China has marked the start of Ramzan with its customary ban on civil servants, students and children in a mainly-Muslim region of Xinjiang from taking part in fasting. China's ruling Communist party is officially atheist and for years has banned government employees and minors from fasting in Xinjiang, home to the more than 10 million strong mostly Muslim Uighur minority.
It has also ordered restaurants to stay open. The region sees regular clashes between Uighurs and state security forces, and Beijing has blamed deadly attacks there and elsewhere in China on militants seeking independence for the resource-rich region.
"Food service workplaces will operate normal hours during Ramadan," said a notice posted last week on the website of the state Food and Drug Administration in Xinjiang's Jinghe county. Officials in the region's Bole county were told: "During Ramadan do not engage in fasting, vigils or other religious activities," according to a local government website report of a meeting this week.
Each year, the authorities' attempt to ban fasting among Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang receives widespread criticism from rights groups.