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Chinese official accused of failing to fight extremism

In a violence-plagued part of western China a party official is stripped of his authority and facing multiple charges. It's the latest case in the government's controversial fight against corruption.

A senior party official in China's violence-prone far west region of Xinjiang has been dismissed amid charges he failed to fight extremism.

The Communist Party's top disciplinary body has accused Zhang Jinbiao - a party secretary for the Hotan Prefecture, a part of Xinjiang province - of "serious violations." In addition to his alleged failure to adequately fight extremism, he is also facing charges of bribe-taking and odd sexual behavior.

The anti-corruption watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), issued a statement late on Saturday, saying Zhang had violated party rules.

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He "seriously violated political discipline and political rules and did not exert himself in carrying out his counter-terrorism and stability maintenance responsibilities, causing serious consequences," the release said.

Zhang took gifts, including money, abused his power and had "abnormal sexual relations with others," the statement said.

Communist Party officials are supposed to be upstanding members of the community, and accusations of sexual impropriety are frequently used to further damage an accused person's name. 

President Xi Jinping has been running a long-term fight against corruption. There's even a popular TV drama, "In the Name of (the) People" (pictured above), that depicts the government's iron-fisted attempts to eliminate graft.

Hundreds of people have been killed in Xinjiang in the past few years in violence between a mostly Muslim minority - the Uighurs - who speak a Turkic language, and the ethnic majority Han Chinese. The situation has been especially fraught in the heavily Uighur populated southern part of Xinjiang.

Violence amid separatists

Zhang was seen as a front line government official in a part of China beset by militant attacks. He had "an important leadership responsibility," but his ideology was weak and he did not follow directions, the CCDI said without elaborating.

China blames the violence in Xinjiang on Islamist extremists and separatists. Rights groups and Uighur exiles say it is more a product of Uighur frustration with China's control over their culture and religion. Beijing denies any repression.

The 53-year-old Zhang has been expelled from the party and his case has been handed over to prosecutors, according to the CCDI.

Zhang could not be reached for comment and it was unclear if he had been allowed to retain a lawyer.

The local leader is not the first Hotan official to become ensnared in China's crackdown on deep-seated corruption. Hotan's former mayor - Adil Nurmemet, a Uighur - is currently serving a 12-year prison term for corruption.

Zhang, who belongs to the ethnic Han Chinese majority, has spent his whole working life in Xinjiang, according to his official resume.

He only assumed the Hotan job in May 2016 and was put under investigation in January.

bik/cl (Reuters, AP)

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