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China: New appointments in the Communist Party organisation in Xinjiang – Implications

According to Chinese language media, the Commander of the Xinjiang Military District, Peng Yong and a veteran legal expert Dr Xiong Xuanguo have recently been appointed as members of the Standing Committee of the Xinjiang regional Party Committee. With inclusion of the two, the composition of the membership in the top party structure has become wider than before. Especially, the Party Standing Committee is now being represented by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), State Security apparatus and the legal circles, indicating that the counter terrorism agencies in Xinjiang will be getting more and more political support.

The elevation in the status of the Military Commander Peng Yong signifies efforts being taken in Xinjiang to achieve better coordination between political and military circles in the region in the matter of fighting the ‘three evils’ (terrorism, separatism and religious extremism). With his new position, Peng will be better equipped to conduct counter- terrorism liaison with his counter parts across the border, particularly in Pakistan where, as China alleges, Uighur Militants are getting training. It is difficult to say if Islamabad would agree for a joint operation of its forces and the PLA within Pakistan’s territory against such militants or their camps. But if this happens, the Xinjiang military commander in his new capacity may probably have a role to play.

The appointment of Dr Xiong who is a Judge in China’s Supreme Court and teaches Law in the Beijing-based  People’s University and Central Law University as well as Xiamen University also appears significant in the context of international criticisms against human right violations in Xinjiang. At a time, when agencies like Amnesty International are challenging the legality of deportation of Uighur dissidents to China from countries like Thailand, Pakistan, Cambodia and Malaysia, the conferment of a role in the party for legal experts as in the case of Dr Xiong, appears meaningful. It may not be out of place to mention in this connection that Beijing has recently made attempts to improve its image on Human rights situation by releasing national documents like ‘Human Rights Report -2011’.

The Xinjiang party boss Zhang Chunxian who is responsible for overall regional security, still continues in his post, despite his failure to curb the militant activities in the region. It is clear that he continues to enjoy the confidence of the central leadership. He was even selected to visit the United States in June 2011 and hold discussions with American senators on China- US relations. The revitalised party’s Standing Committee in Xinjiang could be designed to give a firm backing to Zhang’s position in Xinjiang.

(The writer Mr Ashok Tiku is an experienced China analyst based in New Delhi. Views expressed are his own. Email.:

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