China Arresting Rich Uyghur Business Owners; Seen As 'Threat' By Authorities Due To Their Influence In Community: ReportEthnic Uyghur Muslims walk past a Chinese Communist Party poster in Xinjiang. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

In the summer of 2018, Sadir Eli, a Uyghur businessman, was in high spirits. His real-estate firm was pulling in strong profits, and he told his daughter he would buy a house for her in Massachusetts, Wall Street Journal reported.

Then, Eli was accused of being a separatist and disappeared into the black box of China's prison system in the northwest Xinjiang region, the report said.

"He did not engage in politics," said Maria Mohammad, who last heard from her husband in June 2018, shortly before he was detained. Instead, she believes, Eli was targeted in part because he was a rich businessman, giving him influence that the authorities viewed as a threat.

The report said Eli's fate brings to life an overlooked element of China's suppression of ethnic minorities in Xinjiang: the arrests of elite Uyghur business owners whose wealth and commercial interests enabled them to act as a bridge between Chinese authorities and Uyghur civil society.

Some scholars saw them as helping narrow the economic gap between China's Han majority and Xinjiang's mostly Muslim ethnic minorities -- a disparity that has fuelled tension in the strategically vital but fractious northwestern region.

This news has been published via a Syndicated feed. Only the headline is changed.

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