Chinese region tightens rules on chemical sales
September 8, 2009
In an effort to improve public safety, the Chinese government is tightening controls over the sale of dangerous chemicals, reports the Associated Press. Individuals or companies in Xinjiang wishing to buy dangerous chemicals will have to register with an identification card or business license. Purchases of even more toxic chemicals will require certificates of permission from their local police. The order comes amid tensions in the region''s capital, Urumqi, after violence in July between members the native Uighur ethnic group and China''s majority Han that left 197 dead. A recent series of needle attacks sparked street protests last week in which authorities say five were killed. Hoping to ease public anger, Beijing removed Urumqi''s Communist Party boss and Xinjiang''s police chief recently. The report did not list the restricted chemicals by name, although the order appeared directed at controlling caustic or potentially explosive substances that could be used in terrorist attacks. Xinjiang has long been home to a low-frequency Uighur separatist insurgency. The report said chemical dealers must be licensed and keep detailed records of all sales, including the intended uses. The government has blamed the rioting and the needle attacks on the separatists. In a public notice, Xinjiang''s Public Security Department said police received 77 reports of new needle attacks between in a 24-hour period recently in Urumqi. Previously, about 530 people had reported attacks, but only about 100 showed physical signs such as scratches or puncture wounds. The government has vowed harsh punishment for those who committed the attacks, including sentences of 3 years to life in prison or even the death penalty. Those who falsely report needle attacks to cause public fear will also face punishment.