Former Xinjiang vice party chief jailed for corruption

BEIJING - A former deputy Communist Party chief in China's volatile region of Xinjiang was sentenced on Wednesday to 12 years in prison for corruption.

Yang Gang was the communist number two in Xinjiang from 2006 to 2010, and had held positions within the party's senior ranks in the resource-rich far western region since 1999.

From 1998 through 2012, Yang "took advantage of his posts" in Xinjiang and elsewhere to help others secure development projects, sales and promotions, the Third Intermediate People's Court of Beijing said on its verified social media account.

The probe against Yang was announced in 2013, part of a high-profile crackdown on graft under President Xi Jinping.

The campaign has brought down numerous senior officials, notably former security chief Zhou Yongkang - although critics say it is used for political infighting.

Yang received almost 14 million yuan (now S$3 million) in bribes in the preceding five years, at times aided by his wife and son, the court said.

He had been given a relatively light penalty because he had confessed and paid back his ill-gotten gains, it added.

Xinjiang, the homeland of the mostly Muslim Uighur minority, is the scene of sporadic bloody violence which the government attributes to separatist religious extremists.

Rights groups and exile organisations accuse Beijing of discriminating against Uighur culture and religion, saying it is a root cause of the unrest.