Ahead of China’s important leadership conclave, the 19th National Congress, Xinjiang is on lockdown.
The region, located in the northwestern reaches of the country and composed mostly of ethnic minorities, has long been the subject of suppression by Chinese authorities. In recent years, ethnic violence between Uyghurs and Han Chinese has been met with harsh police tactics. Ahead of a major political meeting in Beijing when the next generation of party elite to rule the country will be unveiled, the authorities are not backing down.
Residents in Makit County, Kashgar Prefecture, and Aksu Prefecture recently told Radio Free Asia that local police authorities are mandating that people get their identification information printed via a QR code on sharp tools they own, including kitchen knives, axes, pocket knives, and shovels. Those who don’t comply will have their sharp tools confiscated, police said.
Residents in Hotunsumul County, Bayin’gholin Mongol Autonomous Prefecture are also required to register their names and national ID card numbers when purchasing kitchen knives.
Other minority autonomous regions—areas mostly inhabited by ethnic minorities—have banned the sales of knives in stores altogether last week.
On the popular shopping website Taobao, knives marked for shipping destinations in Xinjiang, Tibet, and Inner Mongolia are also being denied.
Severe policies extend beyond the use of household tools.
The Chinese version of Radio Free Asia reported on Oct. 10 that a man of Kazakh ethnicity was arrested and sentenced to one-year imprisonment for buying two telephone cards under the same ID card. In Xinjiang, each person is only entitled to buying one.
Such iron-fisted rule of Xinjiang is why locals say protests and unrest have continued to erupt. Hundreds have perished in these conflicts.