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China to push cultural blending in Xinjiang stability push

China will push the study of Mandarin and the blending of different races as part of a new stability push in Xinjiang, the region's top Communist Party official said in remarks published on Wednesday.

Zhang Chunxian, Xinjiang's party boss, said during a meeting in the old Silk Road city of Kashgar, deep in the Uighur heartland in southern Xinjiang, that Xinjiang was a chess board and its southern reaches were a crucial piece.

"South Xinjiang is the central battleground for fighting terrorism and threats to stability," Zhang said, in comments carried by the official Xinjiang Daily.

In southern Xinjiang, China aims to achieve significant progress by 2020 in the struggle against separatists, maintaining stability and fighting terror, Zhang said.

He said the government has made notable progress in protecting social stability and religious harmony.

Efforts would be strengthened on "exchanges and blending" between ethnic groups and education in "the language commonly used in our country", Zhang said, in a reference to Mandarin Chinese.

China has long pushed Mandarin as a unifying tongue in a country with hundreds of different dialects and languages.

Zhang said authorities would also push education on ethnic unity with young people, a term that generally means promoting harmony among China's different races.

Uighurs have traditionally followed a moderate form of Islam but many have begun adopting practices more common in Saudi Arabia or Pakistan, such as full-face veils for women, as China has stepped up a security crackdown in recent years.

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