BEIJING—The Chinese regime has appointed a new military commander in Xinjiang where authorities have locked up more than a million Uyghurs and members of other Muslim minorities in what the regime claims to be a “counter-terrorism” campaign.
Lt. Gen. Wang Haijiang will oversee a massive military presence in the northwestern region that borders on several unstable Central Asian states, along with Pakistan and Afghanistan, from which U.S. troops are withdrawing.
Like Xinjiang’s Chinese Communist Party (CCP) chief Chen Quanguo, Wang previously served in Tibet, which also hosts large numbers of troops to suppress anti-CCP sentiment among the native Tibetan population and guard the disputed border with India, where the two nations had a deadly clash last year.
Following the U.S. lead, a growing number of countries have recognized the CCP’s suppression in Xinjiang as a “genocide.”
Wang’s unannounced appointment was revealed on the Xinjiang Military District’s social media feed showing him presiding at a retirement ceremony for senior officers on Wednesday.
Wang saw combat during a border war with Vietnam in the early 1980s and served in an elite People’s Liberation Army unit, according to state media reports.
The U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan is a particular concern for Beijing, which fears a resurgence of militant Islam along its border.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi last week hosted a delegation from the Taliban terrorist group, which has been making rapid territorial gains in Afghanistan and is currently engaged in battles for major cities.
Wang told officials that the Chinese regime hopes the Taliban will focus on peace talks and work for unity among all factions and ethnic groups.
He also said the regime hopes the Taliban will “deal resolutely” with the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), a group the CCP claims is leading a push for independence in Xinjiang.
Unconfirmed reports say several hundred fighters allied with ETIM are present in northeastern Afghanistan, although many experts doubt the group even exists in any operational form.