Xinjiang’s genocidal communist party chief seen as headed for promotion

Mr Chen Quanguo, a member of China's powerful 25-member Politburo, the Communist Party Secretary of Xinjiang. (Photo courtesy: Xinhua)

(, Dec27’21) – The genocidal Party General Secretary Chen Quanguo of the Xinjiang region is leaving his post upon completing his five-year term. Chen, a Politburo member since 2017, is seen as being headed for promotion.

A brief statement from China’s official Xinhua news agency said Dec 25 that the Central Committee had recently decided to appoint Ma Xingrui, the governor of southern Guangdong province and an official previously with the aerospace authority in China, as the new party secretary of Xinjiang.

The announcement said Chen will be given a new appointment.

Chen, 66, remains the highest ranked Chinese official to be sanctioned last year by the US government for his role in what is seen as a genocidal crackdown on Xinjiang’s Uyghur and other Muslims.

Before taking over Xinjiang in 2016, Chen presided over Tibet Autonomous Region where he implemented the most intensive as well as pervasive repression the occupied region had seen in decades with his appointment in 2011.

In Xinjiang he supervised the construction of a network of so-called re-education camps, with anywhere from one to two million mostly Uyghur Muslims detained there starting in 2017. Beijing initially denied the existence of the camps, but subsequently said they were “vocational training” centres.

In July 2020, the Donald Trump administration designated three senior party officials “for their involvement in gross violations of human rights” in Xinjiang including “forced labour, arbitrary mass detention and forced population control, and attempts to erase their culture and Muslim faith”. Chen was the senior most of those officials and was barred from entering the US.

In the wake of criticism and sanctions from the US and the EU, Chinese authorities have closed some of the camps and said some of the detainees had “graduated”. 

“The replacement cannot be called a response to international pressure,” the Dec 25 quoted Beijing-based political analyst Wu Qiang as saying. “The pressure does exist, but what Beijing did is the opposite, as Chen might be promoted to a higher level, and the governance model in Xinjiang might be copied elsewhere in the country.”


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