Nur Bekri

From Kazakhstan Encyclopedia

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Nur Bekri (Template:Lang-ug; born 9 August 1961) is a Chinese politician of Uyghur origin, currently serving as a minister-level Vice Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission and Director of the National Energy Administration. Bekri is one of the highest ranked ethnic-minority officials in the Chinese government.

He was the Chairman of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, a vast region in northwestern China, between 2008 and 2014. Born and raised in Xinjiang, he spent his entire life in the Region, aside from a short stint as the Deputy Mayor of Feicheng, Shandong province. He is also former Mayor of Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang.

Life and career

Nur Bekri was born in a village near Kazakhstan in an area under the jurisdiction of Bole (known in Uyghur as "Bortala"), Xinjiang. He received education in the Chinese language since early childhood and spoke Uyghur and Mandarin Chinese at a native fluency. He enrolled at Xinjiang University in September 1978 and studied political theory. He joined the Communist Party of China (CPC) in December 1982. He stayed at his alma mater to serve as a lecturer for political theory after graduation, and was a prominent member of the local Communist Youth League organization, rising to become the Xinjiang Youth League organization's deputy chief in the late 1980s, eventually being promoted to the First Secretary (i.e. leader) of the Xinjiang Youth League, a position he held until 1992.[1]

Between 1993 and 1995 Bekri served in the Kashgar region as an assistant to the local governor. Between 1994 and 2002 Bekri served in a series of local political roles, including the vice-mayor of Feicheng, Shandong province, the deputy Secretary-General of the Xinjiang regional government, the deputy party secretary and mayor of Urumqi. At age 37, Bekri was the youngest mayor of a provincial-level capital in China at the time. Bekri then worked in the Xinjiang regional government beginning in 2000, becoming a member of the Party Committee, then Deputy Party Secretary in January 2005.[1]

Chairman of Xinjiang

Nur Bekri was appointed Chairman of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region People's GovernmentTemplate:Dn , replacing Ismail Tiliwaldi, who resigned as Chairman in December 2007. At age 46, Bekri became one of the youngest provincial governors (or equivalents) in China. As Chairman, Bekri was nominally Xinjiang's top government official, but in practice was subordinate to the Communist Party Secretary for the region, Wang Lequan (term 1994–2010), then Zhang Chunxian (2010 onwards).

After the 2009 Urumqi riots, Bekri delivered the televised address in which he explained the situation that has led up to the violence and then condemned who he deemed to be coordinators of the attack.[2] Bekri has been subject to criticism by Uyghur economist and scholar Ilham Tohti, founder of Uyghur Online, a website that criticized the Chairman and his policies.[3] Tohti said that Bekri was "unqualified" for his position and that he "does not care about Uyghurs". Tohti was later jailed on charges of "separatism". The World Uyghur Congress and some in the overseas Uyghur community also considered Bekri to be a "puppet of the Chinese government." Bekri was the highest-ranked government official to deliver a televised speech on this issue.[4]

As the highest ranked ethnic Uyghur official in the Xinjiang government, Bekri toed the party line on issues related to Xinjiang independence, often issuing official denunciations of what the government saw as religious extremism or terrorism. He was sometimes called "Nol Bekri", an Uyghur-language pun on his name which roughly meant "nil Bekri" or "zero Bekri", referring to his being seen has having little to no power.[4]

Central government

Bekri was transferred to the National Energy Administration under the powerful National Development and Reform Commission, a body with wide jurisdiction over economic development, in December 2014. He was replaced as Xinjiang Chairman by Shohrat Zakir. By taking on the top job at the National Energy Administration, Nur Bekri broke the mold of Uyghur government leaders, taking on a substantive post completely unrelated to ethnic affairs. Under his leadership, the NEA has pledged massive investment into renewable energy, and closed down over 100 coal-fired power plants.

Bekri is an alternate member of the 17th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and a member of the 18th Central Committee. He is the only ethnic Uyghur with full membership on the 18th Central Committee.



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