China replaces Xinjiang party boss associated with Uyghur crackdown

It is not known if Chen Quanguo’s replacement by Guangdong governor Ma Xingrui signals fresh approach

China has replaced the Communist party official widely associated with a security crackdown targeting ethnic Uyghurs and other Muslims in the far-west region of Xinjiang.

The state-owned Xinhua news agency said in a brief announcement on Saturday that Ma Xingrui, the governor of the coastal economic powerhouse Guangdong province since 2017, had replaced Chen Quanguo as the Xinjiang party chief. Chen will move to another role.

The change came amid a wider reshuffle ahead of next year’s 20th party congress, scheduled for the autumn. It is not clear whether the move signals a rethink in China’s overall approach to Xinjiang. Beijing would be sensitive to any interpretation that it was bowing to international pressure.

Some Chinese observers have noted Chen may be promoted further during the party congress. Others say his replacement, Ma, may focus more on the region’s economic development.

Chen, 66, was appointed party secretary of Xinjiang in 2016. He is one of the 25 members of China’s politburo and was placed on a sanctions list last year by the US.

On Thursday, Joe Biden signed into law a ban on imports from Xinjiang over Washington’s concerns about forced labour. Beijing condemned the move.

Rights groups and the United Nations say about 1 million Uyghurs and other Muslims have been detained in re-education camps in Xinjiang in the name of combating religious extremism and terrorism.

Since 2017, Beijing’s policy in the province has faced fierce criticism from abroad. Some western lawmakers and parliamentarians have described China’s treatment of the Uyghurs as genocidal – a charge Beijing denies. There have also been calls for a boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics in February.

Chen’s replacement, 62-year-old Ma, has a background in the aerospace industry. Before becoming governor of Guangdong he served as the party boss in Shenzhen from 2015.


Vincent Ni China affairs correspondent

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Leaked papers link Xinjiang crackdown with China leadership
Secret documents urge population control, mass round-ups and punishment of Uyghurs

Patrick Wintour Diplomatic Editor

29, Nov, 2021 @6:33 PM

Article image
China testing facial-recognition surveillance system in Xinjiang – report
System alerts authorities when suspects on watchlist stray from their home or workplace

Tom Phillips in Beijing

18, Jan, 2018 @8:16 AM

Article image
Xinjiang cotton found in Adidas, Puma and Hugo Boss tops, researchers say
Traces in shirts and T-shirts appear to contradict German firms’ promises to revise supply chains

Philip Oltermann in Berlin

05, May, 2022 @3:58 PM

Article image
Rights groups call for inquiries into Uyghur abuses in China after damning UN report
Governments urged to launch formal investigations after UN findings on treatment of Muslims in Xinjiang

Helen Davidson in Taipei and Julian Borger in Washington

01, Sep, 2022 @3:50 PM

Article image
Documents link Huawei to Uyghur surveillance projects, report claims
Washington Post alleges marketing slides reveal firm had a role in developing technology for China

Vincent Ni China affairs correspondent

15, Dec, 2021 @2:58 PM

Article image
France investigates fashion brands over forced Uyghur labour claims
Uniqlo France among four firms suspected of profiting from crimes against humanity in Xinjiang

Jon Henley in Paris

02, Jul, 2021 @12:18 PM

Article image
Chinese labour schemes aimed to cut Uyghur population density – report
Accidental publication adds to growing body of evidence of Beijing’s efforts to persecute minority

Helen Davidson in Taipei, and agencies

03, Mar, 2021 @8:08 AM

Article image
UN human rights commissioner criticised over planned Xinjiang visit
Exclusive: Politicians accuse China of organising a ‘Potemkin-style tour’ for Michelle Bachelet

Patrick Wintour and Vincent Ni

20, May, 2022 @3:34 PM

Article image
Uighur Muslim teacher tells of forced sterilisation in Xinjiang
Chinese government threatened woman when she resisted in move to suppress Muslim minority birth rates

Emma Graham-Harrison and Lily Kuo

04, Sep, 2020 @2:22 PM

Article image
Disney remake of Mulan criticised for filming in Xinjiang
Film credits offer thanks to eight government entities in region where rights abuses are documented

Lily Kuo in Beijing

07, Sep, 2020 @2:15 PM