of the nation in convictions related to crimes labeled as en­dangering state security. A broad grouping that includes crimes such as separatism, subversion and terrorism among others.

According to Dui Hua Founda­tion, a human rights advocacy group based in the United States, its own estimates and an annual Xinjiang report on court cases shows that while the number of cases of endangering state se­curity in Xinjiang stayed flat at about 300, the number of crimi­nal trials increased by 40 percent to more than 29,000.

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