Chinese passport
Residents of Xinjiang are required to surrender their passports to the authorities. Pictured: Chinese passportReuters

China has ordered all the residents of its heavily Muslim-populated Xinjiang province to submit their passports to the authorities so that the government can maintain "social order".

The move has been taken by the Chinese government to curb the residents from moving abroad days after it implemented strict rules to suppress religious freedom in the area. While unveiling new education rules in October, the government had said that parents and guardians who encourage or force their children into religious activities will be reported to the police.

Hundreds of residents in Xinjiang, home to the Muslim Uyghur people, have died over the recent years of continual unrest. Although the government blames the unrest on Islamist militants and separatists, human rights groups have said that the violence in the area is more likely a reaction to repressive Chinese policies in the province.

Passport regulations in the area have now been tightened, and require all the residents to surrender their passport to the local police for management and examination, according to Global Times. 

"Anyone who needs the passport must apply to the police station," a police official was quoted as saying on condition of anonymity. The regulation to summit the passport has only been implemented in the Xinjiang province.

The Public Security Bureau in Shihezi city in October had given the same directive for the residents to submit their passports for "annual examination" purposes. The directive has said, "Those who refuse to hand in their passports should bear the responsibility themselves if they are forbidden from going abroad."

Reports state that the Communist government on Thursday had also given an order asking all the residents to report to police about any religious activities in the area, including weddings, funerals and even circumcision.

The tightening of regulation of passports in the area has also come after there has been a significant and steady migration of the Uyghurs Muslims to other nations, particularly Turkey.