In snub to its rights critics, China promotes its most sanctions-decorated ‘hero’ to run ‘Tibet’

Wang Junzheng has been made the secretary of the CPC Tibet Autonomous Regional Committee. (Photo: SCMP)

(, Oct19’21) – China’s official Xinhua news agency simply reported in an announcement Oct 19, at the bottom of a list of five new provincial level party chief appointments, that Wang Junzheng has been made the secretary of the CPC Tibet Autonomous Regional Committee, replacing Wu Yingjie. But make no mistake; Wang is a current hero of the Communist Part of China, having been sanctioned by the United States, Britain, the European Union and Canada for his role in China’s genocidal actions in Xinjiang, the occupied homeland of ethnic Uyghur Muslims.

Wang, 58, became China’s highest ranking official to be widely sanctioned over accusations of human rights violations in March, during his tenure as Xinjiang’s deputy party secretary and security chief, reported the Oct 19. His boss, Xinjiang party chief Chen Quanguo, appeared only on the Donald Trump administration’s sanctions list announced last year.

Chen himself had run Tibet for five years from Aug 21, 2011 with iron fist and new elaborate repressive measures before his transfer on Aug 29, 2016 to his current post, along with elevation to the 25-member Central Political Bureau (or Politburo) of the Communist Party of China in 2017.

Wang’s promotion underlines Beijing’s snub of the West’s response to its policies in Xinjiang, as well as its growing interest in the pool of officials who have been held up as examples of competence in areas with large ethnic minority populations, the report noted.

Wang was in the thick of China’s recent and still ongoing genocidal actions in Xinjiang, having served as its security chief from 2019 before starting his most recent role last year as political commissar of the paramilitary Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, while retaining his post as deputy party chief.

Wang will be taking over in Tibet Autonomous Region from Wu Yingjie when he retires at the age of 65 in two months’ time. Chen also should be retiring, as he is 66 years old. So, the question why Wang has been sent to Tibet rather than being made to take over from Chen in Xinjiang itself could raise further speculations.

Wang’s promotion was among a handful of appointments of regional chiefs announced on Oct 19, as Beijing ramps up preparations for the 20th party congress – a five-yearly power reshuffle – due to take place next autumn. President Xi Jinping is expected to continue as the Party General Secretary and then, of course, as state president later on. As China’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong, he is no longer restricted by any term limit that restricted the presidency of his immediate predecessors Hu Jintao and Jiang Zemin to two five-year terms each.


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