Ethnic Uighur demonstrators, waving blue East Turkestan flags, set fire to a Chinese flag
Ethnic Uighur demonstrators, waving blue East Turkestan flags, set fire to a Chinese flagReuters File

The chief editor of a state-run newspaper in China's troubled northwestern Xinjiang province was arrested after being expelled from the Communist Party for "improperly" discussing and publicly opposing its policy in the region. 

The sacking of Zhao Xinyu as the chief editor of Xinjiang Daily - an important party news and opinion publication - follows a recent tightening of rules by the Communist Party to target incorrect thinking and ideas among party members.

An announcement on the website of Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said that Zhao "openly made statements opposing central government and autonomous region work instructions on major issues."

Reports from China said that the 58-year-old journalist was arrested even before the announcement and is expected to face criminal prosecution. The NYT report noted that it was a rare instance when the Communist Party has purged its member for openly criticising its policy - a move that would have a wide effect on behavio8r other members.

The government investigators said that Zhao intentionally violated "official decisions on media coverage in the region," made "groundless remarks" and had lost "his ideals and beliefs."

He also has been accused of taking bribes. However, a report in Global Times said that the Communist Party found that his words were "not in accordance with the central and local Party on significant issues including ethnic separatism, terrorism and religious extremism."

Chinese security forces are carrying out a massive crackdown in the Xinjiang region, where frustrated Uighurs,  mostly Sunni Muslims, are protesting - sometimes violently - over the country's discriminatory policies.

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