China jails former party chief of Xinjiang's capital for graft

BEIJING (REUTERS) - A court in Beijing on Wednesday (Jan 20) jailed a former Chinese Communist Party chief of Urumqi, the capital of the violence-prone far-western region of Xinjiang, for 12 years for corruption.

Yang Gang, who was indicted for accepting bribes last year, served as party secretary of Urumqi between 1999 and 2006.

The Beijing court said in a statement that Yang abused his power while working in Xinjiang by providing "assistance" to others in promotions and winning contracts.

He also took 13.79 million yuan (S$3 million) in bribes that were channelled via his wife and son, the court said.

Yang confessed to his crimes and gave help in the investigation, meaning he received a lighter sentence, it added.

President Xi Jinping has launched a sweeping campaign against deep-seated graft since assuming office three years ago, and dozens of senior officials have been jailed.

Xinjiang is one of China's most sensitive regions.

Hundreds have died there in unrest in recent years, blamed by the government on Islamist militants who want to establish an independent state called East Turkestan.

However, many rights groups and foreign experts say the root cause of the problems is unhappiness among the Muslim Uighur people who call Xinjiang home over controls on their religion and culture.

China denies any repression in Xinjiang and says it faces a very real terrorist threat.

China's top prosecutor said on its official microblog that the arrest of a deputy security chief in Xinjiang had been approved on Jan 15 on suspicion of "abuse of power" and "accepting bribes", a move paving the way for his prosecution.

Xie Hui, who ran the Xinjiang prison system from 2010 until his promotion in 2013 to be a vice-head of the Xinjiang public security bureau, was put under investigation in July.

The notice provided few details but said the case was still being investigated.