New head for Xinjiang Small Group, same old body - SupChina

New head for Xinjiang Small Group, same old body

once called senior Party leader Wāng Yáng 汪洋 “the most interesting man on the Politburo Standing Committee.” Well now he has a very interesting job: head of China’s Xinjiang policy.

The South China Morning Post says Wang is “known for his relatively liberal style of governance” and reports that he “attended a high-level three-day conference in Xinjiang as head of the Central Committee’s Xinjiang Work Coordination Small Group.” Here is Xinhua’s Chinese report.

“Small Groups” or Leading Small Groups (LSGs) are Party organizations that coordinate policies and their implementation across different arms of the Party state bureaucracy. As noted in this CSIS paper, their history dates back to the Party’s revolutionary years, but in recent years, “one of the most important innovations” of the leadership of Xí Jìnpíng 习近平 “has been the expansion in number and role of LSGs.” LSGs have helped Xi to “centralize authority in Beijing and provide greater strategic coordination among the different parts of the national bureaucracy.”

The Xinjiang Work Coordination Small Group was formed in 2000 and “has been instrumental in shaping and implementing Beijing’s Xinjiang policies,” says the SCMP.

The timing of the announcement of Wang’s leadership “suggested it was a calculated move by the leadership to assuage growing international concerns over the detention of an estimated one million or more Uygurs and other Muslim minorities,” according to “analysts” cited by the SCMP. However, Wang’s appointment is “unlikely to mean a softening on Xinjiang from China.”

For more on how Xinjiang policy is made, see this analysis by Jessica Batke.

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Jeremy Goldkorn

Jeremy Goldkorn worked in China for 20 years as an editor and entrepreneur. He is editor-in-chief of SupChina, and co-founder of the Sinica Podcast.

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