Monday, March 19, 2018

Another Tibet hand who matters

Yang Xiaodu
In 2012, I wrote on this blog a piece The Chinese who matter in Tibetan Affairs.
It was a list of Chinese officials who had a say in Tibet affairs.
Either they had been, or still were associated with the Roof of the World.
I then wrote: “One can only hope that wisdom will prevail and that they will realize that it is in their (and China's) interest to find a decent solution to the Tibetan issue with the present Dalai Lama.”
Well, no progress in this front.
In fact, many of the officials that I then listed have since then been purged or investigated, others have retired.

Another Tibet hand promoted
Now a new name should be added: Yang Xiaodu.
Yang, the second-ranking graft-buster (deputy chief of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection or CCDI), has been appointed head of the country’s new sweeping anti-corruption body, the National Supervisory Commission
“A surprise move that effectively asserts the party’s ultimate authority above the powerful state agency”, says The South China Morning Post.
The Hong Kong newspaper added: “The controversial new body will extend the powers of the party’s internal disciplinary watchdog to oversee a vast number of state and public-sector employees, including managers of state-run schools, hospitals, media organisations and companies – even if they are not party members.”
Yang, 64, worked with President Xi Jinping in Shanghai, but also for more than years in Tibet.
The Nikkei from Japan, said that Yang “spent over two decades working in Tibet, rising from section chief of a state pharmaceutical company to vice chairman of the region's government. The Shanghai native was one of thousands of ethnic Han settlers dispatched by Beijing to oversee administration and keep a lid on protests in Tibet,” adding the fight against corruption has been a key feature of the Xi regime since his ascendance to the presidency in 2013.
He promised to catch the ‘tigers and swatting flies’.
Yang will second him.

Here is Yang's biography
Yang was born in Shanghai in 1953. In 1970, during the Cultural Revolution, he was sent-down youth performing manual labour in Taihe County, Anhui province.
In September 1973, he began studying at the Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
He graduated in 1976 and then began working in Nagchu Prefecture, Tibet for a drug company. In 1984, he was named party chief of Nagchu Hospital.
In September 1986, Yang was named deputy commissioner (vice mayor equivalent) of Nagchu. In December 1992, he was named deputy party chief of Chamdo Prefecture.
In 1995, he was named head of the finance department of Tibet Autonomous Region.
In May 1998, he became Vice-Chairman of Tibet Autonomous Region, ascending to sub-provincial rank for the first time. In 2001, he returned to his native Shanghai and became vice mayor.
He studied legal theory at the Central Party School while holding a job in Tibet.
In October 2006, he was named a member of the municipal Party Standing Committee of Shanghai and head of the municipal United Front Department; in May 2012, he was named head of the Shanghai Discipline Inspection Commission.
In November 2013, having reached retirement age for sub-provincial level officials, he was named head of the 3rd Inspection Team, in charge of anti-corruption work at the Ministry of Land and Resources. In January 2014, he was elected Deputy Secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.
On December 25, 2016, Yang was named Minister of Supervision, the eighth and oldest person to serve in the position since the founding of the People's Republic.
Yang is a member of the 19th Politburo of the Communist Party of China.

What happened to the 'Chinese who matter in Tibetan Affairs’, mentioned in my post in 2012.
  • Yu Zhengsheng, former member of the Standing Committee of the Politburo has retired.
  • Hu Chunhua, a member of the Politburo of the 19th Central Committee, has been promoted as one of the four vice premiers in the State Council
  • Sun Chunlan, head of the United Front Work Department, is a vice premier too.
  • Liu Yandong, former member of the Politburo and Vice-Premier, State Council has retired
  • Wang Huning, member, Politburo has been elevated to the Standing Committee of the Politburo
  • Meng Jianzhu, member, Politburo has retired
  • Guo Jinlong, member, Politburo has retired
  • Ling Jihua, former head of the United Front Work Department is in jail
  • Yang Chuantang former Minister of Transport got a  'semi retired' job as Vice-Chairman of the CPPCC
  • Li Liguo, former Minister of Civil Affairs is investigated
  • Du Qinglin, former head of the United Front Work Department has retired
  • Wang Jianping, former Commander of the People's Armed Police Force is in jail
  • Chen Quanguo, former Party Secretary in Tibet, now Party Secretary in Xinjiang, has been promoted in the Politburo
  • Lt Gen Yang Jinshan, former Commander of the Tibet Military Area is in jail
  • Lt Gen Xu Yong is still commanding the Tibet Military Area (he was during the Doklam episode)
  • Hao Peng, a former Deputy Secretary of the Tibet Autonomous Regional has now been promoted to the 19th Central Committee. He presently is the Party Secretary of the Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC), after serving as the Governor of Qinghai between 2013 and 2016
  • Qin Yizhi, former head of the Chinese Communist Party’s youth league has been demoted
  • Zhang Qingli, former Party boss in Tibet remains CPPCC's vice-chairman
  • Wang Zhengwei, former Chairman of the State Ethnic Affairs Commission between 2013 and 2016, and Governor of the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region between 2007 and 2013 is like Zhang Qingli and Yang Chuantang, a vice-chairman of the CPPCC

    Sunday, March 18, 2018

    When Nehru meets the Dalai Lama

    A circular of the Cabinet Secretary asking Indian ministers and officials not to attend a function for the Dalai Lama in Delhi, has been in the news.
    While the controversy (and the MEA's kowtowing to China) continues to rage, it is interesting to look at the transcript of a talk between the Dalai Lama and Jawaharlal Nehru, the Prime Minister on India.
    The encounter took place on April 16, 1961.
    KL Mehta, Joint Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs took the notes.
    A couple of weeks later (May 2), in a debate in the Lok Sabha, the Prime Minister was asked:
    (a) whether the Dalai Lama visited New Delhi on the 15th April, this year for having some discussions with him; and
    (b) if so, what were the subjects discussed?
    During the course of the debate, Nehru stated:
    It is the normal practice that when asylum is granted, it is done so subject to any condition that the country may think it necessary. The condition is that the soil of their country should not be used for any purposes opposed to them, which might get the country into trouble. It is a normal practice.
    This is still valid today, though there are ways and ways to put this in practice.

    Here is the transcript of the talks as published in the Selected Works of Jawaharlal Nehru (Volume 68, Series II). The subtitles are mine.

    When Nehru meets the Dalai Lama

    The Prime Minister received His Holiness the Dalai Lama at P.M.'s House on Sunday April 16 and the talks lasted for over 90 minutes.
    The Secretary General [RK Nehru ] was present.
    Having thanked [the] P.M. for inviting him to Delhi, the Dalai Lama said that he had come to the conclusion that the only hope of preservation of Tibetan culture and religion now lies in those Tibetans especially children who have come to India.
    The object of his visit to Delhi, therefore, was to discuss with the Prime Minister the various important problems dealing with the rehabilitation of Tibetan refugees with special reference to the drawing up a suitable programme for the education of young people, both boys and girls below 16 years in age.
    The Dalai Lama added that as for the rest, broadly speaking, only two schemes have so far been finalised which cater for the rehabilitation of refugees as agriculturists.
    One of these was being implemented in Mysore and the other in NEFA.

    Nehru Speaks
    The Prime Minister said that he wanted the Tibetans to grow up as an integrated community with due safeguards for the maintenance of their tradition, culture and religion.
    He added that in order to make a proper assessment of the problem of rehabilitation, it was necessary to consider it in two or more parts.
    He was himself specially interested in the education of the young people, and this, therefore, must assume topmost priority.
    The Prime Minister wanted to make it clear that the Government of India had the responsibility to provide education to every Tibetan child of school-going age. The programme of education did not include just primary education, but also secondary education, and for those who would benefit from it, University education.
    He had no doubt that the future of the Tibetans in India depended on the quality of education given to them, and it would be entirely artificial to lay down an upper limit in regard to the number of young people to the educated.
    The Prime Minister emphasised that the education should be good, with due regard to the traditional background of Tibetans, and at the same time modem.
    It was important to realise that whereas separate schools will be provided for primary education, and also at the secondary stage, the syllabus would have to be designed in such a way as to enable the students to join Indian polytechnics, and those likely to benefit from it also Indian Universities.
    We could not obviously provide separate polytechnics and separate Universities for Tibetan children only.
    Indeed having completed their secondary stage, it would not even be right for the Tibetan children to remain cut off from the rest of India.
    The Prime Minister added that arrangements to provide religious instruction to Tibetan boys even at the University stage could be made separately, if the Dalai Lama so wished.
    It must be understood, however, that the educational programme for Tibetans should be drawn up to ensure development of the Tibetan children along the lines of their genius, and also to ensure that the actual education given was fully modem in the sense that it equipped the boys and girls to join Indian Universities and Polytechnics in due course.

    The Dalai Lama speaks
    The Dalai Lama said that he was in full agreement with the sentiments expressed by the Prime Minister. He added that there were 3,000 Tibetan refugee children below the age of 16 in India at the moment. Arrangements have so far been made to provide education to only some 500 amongst them. He added that the help of the State Governments concerned such as Mysore, UP and Punjab would be necessary in running the schools, but at the same time it was essential that there should be a common approach in running all the Tibetan schools irrespective of where they happened to be situated.
    After some discussion and after taking note of the fact that the Nursery School [started by Tsering Dolma, the Dalai Lama’s sister] at Dharamsala is now running on the whole satisfactorily, and that the UK ‘Save the Children Fund’ Project, recently discussed in Delhi by Lady Alexandra Metcalfe [daughter of Lord Curzon, former Governor-General of India] is to be started shortly, the Prime Minister felt that the entire question of drawing up of a programme of education for Tibetan children including the opening of schools, the drawing of syllabus, the production of text books and other such details, should be made the responsibility of a Committee to be set up in New Delhi.
    The membership of the Committee would consist of a representative each from the Ministries of External Affairs and Education, and representative of the Dalai Lama.
    To these, representatives of the State Governments concerned, viz. Mysore, UP, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, NEFA and J&K would be invited as may be necessary from time to time.
    This Committee will make policy, have a wide discretion, and take necessary steps to ensure that the decisions of the Government of India in such matters as the opening of schools, the training of teachers are being carried out according to the approved programme.
    The Committee will have a Special Officer on a whole-time basis as its Secretary. This officer will go round looking after the schools, liaising with the Dalai Lama, and the State Governments concerned, and generally to assist the Committee in seeing that the decisions are being carried out.

    The discussion
    The Dalai Lama expressed himself wholly willing to give his fullest co-operation to the Committee and to nominate his representative on it.
    The Prime Minister directed me [KL Mehta] to call on the Education Minister to inform him with the list of discussion that had taken place and also to seek his advice in regard to the constitution of the proposed Committee.
    The Prime Minister emphasised that this policy Committee will consider the problem as a whole. The Committee will also consider that what to do with Tibetan refugees in the age group of 16-20 to which the Dalai Lama made a special reference. It might for example be possible to train them as technicians while others may be found jobs in factories and elsewhere.

    To create a trust
    In this connection, a reference was made to the Dalai Lama's offer to make available a sum of Rs 20 lakhs for being spent on the education of Tibetan refugees during the next 4 years.
    The Prime Minister asked the Dalai Lama to consider whether he should not create a trust fund for the education of Tibetan refugees and generally towards the rehabilitation of these people. This would ensure that the funds are properly invested, and incidentally, this would also mean that the profits would be free from income-tax.
    The Dalai Lama promised to consider this advice and added that as soon as this 4-year period was over, he hoped to earmark the profits of a pipe making factory in Bihar, which he has already started in Bihar, in co-operation with Indian businessmen and on the advice of an expert from Chicago.
    [A question was asked in the Rajya Sabha on May 1, 1961: “The Government understands that the Dalai Lama has invested some money in a Cast Iron Spun Pipe factory but have no knowledge of the extent of the investment.”
    The Prime Minister gave an oral answer: “It is quite possible that unscrupulous people will try to take advantage of any position like that. But I have no particular knowledge of any particular set of unscrupulous persons doing that. The Government have given him general advice suggesting that he should invest his savings or whatever he has in reliable undertakings. That is all the Government has done. But, as has been said, the Dalai Lama has started a cast iron pipe concern for producing cast iron pipes somewhere in the Hazaribagh district in Bihar and he has invested some money in it.]
    The Dalai Lama expressed his heartfelt thanks to the Prime Minister for his views on the education of Tibetan refugees and expressed himself in whole-hearted agreement with the PM's views.

    Settlement of the refugees

    The Prime Minister then touched upon the question of settlement of refugees, who would not be covered by the education programme.
    He said that we should go ahead with the settlement of 3,000 refugees in Mysore, and when this has been completed take up with the Mysore Government the question of settling another 2,000 if not more refugees in the forest areas nearby.
    The Prime Minister gave his approval to the suggestion that a few more schemes on the lines of the Bhalukpung Scheme [A forest settlement for 500 Tibetan refugees about 40 miles from Tezpur] should be drawn up and implemented in other parts of NEFA. Similarly, we should re-double our efforts in settling refugees in Ladakh away from the border.
    A reference was made to a recent suggestion from the Sikkim Durbar that they would rehabilitate 1,000 to 1,500 as agriculturists and tea-growers in Western Sikkim.
    The Prime Minister enquired whether the promised scheme had been received from Sikkim.
    The Prime Minister approved the suggestion that efforts should be made with the Government of Bhutan to settle refugees already in Bhutan and necessary financial and administrative help given to the Government of Bhutan.
    [KL Mehta intervened] Rukmini Devi [Arundale, Rajya Sabha MP] told me some time ago that the Government of Madras would like to help in the task of rehabilitating Tibetan refugees. Enquiries may be made from that Government whether they are in a position to make land available for the settlement of Tibetan refugees.

    Look after ourselves
    Finally the Dalai Lama made a reference to the old and the infirm who do not depend on anyone and who should be looked after.
    The Prime Minister felt that statistics of such people should be obtained and steps taken urgently to provide a home for them. This should be progressed further in consultation with the Dalai Lama.
    The Prime Minister concluded by saying that it would greatly help in the understanding and solution of the question of rehabilitation of Tibetan refugees if the entire number, viz. 28,000 to 30,000 now in India are divided in various categories to determine how many amongst them would be absorbed in schools, in handicraft centres, as agriculturists, as workers on our road programme (and for how long) etc.
    The lamas amongst the 28,000 to 30,000 refugees number 5,000.
    The Dalai Lama said that of them 1,700 are already being looked after by Government. I mentioned that the required information under various head was available and that this would be further checked up and brought up- to-date in consultation with the Dalai Lama.
    Separately the Prime Minister told me [KL Mehta] that he was dissatisfied with the progress achieved in implementing the programme of education for Tibetan children. He added that he attached the utmost importance to this question and wanted it to be known that the education to be given must be of good quality.

    A letter to KN Katju, the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh
    On April 24, Nehru wrote to KN Katju: “There was one matter I wanted to talk to you about, but forgot to do so."
    The Dalai Lama was here for a number of days discussing with us the question of rehabilitating the Tibetan refugees in India. There is no chance, as far as one can see, of their being able to return, to Tibet. I am particularly interested in the boys and girls receiving good education. Probably in the future these Tibetans who are now in India will be the only real Tibetans left.
    We are making special arrangements for the education of those boys and girls. So far as the Lamas are concerned, they are being settled in two or three places near monasteries and the like.
    The Dalai Lama has been anxious to have agricultural colonies of Tibetans. With the help of the Mysore Government, we have got a good place on the uplands near Coorg, about 3,000 feet high, for such a colony of 3,000 persons. Over a thousand have moved there already; others will go as soon as arrangements have been made. Possibly we might be able to increase this number to 5,000 in Mysore. I think this is likely to be a good colony.
    But this does not exhaust the Tibetan agriculturists, and something more has to be done for them in the shape of colonies. The Dalai Lama particularly mentioned to me the possibility of some of them going to Madhya Pradesh. I told him that I would enquire
    I want to know from you if there is any possibility of this.
    It has to be remembered, however that they cannot be settled anywhere and everywhere. They cannot stand the great heat of our plains. They must, therefore, go to a place at a fair altitude where the heat is not very great. Mysore has suited them more or less because it is 3,000 feet high. Also it is no good sending very small numbers of them anywhere. The minimum number for some kind of a community life in a colony would be about 250 families, making a total of approximately 1,000 persons.
    I should like to know if you think this is at all feasible anywhere in Madhya Pradesh where these two conditions can be satisfied. So far as the expenditure on such a project is concerned, that will be set entirely by the Central Government.

    Friday, March 16, 2018

    The Tale of Three Zhaos

    Many of us have been introduced to Tibet by the famous cartoon The Adventures of Tintin.
    One can’t forget the two detectives, Thomson and Thompson (in French, Dupond et Dupont). Though they are rather poor detectives (like Inspector Jacques Clouseau), they provide so comic relief to the reader..
    These characters, who look like identical twins (despite their different, though sounding-same surnames), came back to mind, when I saw the picture of China’s two main detectives, Zhao Leji and Zhao Kezhi attending a session with the Tibetan delegates at the 13th National People Congress (NPC).
    Zhao Leji is the Secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, (CCDI) the party's top anti-corruption body. He is also a member of the all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee.
    Zhao Kezhi is Minister and Party Secretary of the Ministry of Public Security; in other words, he is responsible for the security in the Middle Kingdom. As mentioned earlier on this blog is also a centrally-nominated delegate from Tibet to the NPC.
    Let us not forget that the CCDI has the power to summon and detain without charge any member it suspects of breaching party rules and regulations. Suspects are barred from seeing a lawyer while they are detained.
    Zhao Leji (center), Zhao Khezi (left) and Wu Yingje (right)
    Zhao and Zhao do not bring comic relief to anyone in the Kingdom.
    The South China Morning Post noted: “A new supervision law detailing how the new super agency will operate is to be put to a vote on March 20, the last day of the legislative meeting.”
    According to the Hong Kong newspaper, the new agency will be a merger of several government and prosecutorial anti-graft departments: “A  whole chapter in the amended constitution is dedicated to the new agency. Its chairperson will be appointed by the National People’s Congress, which is the only body overseeing the commission. The legislature also has the power to dismiss the agency’s chairperson.”
    Zhao Leji will be chairman of the new Commission.
    The fact that China’s two supreme detectives attended the meeting of the Tibet delegation does not augur well for the aspirations of the Tibetans.
    A website site mentioned in an earlier post said: “The TAR spends around three to five times more on domestic security than the average of all provinces and regions. Likewise, Xinjiang’s spending between 2014 and 2016 has been double that of the national regional average, and over triple in 2017. While domestic security spending across all provinces and regions rose by 215 percent between 2007 and 2016, Xinjiang’s grew by 411 percent, the TAR’s by 404 percent, and Qinghai Province’s by 316 percent (Qinghai’s population is 25 percent Tibetan). Spending in Sichuan Province increased by 234 percent, but spending in Sichuan’s two Tibetan Autonomous Prefectures, Ganzi and Aba, which have seen numerous self-immolations since 2008, grew by 295 percent.”
    The same website remarked: “Incredibly, the TAR and Xinjiang are beginning to rival the per capita domestic security expenditures of the United States. This is despite the fact that Chinese human resource and local security technology costs are far lower than in the West.”

    Meeting the Tibetan delegates
    While President Xi Jinping met with the NPC’s deputies from the Chongqing municipality to urge them to follow a ‘clean and upright political ecology’, Zhao Leji told the Tibetan delegation that “the campaign against the mentality and action of privilege seeking should be continued.”
    According to Xinhua, he called “for actions against formalities for formalities' sake, bureaucratism and various kinds of misconduct, so as to keep the pressure on conduct problems.”
    It is at least what was reported...

    Drolkar alias Choekar

    Stability of the borders with India
    In the meantime the propaganda about the Indian borders continues.
    Drolkar (earlier spelt Choekar), the deputy of Yume, north of the McMahon Line, said that she wants to build her hometown as beautiful as kalsang flower (a reference to the letter that she received from Xi Jinping).
    "Great changes have been seen in my hometown," she affirmed.
    She added: "We have highways, we have power, and new homes are being built as well. We also have stores, restaurants, and family inns right in the village. You even don't need cash when shopping, for everything can be paid via your cellphone,"
    Border people are happy in China according to Drolkar with their “more and more convenient life in hometown.”
    Drolkar said she will continue to safeguard the border region in future.
    For half a century, her family grazes their sheep and cattle there to safeguard the border area, asserted Drolkar.
    Xinhua commented that her story has deeply touched the heart of people across the country.
    So, where is the need of the two top detectives of the Kingdom, Zhao and Zhao, monitoring Tibet affairs, is people are so happy?
    And one should not forget the Third Zhao, General Zhao Zhongqi, the commander of the Western Theater Command, who looks after the Indian borders and is said to have started the conflict in Doklam last year.
    The Tale of the Three Zhao is a sad story.

    Tuesday, March 13, 2018

    How to be elected to the People's National Congress

    Xi Jinping made it.
    He can remain in his seat for life.
    The voting process was completed in record time and the constitutional revisions got the highest approval since 1999.
    The South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported: “Under the watch of a confident and relaxed President Xi Jinping, nearly 3,000 Chinese lawmakers were nearly unanimous in their approval of changes to the state constitution that included removing the term limit on the presidency.”
    The Hong Kong newspaper said that Xi, who had maintained a poker face throughout the opening day of People’s National Congress (NPC), appeared much more at ease after the vote: “He even smiled when Wang Cheng, the vice-chairman of the National People’s Congress, announced the final result of the voting. Only two of the 2,964 deputies voted against the constitutional revisions, three others abstained and one ballot was declared invalid.”
    That is not much opposition for a so-called democratic process.
    In 2004, when China's constitution was last amended, it had taken two hours.
    This time the process was over in just one hour: no debate took place, no discussion and not even canvassing.
    SCMP remarked: “The whole event was meticulously managed to the last detail. All the deputies gathered at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing at 3pm sharp. Each received a pink ballot paper the size of an A4 sheet. They were given a short briefing on how to use a specially designed pen to tick the box of their choice before putting the completed ballot papers in 28 red, electronic ballot boxes designed to immediately scan and record the results.”
    Xi can remain as long as he wants ...or as long as his health permits.

    Data on the NPC
    Before the vote, a website published data about the NPC; the figures are derived from the raw data provided on the NPC’s site: "The 2,980 delegates—roughly three-quarters of whom have never held such a position—are set to vote on the draft constitutional amendment in just a few hours. … But who exactly are these delegates, allegedly ‘hand-picked’ by President Xi Jinping and poised to reward him with indefinite tenure? "
    Three quarters at least owe their jobs to Xi.
    The analysis about the NPC's ethnicity is particularly interesting : « There are 55 officially recognized ethnic minorities in China. Collectively, they are apportioned 14.7% of the seats in the 13th NPC—a percentage both higher than their proportion in the Chinese population and than the guideline value set by the 12th NPC a year ago ('approximately 12%').  The figure shows the ten ethnic minorities with the most seats in the 13th NPC. Except the Manchu, they are also the ten largest minorities in China, according to the 2010 national census (though the order is different). While all 56 ethnic groups are represented in the 13th NPC, half (28) are each represented by only one delegate. Han delegates are on average almost five years older than non-Han delegates, more likely to be CPC members, and significantly (not in the statistical sense) likely to be male."

    How are these delegates elected?
    Take the case of a Tibetan delegate Choekar (or Dolkar).
    Choekar (left)
    As mentioned in this blog in November, soon after the conclusion of the 19th Congress, President Xi Jinping wrote a letter to two young Tibetan herders who had written to him introducing their village, Yume, north of Upper Subansiri district of Arunachal Pradesh.
    Xinhua then reported that Xi “encouraged a herding family in Lhunze [Lhuntse] County, near the Himalayas in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, to set down roots in the border area, safeguard the Chinese territory and develop their hometown.”
    Xi acknowledged “the family's efforts to safeguard the territory and thanked them for the loyalty and contributions they have made in the border area. Without the peace in the territory, there will be no peaceful lives for the millions of families," he wrote.
    The two Tibetan girls, Choekar and Yangzom had told Xi about their “experiences in safeguarding the border area and the development of their township over the years.”
    Choekar's village, Yume (or Yumai or Yulmed) is located a few kilometers north of the McMahon Line, not far from the remote Indian village of Takshing.
    Choekar (center)
    It was enough for getting appointed a NPC delegate
    It appears that many Tibetans from the nearby villages now want to move their homes to Yume. Choekar's sudden celebrity will certainly help  her village to grow exponentially ...and the border to be better protected.
    Han tourists have already started pouring.
    Villagers will build new guest accommodations and the border village will become wealthier  ...and the border will become more stable.
    That is the Emperor's plan.
    Of course, the Government of India is unable to think in this manner (in fact, can the Government think?)
    Should a local girl from Takshing village on the Indian side of the border, write a letter to Delhi, it would go unnoticed by the authorities; it may not even be delivered.
    Choekar had written about the importance for the border population to protect the sovereignty of the Motherland: by developing the border economy, poverty could be reduced.
    Choekar, before her elevation was officially Village Affairs Oversight Committee Director, but now she is more, she is one of the 2,964 Chinese who took part in the historic vote; they ‘elected’ the new emperor.
    The story does not say what has happened to the two who voted against the amendment of the Constitution.
    Probably, the lenient ruler can allow this much dissidence.
    It does not mean that the task will be easy for Chairman Xi; his new promotion may not help him to solve the immense problems facing the Middle Kingdom.
    But this is another story.

    Saturday, March 10, 2018

    Macron in India: Ties that keep growing

    My article Macron in India: Ties that keep growing appeared before the visit in The Asian Age and Deccan Chronicle.

    Here is the link...

    Indian and France are celebrating twenty years of partnership.
    The accord signed in 1998 by President Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister AB Vajpayee is one of the oldest, if not the oldest, ‘strategic partnership’.
    It was inked during the French President’s visit to India: “Both countries share a perspective that the new world order has to be a genuine multi-polar world order. Our bilateral relationship is poised to grow in the coming months in a multi-faceted manner,” declared Chirac.
    Over the last two decades, the partnership has steadily grown; no major political difference has darkened the sky between Paris and Delhi. France has constantly been supportive of India, particularly for a permanent seat for India in the UN Security Council and has shown comprehension for India’s nuclear policy. Though in recent years the term ‘strategic partnership’ has been devalued by the multiplication of such accords, in the Indo-French case, the 1998 momentum has been regularly sustained by new initiatives.
    One is of course the Rs 59,000 crore deal for 36 Rafale fighters in September 2016; it will soon prove to be a game changer, partly due the offset clauses forcing the French to reinvest in India 50% of the total deal’s amount, but also for India’s western and northern fronts. China realizes this, its recent efforts to reinforce its air defence of the Western Theater Command, particularly on the Tibetan plateau, is definitily linked to the arrival of the Rafale in 2019.
    As she arrived in India in October 2017, French defence minister Florence Parly stated in an interview to The Times of India that India was France’s‘major strategic partner in Asia’. She noted that the relationship was “the fruit of a long, shared history, grounded in an unshakable trust. We have always worked alongside India, in good times but also at difficult moments,” adding “our partnership is continuing to develop even more, including in very sensitive areas.”
    These ‘sensitive’ areas make the difference.
    Delhi knows that it needs to diversify its diplomatic relations if it wants to play a major role in the world. An example: for India’s engagement in the Indo-Pacific region, France could also be a crucial partner.
    In an article for Carnagie India, C. Raja Mohan and Darshana Baruah wrote about Deepening the India-France Maritime Partnership: “Faced with growing geopolitical turbulence and more aggressive maritime maneuvering, India and France are eager to expand their strategic engagement in the Indo-Pacific.”
    The authors elaborated: “As maritime security acquires greater salience in India’s foreign policy, New Delhi is increasingly looking to leverage its strategic partnerships, particularly with Paris. Although India and France have joined forces on a number of issues since 1998, regional cooperation in the Indo-Pacific has never risen to the top of the agenda. However, this may be about to change.”
    The study cited a series of high-level discussions between New Delhi and Paris which focused on the prospects of a stronger maritime security partnership: “Central to the recent discussions has been the creation of a framework for strategic coordination in the Indo-Pacific. …As they explore their bilateral cooperation on regional security, the Indo-Pacific offers ample potential for such an enterprise.”
    A highpoint of Macron’s visit could be a logistics accord allowing India access to the strategically important French base in the Reunion Islands near Madagascar. Another possibility is the opening of the French facilities in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa where India’s rival China has already a military base. This is part of India’s new maritime strategy.
    Interestingly, another author, Emanuele Scimia wrote in The Asian Times about a new alliance emerging in the region. He cited the French Jeanne d’Arc’s naval task force, heading for East Asia and the South Pacific to practice with the British Royal Navy.
    Though the objective of the five-month deployment is the improvement of the maritime cooperation between their navies, in reality, said Scimia, “it can be read as a new initiative by the two European countries to support the United States in its freedom of navigation operations in the region against China’s military activism.”
    The task group consists of the Mistral-class helicopter assault ship Dixmude and the La Fayette-class frigate Surcouf.
    Scimia further commented: “It is worth noting that the French-led task force will dock in countries at odds with China. Indeed Indonesia, Australia and Vietnam question Beijing’s claims to the South,” before concluding: “the prospective Quadrilateral (Quad) alliance among the United States, India, Japan and Australia to counter China’s military assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific space could be extended to France and Britain.”
    Does it mean a Quad + Two? India and France will probably prefer the bilateral way to start with.
    Incidentally, in December 1954, a previous avatar of the Dixmude, arrived in Mumbai to deliver 20 aircrafts with ammunitions: “Dixmude will stop at Bombay only for 5 days. In view of large quantities on board and short time available for off loading French air Ministry has requested for facilities as special case to unload explosives at Jetty instead of at anchor outside harbor,” wrote the then Indian ambassador in Paris.
    Four years later, 22 Mystere and 13 Ouragan (‘Toofanis’) would be again delivered by the same Dixmude.
    Another important development: during the forthcoming presidential visit, a deal could also be signed between India and Safran (one of the partners of Dasault in the Rafale deal) to develop a M88 engine for the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas.
    A report in The Tribune recently hinted that “the M88 engine would be used as the base engine to adapt it for the LCA program or it would be an altogether new development using Safran technology to create a new engine from the ground upwards.” The LCA Tejas, manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is presently equipped with a General Electric F404 IN20 engine. India is obviously keen to resurrect the Kaveri engine project which was originally started in the 1990s to develop an indigenous jet engine. Safran has now offered to collaborate on the Kaveri engine program as part of the 50% offsets for the Rafale deal.
    Following Florence Parly’s visit, French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian came to India in November; in Delhi he mentioned common bilateral interests such as “combating terrorism, maritime security, cooperation in the Indian Ocean – where France and India are two countries belonging to the Indian Ocean Rim – we have a complete commonality of views, which calls for the strengthening of our partnership.”
    Macron’s visit was delayed for a few months due to the importance of an important joint initiative, the International Solar Alliance (ISA). Launched at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in November 2015, the ISA wants to create a coalition of solar resource rich countries and address each participant’s special energy needs.
    Finally, twenty years after Chirac’s visit, it would make economic and strategic sense for India to partner with France in more futuristic research projects such as a fifth-generation combat plane or an armed drone.
    Modi and Macron need to prepare the future.

    Wednesday, March 7, 2018

    Han Chauvinism and Stability on the Indian Border

    Senior Colonel Gawa
    As the Two Meetings (Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference - CPPCC and National People’s Congress - NPC) are taking place in Beijing, a Tibetan lady-delegate from Qinghai province used strong words about the ‘prejudice against ethnic minorities’ rampant in the Middle Kingdom since the unrest in Lhasa a decade ago.
    It was much older, but few have said so in public.
    One was Bapa Phuntsok Wangyal, the 'first' Tibetan Communist.
    Read an earlier post on the subject.

    Sr Col Gawa
    During a CPPCC session’s panel discussion, Guowa Jiamaoji (Gawa Jamyang?), a PLA singer, born in the Tibetan-inhabited area of Qinghai province, affirmed that the discrimination shown by the authorities against people from her ethnic group (‘Tibetans’) was ‘detrimental to national unity’.
    According The South China Morning Post, the army soprano, who served the PLA for more than 20 years, “appealed to China’s central government to stop treating ethnic Tibetans as if they were separatists”.
    Gawa said: “I don’t think they [Beijing] should impose measures intended to deter separatists on the whole Tibetan race …It’s like there’s an order from above [for all] to follow.”
    Gawa first witnessed the prejudice after the March 2008 incidents, when riots and clashes broke out in Lhasa and spread across the plateau.
    She clearly remembered “the prejudice she experienced in the aftermath of the unrest. …One time I led a group of performers to Beijing, everyone checked in to their hotels, but I wasn’t allowed to, because I was Tibetan.”
    It is extremely rare that, what is known as Han Chauvinism, is admitted at official meetings.
    The fact that it is being reported, is even rarer
    Gawa told the panel that despite her military rank (Senior Colonel) and status as a CPPCC member, “the hotel staff simply refused to let her in. I showed them my CPPCC membership ID and my military ID but still wasn’t allowed to check in. I had to stay at a friend’s place.”
    She added that the incident was not an isolated one; she had witnessed numerous examples of prejudice against Tibetan cadres, especially in Han-dominated areas.
    She cited examples of discrimination: “The mainland has a 4G network already, but in many parts of Tibet and Xinjiang, the network is still only 2G,” the PLA soprano said, “of course, it might be deliberate that the networks there are not so strong.”
    According to her, one solution would “to increase the number of people from minority groups in positions of authority: “Native cadres will stay here forever. But cadres sent from the mainland only stay for two or three years before they are promoted to higher office.”
    It is a fact that the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) has never had a Tibetan Party Secretary.
    It is interesting that Gawa was allowed to speak on this ultra-sensitive topic.

    Inspecting the border areas
    In the meantime, the authorities are nervous with the approach of March 10; in 1959, the entire population (‘the masses’) of Lhasa rose to protect the Dalai Lama’s life. Ultimately, he escaped to India.
    Since then, the day is celebrated by the Tibetans as their national Uprising Day.
    The Global Times, the mouth piece of the Communist Party of China (CPC) mentioned the visit of a ‘stability maintenance supervision group’ to Ngari prefecture of Western Tibet and …on the China-India border.
    Three senior officials of the (TAR) visited police and armed police posts. The delegation was headed by Penpa Tashi, a member of the TAR Standing Committee in charge of propaganda; other members were Tenzin Namgyal and Wang Yalin.

    Penpa Tashi
    The local Tibet Daily affirmed: “The [officials] received reports from police officers about the security situation and emergency preparedness.”
    Xiong Kunxin, a professor at Tibet University in Lhasa told the tabloid: “Ngari is an undeveloped prefecture in a high-altitude area with tough living conditions, and it's really close to the border with India. This lends foreign forces and Dalai Lama secessionist criminal gangs the opportunity to permeate into the region and conduct illegal and violent activities."
    This is clearly a pretext as no Tibetan living in exile is allowed to approach border areas in Ladakh or Uttarakhand.
    Why is Beijing so nervous?
    Penpa Tashi asserted that “maintaining stability is really tough and the anti-secession and counter-terrorism struggles are intense and complex.”
    The border police was encouraged to safeguard the ‘sustainable stability and security’ of the prefecture, located north of Uttarakhand and Himachal and east of Ladakh.
    Tibet Daily further quoted Xiong saying that the “tough local topography makes it hard for the local government to boost economic development in the region, but promoting development is still the main goal for the local government to maintain stability. Ngari is a main battleground of the 1962 Sino-Indian border conflict.”
    It is not completely true; the battles in NEFA were as tough as the ones in Ladakh.
    The Tibet Daily also said that the officials visited a gas station and a security inspection station in the town of Shiquanhe (Ngari) where regular safety checks are conducted.”
    The police was ordered to maintain stability and ‘prevent any security-related incident from happening.’
    One of the officials, Tenzin Namgyal and his inspection team went at Geji County. Geji (Gegye Dzong in Tibetan) is located northwest of Mt Kailash.
    Tenzin Namgyal inspected the area and ‘guided’ the work of the local officials; a Chinese website remarked: “The cold weather did not stop the pace of the inspection and the guidance work.”
    Tenzin Namgyal is the deputy head of the District Supervision and Guidance Group.
    During the inspection, Namgyal went “deep into the grassroots to maintain the first-line stability.” The group visited the Gegye County Public Security Checkpoint, the Command Center of the Public Security Bureau, the poverty alleviation relocation site in other places.
    Namgyal emphasized that the victory of the first meeting of the 13th NPC is a major event in the political life of the Party and the country.
    Did he mean the amendment of the Chinese Constitution giving Xi Jinping the possibility to rule China for more than two terms?
    Namgyal also hoped that everyone will have “a hundredfold Enthusiasm, with a hundredfold effort to complete all kinds of work, …work style should be rigorous and meticulous; one should be determined to make every effort to stabilize the [Ngari] area during the ‘Two Meetings’ and the sensitive period of March [10] and ensure that the area keeps a sustained stability, long-term stability, and comprehensive stability.”
    These words are dear to the New Emperor Xi.
    But the fact that 'stability' is the leitmotiv of the Chinese leadership may be an indication that all is not that stable on the plateau.

    A more optimistic note
    According Zhang Xinmin, a senior researcher at the institute of high energy physics in the Chinese Academy of Sciences affirmed: “China has almost completed building the world's highest cosmic ray telescope in Ngari prefecture.”
    The chief scientist told The Global Times: “At an altitude of 5,250 meters, the Cosmic Microwave Background polarization telescope project will start operations in 2020."
    The Academy's program in the TAR is designed to probe the primordial gravitational waves created by the first tremors of the Big Bang.
    Ngari is the place to watch in the coming years, perhaps not for the ancient Big Bang, but for a new one.

    Why French President Macron's India visit may make Justin Trudeau feel snubbed

    My article Why French President Macron's India visit may make Justin Trudeau feel snubbed appeared in Mail Today and DailyO

    Here is the link...

    Over the last two decades, the partnership has grown steadily, with no major political differences darkening the sky between Paris and Delhi.

    It is not easy to guess in advance how successful will be the visit of the head of a state in another country; there is, however, no doubt that the forthcoming visit of President Emmanuel Macron of France will be the opposite of Justin Trudeau’s, the Canadian prime minister, and this for many reasons.
    First, the French President and his charismatic wife will certainly not waste their time parading around religious places or bringing along known separatists. But more importantly, the Indo-French relations are based on a twenty-year-old strategic partnership signed by the former French President Jacques Chirac and then Indian Prime Minister, Vajpayee; the latter then declared: “Both countries share a perspective that the new world order has to be a genuine multi-polar world order. Our bilateral relationship is poised to grow in the coming months in a multifaceted manner.”

    No differences

    Over the last two decades, the partnership has grown steadily, with no major political differences darkening the sky between Paris and Delhi. France has constantly been supportive of India, particularly for a permanent seat at the UN Security Council and has shown more comprehension than others in the nuclear domain. Though in recent years, the term "strategic partnership" has been devalued by the multiplication of such accords with all and sundry, in the Indo-French case, the 1998 momentum has been regularly sustained by new initiatives.
    Then in September 2016, there was the Rs 59,000 crore deal for 36 Rafale fighters; though criticised by some political parties, it will soon prove to be a game changer, especially due the offset clauses. But there is more.
    In October 2017, in an interview, the French defence minister Florence Parly stated that she had come to Delhi because India is "our major strategic partner in Asia". She noted that the relationship was “the fruit of a long, shared history, grounded in an unshakable trust,” adding “our partnership is continuing to develop even more, including in very sensitive areas.”
    These "sensitive" areas make the difference. Macron’s visit was delayed for a few months due to the importance of an important joint initiative, the International Solar Alliance (ISA). Launched at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in November 2015, the ISA wants to create a coalition of solar resource-rich countries and address each participant’s special energy needs.
    On January 25, 2016, the ISA’s interim Secretariat was inaugurated at the National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE) in Gurgaon by Modi and Hollande. A total of 56 countries have now signed the ISA Framework Agreement and 26 nations have ratified it. The ISA founding conference, co-hosted by India and France, will take place on March 11 at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
    It was significant that the French defence minister travelled to Nagpur to launch a joint production facility between Dassault Aviation and Reliance to fulfill the Rafale deal’s offset obligation. Around Rs 20,000 crores need to be invested by the French. Madame Parly, along with Dassault Aviation chairman Eric Trappier and Reliance chairman Anil Ambani, laid the foundation stone of an aerospace park for the manufacture of aircraft components.

    New offer
    The Dassault–Reliance Joint Venture (JV) has already shortlisted a large number of vendors, mostly small and medium-sized enterprises, to be part of an indigenous supply chain for the Rafales; in other words, the "Make in India" programme.
    During the forthcoming presidential visit, a deal should be signed between India and Safran (one of the partners of Dassault in the Rafale deal) to develop an M88 engine for the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas. A report in The Tribune recently hinted that “the M88 engine would be used as the base engine to adapt it for the LCA programme or it would be an altogether new development using Safran technology to create a new engine from the ground upwards.” Safran has now offered to collaborate on the Kaveri engine programme as part of the 50 per cent offsets for the Rafale deal.

    Futuristic research
    Florence Parly’s visit was followed by foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian’s trip. Again a launch pad in several fields; the minister mentioned common bilateral interests such as “combating terrorism, maritime security, cooperation in the Indian Ocean.”
    Another highpoint of Macron’s visit could be a logistics accord allowing India access to the strategically important French base in the Reunion Islands near Madagascar. Another possibility is the opening of the French facilities in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa where India’s rival China has already a military base. This is part of India’s new maritime strategy.
    It might also make economic and strategic sense for India to partner with France in more futuristic research projects like a fifth-generation combat plane or an armed drone.
    It might not be for this visit.