URUMQI, July 13 (Xinhua) -- Senior Chinese leader Zhou Yongkang said on Monday in Urumqi that the overall social situation in the northwestern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region is stable and life is returning to normal.
"People feel more secure and the situation is turning for the better," said Zhou in a meeting with top officials of the riot-torn region.
The fight against the "three forces" of separatism, terrorism and extremism is a "serious political battle" to safeguard national unity, ensuring the masses' fundamental interests and strengthening the Party's leadership, he said.
"Currently, various instability factors still exist and the task of maintaining stability is arduous," he said. Stability in Xinjiang was the "most important and pressing task that has overwhelming priority."
Zhou urged officials of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region to reinforce measures to maintain stability in order to ensure the overall stability of the region after the deadly July 5 riot in Urumqi, the regional capital, that left at least 184 dead.
Zhou, Standing Committee member of the Communist Party of China(CPC) Central Committee Political Bureau, was on his fifth day in Xinjiang after a Political Bureau Standing Committee meeting on Wednesday, convened by President Hu Jintao, the CPC Central Committee General Secretary, to discuss the deadly Xinjiang riot.
"The importance and urgency in ensuring Xinjiang social order should be fully learned, and the fight against separatism and terrorism in the region is a long-term and acute task," said Zhou, who was visiting the region on behalf of President Hu.
Zhou called on officials to uphold the banner of stability, the socialist legal system, the people's fundamental interests and ethnic unity so as to "win the tough war of maintaining the region's stability 60 years after the peaceful liberation of the region."
"People have stood severe tests in a critical moment and made outstanding contributions" in fighting criminality, he said.
He urged officials to "nip hidden dangers in the bud" and tell the public the truth.
"Compensation policies should be improved as soon as possible to help victims and people who lost property," he said.
Those who broke the law should be "severely and immediately punished."
Zhou said more efforts should be made to accelerate the development of poor areas such as the south of the region.
The People's Liberation Army Daily published a front-page editorial over the weekend, which stressed that social stability was the common wish of the people and the priority for the people of all ethnic groups.
The editorial said stability was of top priority for a country with 1.3 billion people of 56 ethnic groups. Experience from the last six decades proved that only when the country was stable could the people undertake social and economic construction as well as enjoy peace and contentment.
The newspaper also called for resolute opposition to any violent crimes and separatist activities that could compromise the country's unity and territorial integrity.