China appoints new official to rule Xinjiang amid tensions with the West

The former head of this Chinese province was targeted by US sanctions, in a context of tensions between China and the West over the treatment of Uyghurs.

Beijing has appointed a new official in Xinjiang to replace its strongman in the region, Chen Quanguo, on the American blacklist, as the treatment of Uyghurs crystallizes tensions between China and the West.

Xinjiang (northwest) has long been hit by bloody attacks, targeting civilians in particular and attributed to separatists or Uyghur Islamists. The region is now under strict surveillance.

Chen Quanguo, a former soldier, was since August 2016 the highest Communist official in this territory as large as three times the size of France. It was after his arrival that information emerged indicating an archipelago of « campsIn the region that Beijing initially denied.

66-year-old Chen Quanguo « no longer occupiesHis functions, announced Saturday, December 25 the official news agency China New, which did not specify neither the reason for this replacement nor the future assignment of Chen Quangup. Xinjiang is now headed by Ma Xingrui, who until then ruled the southern province of Guangdong, of which Canton is the capital. The announcement comes a few days after new sanctions by Washington against Chinese companies accused of violating fundamental rights in Xinjiang.

As such, Chen Quanguo has been targeted since 2020 by US sanctions. Western studies, based on interpretations of official Chinese documents, testimonies of alleged victims and statistical extrapolations accuse the Chinese authorities of repression against the Uyghurs.

Political re-education camps

According to human rights associations, more than a million people in Xinjiang are or have been locked up in political re-education centers. Beijing disputes this figure and speaks of vocational training centers intended to remove « internsOf radicalization.

Prior to his post in Xinjiang, Chen Quanguo had served as secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in Tibet between 2011 and 2016. He stood out there for restoring order after protests and a series of self-immolations by Buddhist monks.

In 2017, he became a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC, the 25-member body that rules China: a promotion then widely seen as a reward for the stability found in Xinjiang. The appointment of a new official in this strategic region of China came on Christmas Day. Beijing generally takes the holidays at this time in the West to dispatch sensitive business.

SEE ALSO – Beijing denounces US law on boycotting products from Xinjiang


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