China replaces Xinjang Communist Party chief who oversaw persecution of Uyghurs: report

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China has replaced the Communist Party chief in the Xinjiang region who was responsible for overseeing the security crackdown targeting Uyghurs, the ethnic minority group native to Xinjiang and other Muslims, according to reports

Xinjiang’s Communist Party chief Chen Quanguo, 66, will reportedly move into to another post and will be replaced by Ma Xingrui, the governor of the Guangdong province, state news agency Xinhua reported on Saturday.

Chen is considered to be the senior official responsible for the security crackdown in Xinjiang, Reuters reported.

The news agency did not provide any further details on Chen’s new post. 

The U.S. has accused China of committing genocide against Uyghurs, the ethnic minority group native to Xinjiang. 

Researchers have estimated that over 1 million Uyghurs and other minorities are confined in forced labor camps in the region. However, China has denied those allegations, asserting that the camps are designed to teach job skills and root out radicalism.

The U.S. sanctioned Chen last year for his role in the Uyghur human rights abuses. Then secretary of state Mike Pompeo called it the “stain of the century.”

At the time of the sanctions, Pompeo said ab out Chen, “Following his arrival in the region, Chen Quanguo began implementing a comprehensive surveillance, detention, and indoctrination program in Xinjiang, targeting Uyghurs and members of other ethnic minorities,” Pompeo said in a statement. “The XPCC has been directly involved in implementing these measures.”

President Biden on Thursday signed a bipartisan bill that bans imports from the area unless individuals or companies demonstrate that the materials were made without forced labor.

The Chinese government on Friday denounced the restrictions on imports from Xinjiang designed to punish China for human rights abuses against ethnic and religious minorities in the region.

That restriction “maliciously denigrates the human rights situation in China’s Xinjiang in disregard of facts and truth,” foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said during a press conference on Friday.

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