Minority report: Chinese official "faked family's ethnicity"

People holding Chinese national flags during a celebration to mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, in Urumqi on Oct 1, 2015.
People holding Chinese national flags during a celebration to mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, in Urumqi on Oct 1, 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (REUTERS) - Chinese authorities will prosecute a former senior official in the far western region of Xinjiang for corruption, involving faking the ethnicity of his wife and child, the government said on Thursday.

Ethnic minorities get special rights, sometimes including subsidies, and there have been cases of people from the majority Han community who lie and get a different ethnicity printed on their identity cards.

Some minorities are so integrated after centuries of living with the Han they have lost their separate languages and customs, meaning it can be easy for Han Chinese to pass themselves off as something else.

The ruling Communist Party's graft-fighting Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said that Guo Xiangyi, who was a senior official in Xinjiang's Bortala region, abused his power, took bribes and expropriated land.

Guo, likely a Han Chinese judging by his name, also "faked and changed the ethnicity of his wife and child", the statement said, without giving details.

While the Uighurs, a Muslim people who speak a Turkic language, are the main minority in Xinjiang, Bortala is home to a large number of ethnic Mongols.

Guo had been sacked and expelled from the party, and his case handed over to the legal authorities, the statement said, meaning he will be prosecuted.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has launched a sweeping campaign against deep-rooted corruption since assuming office three years ago.

Relatively few officials have been probed in Xinjiang though, a part of the country where hundreds have died in unrest in recent years, blamed by Beijing on Islamist militants.