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China Rewards Mixed Marriages in Ethnically Tense Xinjiang

FILE - A Uighur man looks at a passing Han woman outside of his restaurant in Shanghai, April 23, 2014.
FILE - A Uighur man looks at a passing Han woman outside of his restaurant in Shanghai, April 23, 2014.

Authorities in China's violence-hit Xinjiang region are offering cash rewards and other benefits for marriages between those belonging to ethnic minority groups and members of the Han majority.

The Communist Party-run Global Times reports Wednesday that the policy is meant to "promote ethnic unity" in Xinjiang, where minority Uighurs have long complained of policies that favor the Han.

The paper says mixed marriage couples in the southern county of Qiemo will receive about $1,600 annually for five years. The families will also get health care, housing, education and employment benefits.

The incentives are emblematic of the sort of policies many Uighurs say are gradually destroying their traditional culture and religious values, and replacing them with that of the Han.

The region has seen a series of violent attacks against government and increasingly civilian targets in recent months, prompting Beijing to launch a crackdown on what it says is terrorism.

China views the attacks as part of a foreign-backed effort to form a separate state in Xinjiang called East Turkestan. Many rights groups say China is exaggerating the threat in order to justify its policies in the resource-rich region.

Beijing denies mistreating or discriminating against the mainly Muslim Uighurs, saying it is only trying to bring residents in Xinjiang a higher quality of life.

China faces similar accusations in the tense, nearby region of Tibet, where authorities have also offered rewards for mixed marriages.

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