China has banned government officials, teachers, students and children from fasting during Ramadan, in Xinjiang, home to the more than 10 million-strong mostly Muslim Uighur minority.
It has also ordered some restaurants to stay open.
The country’s ruling Communist party is officially atheist and similar bans have been made in previous years.
The region sees regular clashes between Turkic-speaking Uighurs and state security forces. Beijing has blamed deadly attacks there and elsewhere in China on militants seeking independence for the resource-rich region.
Xinjiang region in China blindspotreport
Chinese government has made a pledge to crack down on “religious extremists” seeking to join jihadists in Syria and Iraq.
Several local government departments in Xinjiang have posted notices on their websites in the last week ordering restrictions on fasting during Ramadan.
Xinjiang Xingnong Website, a local government website, published a statement that said: “We firmly fight against religious extremist ideas [and] prevent those people lawbreakers from attending religious activities.” During the holy month, the faithful fast from dawn to dusk and strive to be more pious.
Chinese security officials have said that local mosques remain under 24-hour surveillance for hidden security threats.
Chinese President Xi Jinping bankinfosecurity
China tightly controls religious groups despite frequently proclaiming that its citizens have freedom of belief.