China’s anti-corruption watchdog said Tuesday it is investigating a high-level official in the northwest Xinjiang region, the latest to be ensnared in President Xi Jinping’s sweeping campaign against graft.
Enwaer Tursun, an ethnic Uighur, had worked his way up in his native Xinjiang, eventually rising to the post of deputy secretary-general of the region’s People’s Congress in 2017.
Xinjiang is home to the Uighur minority, and where an estimated one million mostly Muslim Turkic-speakers are held in internment camps which Beijing defends as “vocational education centres” used for counter-terrorism purposes.
Some ethnic Uighurs like Tursun have worked alongside members of China’s majority Han population to implement Beijing’s policies in the region.
In 2014, as the mayor of Kashgar, an ancient Silk Road city, Tursun backed the Communist Party’s crackdown, saying Xinjiang had been “plagued by religious extremism, which had disrupted social order and fed the ideology of terrorism”, according to China’s official Xinhua news agency.
But Tursun is the latest official to have fallen under suspicion in Xi’s campaign against corruption in the Communist Party, which critics have compared to a political purge.
Another top Uighur official, former chairman of the Xinjiang region Nur Bekri, who is also a former head of the national energy administration, pleaded guilty at a trial last week to accepting $11.5 million in bribes.
The local branch of China’s anti-graft agency said Tuesday that Tursun was being investigated for “serious violations of discipline and law”, a euphemism that usually means corruption.
The 53-year-old “is currently under disciplinary review and supervision investigation” by the region’s discipline inspection commission, the agency said in the statement.