Xinjiang: China to target ‘corrupt’ officials in state TV broadcast

William Zheng
·3-min read

Chinese state media is reportedly set to screen the latest of its “anti-terrorism” documentaries about Xinjiang, focusing on purging “two-faced” officials, as Beijing tries to counter accusations of human rights abuses.

The broadcast, reported by Chinese media, follows the sanctioning of Chinese officials and organisations by the United States, Canada, the European Union and Britain over alleged rights abuses against Uygurs and other mostly Muslim minorities, and tit-for-tat sanctions in reply by Beijing. China has been accused of abuses including genocide and forced labour in the far-western region.

According to Global Times, a nationalistic tabloid affiliated with Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily, the next documentary, the fourth, will be named The Undercurrents – China’s Xinjiang Anti-terrorism Challenge.

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Quoting unnamed sources, Global Times said last Friday that the programme would “reveal previously undisclosed anti-terrorism cases for the first time”, exposing double-dealing Xinjiang officials and dissemination of “violent and terrorist” audio and video by the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), which Beijing says is a “black hand” in the region.

The region’s Communist Party chief Chen Quanguo vowed in 2017 to target and remove “two-faced” officials he accused of colluding behind the scenes with separatist forces while paying only lip service to their official goal of preventing separatism. A string of senior Xinjiang officials in charge of propaganda, education, ethnic and religious affairs, and security have since faced corruption charges.

Turgan Pida, a Uygur who is the top official in Xinjiang’s ethnic and religious affairs bureau, was detained in October for suspected corruption. Enwaer Tursun, the former head of the United Front Work Department – a party organ that aims to strengthen support – in the Uygur-majority prefecture of Kashgar, has been expelled from the party and will face prosecution in June.

The purge is not limited to Uygurs. Ren Hua, an ethnic Han Chinese and former deputy chairwoman of Xinjiang’s regional government in charge of propaganda and education, was last November expelled from the party and handed over to face trial on corruption charges after five months of internal investigation.

The Chinese corruption watchdog typically does not identify “two-faced” elements, despite party mouthpiece Xinjiang Daily describing them as “the most dangerous enemy hidden in the rank and file, doing more harm than terrorists”.

The previous documentaries were about the damage caused by terror attacks, which Beijing said were being organised by ETIM, and sought to justify Beijing’s policies in Xinjiang. Broadcast by China Global Television Network, the overseas arm of state-run China Central Television, the first two documentaries were aired in December 2019 and the third six months later.

According to the authorities, hundreds have been killed in unrest in Xinjiang over the past few decades, reaching a peak in July 2009, when there were at least 192 deaths and more than 1,000 injuries in riots in Urumqi, the regional capital.

Amid international condemnation, Beijing continues to defend its draconian measures in Xinjiang, including camps that it calls “re-education” or “vocational training” centres. It says the centres’ success is proven by an absence of terror attacks in the past four years.

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