China has shifted a top native Uygur official from its troubled Xinjiang province, who for long tried to stave off growing militancy in the region, and appointed him to a senior post in the country's planning body, a rare position accorded to anyone from an ethnic minority.
An official announcement carried by state-run Xinhua news agency said Nur Bekri, vice secretary of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) in Xinjiang will be replaced by another native Shohrat Zakir.
While Xinhua did not mention about Bekri's new appointment, reports from Xinjiang said he has been appointed as the director of the National Energy Administration and also a deputy head of the planning body, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).
Bekri's appointment to NDRC is rare as few from ethnic minority groups find a place in China's top government posts mostly occupied by people from the majority Han community.
The move would make him one of the most powerful ethnic minority members of China's central government.
An ethnic Uygur by birth and brought up in Xinjiang, Bekri was the face of the CPC since 2007 in confronting the growing Muslim Uygur militancy over the increased settlements of Han in the Uygur homeland of Xinjiang.
The province became increasingly violent in recent years as the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), an al-Qaeda-backed Uygur militant group fighting for the independence of Xinjiang is said to have carried out deadly terrorist attacks in and outside the province.
Violence in Xinjiang has risen over the last year, with at least 200 people killed in clashes and attacks in the resource-rich province and outside.
Bekri became well-known when he went on TV in 2009 to condemn the deadly riots against Hans which shook China.
He had also visited India in 2012 to drum up trade and investments for Xinjiang.