Leadership Switch: Xinjiang Netizens React | Xinjiang: Far West China

Leadership Switch: Xinjiang Netizens React

April 26 | 35 Comments

Xinjiang ex-leader Wang Lequan

Wang Lequan, ex-Party Secretary

Last Saturday, April 24th, Chinese Vice-president Xi Jinping made an announcement that Zhang Chunxian, former Party leader in Hunan, would be replacing Wang Lequan as Xinjiang’s top leader. Wang, who has held this position for 15 years, is most well-known for his “strike hard” campaigns, his bias towards businesses run by his friends, and his protruding third eye.

This change of the guard has been long-anticipated and hoped-for by all Xinjiang residents, although for different reasons. The Han are excited to finally get a leader who cracks a smile while the Uyghur are hoping for someone who won’t refer to them as “evil” every chance he gets.

For a better idea of what netizens think, I’ve translated the forum comments below:

Comments from Tianshannet:

**Why can’t I see anything?

Comments from iyaxin:

**These areas are blank as a joke.  Don’t get it? Think about this: how can Xinjiang netizens react if, at the time of this posting, they can’t access the internet?**

All of these comments lead to a simple conclusion: the stage is set for Zhang, the new leader, to become an instant hero by opening up internet communications in Xinjiang.  We’ll see if he’s up to the challenge.

Serious Reading on the Leadership Change:

About Josh Summers

Josh is a writer, musician and entrepreneur who currently resides in Urumqi, capital of China's western province of Xinjiang. He has been traveling and writing about this region since 2006 and has no plans to stop in the near future.

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  1. Something is indeed wrong with the website. I just see blank spaces instead of comments from both forums. Checked it with Firefox and IE, last versions, same result.


    Josh on April 27th, 2010 at 12:55 am

    Hey Rus…there’s nothing wrong, don’t worry :)

    It’s supposed to be blank because netizens in Xinjiang can’t access the internet. It’s a practical joke that has taken a while to sink in. Maybe I should put an update on it.


  2. See how quick that people and the world forget that Xinjiang is under some tight restrictions including severe internet access.

    Even people to your blog who can read all about the internet restrictions forget.

    I hope that things change in Xinjiang with new leadership but I think it will be a case of

    “meet the new boss same as the old boss” in many ways.

    To much money at stake in Xinjiang.


  3. Well… internet is really a very good tool for accessing around the world and gaining good knowledge… and internet can be also a very evil tool for spreading evil thought around the world to create unhealthy activity (example like last year riot in Xinjiang)… provide immoral education towards anyone.

    Throughout all these years of unrests within China… let the CCP handle their own problems while China is really a very huge country which not every nation can handle it properly. Since they choose to control tightly on the internet at certain area of their province, just show respect to them and let them be…
    If any non Chinese citizens find it inconvenient in accessing internet there… just go to somewhere around the world where it’s convenient.
    If we choose to be in the land belong to other nations, we must bear with the consequences there… and respect their land there.

    As what I feel, there must be a reason for anything that happened…


    Josh on April 28th, 2010 at 12:15 am

    I’m afraid I have to vehemently disagree with you here. First of all, you’re assuming that the July riots were instigated by overseas people using the internet. In the 10 months since the riots, not one shred of evidence has been presented by China to prove this – not to the international community OR to the residents of Xinjiang.

    That’s all fine and dandy for you to say that non-Chinese citizens should get out or shut up, but what about the citizens of Xinjiang? Every single one of my local friends was very unhappy with the situation, but they didn’t have any way to vent their frustration. What would you say to somebody who lives in Xinjiang and can’t vocally complain about things for fear of government retribution? Oh, and if they try to leave the government won’t grant them an exit visa.

    Everything in this world can be used for both good and evil. Obviously airplanes can be used to destroy buildings…does that mean we should stop all air traffic in America? This is essentially what China has done and it is hurting both its economy and its people.


    damo on April 28th, 2010 at 7:16 am

    You also forgot that even when the internet,international phone calls was stopped and text messaging was stopped there was three incidents.

    One when the Han took to the streets of Xinjiang in retaliation.

    One when the Han took to the streets of Xinjiang protesting about the way the situation was handled.

    One when the Uyghur mounted there needle campaign.

    So stopping internet,international phone calls and text messaging did nothing to stop the unrest.

    Stopping the internet and access to information is doing more harm than good.

    If they had unrest in Beijing would they close the internet and international phone calls?


    Josh on April 28th, 2010 at 7:22 am

    Good point, damo. I would add, however, that the popular consensus is that the “needle campaign” was blown way out of proportion. From what I read there were maybe three cases, all of which ended in an arrest, and the rest were just rumors causing unsubstantiated fear.

    THAT is what I think has been the problem with this communications block – the powerful rumor.

    damo on April 28th, 2010 at 10:25 am

    See what happens

    I read/heard from 50 to 300 arrests over the needle campaign and over 800 people jabbed.

    Stopping the internet can not stop the rumors only makes them stronger.

  4. One beautiful thing about the internet is that it provides a platform for civil debate. Let’s face it, there is a lack of communication and proliferation of misunderstandings between the Uyghurs and Han. The internet could provide a virtual space for the two groups to meet. Silence (reinforced by batons and machine guns) does nothing to rectify the misunderstandings. The animosity is only hardened.


    Josh on April 28th, 2010 at 12:08 am

    Interesting thought, but the problem I see is that while verbal communication is possible between the two groups, very few Uyghurs write Mandarin well and I have not met a single Han who can write Uyghur.

    You’re right, though, with no access to instant information the fear between these two groups only grows. Hopefully Zhang realizes this.


  5. I afraid that I have to partially agree with you by saying that if there is anything service which will be causing harm… it should be shut down… (Like the plane service)
    But still I believe their Chinese government has their own reason for doing that… leave it for them to manage… we are not politician and do you think that we are capable and experience enough to decide or suggest for them?

    Regarding of if there are any evidences prove by the CCP about the riot which was instigated by overseas people using the internet… I don’t think the CCP will disclose that much to the commoner.
    But in my country here which we did follow up closely on this Xinjiang incident, we had already known and came across some evidences which presented by the CCP about this incident which was instigated by overseas people…!
    But why aren’t you aware about all these…?

    Yes, I do agree that China is quite sensitive on any of their complain issue by their citizen… but by saying the fear of government retribution… or any of fearful treatment by the government… I think that maybe a bit too exaggerated.

    Yes, I agree some area or provinces may do have cases of ill-treatment by the law maker… but sometimes it may not be exactly the actual law given by CCP (which mean some law are “self created” by the corruption official). That maybe a kind of very bad situation for China… so yes, I really agree China should pay more attention on these corruption officials who are the one who always spoil the reputation of China.

    Personally I believe that ultimately, the CCP do actually wanted to mean well for all of their 56 ethnic races… but mainly it’s always the corruption officials who are the one who has been always doing the bad harm…

    As I say, China is not perfect and is still on their way of improving… who know they will find a better and more effective way of managing in the near future? Give them some times and meanwhile, please don’t exaggerate any of their situations there…

    Propaganda created by the western world is also one of the big causes for many misunderstanding about China.

    Regarding complains in China… I do come across Chinese commoners who denounce the claim by some westerner who always claim that Chinese can’t complain anything to their government. But rather they said, actually they can complain and can sometime talk bad about government openly, but of course to certain extend… Which personally I think it will be already good enough for any nations…
    Free speech, over freedom of human rights will only cause more unrest to the nation where anyone can talk openly and can be influential to the public at anytime. Look at the situation in certain countries now where their riot is uncontrollable… I don’t think society like that will be safe for my families to stay in.

    And Josh, I didn’t mention of any harsh words like asking the non Chinese citizen to “get out of Xinjiang and shut up”…
    I just simply trying to put in a polite way of asking anyone to bear with any consequences when they are in any foreign place if they choose to stay there… at least respect the law given over there since that is not our land.
    And lastly although I also feel that internet maybe an evil tool for spreading false and sinful message, but I do agree with Rustem Shir that internet is also a very important too for linking of bond between anyone like the Uyghur and the Han.

    So actually I do also hope that the internet system in Xinjiang will resume as soon as possible for the people there… but meanwhile, please be patient and respect the present decision of their law there. Remember, it need 2 hand to clap for any complain…

    God bless!


    damo on April 28th, 2010 at 1:31 pm


    Where do you live in China.


    Akihiro on April 28th, 2010 at 2:30 pm

    I don’t live in China and I was not born in China also…
    And I am not a Chinese citizen.

    I only have some Chinese friends from China and I only been to certain parts of China before.

    I do come across some may feel strange that since I got nothing related to China, why do I need to speak out for them…
    Well, I just feel that ultimately every person or any nation… there are certain good side of them that we should praise them rather then only always discredit them and digging their fault to keep on emphasize on their fault.

    damo on April 29th, 2010 at 12:20 pm


    Do you work for the government by any chance.

    Akihiro on April 29th, 2010 at 1:54 pm


    No, I am not…

    kepsiz toshkan on April 30th, 2010 at 10:18 am


    katia on May 2nd, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    Akihiro-san, you sound like government consist of know-it-all people, but politicians are people like you or me, and they make mistakes. Sometimes they make a lot of mistakes. If there is no discussion about what they do then how they would improve? And if foreigners will criticize them then they would improve quicker, won’t they? So why should we not discuss what they do? And criticize them. Particularly if they do criticize the us, often….ne?

    It is not right when government treats people of Xinjiang like Japanese treated Korean people before WW II.

    It is also not right when it discriminates against non-Han people.

    What is happening in Xinjiang has nothing to do with the West but everything to do with the East, in fact, with the Middle East.

    And talking about instigation by “foreign people” – it would not be important if the treatment of non-Han people by Han people was better.

    As for wishing the best for the people – in one country some people also wanted the best for their citizens – the result was millions of dead people.

  6. :)
    I just found out the meaning for “五毛党” in the web… and it means “50 cents Army”. Haha… it’s a humorous joke.
    Frankly say and quite embarrassing is that… I have only known the real meaning of this term “50 cents Army” after I read in the web just now… although I do sometimes came across this term somewhere in the web before.

    Now I understand why somebody has been asking about my occupation and where do I stay…

    Its fine… as what I had mentioned before, though I do also came across some people who are always curious on why do I need to speak out for China… well, I had already explained that in my above comment.

    By the way, am I an agent working for the CCP? Haha… I don’t even work for my country government sector so why do I need to be so troublesome in working for some government like CCP so far away… (And it’s not my country at all)
    I have much more important things in my life to take care of… which is my wife and my children.

    Anyway my occupation is an artist…. just a simple job.
    And I am near 40s year old…
    By the way I believe once a person who is devoted to his families… he will come to realize that having a safe environment to live in is a very important issue rather than riot…


    kepsiz toshkan on May 1st, 2010 at 1:31 am

    I was just being facetious. (my pseudonym means ”wily rabbit” in Uyghur) The fact you don’t know of 五毛党 proves you are not of their kind. I can respect your opinion, even though I may not totally agree. The Chinese government is frequently horrible at presenting a cogent argument for their policies in Xinjiang. I, for one, welcome any perspective on Xinjiang that can be cogently argued. Whether I agree or not, it can be valuable for understanding Xinjiang on its own terms.


    Akihiro on May 1st, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    It’s alright, and thanks for your comment.


  7. Hi katia

    Thank you for your comment.
    First of all, I truly agree with what you had mentioned about all the cruelty done by the Japanese towards the Korean… and I can say not only to the Korean, but to the Chinese and some of the rest of the Asians also. I do really feel very sorry about all this dark moment in Asia and the Pacific which done by Japanese.
    But personally I think by comparing it with what the Chinese is doing it now to their people is something which I say a bit too exaggerated. So far most of the accusations of the cruelty of China which claim by the western are either over of exaggeration or they are just a kind of propaganda. You should know that western media can’t be totally trustable also.
    For example like the 2008 riot in Tibet… After hearing and reading about how the western world accused on China about Tibet… it really made me laugh to see them using non-Chinese (Indian) photographs to claim about the cruelty of China toward the Tibetan… because I am an Asian and I can differentiate between different kind of Asian and their army uniform. Also when they used a picture of some PLA soldiers holding monk robes preparing for acting in the Chinese movie “The Touch”… when I also saw that picture somewhere in some years ago talking about the making of that movie… never that I know how stupid is Dalai Lama when he used that same picture to claim that China orchestra their own riot in Tibet.

    Other than this… many Tibetan crossed over the Himalaya to India for just religious education, pilgrimage or blessing from the Dalai Lama… and after that, it’s true that most of these Tibetan returned back to Tibet China which is also confirmed by the India authority. But the moment when they first reach India… the west and the exile government immediately classified them as refugees who escape from Tibet.

    There is another case of a Christian religious man who went aboard for certain missionaries work… and news from the west claimed that he was arrested and detained for sometimes when he was back in China. And of course the west also exaggerated about all his moment while during his detention. But after sometimes, he was released. And the real situation was that actually he was trying to use another person’s traveling passport while in the immigration. So of course the Chinese authorities will detain him for that. And after some months passed, this religious man was even appointed as some important religious committee leader by the CCP too! But all these were not mention by the western news at all. So is it how consider as one-sided news as I always said?

    And I can say most of the “bad” news about China can either be in a misleading way, exaggerated, without proof or just mainly a way of propaganda.

    So in conclusion… by describing the way the Chinese treating their people with how the Japanese treated others is totally a different story and being exaggerated.
    Discrimination problem on China against the other ethnic races beside the Han are mainly the problem between the ways of how the people there getting along with each other, it got nothing to do with their government the CCP.

    Yes, of course CCP is not a perfect government and as I always mention that they are still in their way of improving after so many years of disturbing and humiliation by the western world during their end of Qing Dynasty.
    And yes interaction between them and other nations about their problem is necessary, but is it always possible to discuss the problem about a nation when others are already started accusing, confirming and tag them as evil even before they start about to work on that problem?

    No one is there to judge on others nation… and before you want to judge… point the finger first at ourselves know ourselves first.


  8. Hi katia again

    Regarding about “discrimination” in China… do you know that other ethnic races in China other than Han Chinese enjoy much more privileges form the CCP…? Just like they can have more children… and they also benefit in the area of taxes, education, medical… and many more.
    All the ethnic races in China are having the same qualification like the Han Chinese to involve in many governmental sectors work, high government officer, police, PLA soldier…

    Even in the present Qinghai earthquake in China, many ethnic Tibetan PLA soldier involves in some of the important task there as most of the victims who suffer there are Tibetan and they need people who can translate for everyone there. Tibetan policemen also involved in many important tasks like investigating on the 2008 Tibet riot.

    Even the 36-year-old Deying Drolma, grandniece of the Dalai Lama is a PLA Army nurse. Deying Drolma’s grandmother Khyi Losel is the cousin of the Dalai Lama who didn’t join Dalai Lama who fled into India in 1959 and remain in Tibet China.

    On the very first scene I saw about the July riot of Xinjiang from the media news, was a young Uyghur PLA soldier there speaking in Uyghur language while keeping the riot scene in order. I also ever saw a documentary describing about how the Chinese military police who fought against the Uyghur terrorist separatist… and one of the high Chief Chinese military police is an ethnic Uyghur, there are also some Uyghur military police involving in the mission.

    If China really discriminate those ethnic races other than Han… then all these job of police, PLA soldier and governor suppose to will be only for the Han Chinese to be involves…! BUT it is not at all…

    So katia… I wonder why do you think that the CCP discriminate against these other ethnic group? Base on what some of the western news who uses to always claim about China?


    katia on May 4th, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    News from China are vetted by Chinese, particularly news from Xinjiang and news from Tibet…..Isn’t it strange that you don’t believe western MSM but you believe Chinese media when no one can check on validity of Chinese information?

    There are always people who prefer money over everything else. Your example with behavior of grand niece of Dalai Lama is similar to behavior of people living in Kosovo during Ottoman invasion and rule. She and they choose money and life under foreigners.

    And chinese do discriminate, ..
    Below is a translated fragment from a blog of someone who recently visited China.

    Uighur culture disappears. In the Old Town in Kashgar Chinese are stepping up demolition of Uighur houses. Han Chinese who are flocking to Xinjiang have better start-up possibilities and it is easier for them to start their own businesses. It is quite simple, the only thing one should do is to join the communist party, but of course religious Uighurs will never do that. ….In Kashgar new business centers, banks and government buildings are going to replace Uygur’s houses but new buildings will not belong to Uighurs but to Han Chinese. .One can easily notice that future of Xinjiang is going to be similar to Tibet – slow and effective killing of culture of people who are rightful owners of the land. What’s more Xinjang is alone and few people know what is going on here because everything happens quietly and Xinjang do not have its own Dalay Lama…….Our first day in Kashghar we found an entrance to “Uyghur’s Old Town” . From a Chinese lady who sold ticket to Old Town we got a tourist map and some info about that place. but it was quite late and we decided that we will see it next day. But in the morning before we got to tourist attraction called “Old Town in Kashgar” we strolled about the narrow street and we saw dozens of old Uighur houses with a sign ” for demolition” And then we got it. These Chinese made tourist enclave of Uighur’s Old Town and demand money for the entrance but all the rest of town successively demolish. …..WE all agreed, they wont get money for something which does not belong to them.

    So Akihiro…. do you still follow three monkeys who “see no evil, hear no evil, talk no evil”?


    Akihiro on May 4th, 2010 at 6:59 pm

    Hi katia

    Thanks for your afford in trying to convince me by stating your points of view plus a blog from someone…

    I am living in a city where I could assess on-line from anyway easily… that’s why I do compare news from both the west and China…

    To me, whether which of their news is more credibility… it’s up to your own judgment but not depend on who does the majority of the world follow or just the trend of the world.
    For these, I will always leave it to anyone own judgments which I still respect all of their view… and I won’t force anyone to agree with my point of view.

    To me, China is a place where it’s either you like it or you don’t…
    If I am not wrong… most of the netizens here who come into this site do already share a similar concept about China, which is “they are evil”.
    That’s why I did said before as what Mother Teresa had mentioned is that “Whoever refuses to believe in something… nobody will be able to please him.”

    I came across many westerners who work in China as either professional or some educators… and they love the country China so much and plus they do also supported their policy there and they do always speak up for China. But of course to most of the westerner who never being to China or dislike China… will always come up into one conclusion about these westerners is that, “they are the CCP agent” or “they are being brainwashed”.
    There is a Chinese saying which says “心胸狭窄 “, which mean “Narrow minded”…
    So I always advice anyone to always view things or problems with a more open minded.

    Regarding of your accusing of those Tibetan or other ethnic race than Han in China for loving or supporting their country China just because for the sake of “money or luxury life”… I think that’s being very unfair for them.
    Just like for the case of Dalai Lama’s grand niece Deying Drolma… It’s good to read about them and understand a bit more about the society of Tibet (old and new Tibet) before you can judge her or accusing her…
    Please read about what they had gone through in their life and be please be fair to them.

    First of all you have to understand and know the truth face of this person Dalai Lama first before you can judge on the issue of Tibet. Another important thing is to know the world histories of Tibet plus the histories of the old Tibet before 1959 (when Dalai Lama was still under control). Get all these information and knowledge from some of these western and American historians like… Michael Parenti, Tom Grunfeld, Melvyn Goldstein, Victor and Victoria Trimondi, Barry Sautman…
    If you are willing, you can also read up some Chinese historians who wrote about the old Tibet and Dalai Lama also…
    They all mentioned the same… regarding the old Tibet and regarding Dalai Lama.

    So for the case of Tibet and Dalai Lama… please understand and read more about them and their histories. Enjoy reading!

    As for the blog of that person who went and wrote about Xinjiang… I just got to say is that… please visit any place with an open-minded first, so that we could judge them rightfully.
    And so regarding for what that that person wrote about his/her view on Xinjiang… that’s only his/her personal view on it base on a lay person.
    It’s not something new to me as that’s also those common kind of accuse by certain people when they do feel unpleased about their government policy… which sometimes also applied in my country.
    It’s important to understand the situation or under what circumstances before we can start accusing things like discrimination or disappearing of culture.

    Anyway I did already give a lot of my points of views and explanations in some previous comments in other columns regarding this issue… it maybe a bit tiring for me to repeat and re-write them again. So if you are interested, please refer back to those comments. Enjoy!

    Just like what our netizen here Xia who just said “Xinjiang is a good place…”
    But if there is already certain amount of bias towards the place which contain in the mind of any person… no matter how nice or beautiful a place can never please them at all.

    By the way where can you find a perfect paradise on this living earth…? Maybe it’s where Dalai Lama and some who always falsely claim about the old Tibet “Shangri la”… haha…!

    And katia, although I do not know where are you from or what is you race? But for what I understand is that you do care and mean well for the people in Xinjiang… which I think it’s very good.
    But I think it’s very important to understand more about the situations or circumstances on any place… and not only base on certain bias or one-sided report, before we can really accuse or give judgments to anyone.

    And say “no” to propaganda…

    katia on May 6th, 2010 at 3:08 pm


    It is strange that you mentioned access “on-line from anyway easily.”
    If you live outside of China then you certainly will have some difficulty to access Chinese netizens’ views which contradict Chinese government policy line; on the other hand if you live in China then you will have some difficulty to breach “Great FireWall of China” .

    It also seems to me that you have tendency to view everything in black and white (soo, very Western!!!). You are saying that most of the people who come to this blog think that China is “evil”, on the other hand somebody like (presumably) you believe that China is “virtuous”. However, in fact, it seems to me that many of people who read this blog think that China is both – in some things it is evil and in some things it is virtuous.

    The westerners you are taking about – if they like China that’s fine. I am sure China is beautiful so why pretend not to like the country. On the other hand some things in China are evil and if they do not see that then they are just useful idiots or agents of influence
    Parenti – argues that western racism is systemic and historical in nature and should be regarded as more than just an attitudinal problem. Similar views to that book “China is not happy” isn’t it?
    Grunfeld – According to some, he mainly relies on questionable sources provided by the Chinese government. He is regarded as an apologist of the Chinese regime
    Professor Goldstein is an American scholar whose research focuses on Tibet. He claims he is not politically active on either side, but some claim he is more pro-Chinese than pro-Tibetan
    Victor Trinondi – dubious and unsubstantiated sources were used and Tibetan texts and images are not covered in their symbolic content, but are interpreted literally
    Barry Sautman, Hong Kong University of Science & Technology —– an exception in your list, not a useful idiot like the people above.

    The blog (fragment of which I translated) was of a person who, not being a North- American, was able to see and figure out much more than it would have been possible for an American visitor in China.

    But I agree with you, it is important to understand the situation, based on many reports. One has to be particularly wary of governmental reports and reports coming from useful idiots, like some people one might have know.
    Say “no” to propaganda – You mean just saying ” ‘no’ to propaganda” would suddenly open one’s eyes on what is propagandists babble and what is not???

  9. Wow, that is one ugly picture there, esp for a high ranking official.


    Josh on May 5th, 2010 at 8:34 am

    Not the most handsome man, no. Then again, since Chinese officials aren’t elected democratically, they don’t really have to care as much about how they look :)


    damo on May 5th, 2010 at 9:10 am

    I didn’t think the USA voters chose who to vote for on looks oh wait a minute what about Sarah Palin.

    Her looks is all she had going for her.

    Luckily she didn’t get in.

  10. Hi Katia,

    Thanks for your arguement…
    Haha… and it’s fine for me since you think that those people are “idiots”…

    Anyway I have already stated all my views… as I said that I don’t force or want anyone to always accept my point of views.

    So takecare & God bless!