China convicted and sentenced 712 people for terrorism, separatism and related crimes last year, the country’s top court said on Thursday, saying such offences were its top priority for 2015.

Violent attacks and unrest have been on the rise in recent years in China’s remote Xinjiang region, home to the mostly Muslim Uighur minority, and Tibetan areas, where reports of self-immolation in protest against Chinese rule often hit global headlines.

China has vowed to step up punishment of what it calls “violent terrorists” and is drafting its first-ever anti-terrorism law. Rights groups have warned it would grant the Communist Party even greater powers to “define terrorism and terrorist activities so broadly as to easily include peaceful dissent or criticism” of government policies.

The number of people sentenced last year for crimes such as inciting secession and terrorist attack was up 13.3 percent from 2013, the Supreme People’s Court said in its report to the National People’s Congress, the country’s Communist-controlled legislature.

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