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Demolished buildings in Xinjiang 'are illegal'
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The Foreign Ministry Tuesday dismissed media reports claiming that authorities in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region demolished a mosque that refused to show its support for the Beijing Olympic Games.

Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said at a regular press briefing that the government has taken note of the media coverage, and claimed it was "seriously inaccurate".

Local herders and farmers built two buildings for religious activities on farmland without approval, he said.

"Their occupation of cultivated land and use of it for other purposes without authorization violated the country's land law," Qin said.

Xinjiang authorities were enforcing laws to protect farmland and had been asking the locals to take down the two buildings since May, he said.

The buildings were in the Aksu area of Xinjiang's rugged southwest.

"They were not mosques, and no one was arrested or detained at any time," he said.

China must protect its farmland and develop its agriculture, he said.

Earlier, Reuters reported that local authorities had demolished a mosque for refusing to put up signs supporting the Beijing Olympics.

The report also quoted sources as saying all the Korans in the mosque had been seized and dozens of people had been detained.

Also Tuesday, Qin said that as the Beijing Olympics draws near, some international forces, organizations and people are engaging in distortion and exaggeration to make various kinds of "noise pollution".

"The Chinese government and people have become used to this and a successful Olympic Games cannot be prevented by any force," Qin said.

Such disturbances will only inspire the Chinese people to stage a successful Games, he said.

"We are confident of our ability to do so," he said.

(China Daily July 9, 2008)

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