Chinese President Hu Jintao has abandoned plans to attend a G-8 summit meeting in Italy, to rush home to deal with violent ethnic clashes in the northwestern region of Xinjiang.
President Hu's return was announced by China's state-run television. The Chinese government statement says due to the situation in Xinjiang, President Hu left Italy earlier than planned.
State Councilor Dai Bingguo now will represent China at the gathering of the world's leading industrialized nations.
Heavy security is seen throughout Xinjiang's capital, Urumqi. After ethnic violence sparked by a violent clash on Sunday that left more than 150 people dead.
The unrest began Sunday with a demonstration by ethnic Uighurs calling for an investigation into a brawl last month between Uighurs and Han Chinese at a factory in southern China.
The Uighurs are a largely Muslim Turkic minority group that share similarities with peoples in Central Asia. China accuses some of them of seeking an independent homeland. The Uighurs, make up nearly half of Xinjiang's 20 million people, accuse the government of discrimination and repression.
Foreign journalists in Urumqi reported seeing ethnic Han Chinese residents carrying sticks in the city.
Fifty-year old Mr. Jiang says despite the high security, he feels it is not safe to go out unarmed.
Jiang says if you go to work, you will have to carry a stick or a knife, for your own safety.
In other areas, journalists reported Uighurs guarding their homes and businesses, after crowds of Han rampaged through Uighur neighborhoods.
Chinese authorities have detained more than 1,400 people for suspected involvement in Sunday's violence.
Beijing accuses Uighur groups overseas of stirring up the trouble, aiming to eventually create an independent Xinjiang. The region has seen repeated bouts of violence of the past few decades, as Uighurs have protested Beijing's rule. The protests this week appear to be the worst in several years.
The government has cut Internet access in Xinjiang and is blocking social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook, where information on the disturbances could be posted.