In his first visit to the region since launching a crackdown against the Uyghur minority there that has been called a “genocide” by Western countries, Chinese President Xi Jinping headed to the eastern region of Xinjian., state media reported on Friday.
The president inspected the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC), a supra-governmental organization under US sanctions, and praised its “great progress” in reform and development.
Documents leaked in May, and believed to be credible, put a light on the mass detentions of more than one million Uyghur Muslims in “re-education camps,” as well as a litany of other human rights abuses.
Xi last publicly visited the region in 2014 following an attack that killed three people. The crackdown began three years later.
Two-day visit to ‘hub’ region
The Chinese president was in the Xinjiang capital of Urumqi on Tuesday before traveling to the city of Shihezi on Wednesday, state-run news agency Xinhua reported.
Xi called the region a “core area and hub” in China’s Belt and Road infrastructure and influence initiative that seeks to build ports, railways and power stations to better connect China’s economy to Central Asia and Eastern Europe.
The Chinese leader met with XPCC leaders and “learned about the history of the XPCC in cultivating and guarding the frontier areas,” Xinhua reported. The XPCC runs its own courts, schools and health systems in Xinjiang.
He also reportedly called for the better preservation of the cultural heritage of minority groups, US news site Bloomberg reported.