China set to continue 'security' measures, 15 years after Xinjiang riots

Friday marks 15 years since anti-government protests in China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region escalated into large-scale deadly rioting. China appears ready to maintain what it calls security measures in Xinjiang, despite facing allegations of human rights abuses in the region.

Ethnic minority Uyghurs took to the streets of Xinjiang's central city of Urumqi on July 5, 2009, to rally against the Chinese government. But the demonstration turned violent. Authorities say about 200 people died.

The government later intensified its effort to develop Xinjiang's economy, as frustration over wealth gaps between Uyghurs and Han people was believed to be one of the factors behind the protests. Last year's gross domestic product of the region was roughly 4.5 times that in 2009.

Authorities also implemented measures in Xinjiang to prevent what they call ethnic divides and terrorism. They include restrictions on Islamic customs practiced by Uyghurs.

In addition, China says it has provided Uyghurs with education and training at facilities to rid them of extremist teachings.

But China is facing international accusations of committing human rights violations in Xinjiang under the guise of counterterrorism programs.

An increasing number of Uyghurs are also complaining that their family members have been detained unjustly.

The areas where the riots erupted have turned into tourist spots. But security remains heavy in those locations, with armored vehicles deployed.

Beijing appears eager to highlight the results of its policies for Xinjiang, saying that the country has not witnessed any terrorist attacks in seven years.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson stressed that Xinjiang currently enjoys social stability, economic development, ethnic solidarity, religious harmony and rising living standards.