Friday, October 31, 2014

Chinese objection to Indian road projects unacceptable

A Road in Tawang area
Some 10 days ago, I wrote a piece "Chinese objection to Indian road projects unacceptable" for NitiCentral (see below).
My conclusion was that "There is absolutely nothing wrong in the proposed project to build a road on the Indian side of the India-Tibet border."
Yesterday, during his monthly press conference, the Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun again "urged India not to take actions that will complicate the situation on the border, where the two countries have territorial disputes."
It was in response to a question about Delhi's plan to build 54 border posts in Arunachal Pradesh ('Southern Tibet area' for Beijing).
Yang Yujun said: "We have taken notice of the reports. China and India have disputes over the eastern part of their border. We hope India will try to help maintain stability and peace in the border areas, instead of taking moves that may further complicate the situation."
The same day China Tibet Online run a piece on the roads in Tibet.
The caption was the same for all the pictures: "An off-road vehicle is running on the well-paved highway with endless grassland on either side in southwestern China's Tibet Autonomous Region".
Looking at these pictures, it is clear that the terrain is not the same on the Tibetan side of the LAC than on the Indian.
China which has built extremely good roads to the LAC, objects to India struggling to her side of the LAC (for example in Taksing area of Upper Subansiri) where the terrain is extremely difficult.
Further, China brings lakhs of Han tourists a few kilometers of the LAC under the pretext to visit the 'most beautiful villages of China' or 'experience' the sources of the Yarlung-Tsangpo (Siang-Brahmaputra).
At the same time, India continue to insist on an Inner Line Permit (for Indian nationals) and Protected Area Permit (for foreigners).
It is high time for India to open up and live in the 21st century.
Not only should Delhi go ahead with the roads to the LAC, but the government must allow tourists to visit these remote and beautiful areas of the Indian territory.
China has no business to object.
Here are some photos of the roads on the Tibetan side.



My article mentioned above:
China is 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.
When one knows the background of the border issue, is this statement not amazing?
Who created the complication in the first place? The answer is China, when it invaded Tibet in 1950.
Till then, India had had a peaceful neighbour and there was no border ‘dispute’ between India and Tibet (or when there was, it was discussed, without using force).
The Chinese spokesperson now says: “We should jointly safeguard peace and tranquility of the border area and create favourable conditions for the final settlement of the border issue,” but why did China need to ‘liberate’ Tibet in the first place? Why did it build a road on India’s territory in the Aksai Chin in the 1950s? This indeed complicated the issue manifold, didn’t it Mr Hong?
There is absolutely nothing wrong in the proposed project to build a road on the Indian side of the India-Tibet border, as announced by Kiren Rijiju, the Minister of State for Home Affairs.
It is too easy for China to always put the blame on India. With Rijiju, every Indian can rightly hope that the construction of the 1,800 km long road could begin soon.
One could also ask Mr Hong: What about the Qinghai-Tibet and the Sichuan Tibet highways which in the 1950s changed the military and strategic stakes on the plateau? Was it not a complication for India?
In recent weeks, China has been ‘promoting’ in the media the two highways; 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.
To understand better the situation, one should read the 1952 Annual Report from AK Sen, the India Consul-General in Lhasa. Without these roads, Tibet would have starved (like it did in 1952-1953) and the Chinese occupation of the plateau was 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 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.”
Sen said the Tibetan villagers around Lhasa “rose up as a body… and 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.”
The occasion was seized by the Chinese to implicate the Prime Ministers as instigators of the move. 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 and more ‘complications’ for India as nobody had the courage to oppose the Chinese anymore in Lhasa.
Communist China began 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).
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 protest. And for some time …India started supplying rice to the PLA soldiers stationed in Tibet. Now, China is not satisfied with its highways, Beijing has decided to build an ‘expressway’.
The China Daily recently asserted 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.
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 added: “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.
China is also planning to open the Kyirong landport in October. The border port is 78 kilometers south of Kyirong township in the Shigatse Prefecture at the border of China and Nepal. The China Daily explained: “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.”
‘War road’ refers to the Manchu invasion of Nepal in 1792.
The train to Kyirong will open the gates for millions of Chinese tourists to invade Nepal. A great danger for India considering the porous India-Nepal border.
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 has already received 836,200 tourists. The airport is built on the banks of the Yarlung Tsangpo (Brahmaputra), just north of the McMahon Line.
This airport is located just 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 per cent from the same period in 2013.
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. Has Beijing consulted Delhi before finalising the plans? Of course, not! And then, the train to Chumbi Valley, near Sikkim!
India is indeed facing a complicated situation …entirely due to China’s bullying attitude.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

More Tibetan refugees in Nepal?

Lobsang Gyaltsen with the President of Nepal
What was Lobsang Gyaltsen, the Chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region's (TAR) government doing in Kathmadu?
According to the E-Kantipur, "Tibet region chief stressed better ties in security".
One funny thing, the Nepali media calls him 'Luo Sang Jiang Cun', it is the Chinese way to spell Lobsang Gyalsten's name! Others write Luo Can!
Gyaltsen (Mr. Luo, for the E-Kantipur) apparently urged Kathmandu "to put in place measures to curb 'anti-China activities' in Nepal."
Leading a six-member 'Tibetan' delegation to Kathmandu, Gyaltsen met with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs Bam Dev Gautam and Minister for Foreign Affairs Mahendra Bahadur Pandey.
What did they talk about?
"Bilateral issues including Tibetan assistance to bordering Nepali districts figured", says the Nepali paper which note that 'Luo' did not utter the word ‘refugee’ while speaking about his countrymen who have taken refuge in Nepal, but he repeatedly spoke of 'anti-Chinese elements'.
Laxmi Prasad Dhakal, the spokesperson of the Home Ministry said that "he urged us to curb anti-China activities and take stern action against those involved in such activities.”
He sought a better coordination between security agencies on both sides of the international border to curb such 'Tibetan' activities.
Home Minister Bam Dev was quoted as saying: “The Chinese side seems worried about increasing criminal activities along the Nepal-China border".
Why is Lobsang Gyalsten so obsessed with his countrymen activities in Nepal?
It is probably due to the forthcoming opening of Kyirong landport between Nepal and Tibet.
A few weeks ago, the official China Tibet Online reported: "The Gyirong [Kyirong] Port in southwest China’s Tibet bordered with Nepal will be formally opened in October this year. The opening of the Gyirong Port has been listed in the key work plan of national ports in 2014."
The website had also announced that a cross-border China-Nepal Gyirong Port Economic Cooperation Zone to be soon established; further the Gyirong Port will become a tourist destination for Han Chinese (not Tibetans).
One of the consequences of the opening of a new port between Tibet and Nepal could be the escape to Nepal of Tibetans resenting the Chinese rule.Gyaltsen told the Nepali ministers: "China doesn’t have any refugee as such”, but those crossing the border into Nepal are doing it illegally.
The ministers politely assured the Tibetan leader that the Nepali soil would never be used against its neighbours, i.e. China.
Gyalsten, with his one-point agenda, also called on President Ram Baran Yadav, Prime Minister Sushil Koirala and Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Dipak Chandra Amatya.
Gyaltsen also discussed "possible Tibetan assistance to 15 northern districts of Nepal."  A Foreign Ministry official said there are indications that from next year, the Tibetan government will expand the cooperation in this field.
The present cooperation is mainly centered around security and the training of the Nepali border guards to catch the Tibetans who would try to escape Tibet.
It remains that the opening of Kyierong landport on a large scale makes Lhasa (and Beijing) nervous.
It was the only purpose of Mr Luo's visit to Kathmandu to tell the Nepalis to watch out and not accept more 'refugees'.
In April 2013, I mentioned some earlier important Nepal-Tibet meetings:
Already in July 2010, a meeting termed ‘Nepal-China Border Security and Law Enforcement Talks’ was held in Kathmandu. Both sides had agreed to set up ‘focal points’ in the respective Home Ministries in Kathmandu and Beijing. A senior Nepali Government official told The Kathmandu Post: “The Chinese side assured full support to enhance capacity building, training of Nepali security personnel to be deployed across the northern border, seeking Nepal’s full commitment on information sharing on anti-China activities with effective law enforcement mechanism to contain the activities.
In August 2011, an unnoticed development took place. Zhang Qingli, the then hardliner Party boss in Tibet, accompanied the Politburo Standing Committee member, the now disgraced Zhou Yongkang to Nepal. Zhou was then the supreme security czar of the Middle Kingdom.
A few months later, Chen Zhimin, the Chinese Vice-Minister of Public Security led a delegation to Nepal. According to the official communique issued after the visit: “The two sides exchanged views on cooperation of police affairs and law enforcement and reached consensus on some issues.”
The Nepali Press reported: “The Chinese offered ‘logistic support’ worth $300,000 dollars in the form of laptops, searchlights or metal detectors.”
Chen Zhimin was obviously very pleased with outcome of his stay in Nepal: “My visit is to find out ways to strengthen the bilateral relations between Nepal and China.”
Lhasa is indeed nervous that more 'refugees' could cross the border to Nepal and then proceed to Dharamsala.
By the way, do you know how Google Language translates 'Lobsang', alias 'Luo Can', you will not believe it, 'Lausanne'. The sound is not too different.
I had a Tibetan friend called 'Lobsang', I used to call “Love Song”, that is even better.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Chinese cross again the McMahon Line

The Deccan Chronicle (DC) reported that 'Chinese PLA now targets Taksing zone in Arunachal Pradesh'.
Two years ago, I mentioned on this blog the Chinese intrusions in Chaglagam circle of Anjaw district of Arunachal Pradesh.
This time the incursions occurred in the remote circle of Taksing in Upper Subansiri district.
The DC says: "After the recent Ladakh incursions, frequent intrusions by China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Arunachal Pradesh’s Taksing region have come to the notice of the security agencies. The villagers of Taksing circle in Upper Subansiri district took photographs of the PLA crossing over the Asa-Pila-Maya Army camps, which were Indian territory till 1962, but now under Chinese occupation."
The report continues: "Security sources also confirmed this incursion had come to their notice about a month back, but the PLA had gone back after a brief stay."
What is more surprising is that the issue was not taken up during a flag meeting held between Indian and Chinese armies at Kibithu in Anjaw district on Diwali Day. According to the DC: "security sources said this particular incursion did not come up for discussion."
The Deccan Chronicle quotes Hiwak Chader, a student from Kacha village of Taksing circle who said the local people noticed "the movement of Chinese troops in the Asa-Pila-Maya area around three months back, but the government was not aware about it before the villagers handed over photos to Army Intelligence and IB sleuths."
Interestingly, the report admits that it is the local Arunachalees who are not only keeping a close watch on Indian territory, but also acting as intelligence officer for the Indian Army and IB.
Chader affirms that it is often the local villagers of Taksing area (Tagin tribe?) who are guarding and defending Indian territory in Taksing circle. The student leader believes that "time has come that government should take a realistic approach to demarcate the land-border with China which was expanding its territory in many areas".
Easier said than done!
The fact is that there is no proper road between Limeking (the adjacent circle) and Taksing. One can only hope that it will be taken on 'war-footing' by the Central and Arunachal authorities.
Incidentally, Taksing was the last Indian village on the Dakpa Sheri (Cristal Mountain) parikrama while Tibetan pilgrims were returning to Tibet. Pilgrims used to perform the sacred Rongkor pilgrimage every twelve years.
I copied here a few paras of my book 1962: the McMahon Line Saga.
My map is not very accurate, Taksing is closer to the international border than shown.
A remarkable book has been written by Maj. S.M. Krishnatry (of the Indian Frontier Administrative Service) about the last pilgrimage in 1956, it is called Border Tagins of Arunachal Pradesh: The Unarmed Expedition of 1956.
Every Indian should read it to understand the difficulty of the terrain and the lack of progress since 1956.

Extracts from my McMahon Line Saga...

The Last Pilgrimage
Between the first wave of Chinese troops arriving in Tibet in 1950, till the next Monkey Year (1956), the time for the next Rongkor, the Chinese had begun occupying most of the strategic axis in Tibet and had come closer to the Indian border, i.e. the McMahon Line.
It has to be noted that at the time, the Tibetans were aware that the Government of India meant business, especially after Major Bob Khathing occupied the Tawang area . Elsewhere also in NEFA, the Indian administration was also pushing towards the Line.
Apparently the 1956 Rongkor and Lodzong [pilgrimage] passes off peacefully with few noticeable incidents.
According to Toni Huber:
the Lhasa government had given a satisfactory tribute payment, made them all swear the oath successfully, and performed the appropriate rituals,”
Huber adds:
However, it is almost certainly the fact that a vigorous decade of Indian administrative contacts had already either broken the spirit of the upper Subansiri tribes or made conditions too inconclusive for them to attempt any aggravation of their northern neighbors and risk a political incident during this increasingly critical period of Tibetan, Indian, and Chinese relations.
As we shall see during the August 1959 incident at Longju, the Indian Army (or Assam Rifles) had already set up posts near the not-yet disputed border.
For the first time, the 1956 Rongkor saw the presence of ‘foreigners’; the Chinese PLA camped in the Mandala Plain of Tsari from where the Pilgrimage starts. But the Chinese kept their participation rather discreet, merely providing medicines for the pilgrims.
Huber however saw their presence differently: “These apparently innocent medical teams are now seen by Tibetans as an important reconnaissance leading up to the Chinese occupation and border claims of 1959, a view not without substance.”
Only three years after the last Pilgrimage, the hostilities started, but with new actors; it was no longer the Tibetans vs. the local tribals of the Upper Subansiri and Tsari Chu, but the Indian and Chinese States.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

An important Visit to Tibet ... with Chinese Characteristics

Guo Jinlong in front of the Potala
Here is a report published in The Tibet Daily on the visit of Guo Jinlong, a member of the Politburo who was in Tibet between October 15 to 18.
The news has not appeared in the English-language Chinese press.
It was not only one of the most important visits of the year, but it took place just before the crucial Fourth Plenum of the 18th Congress which discussed 'the rule of law' in China.
Are the two events linked?
The timing of the visit is also surprising  because Guo, as Beijing Party Secretary is responsible for some of the arrangements for the forthcoming APEC meeting. He may have come to 'learn from Tibet': how to have a clear blue sky during an important function!!
Three other members of the Politburo ‘inspected' Tibet during the last 4 months (General Fan Changlong, General Xu Qiliang and the security boos, Meng Jianzhu came earlier).
Guo Jinlong, also Beijing Party Secretary, was accompanied by a delegation from the Chinese Capital to look at the Tibet Aid Work, a scheme which encourages Chinese provinces to help Tibet. The objective of Guo's tour was to “further deepen exchanges and cooperation between the Tibetan Autonomous Region and Beijing, as well as promote common development.”
What is interesting is that Guo Jinlong served more than 10 years in Tibet and was Party Secretary in the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) between 2000 and 2004.
During his visit, Guo spoke of thoroughly implementing the decisions of the Central Work Forum on Tibet (held in January 2010) and mentioned the importance of the 20th anniversary of the Aid Tibet program.
The Politburo member was accompanied by all the TAR big bosses: Party Secretary Chen Quanguo; Padma Choling, Chairman of the TAR People's Congress; Lobsang Gyalsten, the Chairman of the TAR’s government; Wu Yingjie, deputy secretary and Deng Xiaogang,  secretary of the Politics and Law Committee (and also deputy secretary).
As he arrived in Lhasa, Guo Jinlong was escorted by Chen Quanguo and Padma Choling to the residence of the old CPPCC Vice Chairman Pagpalha Delek Namgyial (Rinpoche). Guo formally briefed Pagpalha about Beijing support to Tibet.
Pagphala remains a father-figure in Tibet, though he plays only a ceremonial role in the Party today.
The next day (October 16), the Beijing delegation visited the Lhasa Beijing Experimental High School. In September, the first group of students joined the institution. The school facilities are said to favorably compare with a middle school in Beijing; Beijing has sent teachers and the management from Beijing “so that students can enjoy Tibet quality educational resources”.
Guo Jinlong had a cordial exchange with the teachers and students: “I hope that the students learn the knowledge to serve the motherland,” he told them.
Beijing also funded Lhasa cultural and sports center with a total investment 735 million yuan; it is the largest engineering project funded by a province; it has greatly improved the local sports facilities of the Tibetan capital, says The Tibet Daily.
Later in the day, Guo Jinlong inspected the stadium, gymnasium as well as the Yak Museum and a children's playground.
The local press reported that Beijing has adopted Tamar Village, in Chengguan District of Lhasa Prefecture and invested 13 million yuan for proper pavement, installation of lighting facilities, water supply, etc.
Having a cup of 'fragrant' tea
Guo Jinlong met (by chance?) a villager Dawa, walked to his home, met his whole family and had a cup tea; Guo commented: “It feels particularly fragrant.”
Then the Beijing delegation visited the new campus of the Tibet University, the Lhasa Urban Planning and Construction Exhibition Hall and the Potala Palace Square police station.
All dignitaries have to visit this Police Station. It must be particularly well kept.
On the 17th, Guo Jinlong and Chen Quanguo took a ride on the train to Damchung County (North of Lhasa); Guo met nomads who have apparently been resettled near the National Highway.
Beijing spent 30 million to reconstruct local houses for the project, “so they lived on a spacious two-story, in addition to raising yaks”. The Tibet Daily reported that one of the Tibetans, that Guo met, ran an outside transport company and get two three hundred thousand yuan annual income from his new occupation.
I have discussed elsewhere the horrendous scheme to ‘park’ nomads in cubic houses.
Guo Jinlong said: “you now have to follow a scientific development [path], I really sincerely feel happy for you.”
Nomadic life was probably not ‘scientific’ enough.
Guo also visited Damchung County People's Hospital, where more than half of doctors come from Beijing (since 2007 Beijing has sent 19 doctors to work in this hospital).
Guo spoke highly of the doctors in Tibet “who are not afraid of hard work, who are willing to sacrifice the life.” He told them to reasonably rest and to take care of themselves.
He also visited the Duilongdeqing (Doilung Dechen?) Industrial Park, Guo Jinlong said: “Seeing comrades in Tibet was particularly nice. I have spent here eleven years on the magical snow-covered plateau. This has become part of my life forever and I remain nostalgic.”
He said that he was happy to return to Tibet ten years later and see by himself the sustained and healthy economic development which has taken place; the great improvement of the infrastructure; that the people's life has significantly improved; the construction of an ecological civilization is remarkable, he added.
He sincerely admired the sustained overall social harmony and stability of Tibet, and was happy to see the results of the ‘reform and development’ program. He added that he deeply felt that these achievements demonstrate the successful practice of solving ethnic issues with Chinese characteristics; Tibet is on the right path, he concluded.
Addressing a Forum, Guo Jinlong quoted President Xi Jinping.
First, we (Beijing and Tibet) should work together to build the roof of the world; work together to maintain stability of this 1.2 million square kilometers sacred territory.
Second, we should take a long-term view on Tibet; the target should be a well-off society; one should focus on the weak links in economic and social development
Third, one needs to promote Aid Work (with Beijing and other provinces) with the same standards than the capital city. One needs to adhere to a high starting point, to have high-level planning, quality construction, to make aid work stand the test of history and the people, he argued.
Fourth, you should serve the Tibetan people heart and soul. Get things done with your heart, so that it will benefit people of all nationalities.
Guo affirmed that on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of Aid Program, he wanted to open a new era for Beijing Aid Work.
First, focus on improving the livelihood of the people; adhere to the support of the grassroots, of the farmers and herdsmen; focus further on their education, employment and health care, so that the masses directly benefit (from the Aid Work).
Second, Guo asserted, “we should build a moderately prosperous society by doing Aid Work; deepen the introduction of technology in Tibet; encourage and support collaborative innovation; promote scientific and technological achievements for Tibet; increase industrial efforts to support the development of tourism and culture, health and ‘Pure Land’ industries (mineral water bottling?)."
He argued: "Tibet needs to take advantage of its own characteristics and utilize this to help local industry to brand ‘Tibet’ in order to expand its own market."
Third, focus on infrastructure to do Aid Work; focus on improving transport infrastructure to facilitate the travel of the masses; to support the construction of drinking water safety in rural and pastoral areas, so that the people drink safe water; actively participate in Lhasa urbanization work to help grasp the transformation of old villages and housing construction, so that more people of all nationalities enjoy the results of leapfrog development.
Fourth, blend well with the rest of the nation through contacts and exchanges; increase cultural links and strengthen the protection of Tibetan culture, promote cooperation and exchange, etc., to promote rich cultural life of the people of all ethnic groups; promote the ‘Beijing Tibetan family’, he empathized.
Guo also said that one should have a high political consciousness, to establish long-term mechanism and then pay close attention to implementation of the tasks.
Beijing follows the central demands, to do the work of their counterparts in Tibet to further strengthen exchanges and cooperation between the two provinces, and strive for Tibet and support leapfrog development and long-term stability.
Chen Quanguo extended a warm welcome to the delegation and thanked Beijing for its old, strong and selfless support.
Chen Quanguo said in recent years, following the orders of Xi Jinping, "Tibet continued efforts to achieve stable, long-term stability, and overall stability".
Chen Quanguo pointed out that Beijing has always attached great importance to Aid Work, Beijing's assistance to Tibet is an important political responsibility.
During the forum, Beijing Municipal Committee, vice mayor Li Xiang also spoke while Lhasa Party Secretary, Choedrak gave a description of the economic and social development of the Tibetan capital.
On the 16th, Guo Jinlong listened to reports and gave another speech ...with Chinese characteristics.
Guo emphasized that the Aid Work is an important strategy to implement the central government policies: “We need to learn from each other and provide mutual support.”
He added that “there should be no sense of superiority. To fully understand our counterparts in Aid Work is our duty; it should be done with a sincere heart as a sincere service. To get this done with one’s heart, will further enhance the nation's solidarity and cohesion.”
All this sounds nice, but is the reality matching with the speeches is another question.

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Fall of a Powerful General

Sacked Lt. Gen. Yang Jinshan
It is the end of the road for Lt. Gen. Lt. Yang Jinshan, a former Commander of the Tibet Military District of the Chengdu Military Region (MR).
He lost his membership of the Central Committee of the CCP.
Lt. Gen. Yang Jinshan (Han nationality) is born in August 1954. He joined the Communist Party of China in May 1972. In December 2005, he was promoted to the rank of major general and in July 2011, he became a lieutenant general.
From 2007 to 2009, he served as the Head of Armament Department of Chengdu MR.
In 2009, he became Commander of Tibet Military District.
In November 2012, he was elected as Member of 18th CPC's powerful Central Committee.
Lt. General Yang Jinshan had an Air Force background; this may explain the repeated 'air exercises' in the Tibet District, facing Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim  during the last few years.
In June 2013, General Yang was transferred to Chengdu as a Deputy Commander of the Chengdu MR.
Yesterday, he was formally expelled from the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China 'for serious disciplinary violations'.

Lt. Gen. Yang, as one of 41 members of the PLA in the Central Committee, was 'senior' in the Party to his direct boss, Lt. Gen. Li Zuocheng, the Commander of Chengdu MR.
In July 2014, The South China Morning Post (SCMP) had reported "One of the top PLA officers leading the Chengdu military area command has been detained amid graft allegations making him the latest high-ranking officer to fall in a sweeping effort to clean up the image of the world's largest fighting force."
The Hong Kong newspaper quoting four different sources said: "Investigators took Yang Jinshan, a lieutenant general, to Beijing last week as part of a corruption investigation. His family members and secretary were also detained."
Apparently, the arrest of General Yang, 59 was part of the wider inquiry into Xu Caihou, the former Central Military Commission (CMC) vice-chairman.
Xu has been accused of accepting very large bribes.
In June, Xu was himself expelled from the Communist Party. Yang has now walked into his mentor's steps.
Further, Yang was probably connected with the disgraced Politburo leader, Bo Xilai, as Yang served in the 14th Group Army, based in Kunming, Yunnan province (under the Chengdu MR). One of the founders of the Group Army was Bo Yibo , Bo Xilai's father.
The SCMP suspects: "Bo Xilai visited Yunnan not long after his right-hand man Wang Lijun sought refuge in the US consulate in Chengdu in February 2012. Since that visit, some of the senior officers of the corps have been replaced, prompting speculation about whether the reshuffle was linked to Bo."
Again according to the SCMP: "Two PLA major generals with backgrounds that overlap Yang's were detained previously". It names Ye Wanyong , retired commissar of the Sichuan provincial military area, and Wei Jin, a deputy commissar of the Tibet military area."
Ye would have offered large amount of gold to Xu Caihou.

Acute Ideological Struggle
In the meantime, the Central Military Commission (CMC) warned that ideological struggles within the PLA were 'acute and complicated', and called for the military to remain loyal to the Party's leadership.
According to The Global Times, the CMC published an article in The PLA Daily which says that the PLA should be run according to rules and regulations of the Party.
It was the main theme of the Fourth Plenum of the Central Committee of the 18th National Congress, which focused on strengthening the nation's governance through the rule of law.
The Global Times asserts: "Military reform has entered 'uncharted waters' with concerns growing that reform could be impeded by 'structural problems'."
The CMC admits that among the problems facing the army, "the struggle over ideology has been exceptionally acute and complicated."
Apparently, "different ideologies and new ideas that have emerged in Chinese society have penetrated the military, and will have a disruptive impact", says the CMC.
It quotes Maj. Gen. Luo Yuan: "There have been some public intellectuals advocating the nationalization of the army through disaffiliating it from the Party's leadership."
Xu Guangyu, another military expert and senior consultant at the Chinese Military Disarmament Control Council explained that "some young military leaders may have been influenced by these ideas, and warned that they could cause a split within the army."
The CMC asked the PLA to be 'steadfast in their actions' and submit to the Party's authority and to the CMC.
It clearly means that they not always do.
Quite worrying!
Probably new Chumar episodes in the pipeline!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Reforms in academic research, scholarship

Nehru visiting the Library in Yatung, Tibet (1958)
My article Reforms in academic research, scholarship appeared in the Edit Page of The Pioneer today.

Here is the link...

The opening of the Nehru Papers would be the greatest homage to Nehru and an exceptional opportunity for scores of young scholars to see what went right (and also what went wrong) in Modern India

As India prepares to celebrate the 125th birth anniversary of Jawaharlal Nehru, the incumbent Prime Minister of India, Mr Narendra Modi, announced that he will head the national committee to commemorate the occasion. A Prime Minister’s Office release said the first meeting of the committee will be held “soon after Deepawali”.
The media was surprised as no one from the Nehru-Gandhi family was included in the committee which has six Cabinet Ministers; however senior congress leaders such as Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mr Mallikarjun Kharge and Mr Karan Singh have been called upon to participate.
A host of other eminent academics, scholars, retired bureaucrats and Army officers will take part in the deliberations of the committee, which will also have the Director General  of National Archives of India as a member.
It is an interesting inclusion, though the fact that there is no permanent DG since professor Mushirul Hassan left in May 2013, shows the lack of interest of the previous Government for scholarly work and research. Hopefully, this will change under the new dispensation.
The Nehru celebrations would be the ideal occasion to open up to research, what is known as the Nehru Papers (also referred to as the JN Collection) kept in Teen Murti Bhavan, and this without any restriction.
It has been one of the greatest enigmas of ‘modern’ India: How come the correspondence, notes, speeches of the first Prime Minister of India are considered ‘private’ and why should it be kept under the custody of one ‘private’ person (Ms Sonia Gandhi)? The state’s papers should never be privatised.
Apparently, Nehru had willed all his papers to an organisation to be created after his death (the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund). However, Nehru did not specify that thereafter, special permission of the custodian would be required to access any file/document.
Apparently, his daughter, Indira Gandhi, added this odd rule that they should remain in the custody of her family.
The end result is that the Nehru Papers do not come under the Public Record Rules, 1997, which states that records that are 25 years or more must be preserved in the NAI (and that no records can be destroyed without being recorded or reviewed).
While legally, it is mandatory for each Government’s department to prepare a half-yearly report on reviewing and weeding of records and submit it to the NAI, the Nehru Papers are exempted. It would be fine to keep the Papers as a ‘collection’, if they were openly available to the general public. The Nehru Papers are an invaluable collection dealing with all topics under the Indian sky, looked after by the Prime Minister (Nehru was also Foreign Minister from 1947 till his death in 1964).
One can argue that the JN Collection is not completely closed; if one is ready to follow the cumbersome process and write to the 'custodian', one has technically a chance to have a darshan of the said file/letter. But why to always complicate the researcher's life?
I have always wondered if those who have practically closed the Nehru Papers to the public of India, have ever read what Nehru wrote about the secrecy? On August 27, 1957, in a note to his Principal Private Secretary, he commented about some persons having been refused access to the National Archives of India: “I am not at all satisfied with the noting on this file by Intelligence or by the Director of Archives. The papers required are very old, probably over thirty years old. No question of secrecy should apply to such papers, unless there is some very extraordinary reason in regard to a particular document. In fact, they should be considered, more or less, public papers. …Also the fact that a Communist wants to see them is irrelevant. I do not particularly fancy this hush hush policy about old public documents. Nor do I understand how our relations with the British Government might be affected.”
One can hope that the committee for the 125th anniversary of Nehru will put this issue first on its agenda and as an offering to the memoirs of the first Prime Minister, will make his fabulous collection of historic documents available to each and every one in India (and abroad), wanting to study Nehru’s works.
It can be argued that the Nehru Papers have been partially declassified through the publications of more than 55 volumes of the Selected Works of Jawaharlal Nehru (1947-1960), but for a researcher, this selection cannot replace the ‘real thing’. Further, though the policy has been changed for the most recent volumes, the editor used to resume with a few words the letter/event/note which had triggered the Prime Minister’s answer; to read Nehru's interlocutor full questions/queries helps to better understand Nehru’s answer. The newly-appointed committee would do India a great favour in opening the entire collection to the public.
Recently speaking at the 42nd annual convocation of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences , the Prime Minister said, “While Indian doctors have made a name for themselves across the world, the country needs to step up medical research, to keep pace with fast-changing world. We should focus on research, particularly on case history. This can be a big contribution to humankind.”
It is not only in the medical field that research should be supported, but in the historical one too. Young (and older) Indians should be encouraged to research and dig in the past (the glories as well as the goof-ups) in order to better face today's reality.
Let me tell you my personal experience in the National Archives of India which I have been frequenting for the past 15 to 20 years. Every two years, I have to re-apply from scratch and prove again that I am still a ‘scholar’. Being born in France, I have to bring a certificate from the French authorities ‘proving’ that I’m still a ‘researcher’. Though the French Embassy has always readily obliged, why can’t I be a ‘scholar’ for life? When I ask the NAI staff, I am invariably told: “No sir, this is the rule in India’ you can be a scholar for two years only.’ What a nonsense!
If the Prime Minister wants to build a nation of researchers, there are many rules to drop and many vaults to open. Today, a string of antiquated rules and regulations, red-tapism and an obscurantist mind-set not worthy of a dynamic country like India, remains in place. As a result, Indian history continues to be buried. Is it the hallmark of a mature nation?
The opening of the Nehru Papers would be the greatest homage to Nehru and an exceptional opportunity for scores of young scholars to see what went right (and what went wrong) in Modern India.
Please, Mr Prime Minister, encourage historical research too.

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.