(An ethnic Uighur man sits at a local market in Kashgar, Xinjiang province August 2, 2011.  REUTERS/Carlos Barria )

Ethnic minority people in China’s Xinjiang are far more fond of dancing, singing and being good hosts than making trouble, a top official said on Tuesday, dismissing the idea that the far western region is a hotbed of unrest.

Many Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking Muslim people who live in energy-rich Xinjiang, chafe at Chinese restrictions on their culture, language and religion, and the region is frequently the scene of deadly ethnic violence.

Last month, 21 people were killed in clashes in the heavily ethnic Uighur part of Xinjiang near the old Silk Road city of Kashgar, the deadliest unrest since July 2009, when nearly 200 people were killed in riots in the Xinjiang capital of Urumqi.

China says it offers broad freedoms in Xinjiang, though few Chinese officials make the effort to learn the Uighur language or understand much about Islam in what is officially an atheist country.