Tag Archives: Chen Quanguo

Xinjiang Gets A New Party Boss, And Subtle Shift In Emphasis On Stability

THE NEW PARTY secretary in Xinjing, Ma Xingrui, promises no change in the region’s ‘stability’ policy, implying the human-rights confrontations between China and the United States and the EU will continue.

However, his early remarks touched on the development of Xinjiang’s supply chains and the need to integrate the region into the Belt and Road Initiative, suggesting an attempt to develop export routes through Eurasia to the EU to drive a commercial wedge between Washington and Brussels.

On December 25, when his appointment was announced, Ma pledged to maintain his predecessor Chen Quanguo’s focus on stability and implement President Xi Jinping’s blueprint for Xinjiang.

Two days later, during his first appearance in Urumqi, Ma shifted tone, saying Xinjiang should become more integrated with the Belt and Road Initiative and called for the region’s supply chains to be modernised and the climate for international business made more welcoming, including through tax breaks. He also said that development and security in the region had to be balanced and that maintaining stability was a long-term general goal.

Ma Xingrui, Party Boss of Xinjiang seen in Urumqi on December 27, 2021. Photo credit: Xinjiang DailyMa, 62, (left), has a commercial and trade background. He was most recently governor of Guangdong province, a post he took up in 2017 after a couple of years as Party boss in Shenzhen. A similarly short spell as a vice-minister of industry and information technology had followed six years running China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp., the main contractor for China’s space program, from 2007 to 2013 (Ma is an aerospace engineer by profession).

He also has security experience. When governor of Guangdong, Ma was a member of the central coordinating group on Hong Kong and Macau affairs as Beijing brought Hong Kong more tightly under its control through the crackdown on dissent via the National Security Law. Providing he does not blot his copybook in Xinjiang, Ma looks set for a seat on the Politburo following next year’s Party Congress.

Chen, four years Ma’s senior and under US sanctions concerning the treatment of the Uighur minority in Xinjiang, is moving to a yet unnamed new position. In his outgoing comments, he praised Xi’s ‘helmsmanship’ — a phrase popping up a lot of late — for what, according to state media, he called ‘the general social stability, high-quality economic growth and a happy and peaceful life for the region’s residents’.

China has repeatedly denied human rights abuses against Uighurs, saying its policies in Xinjiang address extremism and poverty.

On December 25, the regional government ran through the standard arguments of Beijing’s position in response to the bill that US President Joe Biden signed into law that bans imports of goods from Xinjiang unless companies can prove no forced labour is involved. Intel and Walmart are the latest US multinationals ensnared in this aspect of the dispute.

Even with the lures that Ma may dangle, US multinationals will not find it any easier to bite while the current mood in Washington prevails.

Leave a comment

Filed under China-E.U., China-U.S., Politics & Society

Financial Sanctions Over Xinjiang Will Further Fray US-China Relations

THERE IS NO other way to read the United States’ decision to go ahead with imposing sanctions on a Politburo member as anything but a marked deterioration in relations between the two countries. However, it fits squarely with Washington’s increasingly harsh condemnations of Beijing’s actions in Xinjiang and Hong Kong.

Chen Quanguo, the Xinjiang provincial party secretary, whose position in the Politburo makes him the most senior Party leader to be so sanctioned by the United States, Zhu Hailun, party secretary of the Xinjiang Political and Legal Committee, and the current and former directors of the Xinjiang Public Security Bureau, Wang Mingshan and Huo Liujun, face a range of sanctions. The Trump administration charges them to be responsible for human rights violations against the predominantly Muslim ethnic Uighurs in Xinjiang.

It is now illegal in the United States to conduct financial transactions with the four. Their US-based assets are frozen, although it is unclear how extensive these are. All save for Huo may not enter the United States, a restriction that also applies to their families. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says other unnamed Party officials will also be banned from entering the United States. The Xinjiang Public Security Bureau as an institution is also sanctioned. The Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps may suffer the same fate.

The sanctions are being imposed under the 2016 Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, which affords the administration broad authority to impose human-rights sanctions on foreign officials. The US president could have imposed the sanctions months ago but was reluctant to do so while they could complicate the completion and implementation of his Phase One trade deal, signed in January.

Beijing has repeatedly rejected international allegations of abuses of Uighurs in Xinjiang and held fast to the line that its policies there and in Hong Kong are internal matters in which the United States has no place to interfere. However, the timing of the sanctions’ announcement, coming in the wake of Foreign Minister Wang Yi calling for better bilateral ties, will be taken as a slap in the face — or perhaps a biting off of a hand holding an olive branch — that cannot be left unanswered.

Next week, the US president is expected to sign into law legislation that will give him sweeping sanction powers over officials accused of undermining Hong Kong’s ‘one country, two systems’ semi-autonomy and over banks and state entities that do business with them. Imposition of them will likely be driven by the US election timetable, but there will be some uncomfortable weeks for bankers in Hong Kong deciding where it will pay for their loyalties to lie.


Filed under China-U.S.