China removes Xinjiang party chief

 Originally published by The Hindu,24 Apr 2010

By  Ananth Krishnan     

The Chinese government on Saturday removed the powerful head of its western Muslim-majority Xinjiang region, in the first indication yet that the central government was rethinking its policies that many say have led to ethnic unrest.

The decision comes amid a tightening of security in the region’s capital Urumqi, where local officials and residents told The Hindu this week there were growing fears of a recurrence of last July’s ethnic violence.

Continue Reading →

China replaces party chief of riot-hit Xinjiang

Originally published by Reuters,24 Apr 2010-04-24

By Emma Graham-Harrison

BEIJING (Reuters) – China has replaced the top official in energy-rich Western Xinjiang region, hit last year by deadly rioting and a scare over syringe stabbings, the official Xinhua agency reported on Saturday.

Zhang Chunxian has been made Communist Party Secretary for the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region — a position which carries more power than the post of governor — replacing Wang Lequan, who had run the remote region since 1994.

The Xinhua report did not say why Wang had been removed, but he was the target of massive public anger in restive Xinjiang for his handling of rioting last July, which left nearly 200 dead, and the subsequent syringe attack scares.

Protesters massed in the regional capital, Urumqi, in September calling for his removal, a rare public challenge by Han Chinese to the ruling Communist Party in Xinjiang.

Continue Reading →

‘Xinjiang King’ removed

 Originally published by Straits Times, 24 Apr 2010

By Peh Shing Huei

BEIJING – CHINA has replaced the top official in Xinjiang, months after the restive region was rocked by violent ethnic riots, bizarre syringes attacks and massive demonstrations.

The removal of unpopular party boss Wang Lequan came after months of speculation that his unusually long 15-year reign was coming to an end, following rare calls from thousands of Han Chinese protestors last September for his head to roll.

Mr Wang, 65, was replaced by Hunan provincial party boss Zhang Chunxian, 56, according to a two-line dispatch by the state Xinhua news agency, which gave no reasons for the change. Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping said that Mr Zhang, who is a former Communications Minister, is a suitable choice, according to the China News network.

Continue Reading →

Uyghur Teenager Gets Life

Original published by RFA, 23 Apr 2010

By Medine

  HONG KONG—A court in China’s troubled northwestern region of Xinjiang has handed a life sentence to a Uyghur youth for alleged murder during July 2009 unrest, but rights groups and relatives say his trial was unfair and he may have been tortured.

Chinese authorities in the Silk Road town of Aksu [in Chinese, Akesu] detained Noor-Ul-Islam Sherbaz on July 27 in the wake of rioting in Urumqi, when he was just 17.

“I think under severe torture my son was forced to sign the confession,” Noor-Ul-Islam’s father Sherbaz Khan, who is a Pakistani national, said.

He said his son was convicted after his image appeared on security cameras in downtown Urumqi, the regional capital of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), on the night that Uyghurs demonstrated for an investigation into the deaths of two Uyghur migrants in southern China.

Continue Reading →

China vows economic growth in restive Xinjiang

Originally published by AFP, 23 Apr 2010

 BEIJING (AFP) – China’s top leadership has decided to ramp up development in its restive Xinjiang region, state media said Friday, where ethnic Uighurs have long complained of missing out on economic growth.

 The decision was taken in a meeting of the ruling Communist Party’s powerful nine-member inner circle presided over by President Hu Jintao, the official Xinhua news agency said.

Continue Reading →

China donates $40 million opera house to Algeria

Originally published by Reuters, 23 Apr 2010

By Lamine Chikhi

ALGIERS (Reuters) – China will pay $40 million to build an opera house for major trading partner Algeria, a gift likely to serve as a powerful symbol of Beijing’s growing economic influence in Africa.

Chinese construction firms have picked up billions of dollars worth of infrastructure contracts from energy producer Algeria, but relations hit a rocky patch last year when there were anti-Chinese riots in the capital.

China has overtaken the United States as the continent’s top trading partner but faces scrutiny over its hunger for natural resources and an influx of Chinese labor.

Continue Reading →

China military paper spells out nuclear arms stance

 Originally published by Reuters, 23 Apr 2010

By Chris Buckley

 BEIJING (Reuters) – China must have a limited nuclear “second strike” force to deter foes from threatening it with atomic weapons, the nation’s main military newspaper said on Thursday, in a rare account of Beijing’s nuclear strategy.

The commentary in the official Liberation Army Daily comes during intensifying atomic diplomacy — after a nuclear security summit hosted by U.S. President Barack Obama and before an international conference in May about the future of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

China has been gradually modernizing its relatively small nuclear arsenal and some critics of proposals to cut dramatically Western nuclear forces have said uncertainty about Beijing’s plans should deter such proposals.

Retired People’s Liberation Army Major General Xu Guangyu said in the newspaper commentary that China wanted a minimal nuclear deterrent and would avoid any arms race.

“China resolutely adheres to a defensive nuclear strategy, and has always adhered to a policy that it will never be the first to use nuclear weapons at any time and under any circumstances,” wrote Xu, now a researcher in the state-run China Arms Control and Disarmament Association.

“The most basic feature of China’s nuclear strategy, in a nutshell, is to be a deterrent but present no threat.”

Continue Reading →

Chinese Uighur Muslims plead in court for US release

Originally  published by AFP, April 22, 2010

 A Uighur captive from China, ordered released last year by a federal judge, walks away from the entrance to Camp Iguana in this Oct. 14, 2009 photo cleared for release by a Pentagon contractor at the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. CAROL ROSENBERG / MIAMI HERALD 

Lawyers for the five remaining Uighur Chinese Muslims at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp argued in court Thursday that the men should be set free on US soil after more than eight years in detention.

A three-member panel of judges at the US Court of Appeals in Washington heard attorneys petition for release of the men, who were swept up by US troops in Afghanistan in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attack on the United States.

Continue Reading →