Communist Party officials in China's far western Xinjiang region say religious extremism is waning, but the government plans to step up border controls with Central Asian countries to prevent militants from entering the troubled region.

Xinjiang Party Secretary Zhang Chunxian told reporters at China's annual legislative session that cases of violence have declined in the past year but "the struggle will last long term" given complicated international and domestic factors.

Xinjiang is home to the mostly Muslim Uighur minority, many of whom chafe at Beijing's heavy-handed rule. Hundreds of people have died in violent attacks that the government blames on militant Islamic separatists.

Officials said Tuesday they will continue embedding hundreds of thousands of party cadres in local villages in an effort to sway public opinion about the central government.