Veteran leftist Deng Liqun has made a rare return to the limelight by writing a letter to commemorate five Xinjiang martyrs who aided the communists in the region 65 years ago.
In the letter to the party committee of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, Deng Liqun praised the leadership's effort to fight the separatist movement in the region. He also applauded the leaders' gains in promoting economic development and social stability, despite rising unrest in the area in recent years.
The letter was read to a meeting on Wednesday to commemorate the five martyrs, Uygurs who died in their flight to Beijing on August 27, 1949 to take part in a meeting ahead of the founding of the people's republic.
Deng, 99, a former party propaganda chief and theoretician, was known as "little Deng" and seen as the most powerful conservative critic of late leader Deng Xiaoping's reform policies.
He also played a key role in purging liberal intellectuals throughout the 1980s.
But he has long been absent from the public stage.
Xigen Li, from City University's media and communications department, said the letter was a reminder of the issues that persisted in Xinjiang after 65 years.
Li said the central government needed to deal with Xinjiang carefully because delicate and sensitive problems there had escalated. "Those problems will not be solved with slogans or solutions and policies based on inertial thinking. Instead, wisdom and new perspectives are needed to formulate effective policies to normalise the situation there," Li said.