Beijing: Chinese leader Xi Jinping visited Xinjiang in the country’s northwest this week amid concerns over China’s detention of a million or more members of primarily Muslim ethnic minorities in the remote border region. Xi stressed the full and faithful implementation of his ruling Communist Party’s policies in the region and highlighted social stability and lasting security as the overarching goals, the official Xinhua News Agency said Friday.
He showed no signs of backing off an approach that has come under harsh criticism from the U.S. And many European governments and prompted bans on the export of cotton and other products from the region over reports of forced labor.
Under Xi, authorities have carried out a sweeping crackdown on Xinjiang’s Uyghur and Kazakh communities following an outburst of deadly separatist violence.
Critics have described the crackdown that placed thousands in prison-like indoctrination camps as cultural genocide. The US and others have placed officials responsible under visa bans for their part in extralegal detentions, separation of families and incarcerating people for studying abroad or having foreign contacts.
Xi, on what was described as an ‘inspection tour’ from Tuesday to Friday, called for developing Xinjiang into a region that is united, harmonious, prosperous, and culturally advanced, Xinhua said.
He called Xinjiang a ‘core area and a hub’ in China’s program of building ports, railways and power stations connecting it to economies reaching from Central Asia to Eastern Europe.
Xi met with leaders of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, a supra-governmental body that operates its own courts, schools and health system under a military system imposed on the region after the Communist Party took power in China in 1949.
Xi “learned about the history of the XPCC in cultivating and guarding the frontier areas,” Xinhua reported. Xinjiang borders Russia, Afghanistan and volatile Central Asia, which China has sought to draw within its orbit through economic incentives and security alliances.
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