New Xinjiang Boss Vows No Reversal to Stability-First Policy

New Xinjiang Boss Vows No Reversal to Stability-First Policy

Politics

New Xinjiang Boss Vows No Reversal to Stability-First Policy

 Updated on 
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    Ma Xingrui reaffirms goals after promotion to lead region
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    Move comes days after Biden signed U.S. ban on Xinjiang goods
Ma Xingrui in 2019. 
Ma Xingrui in 2019.  Photographer: Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images

Xinjiang’s newly appointed leader pledged to maintain a focus on social stability in China’s far western region, where human rights practices have fed international criticism and boycotts. 

Ma Xingrui, 62, who was named Communist Party secretary of Xinjiang in recent days, pledged in a speech following his appointment Saturday to turn Chinese President Xi Jinping’s blueprint for the region into reality. The government would “firmly promote continuous and long-term social stability in Xinjiang and never allow any reversal for the hard-won stability,” Ma said, according to the official Xinjiang Daily newspaper. 

Ma — previously governor of Guangdong, China’s most populous province — replaces Chen Quanguo, 66, in the region’s top office. The outgoing party secretary credited Xi’s “helmsmanship” with achieving general social stability, high-quality economic growth and a happy and peaceful life for the region’s residents. 

Chen was placed under U.S. sanctions for his role in “implementing a comprehensive surveillance, detention and indoctrination program” targeting the region’s predominately Muslim Uyghur population, the U.S. Treasury department said last year. He will take up another as-yet undisclosed position. 

U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday signed into law a bill banning goods from Xinjiang unless companies can prove they aren’t made with forced labor. Xinjiang is a source for cotton used in clothing and is a key location for producing polysilicon used in solar panels, seen as crucial in the global shift away from fossil fuels.

Who Are the Uyghurs and Why Is China Locking Them Up?: QuickTake

China has repeatedly denied claims of human rights abuses, saying its policies in the region are aimed at quashing extremism and lifting people out of poverty. The Chinese Foreign Ministry last week said the country would reserve the right to “make further response” to the U.S. law.

Ma’s appointment suggests the former aerospace engineer was likely to gain a seat on the 25-member Politburo after a twice-a-decade party congress slated to be held in the coming year. He headed China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp., the main contractor for China’s space program, from 2007 to 2013 and became a vice minister of industry and information technology that year.

In 2015, he was named party chief of Shenzhen. Ma became governor of Guangdong in 2017, and also a member of a central coordination group of Hong Kong and Macau affairs.

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