Chen Quanguo

Chen Quanguo (Chinese: ; pinyin: Chén Quánguó; born November 1955) is a Chinese politician and current Communist Party Secretary of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and a member of the 19th Politburo of the Communist Party of China. Most recently, he was the Communist Party Secretary of Tibet Autonomous Region. Originally from Henan province, Chen was among the first batch of students to graduate university after the resumption of Gaokao examinations in 1978.

Chen Quanguo
陈全国
Chen Quanguo.jpg
Communist Party Secretary of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region
Assumed office
August 29, 2016
DeputyShohrat Zakir (chairman)
General secretaryXi Jinping
Preceded byZhang Chunxian
Communist Party Secretary of Tibet Autonomous Region
In office
August 25, 2011 – August 28, 2016
GovernorPadma Choling
Losang Jamcan
General secretaryHu Jintao
Xi Jinping
Preceded byZhang Qingli
Succeeded byWu Yingjie
Governor of Hebei Province
In office
December 15, 2009 – August 27, 2011
LeaderZhang Qingli (party secretary)
Preceded byHu Chunhua
Succeeded byZhang Qingwei
Personal details
BornNovember 1955 (age 65)
Pingyu County, Henan
NationalityChinese
Political partyCommunist Party of China (1976–present)
Alma materZhengzhou University
Wuhan University of Technology
Military service
Allegiance People's Republic of China
Branch/service People's Liberation Army
Years of service1973–1977

Chen worked up the ranks in the party bureaucracy in his home province from a minor local official to the deputy provincial party chief. In 2009, he became Governor of Hebei. Then in 2011, he became the party secretary (the top official) of the Tibet Autonomous Region, developing the region economically and instituting greater policing surveillance. [1][2]

In 2016, Chen was promoted to the party secretary of Xinjiang. He has since then attracted press for overseeing "re-education camps" targeting Turkic minorities in the region. In both Tibet and Xinjiang, he has earned a reputation for applying draconian measures to Sinicize the traditional cultures.[3][4] [5][6]

Early life and educationEdit

Chen Quanguo is a native of Pingyu County, Henan province. In December 1973, at the age of 18, Chen enlisted in the People's Liberation Army where he served as part of an artillery division for four years.[7] He joined the Communist Party of China in February 1976.[8] After leaving the military in March 1977, he briefly worked at a car parts factory in Zhumadian.[9][10]

After China resumed the National Higher Education Entrance Examination which was interrupted during the Cultural Revolution, in March 1978 Chen was admitted to the Economics Department of Zhengzhou University in the provincial capital Zhengzhou.[9][10]

HenanEdit

Chen Quanguo graduated from Zhengzhou University in December 1981 and returned to work in his hometown of Pingyu, Henan. Starting in 1983 he worked for the prefectural government of Zhumadian, and in 1988 became the Communist Party Secretary of Suiping, a county under the administration of Zhumadian. In 1994, he was appointed the head of the Organization Department of the nearby prefecture-level city of Pingdingshan.[2][9][10]

From 1995 to 1997 Chen enrolled as a part-time student at the School of Business Administration of Wuhan University of Technology, obtaining a master's degree in economics. From 1996 to 1998 he served as the Mayor and Deputy Party Secretary of Luohe, another prefecture-level city in Henan.[2][9][10]

Chen Quanguo was promoted to Vice-Governor of Henan Province in January 1998, and worked in the administration of then Henan Governor Li Keqiang. Chen was regarded as a close confidante of Li. In November 2000 Chen was appointed by the CPC head of the Standing committee of the Henan Provincial committee in the provincial Organization Department. In April 2003 he became the Deputy Communist Party Secretary, President of the Party School of the CPC, and the President of the Henan Institute of Administration.[2][9][10]

HebeiEdit

In November 2009, Chen Quanguo was transferred to neighboring Hebei and promoted to Acting Governor and Deputy Party Secretary of the province. He replaced Hu Chunhua, who became the Party Secretary of Inner Mongolia. In January 2010 he was officially elected by the provincial congress as Governor of Hebei at the third session of the 11th National People's Congress.[2][9][10][11]

TibetEdit

On August 25, 2011, the CPC Central Committee announced the appointment of Chen to the remote Tibet Autonomous Region as Party Secretary, the top official of the region. On May 8, 2012, Chen Quanguo was elected the first secretary of the party committee of the Tibet Military Region.

Shortly after taking up his position in August 2011, the region under Chen advertised positions for 2,500 additional police,[12] and Chen implemented a new security policy for Tibet in the form of "convenience police stations" (便民警务站).[13] This divided urban centers into grids, allowing the authorities to systematically observe all activities within the area.[14] As of early 2016, at least 156 of the concrete one- and two-story stations were built in Lhasa, with guards on 24 hour "seamless" surveillance patrols, while two stations are only 15 meters apart.[15] At least 544 more of these police stations exist throughout urban centers across Tibet.[16]

Chen instituted a policy called the "double-linked household management system" to surveil 81,140 households in the Tibetan Autonomous Region, comprising more than three million people mobilized for security and social issues.[15] The system is described as a method where neighbors spy on each other,[17] while Kelsang Dolma in Foreign Policy writes the policy is an "Orwellian social system" where family members are encouraged to report on each other to authorities.[18]

Self-immolationsEdit

There was a sharp rise in the number of self-immolations by Tibetan monks and nuns after Chen took office,[19] which began and continued at Kirti Monastery. Within Tibet, 156 monks, nuns, and laypeople self-immolated as of December 2019.[20] According to the International Campaign for Tibet's (ICT) Fact Sheet information,[21] reviewed by Outside, "Chinese police have beaten, shot, isolated, and disappeared self-immolators who survived."[22] The families are often arrested or detained, which led in 2014 to a rise in walking or solo protests.

Often, the self-immolators, and solo protestors, carry illegal pictures of the 14th Dalai Lama,[23] and/or make long life prayers for the Dalai Lama,[22][21] as well as shout for independence from China. The immolations were seen to be a form of extreme protest against the Chinese government's crackdown on Buddhists from the region,[24] and described in Outside as offerings by the self-immolators of their bodies to show the world how badly Tibet is suffering.[22] The Dalai Lama blames the self-immolations on Chinese policies, and said, "Some kind of policy, some kind of cultural genocide is taking place".[25][26] Before Chen's tenure began and in March 2011, the Dalai Lama had resigned from his political role to continue in his role as Tibet's spiritual leader.

Arrests and disappearancesEdit

Tibet government-in-exile's Central Tibetan Administration leader Lobsang Sangay states, "If you protest in Tibet, more often than not you get arrested, or beaten up, sometimes tortured, sometimes you disappear, sometimes you die".[27] Mysterious deaths are reported during Chen's tenure.[28][29] The earlier mass arbitrary arrests of monks and nuns at Kirti Monastery in March-April 2011 were followed by reports of disappearances into custody, which continued through Chen's tenure.

In December 2013, Chen described his policy as a "Stability Maintenance Campaign" in a statement, included in a Human Rights Watch report: "We have followed the law in striking out and relentlessly pounding at illegal organizations and key figures, and resolutely followed the law in striking at the illegal organizations and key figures who follow the 14th Dalai Lama clique in carrying out separatist, infiltration, and sabotage activities, knocking out the hidden dangers and soil for undermining Tibet’s stability, and effectively safeguarding the state’s utmost interests [and] society’s overall interests."[29]

Re-education campsEdit

During Chen's tenure, forced evictions of at least 5,000 nuns and monks studying at Larung Gar Buddhist Academy and residing in Larung Gar, began in 2013 and continued past August 2016, with a major demolitions order for 4,600 residences dated from June 2016.

After residences were demolished, the nuns and monks were bussed away and reports by Tibetan Review,[30] Radio France International,[31] and Human Rights Watch (HRW)[32] state 600 people were sent directly to re-education camps and centers located in Nyingtri, while a detention center in Sertar was being prepared for an additional 800 nuns.[33] Other reported re-education centers and camps for the monastic community of Yarchen Gar are reported as located in and around Chamdo City and Jomda County.

More nuns than monks were forcibly evicted and detained. The HRW report also details persecution and abuses to which the nuns are subjected in Nyingtri, and refers to a video[34] in which nuns are forced to sing and dance on a stage. Another 300 of Larung Gar's monastic Tibetan Buddhist practitioners, which were not directly detained in re-education camps, were to register for forced re-education programs with prefectures in their home towns. Reports also state the nuns and monks are banned from re-entering other monastic institutions.

Economic developmentEdit

In 2015 during Chen's tenure, a transfer of 280,000 Han Chinese settlers to Tibet's capital Lhasa was authorized, as part of China's urbanization plans. The Central Tibetan Administration states 7.5 million Han Chinese and 6 million Tibetans live in the region, as of 2015, and adds, "Under the guise of the economic and social development, Beijing encourages its population to migrate to Tibet with the clear aim to marginalize Tibetans from the economic, educational, political and social life of the region".[35] During Chen's tenure, Tibet's ethnic majority has been "swamped" by promoting economic development that encourages migration from elsewhere in China.[17] In September 2011, at least 226 "key projects" for the development of Tibet were awarded to Han Chinese owned companies.[35] Only Han Chinese college graduates in Tibet or Tibetans that speak fluent Mandrarin secure well-paid private sector jobs.[36] Chinese data shows that Tibet's GDP grew by 11.8% in 2012. The growth rate in 2013 was 12.1%. The growth rate in 2014 was 12%, ranking first in the country. The growth rate in 2015 was 11%, and the region's GDP exceeded 100 billion CNY for the first time. In the first half of 2016, Tibet led other provinces and cities in China at a growth rate of 10.6%.[37]

XinjiangEdit

On 29 August 2016, Chen became the Communist Party Secretary of Xinjiang, replacing Zhang Chunxian. He was considered as the best fit for this as he has been successful in controlling Tibet in the past.[38] Up to one million Uighurs have been held involuntarily in detention camps meant to ‘re-educate’ and provide ‘vocational training’ to the large Turkic-Muslim population in the Xinjiang region.

His measures of disciplining them include: mass-engineering of the Muslim population through detainment camps, specialized boarding schools for Uighur children, arbitrary arrests. His regime has apparently “destroyed 1,588 terrorist groups” and “arrested 12,995 terrorists” since 2014.[39]

Upon taking office in Xinjiang, Chen became the first senior official in the history of the People's Republic to have occupied the top posts of both Xinjiang and Tibet. It signaled that Chen was a promising candidate for the 19th Politburo of the Communist Party of China, to be installed in the autumn of 2017, as the party chief position in Xinjiang ordinarily held a seat on the Politburo.[40]

He concurrently served as the first secretary and political commissar of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps Party Committee. Chen is a member of the 19th Politburo of the Communist Party of China, elected in 2017. He was previously an alternate member of the 17th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, and a full member of the 18th Central Committee.[2][9][10]

Counter-terrorism and detention campsEdit

After Chen took office, he issued a written military order[41] to Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee, and put forward the slogan: "In Xinjiang, if there is no stability then all our efforts are for nothing." (在新疆,没有稳定一切皆为零)[42] He has expanded counter-terrorism and anti-separatist efforts under orders from Xi.[43][44] There have been no reported terrorist attacks in Xinjiang since 2017. According to Ming Pao, Chen's measures to maintain stability in Xinjiang have been affirmed by the top level of the Communist Party of China.[45]

Chen has overseen the construction of a network of re-education camps.[46] Chen expanded the detention camps in Xinjiang holding Muslim ethnic minorities. As a party boss for the region, Chen exhorted local officials to "round up everyone who should be rounded up." When the local officials who feared it would exacerbate ethnic tensions and stifle economic growth pushed back, Chen responded by purging them including one county leader who was jailed after quietly releasing thousands of inmates from the camps.[47]

The recent US Customs seize which included alleged human hair is said to be linked back to the forced labor and atrocities at the Uighur detention camps. This seize is said to have hurt Quanguo both financially and emotionally as the Uighur projects were his brainchild.[48]

Aside from camps, Chen has also increased surveillance of residents by using advanced technology as well as increasing police presence.[49][50] Under Chen, a policy of "Pair-up and become family" is used to surveil households, many of which include men detained at the re-education camps. The wives of camp detainees must share a bed with the officials during an average 6-day stay.[51] As Xinjiang Party Secretary, Chen promoted the recruitment of the local population into the police force.[52]

The Uighurs have been put under a surveillance system that is able to detect facial features and clothing and accessories to distinguish them from the other ethnic and religious groups in the region. This information is pooled into a central database and aides the government to crackdown on any escapees from the detainment centres.[53]

Economic developmentEdit

Chen Quanguo continued to introduce policies such as economic development, employment protection, housing projects, infrastructure improvement, and ecological protection, increasing the GDP of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region from 752.9 billion CNY in 2012 to 1.09 trillion CNY in 2017, with an average annual growth of 9%. Infrastructure investment totaled 1.94 trillion CNY, with an average annual growth rate of 27.5%, forest coverage rate increased from 4.24% to 4.87%, and oasis forest coverage rate increased from 23% to 28%.[37]

Personal lifeEdit

FamilyEdit

Chen has a daughter who attended a school in U.K. while he was the governor of Hebei.[7]

PersonalityEdit

The South China Morning Post has said that Chen is known for not putting jokes, slogans or personal anecdotes in official speeches. It also noted that he preferred to stay in the background during press meetings.[7]

US SanctionsEdit

On 9 July 2020, the United States government imposed Global Magnitsky Act sanctions and visa restrictions against Chen Quanguo, together with Zhu Hailun, Wang Mingshan [zh] (王明山) and Huo Liujun (霍留军). With sanctions, he and his immediate relatives are barred from entering the US and will have US-based assets frozen.[54][55][56][57]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Ben Blanchard, China appoints new Tibet governor, hardline policies to remain, (29 January 2013), https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-tibet-idUSBRE90S0ED20130129 [Reuters ref dead, replaced with this ref]
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  3. ^ Michael Dillon, Lesser Dragons: Minority Peoples of China, Reaktion Books, 2018 ISBN 978-1-780-23952-1 p.155 :'Chen introduced new, draconian methods of repression, most of which he had rehearsed in Tibet.'
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External linksEdit

Party political offices
Preceded by
Zhang Chunxian
Communist Party Secretary of Xinjiang
2016–
Succeeded by
incumbent
Preceded by
Zhang Qingli
Communist Party Secretary of Tibet
2011–2016
Succeeded by
Wu Yingjie
Government offices
Preceded by
Hu Chunhua
Governor of Hebei
2009–2011
Succeeded by
Zhang Qingwei