Chen Quanguo, the former party secretary of the Tibet and Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, was absent from the newly elected Central Committee, regarded as China’s top leadership body, after the 20th Communist Party of China (CPC) Congress closed on October 23.

The unofficial retirement age of 68 that Xi has used as a baseline for most of his career is higher than Chen’s current age of 66. Also, 72-year-old Zhang Youxia, vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission, has been kept on the committee, and Wang Yi, the 69-year-old foreign minister, maintains his position.

From 2011 to 2016, Chen Quanguo ruled over Tibet as the CPC Committee Secretary and ruled the region with an iron fist. He is the only CCP member who has served as party secretary for both autonomous regions.

This June, Indian media WION reported the Xinjiang Police Files, a document stolen from internment camps in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, revealing the true scope of Chen’s campaign. The files contain information on over 20,000 Uyghurs in detention. 

One of the documents is a speech Chen gave in May 2017 while he was the regional party secretary from August 2016 to December 2021.

According to him, the Chinese Communist Party’s repression campaign in Xinjiang was not meant to rid the region of criminals but rather was an “extinction war” against the Uyghur people. His description of the Uyghurs as an “enemy class” sparked criticism.

The former official went on to say that detainees sentenced to less than five years should be mobilized for “learning law” and “bilingual learning” and that they should only be released once they had reached a sufficient level of study, no matter how long that took.

Xi Jinping has repeatedly stated that Islam can only exist in China if it is reformed under Chinese orientation. And according to the documents, Chen followed the lead in the hierarchy of people like Xi.

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