Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Who is Living Buddha Number One?

The Dalai Lama's Summer Palace
Xinhua recently reported that "the 11th Panchen Lama, Bainqen Erdini Qoigyijabu, [Panchen Gyaltsen Norbu] concluded two and a half months of religious activities in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region and returned to Beijing."
The young lama selected by Beijing (the Dalai Lama's candidate has been  under house arrest for nearly 20 years) pays every year such a visit to Tibet. This time he spent more time in 'his' Tashilhunpo monastery in Shigatse.
But what was most interesting were Xinhua's comments : "Bainqen Erdini Qoigyijabu, one of the two most revered 'Living Buddhas' in Tibetan Buddhism, left Tibet on Monday after giving blessings and presiding over a series of religious rituals at several monasteries in Xigaze [Shigatse] Prefecture."
Though the communique speaks of 'two' revered Living Buddhas, only the Panchen Lama's name is mentioned.
It is left to you to guess who is the second, whose name (and photo) are banned in Tibet.
Why to mention 'two' Living Buddhas, if the existence of the second one is not even acknowledged on the Plateau?
What an irony! While the Dalai Lama lives in the heart of each and every Tibetan, his name cannot be printed in Tibet (and China).
Another example, China Tibet Online just published a series of beautiful photos of the Norbulingka, the Summer Palace of the Dalai Lama in Lhasa.
The caption reads: "Norbulingka meaning 'Treasure Park' in Tibetan, is one of national key cultural relics protection units. Situated in the western suburb of Lhasa city, Norbulingka Summer Palace covers an area of 360,000 square meters with more than 100 kinds of plants in it."
Whose Palace it is, is not mentioned!
The name of the Palace's owner is banned!
In the meantime, Chinese cadres have started studying Tibetan Buddhism. Can you believe it?
China Tibet Online announced that on October 20,a seminar on the doctrines of Tibetan Buddhism was held at the China Tibetology Research Center in Beijing. The theme of the in-depth discussion was 'Tibetan Buddhism and Equality'. It was a two-day seminar sponsored by the China Tibetology Research Center and the High-level Tibetan Buddhism College of China.
Lhagpa Phuntshogs,the director-general of the China Tibetology Research Center explained that "the seminar is aimed at promoting Tibet’s economic and social progress by giving a full play to the role of religious figures and followers. It is the key subject for furthering the sound development of Tibetan Buddhism in the new century and an important channel to adapt Tibetan Buddhism to socialist society."
Of course, 'giving full play to the role of religious figures' is understood minus Monk Number One.
The seminar's objectives were to integrate Buddhism and Marxism. The communique says: "the Tibetan Buddhism doctrine is mainly focused on discovering, summarizing and advancing the fine traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, and integrating the idea of progress to serve the society and the people."
The seminar promoted books on four themes such as patriotism,belief in Tibetan Buddhism,establishment of the ethnic standard and commandment, and harmonious progress, for the country,the people and the religion.
But was not an ordinary religious teaching for Chinese citizens turning towards spirituality, as the research group participating to the exercise will submit the outcome of its research to the Communist Party.
The report will be titled 'Anthology of the Research results and Interpretation of Tibetan Buddhism—Special Edition on Tibetan Buddhism and Equality.'
Who were the students?
The organizers says: "Over 70 people attended the meeting, including leaders of the United Front Work Department of the CPC, revered lamas of the Tibetan Buddhism, scholars and experts in the area of Tibetan Buddhism research, leaders of the departments concerned of the Tibet Autonomous Region as well as the sutra teachers and students of the 12th 'Tho Ram Pa' [Geshe Lharampa students,  equivalent to a PhD in Buddhism]."
In other words, senior Party cadres are learning Buddhism ...without, of course, ever referring to Living Buddha No One.
To be followed...
In the meantime, envoy pictures of the Dalai Lama's Summer Palace, the Norbulingka.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Who wants to unify under the central leadership?

Yesterday, The South China Morning Post reported that a directive had been issued by the Party “for higher education entities to unify under the central leadership”.
The Hong Kong daily affirms that the Communist Party is tightening “its grip on Chinese universities by reaffirming the party secretary’s leading role in them.”
The ‘directive’ was released by the General Office of the Communist Party of China.
It says that after the fourth Plenum of the 18th CPC Central Committee (to be held next week) “all departments at universities across the country shall conscientiously make implementations that adhere to the party’s leading core position”.
You can understand why the students in Hong Kong are increasingly nervous about the 'One Country' scheme, in which the 'Two Systems' will go to the trap.
In the meantime, Zhang Xiaoming, director of Beijing’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong stated that the ‘Occupy Central’ movement is “a serious social and political event in that it violates the ‘one country’ principle, challenges the central authority, ignores the Basic Law, and is an illegal activity in flagrant violation of the existing laws of Hong Kong.”
He does not even speak anymore of 'Two Systems'.
Very surprising is the silence of the Tibetan Administration in Dharamsala, which has kept completely quiet.
Perhaps they have also become believers of ‘One Country’!
It would be sad!
Zhang Xiaoming, as usual, described the ‘Occupy Central’ movement as an attempt by the West to trigger a new ‘color revolution’ and “to pressure the Central Government and the HKSAR Government, and to require the NPC Standing Committee to rescind the decision that has been in force and the Chief Executive and SAR government officials to step down.”
But it is simpler than that: the Hong Kong students are just fighting for their freedom of speech, of thought, for their future.
Last month, in an editorial in the Party Journal, Qiushi (‘Seeking Truth’), it was announced that Peking University had directed its students and professors to “fight against speech and actions that criticise the Communist Party”.
It is what might happen to the students in Hong Kong in a few years from now, as ‘One Country’ will always prevail on ‘One System’.
The directive mentioned above directed Chinese universities “to establish a unified leadership under the party committee, cooperate and coordinate with the party and seriously carry out the essence of democratic centralism within the party.”
It is what the Hong Kong students do not want to happen in 5 or 10 years time.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Who is complicating what?

Amazing Chinese!
They are unhappy about India’s plans to build a road on the southern side of the McMahon Line in Arunachal Pradesh.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei stated that India should not “take any actions that may further complicate the situation.”
"The boundary issue between China and India is left by the colonial past. We need to deal with this issue properly. Before a final settlement is reached, we hope that India will not take any actions that may further complicate the situation”, Hong said.
He added: “We should jointly safeguard peace and tranquility of the border area and create favourable conditions for the final settlement of the border issue.”
The proposed billion-dollar project on the Indian side of the India-Tibet border was announced by Kiren Rijiju, the Minister of State for Home Affairs during a visit to his home State.
Rijiju hoped that the construction of the 1,800km long road could begin soon. The Minister also said that the road would be the “biggest single infrastructure project in the history of India.”
One could ask Mr. Hong: when China decided to build a road through the Aksai China plateau in the early 1950s, was not Beijing ‘complicating’ the issue with India.
Yesterday on this blog, I mentioned two roads (today highways) which in the 1950s changed the military and strategic stakes on the plateau (the Qinghai-Tibet and the Sichuan Tibet highways).
At a time when China criticizes New Delhi for planning a road on India’s own territory, The China Daily assets that “The nation [China] has the capability to build an expressway linking up Tibet Autonomous Region and Qinghai Province in west China if major technical barriers are overcome.”
The newspaper quotes Wang Shuangjie, Party's chief of the CCCC First Highway Consultants Co., Ltd., a technical consultant for the planned project, who affirms: “Technically, we have the confidence to build the Qinghai-Tibet Expressway."
Wang and his team believe that the main technical barrier lies in the 500-km frozen earth belt along the planned 1,900-km expressway that links Lhasa with Qinghai’s provincial capital Xining. The Chinese engineers are aware of the extreme conditions on the Plateau, i.e. high altitude, low oxygen content, strong solar radiation and freezing temperature, which are serious technical challenges for the expressway's construction.
Wang said that the expressway will span over areas where the average altitude is above 4,500 meters and annual average temperature below zero.
The China Daily believes that Wang and his team need also to address problems concerning the possible environmental consequences of the construction (melting of permafrost?) and come up with proper technology to take care of the fragile ecological environment.
China has already completed the construction of the roadbed of the expressway's 300-km section between Xining and Caka in Qinghai, while construction of the 400-km section linking Xining with Golmud is also under way. The Chinese newspaper adding: “The rest of the 1,100-km section remains a hard nut to crack for engineers.”
China already ‘complicated’ the situation for India by bringing the train to Lhasa in July 2006 (and now to Shigatse); the express-highway from Xining to Lhasa will further tilt the strategic balance.
But that it not all, to complicate the situation further, Beijing plans to invest 278 million yuan (US $ 45 million) for expanding the Mainling (Nyingtri) airport. The Central Government has already allocated 139.5 million yuan (US $ 23 million) and the balance will be provided by the civil aviation development fund.
China Tibet Online says: “The abundant tourism resources and many famous scenic spots in the region attract more and more tourists to Nyingtri [Chinese Nyingchi] as their first stop for Tibet. In the first half year of 2014, Nyingchi totally received 836,200 tourists from home and aboard.
This airport is located north of the McMahon Line.
The Nyingtri Development and Reform Commission announced that, from January to September 2014, the Nyingtri/Mainling airport transported 246,611 passengers, up 17.5% from the same period in 2013.
Meanwhile, the airport handled a total of 2,734 takeoff and landing flights and 961.8 tons of cargo, up 17.7% and 74.6% from 2013 respectively.
Nyingtri/Mainling is the second largest (and lowest airport with an altitude of 2,900 meters) in Tibet.
It is built on the banks of the Yarlung Tsangpo (Brahmaputra), north of the McMahon Line.
For India, it is extremely worrying and it definitively complicates the situation on the north-eastern frontiers.
The train to Nyingtri in 2020 will further exacerbate the border row.
And then, the train to Chumbi Valley!
And of course, the train to Kyirong (see yesterday's post)
Mr. Hong Lei should check his facts before making statements.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Highways to Lhasa ...Kathmandu ...and India?

In the recent weeks, China has been 'selling' the ‘Sichuan-Tibet’ and the ‘Qinghai-Tibet’ Highways. These road-links between Tibet and China have received a lot of media coverage.
The China Daily explained why: “In December 1954, the Qinghai-Tibet and Sichuan-Tibet highways were officially put into service, ending Tibet's reliance on men, horses and ropes to transport goods. More than 3,000 people died during their construction. The opening of the two highways has played an important role in Tibetan economic development.”
It was indeed crucial for Mao’s troops to occupy the Tibetan plateau and come closer to India’s frontiers.
The Chinese media pointed out that the Sichuan-Tibet Highway was originally called the Kangding-Tibet Highway:
[It] is a high-elevation road starting from Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province, on the east and ending at Lhasa, capital of Tibet Autonomous Region [which was not existing in 1954], on the west. The highway has two routes. South Line has a length of 2,115 kilometers, while North Line is 2,414 kilometers long.
The China Daily further asserts:
Construction of Sichuan-Tibet Highway started in April 1950, when the road builders cleaved mountains and controlled water, and finally opened for traffic on December 25, 1954, together with Qinghai-Tibet Highway. With high elevation and harsh geographical conditions, the building of Sichuan-Tibet Highway was an unprecedented challenge to Tibet's highway construction. The Ya'an-Lhasa section covering a total length of 2,255 kilometers was completed on a high mountain range.
Ya’an is located in Sichuan province on the Tibetan marches.
Why were these roads (today, highways) so important?
As The China Daily puts it: “Before Sichuan-Tibet Highway and Qinghai-Tibet Highway opened to traffic, it took six months to a year for human or livestock to cover a round trip trudging through from Lhasa to Chengdu, or Xining, Qinghai province.”
Today, it only takes a few days by bus.
To understand better the situation, one should read the 1952 Annual Report from A.K. Sen, the India Consul-General in Lhasa. Without these roads, Tibet would have starved (like it did in 1952-53) and the Chinese occupation of the plateau impossible.
The Indian Consul informed the Ministry of External Affairs in Delhi:
The inevitable economic distress in the wake of Chinese occupation was fast affecting the people’s livelihood. Food supplies became inadequate, prices soared up to astounding heights, even the poor man’s food – the tsampa (barley flour) – could not be easily procured. In short, the Tibetans, completely confused, failed to discern the various benefits that were to be derived from the liberation of their country. As a protest against the disastrous economic trends, the villagers round about Lhasa rose up as a body, probably inspired by some disgruntled monks who made an effort to oppose communist ideology, petitioned to the Kashag [Tibetan Cabinet] that the resources of the country not being enough to cope with such large concentrations of Chinese troops, they should be withdrawn from Tibet, leaving a small force as was maintained during the time of the Chinese Amban. The political implications of this appeal for the amelioration of people’s hardships, in that it demanded the reduction of troops, were seized by the Chinese to implicate the Prime Ministers as instigators of the move. Curiously enough, a day after the petition was presented an incident took place most conveniently which further helped the Chinese to assume a threatening attitude to deal with these ‘rebels’.
Tibet had never witnessed a famine before.
The only solution for Communist China was to expedite the construction of roads leading to Tibet (from Qinghai and Sichuan) in order to feed their occupying armies (to ‘liberate’ Tibet, in Communist jargon).
Sen’s report continues:
The upshot was, the Chinese denounced the Prime Ministers to be anti-national, abettors of the rebels and uttering the most truculent threats to the Kashag that liberation of Tibet would be implemented by force if they failed to restore normal conditions by rounding up the malcontents, demanded the immediate dismissal of the Ministers as well. Having displayed such wrathful temper, they reinforced the Lhasa garrison by a couple of thousand troops and pointing their guns towards the Potala awaited the compliance of their command.
Ultimately, the two courageous Prime Ministers, Lukhangwa and the monk Lobsang Tashi were forced to resign. It was the beginning of the end of ‘independent’ Tibet. Nobody had the courage to oppose the Chinese anymore in Lhasa.
Sen wrote:
The resignation of the Ministers had to be accepted by the Tibetan Government on the 27th April [1952]. Next came the turn of the villagers’ delegates. A special tribunal set up by the Chinese for trial of the six peoples’ representatives, passed judgement accusing them to be agitators, led astray by foreign agents. They and the public were warned that they had no right to submit ‘unlawful demands’ and that similar performances in future should not be repeated. The Tibetan Government issued orders to all Dzongpons to watch the activities of village assemblies. All meetings and careless political talks were banned. Thus with one adroit stroke the Chinese broke the backbone of Tibetan obstinacy.
The Chinese, who had come to ‘liberate’ the ‘masses’ (with the cowardly support of many in the aristocracy), began punishing the ‘masses’ which had dared protesting.
In the meantime, India started supplying rice to the PLA soldiers stationed in Tibet.
At the same time, another highway was built, the Qinghai-Tibet Highway. According to The China Daily:
Starting from Xining, capital of Qinghai province, the Qinghai-Tibet Highway stretches 1,947 km (about 1,210 miles) into Tibet with an average elevation of above 4,000 meters. Winding along the Kunlun Mountain, Tanggula Mountain, Tuotuo River, and vast grassland, the Qinghai-Tibet Highway amazes travelers with its appealing landscape along the plateau. Being the world's longest asphalt road and at the highest altitude, it reaches its top point at the 5,231-meter-high Tanggula Pass. About 980 km of the road is more than 4,500 meters above sea level, and 630 km of its length is bedded on permafrost, soil that is permanently below the freezing point.”
The China Today says that since the road was opened to traffic in 1954, the central government (i.e. Beijing) spent nearly 3 billion yuan ($362 million) on three major overhauls; it was asphalted in 1985: “Freight transportation still relies on the road.”
Quoting one Sonam, director of the Qinghai-Tibet Highway Management Bureau, the daily says: “More than 80 percent of goods still go via the highway, while people mostly take the train."
For the website China Tibet Online affirms that, even today, the two highways “not only accelerate the social and economic developments in Tibet but is of great significance to link the plateau with the rest of the world.”
The publication quotes Ma Jiali, a researcher of the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, (Ma is also a well-known ‘India expert’ in Beijing); for Ma Jiali, the two highways are crucial for the national unity: "I think it's safe to liken the two highways to blood as they hold Tibet and the inland cities together. So, the running of the two highways, in a sense, has held the central government and Tibet together."
But there is another aspect to it: these 2 highways (and a few years later, the Tibet-Xinjiang Highway cutting across the Aksai Chin), helped China consolidate its military position on the Tibetan plateau and by the end of the 1950s, Beijing was ready to take on India which had dared to give asylum to the Dalai Lama.
Highways on the Plateau, let us not forget it, always have a strategic importance, though there are today extensively used for tourism development (but this too has perhaps strategic implications).

More on the West, China Tibet Online reports that China is planning to open the Kyierong (Chinese: Gyirong) landport to the outside world in October.
The website asserts: “At that time, Kyierong will present a feature with multiple elements including ‘ancient path culture, port culture, and folk culture’ on the basis of its unique geographical advantages and become an important channel for international tourists to China.”
In clear, China will pour millions of tourists in Nepal, which has a mostly unguarded border with India. No need to explain the danger for India’s security.
China Tibet Online says:
The Kyirong Port is 78 kilometers away from the south of Kyirong County in the Shigatse Prefecture and 24 kilometers away from the Rasog Village located in the border of China and Nepal. In the history of China, the Kyirong Port is one of the biggest overland trading ports between China and Nepal, and is renowned as the ‘commercial road’, ‘official road’ and ‘war road’ because of its long history of foreign trade. In October of 1961, the State Council of China decided to set up Kyirong Customs as well as gave permission to the port's opening.”
‘War road’ refers to the Manchu invasion of 1792.
The Master Plan of Kyirong Port will make of Kyirong County a great montain resort, ideal for tourism.Therefore, tourists could have multiple travelling experiences in Kyirong”, says the website which emphasizes:
the Kyirong Ditch was the only way which must be passed in the ‘ancient road connecting Tubo [Tibet] Kingdom and Nepal when the pedestrians headed for Nepal from Lhasa. The ancient road an important channel for the culture and trade exchange of central plains and South Asia. In history, this ancient road had welcomed Princess Bhrikuti from Nepal who married Songtsen Gampo …as well as Shantarakshita and Padma Sambhava who both went to Tibet for preaching Buddhism.
Further Kyirong, is the backyard garden for Mt. Everest, it ‘integrates the elements of snow-mountains, pastoral forests, lakes, canyons, rivers and pastures.”
It sounds great ...for the Chinese tourists.
It is indeed a very dangerous development for the security of Nepal ...and India, because once millions of Han ‘tourists’ arrive in Kathmandu, they will be only one step away from India.
Who will monitor the whereabouts?
Certainly not the Nepali government, which is only too happy to harvest a few Yuan more from the Chinese tourists.

Here are some recent photos of Chinese tourists on the Qinghai-Tibet highways.
Tomorrow, we will have the same on the Lhasa-Kathmandu road and then...


Friday, October 10, 2014

Makings of a serious mass movement

My article (Edit Page) entitled Makings of a serious mass movement appeared yesterday in The Pioneer.

Here is the link...

Pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong believe that, in ‘One Country, Two Systems', the second part of the promise is more important than the first. Beijing’s emphasis on the first has left them disturbed

On October 1, the People’s Republic of China’s founding day, Zhang Xiaoming, director of Beijing’s liaison office in Hong Kong, told the media with a smile, “The sun rises as usual”. This was an indirect comment on the Occupy Central movement in Hong Kong. Is it only wishful thinking from Beijing?
Three days later, Xinhua published an article accusing the Western media of carrying biased articles on the recent protests in Hong Kong and “promoting democracy”. The Chinese news agency writes that the Occupy Central movement in Hong Kong is one example of the West’s partiality. The article blasted the US “for providing media and financial support” to the protest movement; it further warned that, as the “color” revolutions in Egypt, Thailand, Libya, and Ukraine, all assisted by the West, ended up in domestic chaos and social turmoil, a “Hong Kong Spring” would inevitably lead to a similar situation.
Nobody can deny that the change of regimes in the above examples brought instability to their respective countries, but there is another side to the coin.  First, contrary to what Beijing believes, democracy does not belong to the West or the United States; it is a universal value practised the world over (though not in China as yet). India practised it since times immemorial. Was not Suddhodana, the Buddha’s father the ‘elected’ raja of the Sakyas? The small republics of northern India were ruled in a ‘democratic’ way, long before the US existed, so why always associate democracy with the West.
Then, the Indian experience shows that democracy can deliver a strong and decisive leader who, with the backing of the masses, can lead the nation. Beijing should have noticed this when Mr Xi Jinping visited India!
Recently again, President Xi Jinping dismissed the notions of ‘Western-style’ political reform for China and affirmed the importance of one-party rule for China.
One can however seriously ask: Can the scheme, ‘One Country, Two Systems’, work? Can there be ‘Two Chinas’? One communist and the other democratic? This question is crucial not only for China’s future, but for Tibet, Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia too, aspiring to ‘another system’, if not a separate country.
Let us look at the recent ‘pro-democracy’ incidents in Hong Kong. During the ongoing Occupy Central movement, tens of thousands of Hong Kongers have taken to the streets in the former British colony to pressure Beijing to keep its promises.
The latest news is that Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has appointed his deputy Carrie Lam to lead a team of senior officials to meet with student leaders. Though the pro-Beijing leadership affirms that the students’ protests are dwindling, talks are on for ‘reforms’.
What will happen if the police uses riot gear, teargas or rubber bullets tomorrow or in the future? The police will not be different here than in Tibet or Xinjiang. Can it use another ‘system’? It probably cannot, and the younger generation in Hong Kong is certainly not ready to become another of China’s ‘minorities’.
When, after years of negotiations, the UK returned Hong Kong to China, the colony was promised “a high degree of autonomy” for the next 50 years (similarly, the Dalai Lama today asks for a “genuine autonomy” for Tibet).
The former British colony came under ‘One Country, Two Systems’, which supposedly guarantees freedom of speech, of assembly and of religion and a free press. All this is enshrined in the Basic Law, which governs Hong Kong since 1997. But in 2004, Beijing warned that it would have to “approve” of any change to Hong Kong’s election laws.
Today, the pro-democracy activists believe that, in ‘One Country, Two Systems’, the second part of the promise is more important than the first. This is not the case with Beijing.
When Mr Leung announced that the nominating committee will be modelled on the existing election committee, loyal to Beijing, which selected him in 2012, former Hong Kong Governor Chris Patten said that Beijing was not keeping its commitments “by hiding behind flexible legal language”.
On August 31, the National People’s Congress had asserted that only after approving candidates, would it allow direct elections in 2017. This brought the differences between the different parties to the fore; candidates for Chief Executive must gain the support of a majority of a ‘nominating committee’ (packed with Beijing supporters); further, only two or three candidates can contest. Beijing’s blessing is, thus, necessary.
The young demonstrators sing another song, “Give us real universal suffrage”. Interestingly, one observes a change of pattern in the protest movement. The New York Times reported the case of a 17-year old student, Joshua Wong, who has been at the forefront of a student movement for democracy in Hong Kong: “He was born less than nine months before this former British colony’s handover to China in 1997, and raised here at a time when the party has tried mightily to win over the people and shape them into patriotic Chinese citizens. His prominence in the protest movement also embodies a shift in politics. [It] has confounded the local government and infuriated its communist supervisors in the mainland.”
This is what worries Beijing: Another generation is ready to take over the struggle. Further, could there be another Tiananmen in the making despite the tight censure of Hong Kong news in the mainland?
There is no doubt that if the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ model fails, it will have serious repercussions for other parts of China (particularly in Tibet and Xinjiang). And in Taiwan too, which has recently been offered a similar scheme (though Taipei immediately declined).
In April 1989, the Communist Party’s mouthpiece, The People’s Daily, published a front-page editorial denouncing the students on the Square, using the word “chaos”, a notion violently objected to by the students. The same newspaper says now that Hong Kong would “fall into chaos if the protests were not dealt with according to law”.
Beijing’s language may not help in the long run, especially when it says: “[The protesters] should not be so blatant in undermining the rule of law, stability, and order.” The fact that Beijing is not ready to stick to its promises could have other consequences. Several years back, during an interview with the Dalai Lama, I asked the Tibetan leader: “If, tomorrow, you sign an agreement with the Chinese, do you think that they will respect this agreement more than they did the 17-Point Agreement with Tibet in 1951?”
The Dalai Lama had said that he was quite certain that “international pressure” could force China to keep its promises. This does not seem to be the case today.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Promotion and demotions in Tibet?

New promoted Lt. Gen. Tang Xiao
When I wrote yesterday's post, I was not aware that Lt. Gen. Niu Zhizhong, the Chief of Staff of the People’s Armed Police was in Lhasa, from where he made his announcement about the 'promotion' of the PAP's political commissar in Tibet.
Nui was received by Pema Thinley (alias Pema Choling), the Chairman of the TAR’s People's Congress (and senior most Tibetan in the Party). Deputy secretary Wu Yingjie (also vice chairman of the TAR) and the powerful secretary of Politics and Law Committee, Deng Xiaogang were also present.
Lt. Gen. Niu Zhizhong briefly described the purpose of his trip to Tibet; he expressed his gratitude to the regional party committee and the Tibet government for their support in the build up the People’s Armed Police Force; he also congratulated the Tibetan leaders for the region's achievements in terms of development and ‘stabilization’ of the region.
He spoke of the long-term dedication of all cadres posted on the snow-covered plateau, and their work for the masses. He said that Tibet Armed Police Force should continue to follow the Party's command (are they not always following??); they should serve the people in the fine heroic tradition; they should actively participate in the local construction, in order to build a well-off society and realize the great rejuvenation of the Chinese Dream (so dear to Xi Jinping).
Nothing really new, except that the Commander of the Tibet Armed Police Corps Maj. Gen. Song Baoshan, and the Political Commissar of the Tibet Armed Police Corps, (now) Lt. Gen. Tang Xiao were in attendance.
While Tang Xiao had just received his promotion, it is not the case for Song Baoshan who remains Major General.
What a public insult for Song!
A military expert told The South China Morning Post that "the commanding officer of Tibet’s armed police force is expected to be promoted to a rank equivalent to lieutenant general as well, because the commanding chief of an army usually has a rank at least equal to that of a political commissar."
The issue is that Song has not been promoted.
The expert explains thus the strange situation: "The very fact that the political commissar’s promotion came before that of the commanding officer underscored the notion of ‘party commands the gun’.”
The expert believes: "The directive of the promotion is intended to show that military must only answer to party leadership and serve the best interest of the Party.”
Well, it is one explanation.
Let us first see if Song Baoshan is also promoted, he may not, in which case, 'experts' will have to find another explanation.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Tibet: why is China so nervous?

China is slowly but surely tightening its grip on Tibet.
The latest sign is the 'upgradation' of the status of the Tibet Armed Police's Political Commissar.
The Global Times yesterday announced : "China's Central Military Commission upgraded the political status of the political commissar of the Armed Police Corps of the Tibet Autonomous Region, indicating the central government's determination to safeguard regional stability".
The Communist mouthpiece quotes 'experts'.
Major General Tang Xiao, the Political Commissar of the Tibet Armed Police Corps, under the People's Armed Police, will now enjoy a new 'treatment'. He will be treated at par with the head of a corps-sized military body, (equal to that of officials at a provincial or ministerial level, according to The Global Times). However, the Tibet Corps itself has not been upgraded.
The Global Times explains to its readers: "Under the dual leadership of the State Council and the Central Military Commission, the Chinese People's Armed Police is composed of internal security forces and various police forces, including border security, firefighting and security guard units."
Niu Zhizhong, Chief of Staff of the PAP announced Tang's promotion at a press conference on October 3.
Niu said that 'better treatment' for the head of Armed Police in Tibet "is a major decision made by Central Military Commission based on the special environment and strategic position of the Tibet Armed Police."
The objective of Tang's promotion is to better safeguard regional stability.
Song Zhongping, a Beijing-based military expert told The Global Times that: "It is not unusual that heads of certain military bodies, which are usually located in strategically important areas or suffer from harsh living conditions, are given certain benefits through their 'treatment' being improved."
One online commentator said that it is an official announcement of the militarization of the People’s Armed Police in Tibet.
Lt. Gen. Tang Xiao
The commentator explained: "Tang Xiao took over as political commissar of the Armed Police force in the Tibetan autonomous region in September 2013 after being promoted to the police rank of major general of the Armed Police in Tibet in July, 2010. With the October 3, 2014, announcement, Tao Xiao now has official military rank and receives regular military salary. "
Nothing has been said about the PAP Commander in Tibet, Maj. Gen. Song Baoshan. Why to promote the Political Commissar only?
This is an unanswered question.
Let us also not forget that General Wang Jianping, the PAP's Commander is an old Tibet-hand.

Earlier Promotions
Already in July, The PLA Daily had announced that People’s Liberation Army (PLA) had made intensive human resources (HR) adjustment. It was said that the emphasis was laid on the capability demonstrated by the officers: "it indicated the great importance attached by Xi Jinping to practical capabilities of military officers."
China Military Online then reported: "At least 3 of the newly promoted officers have received relevant training in Russia after China and Russia resumed military exchange in 1996, and some of them obtained real war experiences in the China-Vietnam border war at the end of 1970s. This fully demonstrates Xi Jinping’s style of promoting people “who can fight and win battles”.
Two of the Major Generals promoted Lieutenant Generals on July 15 were Xu Yong and Diao Guoxin, respectively Commander and Political Commissar of the Tibet Military District; both participated in the China-Vietnam border war.
Though that was long ago, the Chinese insist on the experience 'acquired' (they must have been 2nd Lieutenant then)!
The PLA website added: "The 55-year-old Xu Yong is quite young among the newly promoted military officers this time. During the Wenchuan earthquake in Sichuan in 2008, which caused the death of 87,000 people, Xu Yong was the first PLA major general that led his troops to participate in the earthquake relief."
This has already been mentioned on this blog.
In the meantime, the civil administration also works hard to ‘stabilize’ Tibet. Deng Xiaogang, the Deputy Secretary in charge of security went on an inspection tour in Lhasa to "check security measures taken during the holiday season and the implementation of the anti-terrorism plan”.
He met ‘festival staff’, representatives of the regional party committee, government officials, and on behalf of Chen Quanguo, the Party boss, he lectured them all about the importance to work hard for maintaining stability of Tibet. Deng, who was accompanied by Lhasa Party Secretary Choedrak and other Party officials, went to Lhasa railway station, to the bus station, where he checked that the Party Standing Committee’s stability maintenance measures have fully been implemented.  He talked to police officers, staff on duty, security personnel and ask them to strictly and meticulously follow the security procedures in order to assure smooth and orderly passenger's transport, stability and harmony. It seems that Deng Xiaogang very pleased but what he saw; he told the security officials that the current social situation in Tibet is generally stable, but the situation is still complicated. Tough anti-terrorism, stability maintenance measures are still required. The forces must remain vigilant and 'tighten the string of measures to maintain stability'. Deng added that everyone should continue to carry forward his duties without fear or fatigue, always remaining on high alert, taking strict precautions according to the regulation to crack down on various criminal activities.  Security staff must consolidate the harmony and stability in the Tibet region. Why is China so nervous? Do they fear the contagion of Hong Kong?

Show of force of the PAP a few months back in Lhasa.


Deng Xiaogang addressing the PAP