Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region has adopted a law to enhance unity among different ethnic groups, the first regional law of its kind in China.
The law on education for ethnic unity in Xinjiang was adopted Tuesday at a regional legislature's session and would take effect on Feb. 1, 2010, said an official with the Xinjiang Regional People's Congress, the local lawmaking body, Thursday.
The law spells out that it is an obligation for all citizens to work towards national unity and against secession, and defines the principles, ways and content of ethnic unity education with regards to all people in Xinjiang, said Eligen Imibakhi, chairman of the Standing Committee of the Xinjiang Regional People's Congress.
"It rules that all people and organizations are banned from promulgating speech detrimental to ethnic unity, and from gathering, providing, producing and spreading information to that effect," he said.
The law states anyone who endangers ethnic unity or provokes secession will face penalties and prosecution.
"The law will promote equality, unity and harmony in Xinjiang and serve its long-term stability," Eligen Imibakhi said.
Lawmakers in Xinjiang began drafting the law in August 2008 and finalized the document early this month. Revisions were made according to proposals given by local government officials, experts from schools, research bodies and non-government organizations and people from all walks of life in Xinjiang.
At least 60 percent of Xinjiang's 21 million people are ethnic minorities and less than 40 percent are Han nationals.
Starting in 1983, Xinjiang marked May as the month for ethnic unity education to promote harmony among people of different ethnic groups.