Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Singing and Dancing in Tibet

'Celebrations' in Kartse
China Tibet Online reported that Tibetans celebrated the first day of Losar in Kartse (Garze) where the situation has been extremely tense for the past few weeks.
The article says:
Dressed in traditional Tibetan costumes, locals watched dancing and singing performances to celebrate Tibetan New Year in Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of southwest China's Sichuan Province.
As a key part of the Khampa Tibetan area, Garze is known as the 'dancing and singing sea' and various cultural activities are essential for locals to celebrate the Losar festival.
Recently, dancing and singing performances with strong Tibetan flavor have taken place in Sichuan's Tibetan counties, such as Tardo and Rontrak. Original songs and Gorchom circle dance (a kind of traditional Tibetan dance) were quite popular among locals.
The Losar celebration will last till March 1 in Garze. The Garze song and dance troupe will put on happiness-themed theatrical performances along the way from Tardo to other Tibetan villages.
Apart from singing and dancing performances, Garze will organize traditional Tibetan sports events, such as horse races and stock-holding races. 
Phayul.com had however reported a few days earlier that Tibetans were 'forced' to celebrate Losar this year. Why?
Just because the Tibetan Kashag (Administration-in-Exile) has requested the Tibetans to refrain celebrating the Dragon-Water New Year while tragic events were taking place all over the Tibetan plateau.
The situation has become ridiculous: whenever Dharamsala suggest something, Beijing immediately order the Tibetans inside Tibet to do the opposite.
Is it the sign of a powerful Nation? 
A telling detail: Lt Gen Wang Jianping, an alternate Member of the 17th CPC, Central Committee and Commander of the People's Armed Police flew to Lhasa on the eve of the New Year.
General Wang is responsible for law and order allover China.
The website Chinese Leaders describes him thus:"Like his PAP predecessor Wu Shuangzhan, Wang has the experience of holding office in a military region. He had been commander of a division under a group army in the Shenyang Military Region and later served as commander of the PAP Tibet Division (a position at the rank of deputy army commander), PAP deputy chief of staff, and PAP chief of staff. In 1997 Wang Jianping was promoted to the police rank of PAP major general when Wu Shuangzhan was promoted to PAP lieutenant general. He was promoted to the police rank of PAP lieutenant general in 2007."
General Wand was accompanied by Jampa Phunsok, the former head of the TAR government and now Chairman of the Standing Committee of the People's Congress of the Tibet Autonomous Region. 
More repression in sight.

Forced celebrations mark 'Losar' in Tibet
February 22, 2012
Tibetans wait outside a detention centre in Lhasa where Tibetan pilgrims returning from India and Nepal have been arbitrarily detained and forced to undergo patriotic re-education.
Tibetans wait outside a detention centre in Lhasa where Tibetan pilgrims returning from India and Nepal have been arbitrarily detained and forced to undergo patriotic re-education.
DHARAMSHALA, February 22: Repeating tactics that were employed in 2009 and off late in other parts of Tibet, Chinese Communist Party officials in Lhasa, Tibet’s capital have issued stringent warnings against the popular call for a boycott of celebrations during ‘Losar’ Tibetan new year (February 22-24).
Tibetans in Tibet and the exile leadership have called for a moratorium on Losar celebrations following the continuing wave of self-immolation, which has witnessed 23 Tibetans torch their bodies demanding the return of the Dalai Lama from exile and freedom in Tibet.
Sources in exile earlier reported that government authorities in Lhasa had issued orders requiring Tibetan officials and the general public to prepare song and dance routines for Losar.
Selected performers who refused to take part in the mandatory show of celebrations were warned of severe consequences.
In another effort to coax Tibetans to celebrate Losar, government authorities have temporarily released few of the Tibetans who were arbitrarily detained upon their return from pilgrimage to India and Nepal.
Sources have told Phayul that the Tibetans undergoing patriotic re-education in secluded locations will have to serve detention again following Losar.
"The Chinese authorities in Lhasa have released some Tibetan detainees to celebrate Losar but they have been told that their detention will continue after the new year," a Tibetan from Lhasa told Phayul.
In 2009, following the pan-Tibet uprisings of 2008, Chinese government officials led a counter campaign of forced merriment against the popular call for a boycott of Losar celebrations.
The Communist Party in Tibet had given vouchers worth $120 each to 37,000 low-income families to shop for an extended week-long holiday.
Last month, Phayul had reported that Chinese government officials were giving bribes of gifts and money to Tibetans for Losar celebrations. Tibetan sources confirmed that bribes of 500 Yuan for each family and 200 Yuan for each individual were being issued.
“99% of Tibetans in Tibet will not celebrate Losar but few are afraid that if they don’t celebrate then it might become a political liability for them,” the same source said.
Another exiled Tibetan who has close contacts with Tibetans inside the besieged Ngaba region of eastern Tibet, which alone has seen 15 instances of self-immolations, had told Phayul that Tibetans were “determined to skip” the upcoming ‘Losar’ celebrations.
“Tibetans in Tibet are very much determined to skip the Tibetan New Year as we do to mark a black year when someone in the family passes away,” Kanyag Tsering, a monk at the exile base of Kirti monastery said.
Tibetans around the world are marking today, the first day of Losar, with solidarity hunger strikes and vigils.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Autonomy vs Repression

Marshal Chen Yi, the Dalai Lama, the Panchen Lama with the Tibetan Flag in 1956
A debate is raging is China: should 'nationalities' continue to enjoy the autonomy offered to them by the Constitution of the People's Republic of China?
As mentioned a few days ago, Zhu Weiqun, Lodi Gyari's interlocutor believes that the 'nationalities' should be divested of their special privileges to achieve 'national cohesion'.

In another posting this week, I quoted Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek about the possibility of ‘independence' for Tibet. In 1945, Chiang announced in the Chinese Parliament that his Government desired to allow the ‘frontier racial groups’ to attain independence, if capable of doing so. He affirmed: “I solemnly declare that if the Tibetans should at this time express a wish for self-government our Government would, in conformity with our sincere traditions, accord it a very high degree of autonomy. If in the future, they fulfill economic requirement of independence, the nation’s Government will, as in the case of Outer Mongolia, help them to attain this status”. 
In the early days of the Chinese Revolution, the Communists also believed in giving a large autonomy to the Nationalities.
As Tsering Woeser states in her blog:  "After the Red Army had firmly settled in Yan’an, Mao Zedong told the American journalist Edgar Snow: 'the Red Army’s only external debt is that it took away the food from the outer ethnic minorities and now owes them, one day, we must repay this debt.' But what does this 'external debt' mean? Does this not refer to owing a foreign country? It shows that at the time, Mao Zedong did not consider Tibet a part of China."
Bapa Phuntsok Wangyal, the 'first' Tibetan Communist in the 1940's has extensively worked (while in confinement) on the issue of nationalities, regional autonomy and Marxism in the People's Republic of China.
In 2004/2005, he wrote a series of letters to CCP's General Secretary Hu Jintao.
The first letter sent in 2004, is posted on my website as well as excerpts from A Tibetan Revolutionary: The Political Life and Times of Bapa Phüntso Wangye by Melvyn C. Goldstein, Dawei Sherap, William R. Siebenschuh on the issue of 'nationalities'.
Here is Phuntsok Wangyal's (Phunwang) second letter to to General Secretary Hu Jintao sent on April 12, 2005:
Phunwang with Panchen Lama and Gyalo Thondup
Respected General-Secretary Hu Jintao, My greetings!
On 29 October last year I presented a long letter to you and the leaders of the NPC Standing Committee. On 26 February this year - according to comrade Sheng Huaren from the NPC Party Group who presided over the forum attended by Wang Yunlong, Secretary of the Party Group of the NPC Department of Administration, Zhu Weiqun, Deputy-Director of the United Front Department and. Sithar, Director of the Tibet Bureau entrusted by the Central Government and on behalf of the Party Group my letter was discussed, emphasising the need for consistency with the Central Government on the "Tibetan issue inherited from the past". And I was told to think the matters over carefully to put forward my opinions. Since this happened to be the time of ‘two meetings’ (the, National People's Congress and, the National People’s Consultative Meeting), this was delayed until 4 April. With regard to that letter, I made some statements and requested the NPC Standing Committee to report my opinions to the Central Government. I am now presenting a summary of those statements below:

1 The letter I presented to General-Secretary Hu Jintao and to the NPC Standing Committee is in line with the spirit of the Central Government's initiatives to build a harmonious and stable socialist society, which can be proven by the entire contents of that letter, and so it is needless to restate this.

2 The key concern in the overall question is: Whether or not it is good for the religious leaders of Tibetan Buddhism - with the Dalai Lama as the head - and the exile Tibetan Government, including around a hundred thousand Tibetan compatriots, to return to the nation or remain abroad. Strategically this is a question which needs to be carefully considered and deliberately decided. It is necessary to understand that those Western anti-China elements are trying to ensure that they [the Dalai Lama and his exile Tibetan Government] remain abroad, so as to keep on playing the 'Tibet card' for the sake of their own interests. Therefore, keeping them abroad is politically shortsighted and irresponsible in terms of history - creating endless troubles in the future. On the contrary, working towards the Dalai Lama's return to the nation will transform passivity to activity, antagonism to harmony.
Foreign diplomacy is the continuation and extension of domestic affairs; therefore the policy towards the overseas Tibetan compatriots should unquestionably be based on the guiding principles of the Central Government that advocate 'harmony and stability'. For over a thousand years, in the day-to-day life of devoted Tibetan Buddhists the intangible has superceded the tangible in their spiritual sphere; whether or not the hearts of the people are peaceful and at rest cannot be ignored and underestimated, especially the general will of the masses is the most important factor which can play a decisive role at a very critical moment. Therefore, we must channel our actions according to the situation and avoid being at a disadvantage.
Forgive my being straightforward. The comments made by the leaders of the United Front Work Department - let's not talk about other things - are not with the basic spirit of the Central Government's initiatives to build a 'harmonious and stable' socialist society. The Central Government emphasises the importance of 'friendship' as the national policy. So far as the policy towards Taiwan is concerned - the policy emphasises never censuring past mistakes under the premise of One China. Nevertheless, the United Front Department, in line with the 'leftist struggle', has stressed too much on the 'Tibet issue', with 'peace' on one side and 'struggle' on the other. It even adopts 'delaying tactics' to play for time with the Dalai Lama, waiting until his death. This is apparently a continuation of the wrong-thinking 'leftist' line over nationality and religious work - especially on the 'Tibet issue'. Everybody is aware that this wrong line of 'leftism' has brought disastrous consequences to the Party, the nation and the people. That is why it has been negated by Party decision-making.

4- Unquestionably, I myself and many others who understand the facts are extremely dissatisfied with this wrong-thinking line of 'leftism' and the mistakes made by it. Let's just forget other things, merely as far as the above-mentioned matters are concerned, people make various comments, such as: Ignoring good advice, they landed themselves in the trouble of 'two Panchens' today; the two great Buddhist leaders whom the Central Government used to care about, and who attract world attention - the Seventeenth Karmapa and Agya Rinpoche, the abbot of Kumbum Monastery - were also forced to flee overseas; playing for time, and intending to produce 'two Dalais' will create greater trouble in the future at home and abroad. However, the question of the Dalai Lama's health, and how long he will live, will not be decided according to the timetable of others. And regarding such questions, people have further comments, such as: The Karmapa is likely to be the successor to the Dalai Lama after his passing, in case of a period of vacuum of leadership. Although all the heads of Tibetan Buddhism, from the Gelug, Nyingma, Sakya, Kagyud and Bonpo, have fled abroad one after another, they are still the inheritors of the Buddhist doctrines and are playing an important role, directly and indirectly.
Of course, those mistakes are not related to the leaders from the United Front Work Department. The question is related to the Party line, not to the individuals. Therefore, in order to improve and intensify the friendly relations between brotherly nationalities such as the Han and Tibetans - and for the prosperity and stability of the nation and the people - this residual 'leftist' line should not be continued; it is time to bring it to an end.

5- The letter I presented to the Central Government is concerned with the entire Tibetan nationality and peace and stability across te Tibetan regions in the Land of Snow, which occupies a quarter of the total area of the nation, and is related to a far-sighted, long-term strategic policy that needs to be sensibly considered and carefully decided, rather than being a question of seeking advice on current policy and concrete matters. Some people who are responsible for the relevant departments, who ignore the actual situation and don't care about the wishes of the masses, will not think deeply about their attitudes and words; they will not even undergo self-censure. Therefore I sincerely request the NPC Party Group to hand over [my letter] to the Central Government - headed by General-Secretary Hu Jintao - and forward it to the Central Institute of Political Research for their practical, objective suggestions based on the principle of seeking truth from facts. All decisions will then be up the Central Government.
With regard to the comments made by the United Front Work Department, besides the general tone that they adopted, they strayed from the point when mentioning my "talk" with Li Weihan in 1982, and criticised me for adhering to the so-called "consistently incorrect point of view", my view on "the greater Tibetan regions". But that was actually a plot attributed to Old Li [Weihan] by some specific leaders who had me sent to prison for eighteen years and have never admitted their mistakes. Old Li, aged eighty six, is now in hospital; those people have not even seen his articles, so what is the value of their comments?
I wrote a letter of twenty thousand characters to the leaders of the Central Government, and particularly wrote a letter to comrade Deng Xiaoping and General Secretary Hu Yaobang appealing to the Central Government to form a study team to clarify the arguments on the theoretical principles of nationality. Fortunately, after the Central Government looked into this, their summing up was that 'according to the regulations of the Party it is permitted to hold different points of view', and the case was held over indefinitely, with some statements made by comrade Zhong Xun.
Therefore, after twenty three years, referring to the talk with Old Li is unnecessary and of no significance.

6- As early as the 1940s I was the main person responsible for all kinds of revolutionary activities of was the only Tibetan among the members of the Party Committee for the PLA's Lhasa advance troop and of the CCP Tibet Work Committee during the '50s. For the sake of the Party, the people and history, and following the principle of being a communist who must be open and above-board, and must not hide any opinions, I present this letter to the leaders of the Central Party, and send it to some Tibetan comrades for reference.
I believe that this letter has fully reflected the expectations and wishes of ordinary Tibetans on the restoration of relations between the Central Government and the Dalai Lama. Many Tibetan comrades have directly or indirectly expressed their agreement to my views. 'Bitter medicine is good for ailments, good advice is unpleasant to the ears'. My letter cannot be supposed to be good medicine, but having a clear conscience and from the bottom of my heart - I sincerely state the views that people feel uncomfortable talking about, dare not talk about to protect themselves, and the questions that are sensitive to some people. Whether or not the views will be adopted is entirely up to the Central Government's decision-making. As an individual I am powerless. But time will prove all and history will make a fair evaluation

7 Any Communist Party member or citizen has the right to offer various kinds of opinions to the Central Government, and those opinions can also be passed on to other comrades for reference. But of course, it is without question that before the views in the letter can be accepted they must be consistent with the opinions currently carried by the Central Government. But if some relevant departments make comments as they wish with regards to the letter, I will reserve my right to correspondingly give explanations.

Comrade Hu Jintao,
I completely understand that the leaders of the CCP Standing Committee, headed by you, are deeply occupied with the affairs of State. Nevertheless, the question of the Tibet issue today is the most important of our entire nation's nationality works. Though I am in sound health, clear-minded, and able to write and give lectures, time does not spare people. I am now eighty three years old and have no ambition for fame and repute. I have spoken the truth from facts, and this is all purely in the interests of the State and nationalities.
Looking forward to understanding if there is anything inappropriate herein.
With regards
Phunsok Wangyal

The debate will continue, but one can only regret that Han Chauvinism has increased over the years. 
It is not a good omen for the regime.

The Used Geta Rinpoche
Tsering Woeser
By Tsering Woeser
September 28, 2011,
After we arrived in Kardze at the end of July, I suddenly noticed a street sign attached to an electricity pole at the side of the road, which read: “Memorial Hall for the Commander in Chief, Zhu De and the 5th Geta Rinpoche”. Had this been built in recent years? I followed the sign, was slowly guided out of the city and finally found a tightly closed red door with a Chinese-style building behind it and verdant trees and lush flowers surrounding it; the hall name was an eye-grabbing piece of calligraphy created by Jiang Zemin.
Afterwards I found on the internet that the construction of this hall began in 1991 and was completed in 1993, becoming the “base for patriotic education” from Kardze County and Prefecture all the way to Sichuan Province.
According to the introduction, “the hall features the detailed descriptions of the 5th Tulku’s entire life, accounts of how the Red Army passed through Kardze during the Long March as well as revolutionary relics”. I noticed that among them were “paintings and photos of the establishment of the first ethnic minority region during the Soviet Tibetan Bopa Government; and also images of Geta Rinpoche, the Vice President of the Bopa Government and its other Tibetan members”.
How did the name of “Bopa Government” come about? It is quite a complicated story, just as the Communist Party admits, on its Long March, the Red Army established two “Republics”, namely the Gyarong Republic and the Bopa People’s Republic. These regimes were all established on Tibetan territory, the former where today’s Gyarong area of Rongdrak county is located and the latter in today’s Kham Region (Kardze and other counties); their declarations did by no means go against the native population’s political and religious authority, instead they determined the following: “all Tibetan territory will always be administered by the regional Bopa Government. We swear to oppose Han Chinese aggressors, KMT officials and warlords that have put in place politics of annexation for thousands of years and we firmly stand for the course of liberating and making an independent Bopa”; “Our flag is one of an independent Bopa, our current mission is to revive Tibet and extinguish Chiang Kai-shek.”
Let us look back at what happened more than 70 years ago, relevant comments conclude that the Communist Party’s minority policies did initially support “self-determination” and even “independence”, but today are against “ethnic splittism”. However, for the fleeing Red Army, their so-called assistance to establish a “Bopa Government”, at the time, was in fact only an expedient and temporary measure and was by no means a “‘solemn commitment’ to the Tibetan people”. In actual fact, during its 12,500 km Long March, regardless of whether they passed by Chinese, Tibetan, or other minority areas, from the facts that have been revealed today, we know that the Red Army’s journey was one of empty promises and swindle.
The Tibetans had to pay for the assistance to “revive Tibet and extinguish Chiang Kai-shek” and to establish an independent political entity. According to Party documents, during the 16 months before and after the Red Army passed through Ngaba Prefecture, the Gyarong Government had to provide 5 million kilos of staple foods as well as 100,000 cows, sheep, horses, pigs and other livestock; when the Red Army passed through the northern Kham region, the Bopa Government had to provide 2.25 million kilos of staple foods. After the Red Army had firmly settled in Yan’an, Mao Zedong said to the American journalist Edgar Snow: “the Red Army’s only external debt is that it took away the food from the outer ethnic minorities and now owes them, one day, we must repay this debt.” But what does this “external debt” mean? Does this not refer to owing a foreign country? It shows that at the time, Mao Zedong did not consider Tibet a part of China.
As for Geta Rinpoche of Beri Monastery in Kardze County, together with other Tibetan elite such as Jago Tobdan, Pangta Tobgyel, Gompo Tsering, Tashi Wangchuk, he formed the leadership of the Bopa Government and they jointly formulated a programme that included the guiding principles, including “ethnic independence, the establishment of an independent Bopa Soviet Government, and its own Bopa territory” as well as “the unification of the red Army and all groups and individuals that support the independence of Bopa”; they firmly believed that “all the people, countries, governments and armies that support and sympathise with Bopa are also Bopa people’s friends”; however, in the end, they were ridiculed by historical events for exactly this naivety.
If we want to justly evaluate historical figures such as Geta Rinpoche, we must admit that essentially, they were all Tibetan nationalists rather than repeatedly used by the Communists; he pursued the title of the “Red Tulku” of the “unified ancestral land”. Some people say that if Geta Rinpoche had lived until the Red Army became the Liberation Army, he would probably sooner or later have been thrown into prison, just as it happened to Phuntsog Wangyal. But just as the Liberation Army launched its “Chamdo military campaign”, he suddenly died a violent death, and thus became the justification for why the Communists violated or forgot their “solemn commitment”.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Succession War is not over

While leaving the United States after a five-day tour, Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping stated that his visit was a ‘full success’. After completing official calls on the US President and other dignitaries, the visit ended in a relaxed way in Hollywood. Further, Xi termed his meetings with President Barack Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden as ‘fruitful’.
Before the visit, Jeremy Page in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) had correctly analyzed the future Chinese President’s personality. He spoke of his “unusual ability to get along, and to work with people across regional, ideological and functional divides—a personality trait that friends say dates back to his formative years in the village.”
A family friend of Xi told Page: “He's a very balanced character. He's not the kind to take revenge on anyone—he sees the big picture, and the importance of working with all kinds of people.”
Sidney Rittenberg, an American ex-Communist who knew Xi Jinping’s father, Xi Zhongxun, an associate of Deng Xiaoping, explained to the WSJ: “I can't help but think that some of his father's personality rubbed off on him. There's one trait common to both father and son: they never made life hard for their opponents.”
Only the future will tell us if this is true for Xi Jr., though in the case of Xi Sr., he rubbed Mao up the wrong side by being too close to Marshal Peng Dehuai, who dared criticize the Chairman after the Great Leap Forward. Xi Zhongxun was purged for 16 years for his ‘crime’.
Except for the demonstrations by Tibetan supporters protesting in different us cities against the repression in Eastern Tibet (more than 20 monks and nuns have immolated themselves), the visit went rather well, at least as far as the forthcoming succession to the top of the Communist Party is concerned.
Xi had earlier travelled to Iowa with a business delegation and agreed to buy more than US $ 4 billion of soybeans from the US; watching a NBA basketball match between the LA Lakers and the Phoenix Suns at the Staples Center in LA, further endeared him to the American public.
The situation is less euphoric in China where the succession war rages.
While the powerful Chongqing’s Party Secretary, Bo Xilai is trying hard to make it to the ultimate Paradise for a Chinese politician, the Politburo’s Standing Committee, the Wind seems to have recently changed direction.
The New York Times reported: “Here in Chongqing, the Communist Party’s secretive, stage-managed process of installing a new generation of leaders has become a more open and sometimes brutal contest, with fortunes of leaders of broadly different inclinations at stake.”
The newspaper which quotes Wang Kang, a local writer and commentator: “What’s going on in Chongqing is a battle over the future course of China. It is about how China should be run”, comments: “unlike Mr. Xi, seen as humble and deft, Mr. Bo is a tenacious fighter and showman.”
Unfortunately for Bo, his right hand man, Wang Lijun, the Police Chief of the port city had to be demoted (or did he try to defect?).
The foreign press extensively covered the incident, but it is still not very clear what happened. Everyone agrees that Wang Lijun visited the US Consulate General in Chengdu (Sichuan province) and after an over-night stay, Wang is said to have left ‘of his own volition’ (says the US spokesperson).
Had Bo conspired to spoil Xi Jinping's leadership succession prospects?
Was Wang refused political asylum to avoid derailing Xi’s visit to the US?
Did Locke consult the Chinese authorities in Beijing before taking a decision?
There are different answers to these questions.
Voice of America quoted an article of the Washington Free Beacon saying that Wang told the US Consul General in Chengdu that Bo was corrupt and maintained close ties with crime syndicates. Wang could also have disclosed tactics and strategies adopted by China's public security agencies to crack down on political dissidents.
Has Wang given any information on the power struggle in China a few months before the leadership change?
Some speculate that hardliners like Bo and Zhou Yongkang, a member of the Politburo’s Standing Committee, conspired to prevent Vice President Xi Jinping from taking over the presidency later this year.
The Chongqing municipal government issued a statement saying that Wang was on ‘vacation therapy’, being over-stressed. Nice formula!
The US-based author Xujun Eberlein has another theory, using ‘informed speculation’, she wrote that Wang Lijun was not seeking asylum in Chengdu, he simply wanted the Central Party’s protection. Wang would have used the US consulate as a safe house, where he waited until officers sent from Beijing could arrive. He then walked outside the US consulate, where seventy police vans sent by Bo Xilai had come to arrest him, but the State Security agents managed to take him away to Beijing after a short scuffle.
Whatever the truth is, this incident shows that everything is not smooth in the Middle Kingdom.
Another news piece is rather worrying and related to the October succession; hardliners are trying to impose their ‘leftist’ policies once again.
An article written by Zhu Weiqun, the Deputy Director of CCP's United Front Work Department in The Study Times (Xuexi Shibao), unnoticed by the Indian press may have serious implications.
Zhu, who is the interlocutor of the Dalai Lama's Envoys in the so-called Beijing-Dharamsala negotiations, argues that China must change some aspects of its present political and educational system in order to achieve 'national cohesion'. He expects a discussion on this issue to take place at the forthcoming annual National People's Congress and Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in March.
Zhu raises the possibility of abolishing special privileges and preferential policies offered to minority nationalities, taking the nationality name off all IDs cards and passports and removing nationality names from provinces.
Does it mean that autonomy will be deleted from the Constitution in the name of promoting a 'greater cohesion'?
This would be a radically new policy. In 2005, China's State Council had published a White Paper on Regional Autonomy for Ethnic Minorities in China which stated: "The People's Republic of China is a united multi-ethnic state founded jointly by the people of all its ethnic groups. So far, there are 56 ethnic groups identified and confirmed by the Central Government."
Zhu’s and his mentors’ move should seriously worry the Tibetans. In 2008, the Dalai Lama's Envoys had given a Memorandum to Mr Zhu; and a year later, they presented a Note on the Memorandum. The Tibetan Envoys offered amongst other things, to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the PRC and of its Constitution, as well as the Dalai Lama’s ‘full cooperation for a mutually beneficial solution’.
Zhu Weiqun rejected the Memorandum and the Note.
The latest essay of Zhu will have serious consequences for the Tibetans, Uyghurs and Mongols and other minority nationalities as they may lose their identity guaranteed by the Constitution of China.
Zhu and his bosses in the Standing Committee of the Politburo probably believe that it is a way to solve the Tibetan issue once and for all.
But this could also create more resentment amongst the people of non-Han origin and increase the circle of violence.
For India, it will also have serious implications for the border talks as Delhi has always acknowledged Tibetan autonomy (within the People's Republic of China, since 1954).
This should be followed closely; but one thing is sure, the succession war is not over.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Dreaming about Future Tibet

Tenzin Choeden
Today, Tibetans inside and outside Tibet, 'celebrate' Losar, the Tibetan Lunar New Year, (Water Dragon Year, 2139).
One could ask, is there anything to celebrate? 
Yes, one can celebrate the dream of Future Tibet.
That is the reason why I am posting here the transcript of a talk given by Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche, the former Kalon Tripa (Prime Minister of the Central Tibetan Administration) at the Pavilion of Tibetan Culture (Auroville) on January 28, 2012.
Because the situation is grim in Tibet today, it is all the more important to dream about a better future. Samdhong Rinpoche speaks very powerfully on the subject. 

I would like to dedicate this 'dream' to Tenzin Choeden, a young 18-year old nun of Ngaba (Eastern Tibet) who immolated herself on February 11, as well as to all her companions who offered their lives for a better world.

Dreaming about Future Tibet
Presenter: It is not necessary to introduce Prof Samdhong Rinpoche again, though there are many things we could say about him, but perhaps, he will not like to be praised; anyhow, he is someone really remarkable and we are really happy to have him here with us.
He had come here a few years back, and spoken to a group of us about a small booklet that he had written on The Future of Tibet.
For most of us, it was very inspiring.
It was about Rinpoche’s dream for a future Tibet.
To dream is important; isn’t it his capacity to dream that makes a human being very different from other species?
If you have read the newspaper about what has happened in Tibet during the last few days, you may have seen that many people have been killed, many people have been arrested. Monks and nuns have immolated themselves. If one looks at the situation in Tibet and elsewhere, it's very grim, it is very depressing.
At the same time, one should not stop dreaming. And Prof Rinpoche among his many qualities, is one of the few Tibetans, along with his Holiness, the Dalai Lama, who, despite the present, has been able to dream about the future of Tibet.
What will happen in the future on the Roof of the World?
What is the ideal society that Tibetans would like to live in?
We would like to request Prof Samdhong Rinpoche to speak about his dream.
Regardless of today’s political situation, what should be the Tibet of tomorrow? What are your dreams for Tibet?
What is for you, Rinpoche, the Perfect Tibet?
Respected Rinpoche, may I request you to speak on this subject?

Prof Samdhong Rinpoche:
My greetings to all, friends.
To be in Auroville and this part of the world is very sacred for all of us.
I always feel pleased to come here and to meet the people who have chosen this very different way of living. You asked me to talk to you about my dream of future Tibet.
There are certain limitations: first of all, my knowledge of the English language is very inadequate and I may be unable to express myself adequately.
Secondly, the subject is very difficult at this present moment.
If you ask any think tank, any political analyst or political watcher, they will tell you that they do not see any future for Tibet as country or for the Tibetan people as a people.
The genocide against the Tibetan people and Tibetan culture will be completed in the next two years; later, there may not be any future trace of the people and culture of Tibet.
This way of thinking, or this point of view, is not baseless. A political analyst draws his conclusions after considering the political, economic, military and population factors in the People's Republic of China, and on the Tibetan side, there is a very tiny population, and even without speaking of the military power, with no political, economical, social power; [therefore the conclusion that] Tibet can never regain its freedom.
At the same time, the entire world is in the race of appeasing the People’s Republic of China, considering it as an unlimited market. And markets are most important commodities in these modern days. Therefore, to appease China is always in the best interest of every nation and of their people. From this point of view, there is no future for Tibet. This analysis is based on the ‘real situation’.
But, some of us dream otherwise.

Law of Casualty

On this earth, many things are happening which are not simply accidents or coincidences. They come as a consequence of the law of causality: when there is cause, there is an effect. The law of causality takes its own full course and has its own dramatic changes and its own rhythm.
There are unforeseeable dynamic forces.
Why to think this way? China has always much powerful than Tibet, right from the beginning of history, from times immoral. It is not that China overnight became powerful [in 1949]. And it is not only China, Tibet’s other neighbouring countries, such India and Russia, all of them were much more powerful than Tibet. This happened throughout the history. Tibet always remained with a population of a few million people. Although we have a large territory, we have no military power, no economic power.
The majority of people are peace-loving and spiritually minded. Despite this, Tibet has remained independent. Chine never ventured to occupy Tibet. British India invaded Tibet; their army captured its capital, Lhasa in 1904, but they did not occupy Tibet the way that they occupied India.
Immediately within a few weeks, they withdraw and offered a ceasefire agreement with Tibet. All this is history. Why did the British not occupy Tibet? They were Imperialists after all. They wanted to extend their territory, but they did not occupy Tibet.
In the thirteenth century, Tibet was occupied by Genghis Khan and other Mongol generals, but eventually they remained only for 40 years in Tibet. They voluntary retired; though they later became more powerful and they even occupied China and established the Yuan Dynasty. Kublai Khan and his Mongols decided to give back Tibet its sovereignty to Sakya Dongon Choegyal Pagpa [as the appointed Tibetan ruler].
As I mentioned earlier, whether it was incidental or accidental - all these events have their own causality.
Take the great sage who is looking at us [Prof Samdhong Rinpoche is sitting in front of a photo of Sri Aurobindo]. He took birth on the 15th August. Do you think that it is an accident that India got her independence on the 15th August? That was also not a coincidence.
The law of causality is beyond human speculation and it takes its own course. Certain actions which are not in harmony with human nature and with the law of nature cannot sustain [themselves]; they cannot remain forever.
The situation inside Tibet, as briefly mentioned earlier, is horrible; but violence, ruthless violence can never sustain itself, unless there is a counter violence. The violence can only be sustained, when there is reaction and there is violence from both sides.
We Tibetans are happy, in fact, we are proud that Tibetans are committed to non-violence under the leader of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. Consistently Tibetans have remained non-violent. Despite all the provocations and unbearable inhuman treatment, they have not reacted violently. They have been humiliated; they did sacrifice their own lives; they did go through inhuman torture and atrocities, but, they did not react violently, and they did not kill any occupiers, they did not use force against the perpetrators. They always try to remain non-violent. Therefore, because it is a one-sided violence, atrocities cannot remain forever. It may take a number of years, a number of decades, or it may change at any time.
Political, social, economic changes are today unpredictable.
In the year 2011 we saw great changes through non violent activism. Nobody had predicted it; people did not expect it to happened, these things just came. Changes happened in the Soviet Union [at the end of the 1980’s], it was not expected so soon; the fall of the Berlin wall also happened suddenly, therefore, we have to keep dreaming for the future. We have to think about the future of Tibet as a people, as a nation.
When we talk of Tibet as a nation, we do not necessarily speak of political independence from People’s Republic of China. In fact, we are pursuing a Middle Path policy; we are not seeking separation from the People’s Republic of China, but [at the same time] we are not accepting the present system of governance. Avoiding these two extremes, we are looking for a genuine autonomy for the Tibetan people.
Tibet is a nation. It is accepted by the law of the People’s Republic of China; the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China clearly mentions that China is multi-nationalities country; China has 55 nationalities. All of them are [separate] nations; the people of the People’s Republic of China belong to different nationalities.
This is true even from the People’s Republic of China’s viewpoint. A nation does not necessarily have statehood; Nation-state is now almost a thing of the past. Many sovereign countries now choose to be associated in some a type of confederation; for example the European Union as well as many other groupings. By forming groupings, [nation-states] find it more convenient; it is better for the interests of their people.
We, Tibetans do not have an objection to remain as a constituent of the People’s Republic of China, provided China give us the ‘genuine autonomy’ which is enshrined in the People’s Republic of China’s Constitution.
The principle of regional autonomy is valid for all the national minorities. [In China], there are several national minorities which do not live in any specific region. Therefore they will have only national autonomy, not regional autonomy. Some minorities will have national and regional autonomy, though this autonomy has not been granted to anyone as yet [by the Communist Party], although the People’s Republic of China exists for more than 60 years.
During the last 60 years, [Beijing] has not implemented its own constitutional provisions for national autonomy for its minorities.
They shall have to implement this. The People’s Republic of China remains unchanged as of today; but it is almost impossible to continue to think this way.
If you look at the present situation from all angles, politically, economically and socially, the People’s Republic of China is on the verge of a great change. This change might occur in the near future or it might be in a foreseeable future, or it may take decades. Therefore keeping in mind this law of causality, Tibet, as a nation has a universal responsibility to think of our future.
Therefore, we are considering the future of Tibet on the lines of Mahatma Gandhi's dream of Swaraj. India got independence in 1947, but India has not realized as yet Gandhi's idea of Swaraj. Perhaps that now the hope for attaining Swaraj becomes thinner and thinner, particularly if you look at the politics and the economics and specially the way the globalization forces have been welcomed by India during the past few decades.
We definitely believe that the future of Tibet is in the lines of Swaraj and particularly the principle which Gandhi very carefully, clearly and deeply explained, described in his treatise Hind Swaraj. This is the root text of the entire Gandhi literature, of all Gandhi's writings.
Gandhi's writings are very vast. They have now been published by the Government of India, they cover some 109 or 110 volumes. But all this vast corpus of teachings is mostly commentaries. The basic, the root-text is Hind Swaraj in which the term ‘Swaraj’ is well defined; Gandhi also, defined how to achieve the Swaraj. What are the means of achieving Swaraj? Particularly Gram Swaraj (village autonomy) which is exactly based on the principle of localization [compared to globalization]. The globalization is the greatest evil to destroy the entire human diversity; diversity of culture, diversity of thought, and diversity of consciousness.
The freedom of consciousness and the freedom to remain a unique individuality have been completely destroyed by the force of globalization and privatization. These three things are the most powerful instruments to take away all the basic individual rights. Individuals have no freedom to understand themselves; they have no freedom to understand what they are and what their needs are.
They are being taught “these are your needs”. Their whole life is to be a life ‘in comparison’ [with someone else] and a competition; throughout their life they have to struggle under stress to earn material things and accumulate money; before they accumulate enough money which could be used by them or for their near and dear ones, they have to die.
The other day, I was in Hyderabad and someone was telling me that today’s younger generation are destroying their health while earning money and after destroying their health, all the earned money is spent for restoring their health and often they are unable to work enough to restore it. I thought this is a true analysis.
If we really look at leading a worthy life for humanity, then we need freedom of consciousness, and freedom of self-recognition. Unless you know yourself, know who you are, and, what you are here for, you are just a consuming machine to serve the big industrial houses and consume their products, consume, consume, consume and finally they will consume you.
If our humane way of life is to lead a good, healthy and just life, we need good health, independent mind, and a right livelihood based on [real] needs. [It should not be based] on greed. Gandhi again very accurately said that the mother earth is capable of satisfying all the living creatures but, the entire mother earth cannot satisfy a single person's greed.
Unless and until we ‘utilize’ things and not consume things and utilize them in accordance with our needs and produce in accordance with our ability, [we will not live in accordance with] the principle of right livelihood.
Right livelihood means a livelihood which does not depend on others or, is not exploiting others. If every being leads a livelihood through its own efforts in accordance with its own needs and without exploiting any other in the country, it can benefit to all sentient beings. This kind of system of life, system of living is the essence of Swaraj. It does not mean the self is ruling the others. Swaraj means that the self is within the control of the self: a centered self, not a self-centered.
As I mentioned before, China, India, Russia, all our powerful nations, did not occupy Tibet for centuries. But immediately after its establishment of a central government in China in October 1949, the People’s Republic of China did it. In the last week of October 1950, their troops were dispatched to invade Tibet, and by the first week of November, the border posts were captured. I still very much remember.
If you take a holistic view, many world changes have happened in this world during the last 300 years and particularly during the 19th century and 20th century; there were two World Wars and many undeclared wars and these are not separated and isolated incidents.
The fact that the occupation of Tibet by the People's Republic of China happened in 1951, two years after the establishment of the People’s Republic of China is not an accident. This is not the problem of Tibetan people only; it is not only a problem between China and Tibet. Thereafter, many unfortunate things have happened, not only for Tibetans, for the entire China, for example the Cultural Revolution, or the Great Leap Forward and so forth.
All these are not just accidents. All these are symptoms of a larger human malady, a larger human problem.
Humanity has lost its humanness, its human values, its human character and its human ethics. Apart from religious ethics, there is a larger secular or ‘common human’ ethic. Being a human being, one has certain responsibilities.
Humanity has lost his path, its human ethics, its humanness and that is why we encounter the enormous challenges that we are facing today. There is economic disparity. In spite of the creation of such enormous material wealth, we could not still remove hunger and poverty and remedy the unavailability of healthcare for a large, large section of humanity. This is not due to a shortage of material resources; it is only due to human inequality and lack of freedom for each individual. In spite of having all the material resources, we are not able to remove the poverty from humanity.
Today, if you calculate the daily earnings of the people living below the so-called poverty line; their income might have increased, but their psychological poverty has become much more intense than before. Before this kind of affluence was not so visible, and even the doing-well people are also feeling poorer, before they did not have three or four cars, and they did not live in a multi-storey building. In spite of having a good house, good clothes, good food, it is not enough. They still feel poor. Unless a change for the better takes place at the global level, at the level of global consciousness these problems are not going to be solved, including the Tibetan problem. The Tibetan problem is problem of the People's Republic of China as a whole, the largest populated country in the world today.
How to dream of the future of a small nation called Tibet with just 6 million people. Six millions is a 13th century figure, a census done by the Mongols and thereafter the number of our people remain the same and the People’s Republic of China’s survey says that in 2000, it has shown 5.4 millions only, much less than 6 million (I do not have the results of 2010 census, it may have increased or decreased marginally).
As I mentioned earlier, to dream of a future of Tibet, we need to dream for the future of humanity. The Tibetan problem, the Chinese problem or the problem of economic disparity, violence, degradation of the environment, cultural and religious intolerance, all these are huge problems facing humanity. It is a larger or more pervasive human problem that we shall have to address.
We have to address this problem with a sense of responsibility which will have to be created within the human psyche, within the human consciousness. And for that, an entire difference kind of leadership and education is required.
Whenever I visit Auroville and in Pondicherry I always remember Sri Aurobindo’s words - ‘the regeneration or re-creation of India on the ruins of the West.’
The rebirth of India is very very important for a greater change at a human level. But unfortunately, the Indian leadership is busy in trivial things: corruption, law and order problems, elections, and so on and so forth.
The political leadership is corrupt, apparently from top to bottom; all are involved in corruption, but this does not represent India. India is still something very different. And [real] India has the greatest potential to bring a change in the world, at the level of the entire humanity. And that potential shall have to be awakened.
At this particular moment, everybody should work to awake the spirit of India as mentioned by Swami Vivekanda, by Aurobindo Ghosh, by Rabindranath Tagore and more recently by Jiddu Krishnamurti.
My last dialogue with Krishnamurti was in the year he passed away; before he went back to Ohio. It was our last dialogue (we were about 10 people with him), he asked us what is the uniqueness of India and what is India’s responsibility.
We all responded to him; somebody said the importance of its geographical position, and so on and so forth. But he was not satisfied and he finally came back to the question.
The potential of India is the Spirit of India; it is not only the people, the territory, the flora and fauna, the Himalayas, the rivers, the mountains, the ocean, it is the totality of this - which has a great potential. A potential to save the entire living system and that is the Spirit of India. This potential, we need to awaken.
Therefore, the people at large who are not contaminated by political or economic corruption, who are still clean in the consciousness of this land, shall have to work together. By working together, I do not mean, come out in the streets and shout slogans. Work together means that we must create a collective will, a common will, and that common will or collective will, will evoke the potential of India.
Therefore, we may be able to transform this troubled world and Tibet can then be free. And if Tibet gets autonomy or freedom, then we are not thinking of useing the word ‘development’. Today we are commonly using the term ‘development’, but the expression ‘development’ itself is contaminated.
If you look at the period before independence of India, before 1947, the ‘development’ word is not used as an independent expression. It always goes with something else, ‘development of land’, ‘development of mind’, ‘development of agriculture’ or ‘development of water irrigation’ or something like that. But after independence of India, the word ‘development’ has become an independent word. It gives a very wrong direction to the entire country; it entirely destroyed the freedom of consciousness of the human thought. That is why we’re suffering.
So, if Tibet regained its genuine autonomy and freedom, we will not look for a system based on ‘development’, we only look for ‘progress’.
The Mother spoke of so many ‘qualities’ in her teachings, and even in Matrimandir, each petal has a different attribute assigned to it, one petal is named ‘progress’; there is no petal called ‘development’.
Now I realize how the word ‘development’ has been contaminated.
Bhutan, a small nation has come forward to gift a concept to the entire world, using the principle of Gross National Happiness (GNH), instead of GDP (Gross Domestic Product). GNH has been substituted to GDP and now many researchers are working on this concept. It is very much in consonance with Gandhi’s, Kumarappa’s ideas or Schumacher’s and other great economists.
In Tibet, we will not do anything against this principle. His Holiness the Dalai Lama has already mentioned a Zone of Peace, a Country of Environmental Preservation, these two principle are very clear.
As and when Tibet gets free, Tibet should be free from military presence, free from presence any destructive weapon, but Tibet should also not do anything which harms the environment.
In the Central Tibetan Administration [in Dharamsala], we have set four criteria to undertake any social, health, economic project. These four criteria are now applicable to nay project.
The first is non-violence. No project, directly or indirectly should be involved with violence. The second is eco-friendly: does a project harms the environment. The third is sustainability. Sustainable from both angles: sustainable from the angle of environment and sustainable from the angle of human behavior. And the last is that it should be beneficial to everyone; particularly beneficial to the poorest of the poor. Only if these four criteria are fulfilled, a project is undertaken otherwise, however attractive it may be or in today’s terminology, [it may have] a ‘great output’ potential, if these 4 criteria are not present, we will do not accept the project.
In the future, when we shall rebuild Tibet, we shall also keep in mind these four criteria and thereafter a real Swaraj can prevail. Everything will be based on the law of causality, on law of nature; we shall not be fighting against the nature.
This is our dream. It means we shall have to build a non-violent society.
Only a non-violent society can lead a real progress for humanity.
Thank you for your patience.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The meaning of Tibetan autonomy

The Aksai Chin Road
One wonders why, during a visit to Beijing in June 2003, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee decided to put the border talks on a ‘fast track’.
Were Vajpayee’s advisors dreaming that China would return Aksai Chin and drop their claims on Arunachal Pradesh in a matter of months?
Though two Special Representatives were nominated, no quick-fix solution should have been anticipated. The issue had earlier been discussed in 1960 and then in the 1980’s, but the ‘perception gap’ is far too large to disappear in a short time. However now, instead of admitting the hard facts, Beijing is trying to put the blame on India.
An Editorial in The People’s Daily stated that some contradictions existed between China and India which “are still severely disturbing the normal development of the China-India relations”.
But the article only speaks of the Indian ‘contradictions’.
The mouthpiece of the Communist Party says that the 15 meetings have resulted in “many positive achievements”, though “it is still far away from reaching a fair, just and reasonable agreement”.
What would be a ‘reasonable’ agreement for China? It would be two-fold.
First, India would have to acknowledge that the Aksai Chin belongs to China (with perhaps some minor adjustments). Nobody can deny that New Delhi was foolish, to say the least, in the 1950’s when it did not notice that Mao’s Liberation Army had built a road through Indian territory; but the government’s foolishness does not make ipso facto the territory A part of the People’s Republic of China.
The People’s Daily further affirms: “The Indian side believes that the border dispute between China and India covers not only the eastern region of 90,000 square kilometers but also the western region of 30,000 square kilometers and the western region is India's too. This wrong argument, which totally disregards the history, still has supporters in India.”
The 90,000 square kilometers correspond to the entire State of Arunachal Pradesh.
The People’s Daily asserts that the first and most important issue is the McMahon Line: “The main barrier still comes from the Indian side. First, many Indian media insist that the border line between China and India should be based on the ‘McMahon Line’ left by British colonists.”
The fundamental issue is that China has traditionally tried to grab land which does not belong to it and it has done this with all its neighbours.
With this in mind, the government of British India and the Tibetan government decided to fix their border in 1914.
After China had invaded Tibet for a short time in 1910-11, (forcing the Thirteenth Dalai Lama to take refuge in Kalimpong), the ‘fixation’ of the border between Tibet and India had become imperative.
This was done during the Simla Conference in March 1914 when the Plenipotentiaries of British India (Sir Henry McMahon) and Tibet exchanged maps. Ivan Chen, the Chinese Representative who for several months also participated in the Tripartite Conference was aware of this. There was also an understanding that the British Administration would ‘softly’ penetrate the tribal areas south of the Line, as there were a number of religious institutions closely connected with Tibetan monasteries there.
In Simla, the three representatives were seated at the Conference table on the same footing simply because Tibet was at that time an Independent State.
It is what the Chinese would like to change today.
On August 5, 1943, Antony Eden, then British Foreign Secretary, gave to Dr. T. V. Soong, China’s Foreign Minister, a Memorandum defining the Status of Tibet: “Since the Chinese Revolution of 1911, when Chinese forces were withdrawn from Tibet, Tibet has enjoyed de facto independence. She has ever since regarded herself as in practice completely autonomous and has opposed Chinese attempts to reassert control.”
It is why British India decided in the 1940’s to reassert its control over Tawang area (covering less than a tenth of NeFA) where Tibetans had had an influence in the past.
A secret note on the McMahon Line written a couple of years later states the objectives: “Government of India’s main consideration …was the possibility of the Chinese establishing effective sovereignty over Tibet at the end of the war [WW II]. It was felt that Tibetan encroachments [in the monasteries] at that time might, if they were allowed to remain, help to embitter relations between China and India after the war.”
It is interesting to note that around the same time, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek spoke of ‘independence of Tibet’. Chiang stated in the Chinese Parliament that he desired to allow the ‘frontier racial groups’ to attain independence, if capable of doing so. He also affirmed: “I solemnly declare that if the Tibetans should at this time express a wish for self-government our Government would, in conformity with our sincere traditions, accord it a very high degree of autonomy. If in the future, they fulfill economic requirement of independence, the nation’s Government will, as in the case of Outer Mongolia, help them to attain this status”.
However the Tibetans, who then ran their own Foreign Affairs and the Government of British India had some doubt about the Chinese sincerity. They knew their irredentist attitude: “there is a considerable difference between the British and the Chinese conceptions of the word autonomy,” concluded the same note.
Now according to The People’s Daily, the blame for the failure of the border talks has to be put on India’s multi-party political system. The article says: “India’s society is extremely complicated. Various Indian political parties have different understandings on the China-India border issue, and therefore, it is hard for them to reach an agreement on the issue.”
India’s society might be complicated, but there is no doubt that the Indian public is well-informed (thanks to the freedom of the press) and vigilant. So why should India accept to change acknowledged historical facts such the one-time independence of Tibet?
The last argument of the Chinese official newspaper is strange: “India believes it is not a ‘benefited side’ but is a victim, and therefore, it should not accept the principle of ‘solving the border issue in a mutual understanding and mutual accommodation way’ proposed by China”.
What does it mean? You give us Aksai Chin, we give you Arunachal?
In 1945, Sir Olaf Caroe, India’s Foreign Secretary had mentioned two factors which should govern the Tibetan question. First, Tibet had in practice regarded herself as autonomous and had maintained her autonomy for over 30 years; second, India’s attitude had always been to recognize China’s suzerainty, but on the understanding that Tibet was regarded as autonomous by China.
This policy has been followed by Delhi after Independence and it is on this basis that the Dalai Lama made his Strasbourg Proposal in 1988, dropping Independence for a ‘genuine autonomy’ (which is in fact guaranteed in the Chinese Constitution).
Worrying news comes now from China. Zhu Weiqun, the deputy director of the United Front Work Department which ‘talks’ with the Dalai Lama’s Envoys since 2002, argued in The Study Times (Xuexi Shibao) that China must change some aspects of its present political and educational system in order to achieve national cohesion. It would obliterate the uniqueness of minority nationalities such as the Tibetans, the Uyghurs and the Mongols in the name of ‘national cohesion’.
It would remove the last vestige proving that Tibet was once a separate country with a separate language, culture and religion.
And without Tibet and Tibetans, Zhu probably believes that there will be no McMahon Line and no border issue left to solve.

Can China afford a war?

James Clapper, the Director of the US National Intelligence recently told a Senate Committee on intelligence that the Indian Army was strengthening itself for a ‘limited conflict’ with China: “Despite public statements intended to downplay tensions between India and China, we judge that India is increasingly concerned about China's posture along their disputed border and Beijing's perceived aggressive posture in the Indian Ocean and Asia-Pacific region."
He however added: “The Indian Army believes a major Sino-Indian conflict is not imminent.”
Is this announcement part of a US plan to rope in India in a larger containment plan? Probably!

My article Can China afford a war? appeared in Uday India. It is also available on the site of the Indian Defence Review.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Greater Cohesion with Chinese Characteristics

Zhu Weiqun
An article written by Zhu Weiqun, the Deputy Director of CCP's United Front Work Department in The Study Times (Xuexi Shibao) has hardly been noticed by the Indian press, though it has serious implications for India.
Zhu, who is the interlocutor of the Dalai Lama's Envoys in the so-called Beijing-Dharamsala negotiations, argues that China must change some aspects of its present political and educational system in order to achieve 'national cohesion'.
He wants a discussion on this issue to take place at the upcoming National People's Congress and Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference annual meetings in March.
Zhu raises the possibility of abolishing special privileges and preferential policies offered to minority nationalities, taking the nationality name off all IDs cards and passports and removing nationality names from provinces.
Does it mean that autonomy will be deleted from the Constitution in the name of  promoting a 'greater cohesion'?
Let us not forget that China's State Council published in 2005 a White Paper on Regional Autonomy for Ethnic Minorities in China
The White Pater states: "The People's Republic of China is a united multi-ethnic state founded jointly by the people of all its ethnic groups. So far, there are 56 ethnic groups identified and confirmed by the Central Government." 

Zhu was probably directed by Party's higher-up to write this essay.
This should cause serious worries to the Tibetans. 
In 2008, the Dalai Lama's Envoys had given a Memorandum to Mr Zhu; and a year later, they presented a Note on the Memorandum.
On his return to India, the Dalai Lama's Special Envoy, Lodi Gyari declared:
We first arrived in Changsha, capital of Hunan Province, on January 26, 2010. Before beginning our programmes there, we formally presented to the Central United Front Work Department, a Note relating to the Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy for All Tibetans that we had given during the previous eighth round of dialogue in November 2008. The Note contained seven points that addressed the fundamental issues raised by the Chinese leadership during the eighth round and some constructive suggestions for a way forward in the dialogue process. The seven points include respecting sovereignty and territorial integrity of the PRC, respecting the Constitution of the PRC, respecting the “Three Adherences,” respecting the hierarchy and authority of the Chinese Central Government, Concerns raised by the Central Government on specific competencies referred to the Memorandum, recognising the core issue, and offering His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s cooperation for a mutually beneficial solution.
Zhu Weiqun had already rejected the Memorandum during a Press Conference:
During the contact in 2008, the private representatives of the Dalai Lama handed in a 'Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy of the Tibetan People', which was rejected by us immediately. But now the Dalai clique still shams that they are still "waiting for the central government's response". I would suggest they'd better stop such a self-delusional act.
The latest essay of Zhu will have serious implications for the Tibetans, Uyghurs and Mongols and other minority nationalities. They may loose their identity guaranteed by the Constitution of China.
Zhu and his bosses in the Standing Committee of the Politburo probably believe that it is a way to solve the Tibetan issue once and for all. 
But it could also create more resentment amongst the people of non-Han origin and increase the circle of violence.
For India, it will also have serious implications as Delhi has always acknowledged Tibetan autonomy (within the People's Republic of China, after 1954).
This should be followed closely during the next National People's Congress and Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in March.

Call to strike ethnic status from I.D. cards
South China Morning Post
Minnie Chan
Feb 15, 2012
A senior official has urged the central government to make a host of changes to its ethnic affairs policies, including scrapping the "ethnicity" category from people's identity cards and expanding mixed-ethnic schools.
An article by Zhu Weiqun , deputy head of the Communist Party's United Front Work Department, said in the party's Study Times on Monday that the increasingly mobile population had led to the most intense cultural and economic exchange in Chinese history. He called on the central government to seize that opportunity and set up political and educational systems to better promote "national cohesion".
Zhu, who in is charge of Tibetan affairs, said listing ethnic minority or Han Chinese status on identity cards, using ethnic labels in the titles of schools and autonomous regions, and reserving privileges for members of ethnic minorities were obstacles to promoting such cohesion.
"Some of our current educational and administrative policies have unintentionally weakened [the minority people's] sense of nationhood and Chinese nationalism," he said. "For example, the ethnic consciousness of students studying in [minority] schools was easily stimulated after some ethnic incidents occurred."
He suggested that the central government should expand mixed schooling, with both Han Chinese and ethnic minority children studying Han Chinese culture.
Zhu said his suggestions were aimed at preventing overseas powers from using China's internal ethnic problems to divide the country and urged the authorities to take strict action to punish those pursuing such an agenda on the mainland.
Zhu said the central government's preferential policies "should not put too much emphasis" on targeting people from ethnic minorities but all people from remote and impoverished areas to ease tensions between minorities and Han Chinese.
Dr Barry Sautman, an associate professor of social science at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, argued such a move would widen the wealth gap between Han Chinese and ethnic minorities.
"What Zhu says is complete lies," Sautman said. "If those [preferential] policies are abolished, that is a major departure in terms of the policy stance of the Chinese Communist Party government.
"The answer to narrowing the gap between the Han and the minorities is to increase the levels of privilege polices rather than decrease them. And the answer to satisfying minority people in terms of their desire for increased participation in the affairs of their state is to increase rather than decrease the level of autonomy."
Jiang Zhaoyong , a Beijing-based specialist in Xinjiang issues, said Zhu had adopted suggestions from mainland ethnic affairs experts following riots in Tibet in 2008 and in Urumqi , Xinjiang , in 2009.
"Zhu's article indicates that the central government will make a big change to its ethnic policies in the future," he said, adding that many mainland experts would welcome the elimination of ethnic status on identity cards.
But Sautman argued the move would make it more difficult for minorities to benefit from preferential policies, saying only their identity card can prove their minority status.
"The complaint by many minority people, not just in China, but all over the world, is that their status ... was not decided by themselves, but people far way in their national capitals," Sautman said.
minnie.chan@scmp.com Copyright (c) 2012. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

What Chinese People Really Think and Feel

This is about 'political sarcasm'  found on the Internet in China.
Chinascope has translated some Internet and blog postings about today's China.
One is surprised at the candidness of the bloggers ...and their courage.
Of course, most of the issues raised exist elsewhere in the world and particularly in India, but here we have a relatively free Press which allows the 'masses' to record their frustrations, their anger and the excesses  of the politicians and the civil servants (the formers usually take a beating during the next round of elections as the result of scams' coverage).
It is not yet the case in China which does not know elections.
I had already mentioned on this blog  the funny case of: "The Château Lafite Rothschild that you drank was created on a ship."
Let us hope that the Indian Government will not put its threats of censuring social networks into practice, it would be loss for the society.
Though the people would certainly find a way to circumvent any censure. 
It is not that easy to muzzle the truth in China and elsewhere.  
It gives hope that we shall, one day, live in a better world.

Chinascope Editor’s Note:
Political jokes and sarcasm are a good resource for understanding a country’s political realities, public attitudes, and the nature of problems that affect that society’s stability. An article titled “An Outstanding Student’s Letter to Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao,” which was published on Weibo.com, combined many of the microblog posts published throughout 2011 that exhibited China’s particular affinity for political sarcasm. Some of these postings can also be found on some official websites, such as the public forums for People’s Daily Online. This indicates that it is not just the public that understands the underlying issues; the government officials acknowledge them as well. A translation of a major part of the article follows. The Chinascope editor has added some helpful information so that Western readers may better understand the specific issues, the references, and the subtlety (although sometimes not so subtle) of Chinese humor.]

An Outstanding Student’s Letter to Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao

December 16, 2011

Dear President and Prime Minister:


According to government statistics, in the past 30 years of reform and opening up, the items that have appreciated in value the most were: housing, cemetery plots, officials’ hats (Ed: that the content of officials’ hats appreciates is suggestive of the large amount of money people have to pay in bribes to secure a government position), moon cakes, and mistresses. The items that have depreciated in value the fastest were: professional titles, diplomas, morals, credibility, and the Renminbi.
China has become a nation of many groups, including the no-money-left-by-the-end-of-the-month group (those who spend but don’t plan), the eat-the-elderly group (those who don’t work but live off of their parent’s income), the low-paid-worker group, the living-in-a-tiny-residence group, the ant group, the complainer group, the con artist group, the chasing-self-interest group, and the hiding-marriage group (married people who appear single in public due to workplace or social pressure, such as not being able to afford a wedding).


 This year, a “nail” resident (Ed: 钉子户, a new term in China referring to someone who refuses to give up his home when government officials appropriate the land in order to develop it) resorted to the most desperate solution; she ended her life (Ed: Tang Fuzhen set herself on fire). Her death did not prove the government’s barbarity and shamelessness, but only that gasoline could ignite.


In this year, Li Gang didn’t get famous. Li Gang’s son didn’t get famous either, but Li Gang’s son’s (words about his) dad got really famous. (Ed: Li Gang is the Deputy Director of the Beishi District Police Department, Baoding City, Hebei Province. While driving, his son hit and killed two college students. When the authorities came to get him, he infamously said, “Go ahead and sue me if you dare. My dad is Li Gang!” The sentence, “My dad is Li Gang,” has since been the subject of many sarcastic jokes on the Internet.)


Recently, the government issued telling statistics:
  • If you are not one of the “big three” (a big official, a big celebrity, or someone with big money), what would it cost you to buy a 100-square-meter (900-square-feet) apartment in Beijing at a price of 3 million yuan (U.S. $480,000)?
  • 1. If you are a farmer: Given an annual income of 400 yuan per Mu (0.17 acre), you would need to have farmed 3 Mus every year from the time of the Tang dynasty (618 A.D. – 907 A.D.) until now (assuming there was no disaster at any time).
  • 2. If you are a factory worker: Given a monthly income of 1,500 yuan, you would need to have worked from the time of the Opium War (1839-1842) until now (with no weekends or holidays off).
  • 3. If you are a white-collar worker: Given an annual income of 60,000 yuan, you would need to have earned the same salary since 1960, with no eating or drinking (Ed:  saving every penny) (with no days off) for holidays.
  • 4. If you are a thief: You would need to have committed the same crime 2,500 times and all of those crimes must have been against white-collar workers (Ed: Since the farmers and factory workers earn much less than white-collar workers, stealing from them would not result in much money) over about 30 years.
  • 5. If you are a prostitute: You would have had to service 10,000 customers. Assuming you serviced one customer a day, you would have had to work for 10,000 days straight, from the age of 18 to the age of 46 (with no time off for your menstrual period).
  • Expenses for such items as interior decoration, furniture, and appliances are not included for anyone above.
  • ______
China’s Current Banking Situation (this is classic):
(Ed: In China, all the major banks are state-owned. Therefore, when there is a conflict between the bank and the customer, the government sides with the bank)
  • 1. The customer receives counterfeit money from an ATM machine.  That has nothing to do with the bank.
  • 2. The customer loses money when his online banking account is hacked. That is the customer’s problem.
  • 3. The bank gives too much money to the customer.  The customer must return it.
  • 4. The bank gives too little money to the customer. The bank is no longer responsible once (the customer) leaves the counter.
  • 5. The customer receives less money due to an ATM problem. That’s the customer’s problem.
  • 6. The customer receives too much money due to an ATM problem. The customer is stealing.
  • 7. The President of Kaiping Bank, Guangdong Province, stole 400 million yuan (U.S. $63.5 million). He was sentenced to 2 years in prison.
  • 8. Xu Ting, an ordinary person received an additional 70,000 yuan (U.S. $11,000) due to an ATM error. He was sentenced to life in prison.

China’s Current Situation:
  • You can’t afford to have a baby – a C-section starts at 5,000 yuan.
  • You can’t afford to go to school – choosing a school starts at 30,000 yuan.
  • You can’t afford to have a residence – an apartment starts at over 20,000 yuan per square meter.
  • It’s not that you can’t find a woman to marry, but without an apartment and a car, who will marry you?
  • You can’t afford to support your family – your parents were laid off and you had a baby.
  • You can’t afford to be sick – the charge for medicine is ten times the cost of producing it; it is too expensive.
  • You can’t afford to live – if you work hard for a month, you only earn a little over 1,000 yuan.
  • You can’t afford to die – cremation and burial costs 30,000 yuan or more.
In conclusion: You can’t afford to live, nor can you afford to die.


  • China’s Education System: Hope goes in, desperation comes out.
  • Real estate: A tiny apartment goes in, a huge mortgage comes out.
  • Performing arts: A virgin goes in, a prostitute comes out.
  • The appeals office: Dou’e (Ed: 窦娥, the female protagonist in a well-known Chinese drama – some crooks set her up and an official sentenced her to death) goes in, an insane person comes out.
  • The government: Hai Rui (Ed: 海瑞, an honest official from the Ming Dynasty who refused to become corrupt) goes in; He Shen (Ed: 和绅, a very corrupt official from the Ming Dynasty) comes out.
  • A coal mine: Squat to go in; lay on your back (Ed: meaning you are dead) to come out.
  • University: A beautiful girl goes in; a prostitute comes out.
  • The stock market: Yang Baiwan (Ed: a rich person worth over 1 million yuan) goes in, Yang Bailao (Ed: 杨白劳, a poor peasant in a CCP drama in which the landlord took away his daughter because he was not able to pay back his debt to the landlord) comes out.
  • A BMW goes in, a bicycle comes out.
  • Suits go in, underwear comes out.


An ordinary person might think, “Why can’t I outwit the government?” Here are the reasons:
  • If you reason with it, it acts like a villain.
  • If you act like a villain, it talks to you about following the law.
  • If you talk to it about following the law, it talks to you about politics.
  • If you talk to it about politics, it talks to you about the unique national situation.
  • If you talk to it about the unique national situation, it talks to you about catching up with international standards.
  • If you talk to it about catching up international standards, it talks to you about culture (which is different from nation to nation).
  • If you talk to it about culture, it talks to you about Confucius.
  • If you talk to it about Confucius, it talks to you about the Big Me (Ed: what a person calls himself when bullying others).
  • If you talk to it about the Big Me, it pretends to be a pitiful small man!


  • (Poisoned) milk powder destroyed the 2000s generation (those born in the first decade of 2000);
  • Exams destroyed the 90s; (Ed: Endless exams for students)
  • Housing prices destroyed the 80s; (Ed: The people who started working then can’t afford housing.)
  • Unemployment destroyed the 70s; (Ed: People in their 40s have been laid off.)
  • Urban management staff destroyed the 60s; (Ed: Urban management, or 城管, the government staff that manages street order and minor local crimes. [7] It means that the government forced people in their 50s into retiring from their jobs and then would not allow them to set up vendor booths on the street in order to make a living.)
  • Forced retirement destroyed the 50s;
  • Forced-demolition destroyed the 40s;
  • Medical insurance reform destroyed the 30s. (Ed: In the past, the work place guaranteed people medical insurance. In the past few years, China made a series of medical reforms to off-load the burden from state-owned enterprises onto the Bureau of Civil Affairs. As a result, some people lost their insurance or ended up with limited or greatly reduced coverage. The elderly were hit the hardest on this issue.)


People who are living and living very well attended the two Conferences (Ed: 两会, the National People's Congress and Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. These two Chinese characters used can also be interpreted as “know two things”).
Someone asked, “What is ‘knowing two things’?”
  • A farmer representative replied, “Knowing how to raise a pig and how to mate.”
  • A worker representative replied, “Knowing how to earn money and how to spend money.”
  • An off-farm worker representative replied, “Knowing how to get the withheld money (Ed: It’s a common practice in China for businesses to withhold off-farm workers’ wages) and how to kneel (Ed: Some off-farm workers have no choice but to kneel to beg the business owners to give them their money).”
  • A sleep-in housemaid representative replied, “Knowing how to sleep with the male master and how to make the bed.”
  • A performer representative replied, “Knowing how to create publicity and how to sleep with (the big names or the rich people).”
  • A businessman representative replied, “Knowing how to make money and how to avoid paying taxes.”
  • An official representative replied, “Knowing how to lie and how to accept bribes.”
  • An investor representative replied, “Knowing how to sell at loss and how to cry.”


When Gao Xiaosong (Ed: A Chinese musician who was put in prison for six months in 2011 for drunk driving) got out of prison, he wrote on his personal microblog, “November 8, the beginning of winter, my term (in prison) is over,; I am returning home. 184 days, the longest 6 months. How is every one? How is the outside world?”

“Teacher Xiaosong, in the past 6 months:
Laden was killed;
  • Gaddafi also died;
  • The State Administration of Radio, Film and Television restricted entertainment:
  • Pan Currency was issued; (Ed: Pan Currency, or 潘币, is a unit for measuring the price of housing, suggested by Pan Shiyi, the Chairman of Soho China. 1 Pan equals 1,000 yuan per square meter. Pan Shiyi later introduced Pan Currency on his microblog using his face to replace Mao Zedong’s face on the Renminbi.)
  • The urban management staff was still mighty;
  • The national soccer team was still lame; (Ed: The Chinese are big soccer fans but, year after year, the national team’s performance in international competitions has disappointed them. On top of that, in recent years, many players have been involved in scandals.)
  • When old people fell, still no one dared to help them;
  • The high-speed train crash investigation yielded no result;
  • The “da Vinci” brand furniture that you wanted to buy turned out to be fake; (Ed: “da Vinci” was a hyped-up “super Italian” furniture brand in China that commanded sky-high prices. It was found to be a fake brand (not from Italy) and the materials used were of poor quality.
  • The Château Lafite Rothschild that you drank was created on a ship; (Ed: Suggesting it was not the real Château Lafite Rothschild from France, but fake.)
  • We were all good, just didn’t have a ticket to board (Noah’s Ark) (Ed: A reference to 2012 being the end of the world). …

  • High-speed trains in Wenzhou kissed each other,
  • Subways in Shanghai rear-ended,
  • A train in Beijing fell off the track,
  • A ship in Hunan sank into the river,
  • The FBC-1 (Flying Leopard) fighter jet crashed,
  • To protect the South China Sea territory, we can only use our mouths, (Ed: Hinting the government only talks instead of taking real action)
  • When they go to Thailand, humans become ghosts. (Ed: Referring to the 13 Chinese sailors who were murdered on the Mekong River in Thailand.

The differences between television and the computer (Ed: comparing the state-controlled media with the Internet):
When you turn on the computer, it seems that the society is so dark, officials are so corrupt, gangsters are on a rampage, people struggle to make ends meet, and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will be destroyed immediately.
When you turn on the television, it seems that society is in such harmony, people are so happy, the whole country is full of peace and prosperity, and the CCP will stay in power for a hundred years without any problem.

The computer shows you a picture of real life,
Television shows you a picture of wedding portrait. (Ed: Implying the television has “make-up” on and is highly illusionary.)


In the great People’s Republic of China:
Gasoline? We can’t afford to fill our tanks.
Roads? We can’t afford to walk on them. (Ed: Many local governments collect tolls for use of the roads)
School? We can’t afford to go to them.
Sickness? We can’t afford to be treated.
An apartment? We can’t afford to buy one.
Cemetery? We can’t afford buy a plot, so we can’t afford to die.
Vegetables? We can’t afford to eat.
Debts? We can’t afford to pay them back.
Lawsuits? We can’t afford to take anyone to court.
Officials? We can’t afford to offend them.
Wedding? We can’t afford to have one.
Children? We can’t afford to raise them.
Love? We can’t risk being hurt.
Consciences? Sorry, we don’t have any.
The old person who falls? We don’t help.
The child crushed by a car? We don’t save.
In China, we are still alive. Isn’t that amazing??????

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Valentine Day on the McMahon Line

This lovely place is located just north of the McMahon Line, where the Yarlung Tsangpo/Brahmaputra enters the Indian territory (Upper Siang District of Arunachal Pradesh).
Last year, I had mentioned the tunnel built by the PLA to open up the area to 'tourism' and ...the troops of the Liberation Army.
Considering that Tibet is closed for tourism for at least one month, I seriously doubt that anybody got the permission to spend the Valentine Day in Metok. Such a pity! 
But, if you have the patience to wait 3 or 4 years, you will be able to take a train ride from Lhasa (at least to Nyingtri, the Prefecture headquarters). Even more romantic!
To spend a unique Valentine's Day in Metok
Want to spend a unique Valentine's Day with the one you love? Want to get rid of the routine ways of holding roses and walking on places without surprises?
Metok is the answer.
Located southeast of Tibet Autonomous Region, Metok County is surrounded by high mountains in four sides. With an altitude of 1,200 meters, Metok has long drawn attention due to its plentiful rainfall, various wildlife and lush greenery in all seasons.
Take the one you love to enjoy the snow-capped mountains and the imposing Yarlung Tsangpo Canyon, taste the traditional Tibetan food such as buttered tea and highland barley wine, and make your love experience more unforgettable and unique.