Thursday, May 30, 2013

The new boss of Tibet and Xinjiang preaches 'stability'

Yu Zhengsheng in a mosque in Hotan
Yu Zhengsheng, member of the Standing Committee of the CCP's Political Bureau and Chairman of the CPPCC recently undertook an inspection tour in Hotan, Kashgar, Yili and Urumqi of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. He spent 5 days (from May 23 to 28) in the area.
This demonstrates the importance that the Party attaches to the restive Muslim province.
This tour also tends to prove that Yu Zhengsheng has taken over the Chairmanship of the Xinjiang Work Coordination Small Group which will monitor the Xinjiang Affairs.
A couple of days earlier, Yu had chaired his first Central Tibet Work Coordination Small Group in Beijing.
Yu is therefore the Party's strong man for Tibet, Xinjiang and Taiwan.The exact composition of the Tibet Small Group is not known, though I have mentioned some possible names on this blog.
Apart from the Central Officials, the meeting is said to have been attended by cadres from Gansu, Qinghai, Sichuan and the Tibetan Autonomous Region.
The Party Secretaries from these areas went back to their respective provinces and gave speeches on the importance of Yu’s comments. 
From Yu's declarations in Xinjiang, one can guess what Yu told the Party cadres in Beijing: he probably called for greater efforts for improving people's living conditions and promoting ethnic solidarity and social harmony. 
He must have emphasized 'social stability'.
In Xinjiang, he also spoke of "effective measures to be put in place to contain the breeding and spreading of religious extremist elements."
On his return to Tibet, Chen Quanguo, the TAR's Party Secretary went for an inspection tour  of the Nagchu Prefecture; he carried Yu’s message to “bring stability and harmony to Nachu".
Unfortunately for Secretary Chen, the day he was returning to Lhasa, thousands of Tibetans gathered in Driru county (Chinese: Biru in Nagchu Prefecture). They met at a sacred Tibetan mountain to demonstrate against the Chinese government's planned mining projects in Driru county.
The Tibet Post reported: 
On May 24, 2013, over 1,000 trucks  [probably cars]  loaded more than 5,400 Tibetans from the four major areas, including Pekar, Nagshoe Phudha and Tsala gathered in Dathang town, near the sacred mountain in protest of the growing Chinese mining tensions in the county; said Mr Ngawang Tharpa, an exile Tibetan in Dharamshala, citing contacts in the region. The mountain is called Lhachen Naglha Dzambha, rich in mineral resources and it has the Gyalmo Ngulchu [Salween River] running through its foothills. Sources said the local Tibetans ultimately managed to stop the mining at the holy Mountain.
The current situation is tense in the Driru county, where the local authorities deployed over fifty military convoys to the protest site, according to sources from inside Tibet.
Two protesters Gonp and Abu would have died in a car accident on their way to the site.
According to Radio Free Asia (RFA): "Mining operations in Tibetan regions have led to frequent standoffs with Tibetans who accuse Chinese firms of disrupting sites of spiritual significance and polluting the environment as they extract local wealth.  ...Waste from the mines, in operation since 2005, “has been dumped in the local river, and mining activities have polluted the air,” one source said."
This is bad luck for Mr. Chen who had just come to preach 'stability'.
This is not the first time that such incident has happened.
Last October, two Tibetan cousins Tsepo, 20 and Tenzin, 25, self-immolated in front of a school in Driru.
Local contacts told Tibetans in exile that the cousins shouted slogans calling for freedom in Tibet and the return of Tibet's spiritual leader the Dalai Lama before setting themsevlec alight. They also pleaded for all Tibetans to be "united like brothers”.
RFA commented: "Tibetans in Driru have been in the forefront of opposition to Chinese rule in the Tibet Autonomous Region since deadly riots in the region in 2008, with monks and nuns protesting and abandoning monasteries in order to defy 'intrusive' new Chinese regulations."
At that time, Lobsang Gyaltsen, who since then has become the head of the government in the TAR had stayed 2 weeks in the area to pacify the Tibetans.
The Party's senior cadres' exhortations do not seem to work on the local population.
As I mentioned earlier the resentment against the Chinese administration is extremely strong in the region. 
This goes in parallel with the looting of the underground wealth of Tibet

Yu tours Xinjiang, stresses curbing extremism, terrorism
May 29, 2013
URUMQI, May 28 (Xinhua) During his tour of Xinjiang, China's top political advisor stressed containing the growth of religious extremist elements and maintaining a high intensity in the fight against terrorist activities.
The tour took Yu Zhengsheng, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, to Hotan, Kashgar, Yili and Urumqi in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region from May 23-28.
Visiting villages, companies, schools, police stations, a border port and a mosque, Yu called for greater efforts in improving people's living conditions and promoting ethnic solidarity and social harmony.
To facilitate the region's economic and social development and long-term stability, he urged local authorities to fully implement policies that the central authorities have prescribed for Xinjiang.
During the visit, Yu held meetings on safeguarding social stability with local government workers and people from religious circles.
In addition to measures to encourage more religious believers to contribute to Xinjiang's development and stability, he demanded effective measures be put in place to contain the breeding and spreading of religious extremist elements.
"Meanwhile, we should maintain a high intensity in fighting violent terrorist activities in accordance with the law," he said.
Yu also paid a special visit to Bachu County, Kashgar Prefecture, where he relayed the central authorities' condolences to the survivors and family members of those who died in a deadly clash with a group of alleged terrorists on April 23.
Describing employment as a key aspect concerning both public well-being and social stability in Xinjiang, he called for more support for vocational training and the growth of labor-intensive industries.
Yu also urged efforts to improve ethnic minority language-Mandarin Chinese bilingual education environments at local schools, thus fostering communication among different ethnic groups.
Noting that the fundamental means for Xinjiang to realize stability and prosperity is through economic and social development, Yu urged efforts to quicken the development of specialty industries while protecting the environment.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Mr. Li and the Three Idiots

Li came, Li saw (the Indian confusion) and Li won.
It was not difficult. He spoke of the Three Idiots, a film that his daughter ‘forced’ him to see, and the Indian establishment (and media) melted: “The guy is really nice; he loves Indian movies”. Further, he chose to eat vegetarian at his Indian counterpart’s banquet. Wow, here is a Chinese leader who is different; he deeply respects our customs.
But is Mr. Li really different?
The South China Morning Post believes that Li’s foreign tour (India, Pakistan, Switzerland and Germany) was a success: “On his maiden, eight-day diplomatic trip as premier, Li Keqiang not only engaged in serious bilateral talks but also attempted to show his personable side to boost the image of the Chinese leadership.”
The Hong Kong publication continues: “Li expressed his appreciation of foreign culture and appeared self-confident when touching on sensitive issues.”
In Germany, he even watched live the European Champion League final between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.
He told a charmed German chancellor "If we both come together in an ideal and optimal way, a dream team will emerge."
The tough lady also melted. Though the European Commission had planned to impose hefty duties on solar panel imports from China, making it difficult for Beijing to dump low cost panels and destroy the European solar industry, Merkel said that Germany would oppose Brussels’ decision.
In Berlin, Li even announced that China was willing to preferentially open up its market to Germany; never mind that it is impossible under EU rules, Mr. Li made the offer.
As Mr. Li was demonstrating his charisma in Europe, the news flashed that China had managed to construct a road upto Finger–IV area in the Sirijap sector, on the northern shore of the Panggong Lake in Ladakh, some five km deep inside the Indian territory. The incident took place on May 17, only two days before Li’s arrival in India.
As Delhi was keen to have a ‘successful’ visit by the Chinese Premier, the cat was kept in the bag.
In any case why to worry, the Defence Minister declared a week later: "Army is updated about latest position there. Whenever these kinds of incidents happen in the local areas, they are handling it.” Mr Antony added: “India can protect its national interests. India is not the India of the past.”
The nation is reassured!
Many will however be disappointed that Mr. Li’s Indian visit brought no concrete progress on the border issue. The Joint Statement just “expressed satisfaction over the work done so far by Special Representatives” and “encouraged them to push forward the process of negotiations and seek a framework for a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable settlement.” The usual stuff, as if nothing had happened in April
Dr. Manmohan and his Chinese counterpart only reiterated the existence of different mechanisms, they “noted with satisfaction that the meetings of the India-China Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on Border Affairs held till date have been fruitful.”
Not a word to explain the Chinese PLA’s intrusions in Depsang Plains, just five weeks earlier. Is the Indian public not entitled to know what has happened? Apparently no!
The common man shall probably never be told why the Chinese came, camped on Indian soil and left. Why was the incident taken so lightly by India? It will remain a secret for the sake of Sino-Indian friendship.
From the start, Mr. Li probably knew that nothing would happen on the border front. A proof, he left his main ‘negotiator’ at home.
Yang Jiechi, State Councilor and Special Representative on the border issue (far senior to the Wang Yi, the Foreign Affairs Minister who was in Delhi) was meeting the Mexican Foreign Minister and the Mongolian Deputy Prime Minister in Beijing while Li was enjoying Indian food.
Why was Yang not in the Premier’s plane? Simple, it is not in China’s interest to work out a border agreement with India right now. The marine disputes in the South China and East China Seas are far more important.
Another serious issue between India and China is the trade imbalance.
Both countries have fixed an ambitious target of US$ 100 billion as the trade turnover by 2015
The Joint Statement says: “the two countries agreed to take measures to address the issue of the trade imbalance. These include cooperation on pharmaceutical supervision including registration, stronger links between Chinese enterprises and Indian IT industry, and completion of phytosanitary negotiations on agro-products.”
Last financial year, India's exports to China reached only $ 13.52 billion while its imports were $ 54.3 billion. A trade deficit of $ 40.78 billion is not paltry! Here again, though China professed that it is keen to solve the issue, in action Beijing does not seem interested.
The Times of India reported from Beijing that the companies represented in Li Keqiang’s business delegation “seem bent on selling instead of buying in the Indian market.”
The newspaper explained: “Only five of the 73 Chinese companies in the list of Fortune 500 are represented in the business delegation, providing an interesting reality check to the Indian industry.”
Who was represented? Mainly companies wanting to enhance their sales in India such as crane manufacturers (Sany), power machinery (Shanghai Electric), telecom equipment giants (Huawei and ZTE), aluminum industry equipment (Dalian Cimm), items for lightening (China National Township Enterprises) or art and craft goods (China Artex).
The strangest is that the Indian National Security Council (NSC) had warned the Government that Telecom imports from China could pose significant national security risks to the country.
Sanjeev Nayyar wrote in The Business Standard: “Part of the NSC's justification for this claim is that Huawei and ZTE have links to Programme 863 of the Chinese government, which was administered by the People's Liberation Army.”
Even if it rings alarm bells in the Indian intelligence circles, the Government does not seem to be much bothered.
In an interview in New York, EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht alleged that Huawei and ZTE violated anti-dumping and anti-subsidy guidelines; he said the cheap capital ‘created a distorted playing field’.
The South China Morning Post pointed out that “cheap finance from China's state-backed banks is increasingly regarded by the EU and the United States as an unfair subsidy that breaks global trade law.” What about for India?
It is doubtful if Commerce Secretary S R Rao who will be leading a team of Indian government officials to China can change anything in the present stakes.

Tourists and Trespassers?
Another irritant: why to always club a visit to Delhi with a trip to Islamabad? The Chinese leader ended up praising Pakistan so much , that it became embarrassing for Delhi. In an interview, Li Kequiang declared: “When it comes to Pakistan, the first word that comes to the mind of the Chinese is ‘iron brother’. To us Chinese, Pakistan is always a trustworthy friend who is as solid as iron. Actually, Chinese netizens refer to Pakistan as Iron Pak.”
Beijing is free to choose its ‘iron’ partners, but this choice should not be associated with India.
From China’s point of view, Li’s foreign tour was certainly a success. He showed an affable face of the Middle Kingdom and many thought that the new leadership is different. It remains to be seen in acts.
Regarding the Three Idiots, the story does not say if Ms Li, the Premier’s daughter gave her father a pirated version or an original DVD. But Mr. Li certainly enjoyed seeing the blue shores of the Panggong Lake with the majestic mountains of Ladakh as a background, it is however no reason to build a road on the opposite shore on Indian territory.

Monday, May 27, 2013

More Chinese Tourists in India?

Chinese Tourists were there
Before his first meeting with Dr. Manmohan Singh in  Durban, South Africa, President Xi Jinping declared that he and his team would continue with the previous administration’s friendly approach to India.
He mentioned boosting economic ties and cooperation on multilateral issues. He seemed keen to keep on the back-burner issues such as the border dispute, transboundary rivers and China's ongoing projects in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
He formulated five points for the Sino-Indian relations:
  1. First, to maintain strategic communication and keep bilateral relations on the right track.
  2. Second, we [China] should harness each other’s comparative strength and expand win-win cooperation in infrastructure, mutual investment and other areas.
  3. Third, we should strengthen cultural ties and constantly increase mutual understanding and friendship between our peoples.
  4. Fourth, we should expand coordination and collaboration in multilateral affairs to jointly safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of developing countries and tackle global challenges.
  5. Fifth, we should accommodate each other’s core concerns and properly handle problems and differences existing between our two countries.
Interestingly, a month before the Depsang Plain incident, President Xi suggested: “The boundary question is a complex issue left over from history and solving the issue will not be easy. However, as long as we keep up our friendly consultation we can eventually arrive at a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable settlement. Pending the final settlement, the two sides should work together to maintain peace and tranquility in border areas and prevent the boundary question from affecting the all-round development in ties.”
Well, it was not to be.
At that time, it was thought that the 'mutual understanding and friendship between our peoples' would be synonymous of more Chinese tourists visiting India and vice-versa. Nothing on these lines was mentioned in the Joint Statement signed during Premier Li's visit in Delhi.
A couple of years back, Xinhua reported that while 550,000 Indian tourists visited China in 2010 (a 22 % growth from the previous year), only 100,000 Chinese tourists came to India. These figures were given by China National Tourist Office in New Delhi.
According to Chinese tour operators, high hotel price and lack of hygiene were among the factors that hinder more tourists.
Xinhua quoted Catherine Ho, deputy manager of GZL International Travel Service which had participated in 'India Outbound Travel Mart' for the past 10 years.  She explained that high price, language, food and hygiene were the hindering factors.
Ho particularly mentioned hygiene: "more than 60 percent of our Chinese guests who came to India experience diarrhea due to unhygienic food, therefore they had to be more carefully about what they eat and drink while more Chinese residences in Australia and South East make these destinations language and food problem free."
Then it is difficult to get tourist visa from China: "Recently it took more time to get visa, and sometimes applications was refused by Indian embassy in China saying that the applicant looked like business traveler rather than tourists," she told Xinhua.
The issue seemed to have been skipped during the recent visit of Premier Li Keqiang in India.
When one reads the article of The South China Morning Post posted below, it is perhaps better to go slow on the development of the tourist industry between India and China, in view of each side's serious recriminations against the other.
There is another angle to it, the security issue.
Last week, the Department of Security of the Central Tibetan Administration in Dharamsala said that one Penpa Tsering, 33, a former member of the People's Liberation Army, had been hatching a 'terror plot' to poison two Tibetan youths to 'spread chaos and terror in the Tibetan community.'
The communique of the Department says: "This latest exposure goes well beyond Chinese government’s aggressive intelligence gathering on His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Central Tibetan Administration and other exile based organisations to undermine the exile community.”
The 'spy' hailing from Nagchu prefecture in central Tibet would have confessed to Tibetan security officials that he was first recruited by Li Yuquan, a senior Chinese official posted in Tibet. Li was earlier Head of Public Security Bureau of Nagchu Prefecture, later he was transferred to Chamdo Prefecture.
Intelligence gathering by Chinese 'tourists' is certainly an issue to be considered.

Nanjing teenager exposed as perpetrator of Temple of Luxor graffiti attack
May 27, 2013
South China Morning Post
Mandy Zuo
Tourist from Nanjing carried out graffiti attack in Temple of Luxor, his parents confirm
A mainland tourist who defaced a sculpture at a 3,500-year-old Egyptian temple has been identified as a teenager from Nanjing, his embarrassed parents confirmed yesterday.
He had written "Ding Jinhao was here" on the artwork some years ago during a visit to the Temple of Luxor, the parents said in an apologetic interview with Nanjing's Modern Express newspaper on Saturday.
Ding's graffiti caused an online stir this week when a microblogger posted a photo of the message, citing it as an example of shameful behaviour by mainland tourists abroad. The post attracted a torrent of replies, including suggestions that the perpetrator be tracked down.
Some disclosed personal information about Ding, including his age and school, after searching his records online.
The website of his former primary school in Nanjing was attacked yesterday. It showed the same message that Ding had left in Egypt, and visitors to the site had to click the message before they could open the homepage.
Ding's parents told the Modern Express that it was their lack of education and supervision that led to his mischief.
They said the attack happened when their son, now in middle school, was little. They were with a tourist group and did not notice when he scrawled on the sculpture, the mother said.
"We have taken him sightseeing since he was little, and we often saw such graffiti. But we didn't realise we should have told him that this is wrong," she said. The mother also implored internet users not to hound her son.
Mainlanders are today the biggest drivers of global tourism, but their sheer numbers and a perception that they can be insensitive travellers have strained their reputation.
At a conference earlier this month to implement the newly passed Tourism Law, vice premier Wang Yang said some mainland tourists behaved poorly and hurt the nation's image.
The law, to come into force in October, says that tourists should "cherish tourist resources and abide by social morality while sightseeing," although it mentions no offences or penalties.
Mainland tourists made some 82 million international visits last year, according to the China Tourism Academy.

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Chinese Dream and the Cosmic Truth

From the Economist's cover
The People's Daily recently provided  more details on China's Dream, so dear to President Xi Jinping.
The Daily first explained why a Dream:
The concept of Chinese dream has been widely spread for some time. In the context of weak economic recovery, complicated security situation and accelerated adjustment of international order, the world needs dreams indeed. The reason Chinese dream has caught close attention is that it complies with the history trend and echoes the world expectation.
But who is this Dream for? 
The mouthpiece of the Communist Party answers that it is for peace, for the world. It says:
The Chinese dream is a dream for peace. Adhering to the peaceful development is China’s choice of the times. China stands for peace settlement for global disputes and issues and the new security concept of mutual trust, mutual benefit, equal and cooperation. The country strives for development under peaceful global circumstance and promotes world peace by self-development. China has actively participated in the dialogue and cooperation for international security. It has contributed to world peace.
But there is more in the Chinese Dream. It is for the people and their well-being: Read this:
The Chinese dream is a dream for development. Chinese people focus on development and have made brilliant progress since the Reform and Opening-up. China has become the stabilizer and new engine, especially since the breakout of the international financial crisis. Data from the IMF show China has contributed one fourth of global economy growth with a one tenth global economic aggregate. Chinese people promote the world economic recovery by their hard work, which is the best interpretation of human being’s common dream - development.  
Let all the countries of the world could work together, prophetically asserts the Dream:
The Chinese dream is a dream for cooperation. The interrelation and interdependency of countries have deepened largely, and cooperation and mutual benefits have become a common view. China pushes forward pragmatic cooperation with other countries and adheres to providing help to developing countries. The country has always taken dialogue and negotiation as the best means to resolve differences, committing to create a new way to coexistence. China’s road of cooperation is getting more and more reorganization in the world.
Let us all live in Harmony: China and the rest of the world, dreams the new President:
The Chinese dream is a dream for harmony. Unfair and unreasonable old international order which has not been fundamentally changed is the most important cause of world chaos and dilemma. China advocates equality, mutual trust, tolerance and mutual learning cooperation and win-win spirit in the international relations, respects diversity and development of human civilization, actively involves in promoting the establishment of a just and reasonable new international political and economic order. It has committed to building a harmonious world with lasting peace and common prosperity. Chinese dream reflects the inevitable requirement for sustainable development of human society, opportunities for more countries. Under the background of globalization, the Chinese dream belongs to the world. During the close cooperation with the other countries, the Chinese dream will surely step forward with the world dream.
If you now believe in the Chinese Dream, I will advise you, not to read the following article, you may end up confused.

Post-script: The People's Liberation Daily, the PLA publication has gone a step further in praising the Dream. 
The Daily said that the Chinese Dream "is like seeing a ship's mast in the sea, like seeing the radiant sun rise in the east". 
The Editor added: "It is the dogma of my belief, the cosmic truth. ...The dream is more important than anything." 
The Chinese Army is told: "Belief is like water that carries the ship; belief is like wind that sustains the wings."
It is rare for the Chinese Army to have glimpses of the 'cosmic truth'. 
The 'cosmic' experience must have occurred in the Depsang Plains, near Daulat Beg Oldi in the altitude of Ladakh. The Indian jawans did not see the 'cosmic truth', it was too cold for them.

Beijing's increasingly heavy-handed response to maintain stability
May 22, 2013
South China Morning Post
Chang Ping says two recent heavy-handed displays of power to quell relatively minor protests show the authorities are ramping up efforts to maintain stability, and would not hesitate to quash any sign of dissent
Before the Wenchuan earthquake in 2008, the most serious public incident in Chengdu was the protest against the setting up of a petrochemical plant in the suburbs of Pengzhou city. People answered blog calls and gathered "for a peaceful stroll" on May 4. That followed a number of anti-pollution protests in Xiamen.
A large number of police officers were on hand at the protest site, dispersing any passers-by who looked likely to linger for an assembly. City authorities and businesses also called meetings with employees, warning them that they would be sacked and punished if they were absent from work that day. As a result, the protest was quashed.
The Wenchuan quake happened just eight days later, killing more than 88,000 people. Despite the sadness, the people were glad that the site for the planned Pengzhou petrochemical facility had been badly damaged and the project would most likely be scrapped. Certainly, they did not expect the project to return five years later. Another "peaceful stroll" seemed to be on the cards on May 4 this year.
The difference today, from five years ago, was marked. This time, the authorities took much stronger measures. Chengdu authorities organised a drill for some 170,000 people to promote social stability. All the streets and alleys around the planned protest were packed with uniformed and plainclothes police officers as well as all manner of people ready to defend "order".
It was a weekend but schools stayed open and all private and public offices were open for overtime. Meanwhile, people buying surgical masks had to register their names first; shopkeepers were asked to report purchases. Rights activists either went "missing" or were kept in custody. I phoned a female acquaintance who had taken part in the "tofu schools" investigation after the Wenchuan quake and found that she was being watched and monitored by four policemen. This protest was over even faster than the one five years ago.
On May 3, Yuan Liya, a young woman from Anhui, plunged to her death from the multi-storey Jingwen wholesale clothing market in the Fengtai district of Beijing. Police said it was suicide.
Her family asked for surveillance videos to be checked, but police refused. Blog rumours began to circulate claiming she had jumped to her death as she tried to resist being gang raped by security guards. On May 8, protesters gathered outside the market and demanded a thorough police investigation. The response they got was the arrival of a shockingly large contingent of anti-riot police, armed officers, military vehicles and helicopters. Some people even claimed to have seen heavy artillery being delivered. It was almost like a war zone in the southern section of the capital.
A friend with a non-governmental organisation in Beijing told me she suggested they should pay attention to this gathering of civilian protesters. But before they could even decide what to do next, police had arrived at their office. The fact is that this proactive NGO is under constant surveillance and monitoring.
My conversations with some people involved in the two cases have led me to doubt several ideas currently in vogue about the authorities.
First, it is generally thought that the government authorities are plagued by internal chaos, with corruption and bureaucracy rife in their ranks, which is adversely affecting their efficiency.
This certainly seems to be the case whenever they are called on to deal with livelihood problems. But, when it comes to ensuring the safety of the ruling class, miraculously, the system works like clockwork.
For years, the public at large and academics believed that strongman politics had ended with the death of Deng Xiaoping, and that there would be no one bold enough to give the order to "fire" on protesters in the event of another June 4 incident occurring. But we must question that belief when artillery and helicopters are immediately deployed in a minor case involving the death of a young woman.
Should another June 4 occur, it seems that today there would be no intra-party struggle or moral conflict to be resolved; the gunfire might just begin sooner, and the violence be more forceful. In addition, since it became known that the Communist Party has for years been spending billions of yuan annually on efforts to maintain social stability, the media, both at home and abroad, has questioned the ability of the state to sustain this, simply in financial terms.
The fact is that with repeated crackdowns by the authorities eroding people's courage to resist, the party may not need to raise its budget that drastically to maintain stability. And when law-enforcement officers seek to maintain stability at all costs, shirking their other duties such as maintaining law and order and helping the people, what is the cost? With only this to gauge their performance, there is no proper mechanism to hold them responsible. Added to this, without scrutiny and monitoring in the court of public opinion, authorities find it all too easy to impose taxes, both directly and in other ways.
Chang Ping is a current affairs commentator writing on politics, society and culture. This commentary is translated from Chinese

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Himalayan blunder to Himalayan handshake

My article Himalayan blunder to Himalayan handshake appeared in the Edit Page of The Pioneer today.

Click here to read...

India should demand concrete gestures from China. Then we shall see whether Beijing is ready to match its words with deeds, and agrees to exchange the border maps pertaining to the Eastern and the Western sectors

I  am confused. Is Mr Li Keqiang, the new Chinese Premier, a sincere person or is he, like his illustrious predecessor Zhou Enlai, only a smooth-talker? Indeed, he speaks sweetly. In an Op-Ed in a national newspaper, he says: “China and India are destined to be together. They should work hand in hand if Asia is to become the anchor of world peace”. That sounds great. He also says: “We live in an age of change, but there are always certain things that are enduring, forever refreshing and attractive. India is such a nation, at once old and young. …[India and China] represent the two pillars of the civilisation of the East.” But when he states: “Today, the handshake across the Himalayas is even stronger”, is it really true after the border incident in Ladakh?
For Mr Li, the present problems are left-overs from ‘history’. One can’t deny this; for centuries the towering Himalayas, as the Chinese Premier calls the border, were ruled by the Dalai Lamas in Lhasa, and the Emperors of the Middle Kingdom had, except for very short periods, little say on the Roof of the World. For India, the ‘left-over of history’ is the Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1950.
Stranger is when Mr Li speaks philosophy to stress the importance of making friends with neighbours: “Do not do unto others what you do not want others to do unto you”, he says. Then why did he order his troops to plant their tents on Indian territory? Was he expecting India to do the same to China? Who is the real Mr Li? The one who nostalgically speaks of his student days when he visited India? Or the powerful leader of an authoritarian regime which has disputes with most of its neighbours?
Assuming that China had some grievances against India, why could these not be taken up at one of the scheduled bilateral meetings (External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid’s visit to Beijing or Mr Li’s present trip to India)? Visits to China by the Union Minister for Defence and the Indian Prime Minister are also planned for later this year. There were at least four occasions to solve pending issues, so why take the extreme step of setting up a camp on Indian territory, creating bitterness and distrust? The strangest thing is that Mr Li did not mention any serious grievance against India (at least publicly) during his stay in India.
One reason could be that one arm of China (the State Council) did not know what the other (the PLA) was planning. It is not easy to prove, but it remains a strong possibility with scary implications. Is this why Mr S Jaishankar, the Indian Ambassador to China, referred to the Chinese incursion in Ladakh as ‘very unusual’? This is a charitable way to explain the two faces of the Chinese leadership.
What does not help is that opposite the young and affable-looking Chinese Prime Minister is his shy Indian counterpart. Take the dams under construction on the Yarlung Tsangpo/Brahmaputra in Tibet. In his Joint Statement with Mr Li, Mr Manmohan Singh said: “It would be useful for the mandate of our Expert Level Mechanism to be expanded to include information sharing on upstream development projects on these rivers.” Why say “would be useful”, and not just that India demands a legal mechanism/agreement to access the upstream developments on the Brahmaputra. Small mercy, the Joint Statement does not utter the ‘One China’ policy or mention that “Tibet is an inseparable part of China”. In any case, it has been said ad nauseam.
Regarding the border, the Joint Statement suggests: “Pending the resolution of the boundary question, the two sides shall work together to maintain peace and tranquility in the border areas in line with the previous agreements.” What does “in line with the previous agreements” mean? As seen in the Depsang Plains in Ladakh, the Chinese are ready to break all existing agreements when it suits them. This is not unusual for China which often professes something and does something else.
In the Joint Statement, India and China reaffirm their opposition to weaponisation and an arms race in outer space. A week earlier, Reuters mentioned that China had launched a rocket into the space and that later the object re-entered the earth’s atmosphere. For Washington, DC, this was the first test for a new interceptor that could be used to destroy a satellite in orbit. Apparently, the Chinese rocket reached 10,000 km above Earth, the highest suborbital launch since 1976. Is this launch not contributing to the arms race in the outer space? Why get India to reaffirm its commitment when China simply does what it wants?
In the present circumstances, what can be done? The Prime Minster of India announced that the Special Representatives will soon meet to seek an “early agreement on a framework for a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable boundary settlement”. India should ask for concrete gestures from China; it is the only way for Mr Li to show that China is ready to match its words with its deeds. The first and most important action is for India and China to exchange maps of all sectors of their common border. It has apparently already been done in the Middle Sector (Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand); it should be done without prevarication in the Western and Eastern Sectors as well. It is the minimum that one can expect from ‘a friend and a partner’.
But a mere exchange of maps is not enough; the respective ground positions should be made public. Citizens are entitled to know what is happening on their nation’s borders. The Depsang incident has shown that even ‘experts’ lack basic knowledge of the situation on the ground. The blame should be squarely put on the Indian Government whose responsibility it is to inform the Indian public. It is high time that the Government of India publishes a White Paper on its border with China, as was done in the past by the Ministry of External Affairs (between 1959 and 1965, as many as 15 White Papers on the border issue were tabled in Parliament). A well-informed Indian public could eventually provide tremendous support to protect the borders against unwanted intrusions.
 Another meaningful gesture would be the re-opening of Demchok, the traditional pilgrimage route to Kailash. Though the Joint Statement says that China will provide greater facilitation to Indian pilgrims for the Gang Renpoche [‘Kang Rinpoche’ is wrongly spelt in the Statement] which is the Kailash-Manasarovar Yatra, the only route which make sense for a large number of Indian pilgrims is the Ladakh road via Demchok which would make the journey considerably shorter and more comfortable. Of course, like most of the places near the Tibetan border, Demchok is claimed by China (though occupied by India).
But if China’s Line of Actual Control perceptions could be put aside on this small area, it would create tremendous goodwill in India and make tens of thousands of pilgrims realise the dream of their life. Chinese leaders like to speak of China’s Dream; they should let Indians dream too. Let Demchok be re-opened, Mr Li! China’s image will receive a tremendous boost.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The border according to China

Customary Border?
My article The border according to China appeared yesterday in

Click here to read...

During the year 1960, long negotiations were held between India and China over their ‘disputed’ border.
The background of these talks was the visit to Delhi of Zhou Enlai, the Chinese Premier, early that year and his offer to ‘solve’ the issue.
Zhou Enlai was in Delhi for nearly one week (April 19 to 25, 1960) “to discuss certain differences relating to the border areas which had arisen” between the two countries.
The Nehru-Zhou talks however failed. According to a communique, the two Prime Ministers “decided that officials of the two Governments should examine the factual materials in the possession of the two Governments in support of their stands.”
The ‘officials’ led by Jagat Mehta for the Indian side met for several months, but could not arrive at an agreement.
The proceedings of their meetings were published by the Ministry of External Affairs’ ‘Report of the Officials of the Governments of India and the Peoples’ Republic of China on the Boundary Question’.
Please note that 50 years ago, the Indian Government was far more ‘transparent’ than it is today. It regularly informed common men about the happenings on the border. Today the common man is probably considered too stupid by the MEA Mandarins to grasp the intricacies of a customary border, a watershed, one (or several) LAC(s), etc.
The old report of the officials makes fascinating reading. It helps ‘common men’ to better understand the Chinese (and Indian) mindset.
At one point during the discussions, the ‘Indian side’ argued that because China had not mentioned earlier the contentious issue, Delhi was under the impression that there was no border issue.
The Chinese answer is worth reading: “The Indian side also contended that according to international law, if one side does not raise an issue when it has an opportunity to do so, it has no longer the right to set forth its views on the issue. The Indian side attempted to use this contention to prove that the Sino-Indian boundary question did not exist and that the Chinese side had no right to raise this question any more. … Is it that the boundary question must be raised even at occasions not at all meant for discussing the boundary question? Is it that the Chinese side must raise the Sino-Indian boundary question on all occasions; otherwise it would imply that the Chinese side has acquiesced in the assertion that there is no question about the Sino-Indian. … The contention that silence means acquiescence reflects not at all the accepted principles of international law. Can it be said that a sovereign state has no right to reserve its proposition concerning questions of its own sovereignty and to raise it on uitable occasions?”
This is what China has always done, raising the issue when the occasion is suitable to them! It is what they did on the ground in Daulat Beg Oldi in Ladakh on April 15. If they decide to not talk about the border when Premier Li Keqiang visits Delhi, it is only because it will not be ‘suitable’ to them.
The 1960 Chinese negotiators continue their argument: “China has never recognised the alignment now claimed by India; it has always held that only the boundary as maintained by China is the true traditional customary line. Whenever the Chinese Government refers to the Sino-Indian boundary, it can only be the traditional customary line as maintained by China, and not the other.”
This brings to mind the quote of Dr RC Majumdar, the great historian: “It is characteristic of China that if a region once acknowledged her nominal suzerainty even for a short period, she should regard it as a part of her empire forever and would automatically revive her claim over it even after a thousand years whenever there was a chance of enforcing it.”
The Middle Kingdom’s mindset has not changed much.
According to an article of The South China Morning Post, Luo Yuan, a People’s Liberation Army general recently claimed Okinawa Island as Chinese.
The General reacted to an article in The People’s Daily in which Zhang Haipeng and Li Guoqiang, two scholars of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences wrote: “Unresolved problems relating to the Ryukyu Islands (Okinawa is the biggest of the Ryukyu Islands) have reached the time for reconsideration.”
The fact that Okinawa is home to major US Air Force and Marine bases and has a population of 1.3 million Japanese nationals did not deter the scholars from claiming that the islands were a ‘vassal state’ of China before Japan annexed the islands in the late 1800s.
For General Luo: “Japan could not rightfully claim sovereignty over the islands, because they had started paying tribute to China half a millennium before they had done so to Japan.”
You could argue, he is a mad general, just forget him!
The most interesting is however China’s official reaction: when she was asked if China considered Okinawa part of Japan, Hua Chunying, the Foreign Ministry spokeswoman stated that the Chinese “scholars had long studied the history of the Ryukyus and Okinawa.”
A sibylline statement with implications for the Indian border!
It may not be ‘suitable’ for Premier Li Keqiang to talk about the border during his visit, but be sure that China will not forget or forsake its claim in DBO and elsewhere in the Himalayas.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Two Clarifications

This pre-1914 map shows Tawang as part of Tibet
Related to my previous posting, I came to know that a 'clarification' on what Lobsang Sangay, the Tibetan 'Prime Minister' (Sikyong) said in Washington DC, has been issued by his Office on May 16.
It does not exactly answer my concerns about India's territorial integrity, however an interview with the Dalai Lama, exactly 10 years ago, for India Abroad (the US-based weekly from the Group) clarifies the issue from the Dalai Lama perspective.
I am posting both.

Clarification on Sikyong’s talk at Council on Foreign Relations
May 16, 2013
This is to clarify some misinterpretation about Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay’s talk on Tibet at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in Washington on 8 May 2013, which was covered by AFP and other media. 
In his talk at CFR, the Sikyong was referring to the socialist system of China at the national level. The Middle-Way policy seeks genuine autonomy within the framework of the Chinese constitution which obviously requires restructuring of the existing system to include all the Tibetan areas under one single administration and implementation of Chinese laws.
Also in an Op-Ed by Nicholas Kristoff in the New York Times on 6 August 2008, His Holiness the Dalai Lama had stated that he can accept the socialist system of China if genuine autonomy is granted to Tibetans.
The Sikyong has consistently maintained that the occupation of Tibet and repression of Tibetans are the causes of protest through self-immolation by Tibetans.

Interview with the Dalai Lama (Dharamsala, May 15, 1993)

Claude: Does China agree with you on the geographical definition of Tibet? Or do they consider only the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR), excluding the eastern provinces of Amdo and Kham from the purview of the discussions?

His Holiness the Dalai Lama: Since the Chinese constitution provides the principle of autonomy for all the Tibetan ethnic people, we are trying to get similar rights for all Tibetans [from the TAR and other provinces]. I do not know [if they will accept], we shall see. We have always been concerned by ALL Tibetans, not only the ones residing in the TAR. If we were seeking separation [from China], then, of course, demanding the other territories [the provinces of Amdo and Kham] would be something difficult [for the Chinese to accept]. But as we have decided to remain within the People’s Republic of China, then, it is reasonable that all the ethnic Tibetans get the same rights. How can we make discrimination between Tibetans inside TAR and those outside?

Claude: What do you mean by “genuine autonomy” for Tibetans with the People’s Republic of China?

His Holiness the Dalai Lama: Foreign Affairs and defense will be carried by the Central government. In other words, Tibetans should have the final authority in all the matters that they can handle better. For example, for large scale factories, we might not be able to manage, so we will take Chinese expertise and help. Of course, for Foreign and Defense, which are themselves large subjects, we need the help of the Chinese.

Claude: Suppose tomorrow, the Chinese accept your formula and you leave with them defense matters. The next day, they plan a war against India. What will you do in such a case?

His Holiness the Dalai Lama: (Thinking deeply). As a Tibetan, it is impossible to think of shooting an Indian. In fact, once a few Indian journalists came here, they were seating where you are today and I explained to them the concept of “genuine autonomy”. I told them jokingly “it is unthinkable for a Tibetan to open fire towards India, so let the Chinese do that”. It was a joke (laughing). But in case such a serious situation develops, of course, I will try my best to cool down the conflict, first as a person devoted to peace and against violence, I will express myself and try [to solve the conflict].Then the best part of my life has been spent in India. India is also the home of our spirituality, the home of Buddhadharma. For me, the sino-indian relations are so important; conflict should be avoided at any cost. It is what I think.

Claude: Do you see any role for India to facilitate an acceptable solution between the Tibetans and Beijing?

His Holiness the Dalai Lama: Theoretically, morally India should do something, but how much India can do, I do not know.

Claude: You proposed to transform Tibet into a “zone of Ahimsa”. Will it not help solving many security problems for India?

His Holiness the Dalai Lama: Yes, certainly.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Tibet and China's territorial integrity

Agence France-Presse (AFP) recently reported from Washington DC that Lobsang Sangay, the Prime Minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile had declared that he accepted: “the Communist Party's rule in Tibet”.
According to AFP, during a visit to Washington, Sangay assured Beijing that “[China] will face no threat to its sovereignty if it eased its grip [on Tibet]”.
Sangay said that Dharamsala was “not challenging China's sovereignty or territorial integrity” though the exiled Administration wanted greater autonomy: “What we seek is genuine autonomy as per the framework of the Chinese constitution. ...In short, if the Chinese government implements their own law, we would take that as genuine autonomy. That, we think, is a moderate, reasonable solution which is a win-win proposition both for the Chinese government and the Tibetan people.”
The AFP quoted Barry Sautman, a social scientist who studies Tibetan issues at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, who believed that Sangay's remarks indicated that “the Tibetan government-in-exile had moved away from its [earlier] position. …The Tibetan government-in-exile wants to appear reasonable and engage in discussion.”
Sangay is naïve when he states that he assumes that Tibetans could get “decision-making positions in the region - notably Party Secretary”; adding that “he was not challenging the structure of the ruling party.” He is probably the only Tibetan to believe this.
Jiang Zhaoyong, a Beijing-based expert on ethnic issues told the AFP: “Beijing will not take his remarks seriously and make significant change.”
Many in Dharamsala will be relieved by this comment.
While Sangay is preaching a rapprochement with the Communist regime, the Party continues its attack on the Dalai Lama.
Cui Yuying, a Tibetan national holding the senior post in the Chinese Government (deputy director of the State Council Information Office) told some visiting Nepalese and Indian journalists: “The [Tibetans] respect [the Dalai Lama] culturally and in their religion, but they don’t agree with his political ideology.”
The Tibetan lady-official told PTI: “The Dalai Lama has been living in India as a guest. The Indian government has said that it will not allow the Dalai Lama to indulge in any political activity. China has full confidence in [the Indian Government].” She added that Tibetans in exile were welcome to return to Tibet ‘on an individual basis’.
Is Lobsang Sangay ready to listen to his countrywoman Cui, and ‘try’ the Communist regime’s rule on the Roof of the World?
It is doubtful that there will be many takers in Dharamsala.
Tibetan author Bhuchung D. Sonam commented on Sangay’s statement, “[it] contradicts two of the fundamental principles that his administration stands for – the Middle Way policy and democracy. The basic premise of the Middle Way policy is neither to seek separation from China ‘nor accept the present conditions of Tibet under the People’s Republic of China’. …Currently the CCP trumps over the rule of law and China’s constitution exists to serve the party. The Middle Way policy …does not accept the over-lordship of the Chinese Communist Party as the prime minister seems to suggest.”
Further, the Communist leadership can always argue that they have already started implementing the devolution of power. Beijing will say that the Standing Committee of the CCP’s Tibetan Autonomous Region already consists of 7 Han and 6 Tibetans: (in order of precedence: Chen Quanguo, Han, Secretary; Jampa Phuntsog, Tibetan, Deputy Secretary; Padma Choling, Tibetan, Deputy Secretary; Lobsang Gyaltsen, Tibetan, Deputy Secretary; Wu Yingjie, Han, Executive Deputy Secretary; Deng Xiaogang, Han, Deputy Secretary; General Yang Jinshan, Han, Member; Jin Shubo, Han, Member; Gungpo Tashi, Tibetan, Member; Chodak, Tibetan, Member; Norbu Dhondup, Tibetan, Member; Dong Yunhu, Han, Member; Liang Tiangeng, Han, Member).
What would Lobsang Sangay do if he was co-opted into the above group? As long as the Party exists, it is difficult to see ‘democracy’ being introduced on the Roof of the World or in the Middle Kingdom. Without democracy a ‘genuine’ solution seems a mere chimera.

China's sovereignty or territorial integrity
But much more serious for India, Sangay said that Dharamsala will "not challenge China's sovereignty or territorial integrity"?
What does it mean?
When Chinese troops entered Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO) in Ladakh, Beijing said it was China's territory. Is Lobsang Sangay ready to accept this definition of China's of 'territorial integrity'?
Take another example: Okinawa. Recently The People's Daily published an article arguing that China has ‘ownership’ rights over the Ryukyu islands’ chain, which includes Okinawa island, where several US bases are located. The Chinese scholars argued that the agreement between Japan and the Allied Forces during the World War II, giving the ownership of the Ryukyu Islands to Japan, should be questioned.
Zhang Haipeng and Li Guoqiang of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences wrote: “It may be time to revisit the unresolved historical issue of the Ryukyu Islands.”
Later asked if China considered Okinawa part of Japan, Hua Chunying, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman just said scholars had long studied the history of the Ryukyus and Okinawa.
Will the Tibetans support by Beijing’s position on China’s ‘territorial integrity vis-avis Japan?
Closer to us is Arunachal Pradesh; China claims the entire state of Arunachal Pradesh as its own territory [i.e. Southern Tibet]. Does it mean that Dharamsala will not “challenge China's sovereignty or territorial integrity”?
Will the Tibetans deny that they had signed an agreement with India in 1914 delineating their common border (at least in India’s North-East).
Let us not forget that most of the Chinese claims along the 4,000 km Sino-Indian border (which was the Indo-Tibet border till 1954), are based on what used to be Tibetan ‘incursions’ south of the McMahon line in Tawang, Lohit, Siang and Subansari sectors. What will be the Tibetan position, if they do not want to challenge China’s territorial claims?
What about the relatively less-known central sector? For example, the Chinese claims in Barahoti (called Wuje by China) in Uttarakhand are based on the occasional ‘visit’ by some Tibetan herders south of the Himalayan watershed in the area; ditto for the nearby valleys of Sangchamalla and Lapthal.
The Nilang/Jadhang in the Jadh Ganga valley, north of Gangotri, also claimed by China because some Tibetan tax-collectors would have occasionally entered before 1950 what has always been part of the Tehri State. Beijing has also claimed the Hupsang Khud, west of Shipki Pass, in Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh. In a new set up, will the Tibetans side with the People’s Republic of China in their territorial claims?
Another serious issue is that under the Middle Path scheme advocated by Lobsang Sangay, ‘foreign affairs and defence’ would be under the Central Government, while the local Tibetan government would enjoy a ‘genuine’ autonomy in subjects like culture or education.
In such a scheme, in the case of a ‘stand-off’ such as the recent one in Ladakh or a larger conflict like in 1962, what will the stand of the Tibetans be?
Will they challenge China’s position or will they side with India which has generously granted them asylum for more than 50 years? It is a valid question.
Lobsang Sangay's statement has extremely serious implications for India's territorial integrity. He should certainly clarify his position.
A last side issue: since he ascended to the Middle Kingdom's throne, the new Emperor Xi Jinping has proclaimed the Great Dream of China: 'The China Dream will bring blessings and goodness to not only the Chinese people but also people in other countries.' The Chinese intrusion in Ladakh certainly did not fit with what India had understood of Xi’s Dream.
This brings another question: do the Tibetans have a Dream?
It can’t be to live under the yoke of the Communist Party of China.
Most of the 120 Tibetans who immolated themselves certainly had a Dream: “To see a Free Tibet in their next lives”.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Xi Jinping meets the Tibetan Delegation at the NPC

Xi Jinping with Tibetan 'leaders'
A few days back, I mentioned on this blog that  Lobsang Sangay, the 'Prime Minister' of the Tibetan government-in-exile had stated in Washington DC that he accepted: "the Communist Party's rule in Tibet".
This raises several questions which should be debated by the Tibetan Diaspora.
In the context, it is however interesting to look at a report of the first encounter between the newly-elected CCP's General Secretary and a Tibetan delegation.
Ma Haoliang, one of the Beijing correspondents of the Hong Kong newspaper, Ta Kung Pao provided a detailed report of Xi Jinping’s visit to the Tibet delegation at the National People’s Conference on March 9, 2013.
Ma was apparently present during the event.
Xi Jinping made the following points:
  • Xi Jinping offered the pledge that his new leadership group would pay the same close attention to Tibet as previous leadership groups and would continue to emphasize “the maintenance of stability and leap-frog style development” (weihu wending 維護穩定and kuayueshi fazhan 跨越式發展) following China’s own special pathway and according to Tibet’s special characteristics.
  • Xi however cautioned that there can be no stability in Tibet without economic development. A constant vigilance must be exercised vis-a-vis ethnic problems, sensitive religious issues and sudden waves of Tibet independence sentiment.
  • Xi affirmed that China will not bend to the pressure produced by collusion between foreign hostile forces and those seeking Tibet independence.
  • Xi stated that the special characteristics of Tibet must be respected with even greater protection to its culture and religious faith as well as continuous support for its rapid, leap-frog economic development.
  • The Party’s General Secretary remarked how impressed he was by Tibet during his July 2011 trip for the 60th anniversary of Tibet’s ‘peaceful liberation’.
Ma Haoliang, the journalist says that Wang Huning [1], Chang Xiaobing [2] and Ding Zhongli [3] were present during Xi’s visit to the Tibetan Delegation at the NPC. He explained that they were members of the TAR delegation because they represented three faces of the vital Aid Tibet program, i.e., Central Government aid, economic aid and scientific aid.
Xi also noted that a large number of senior officials attending the March Twin Meetings in Beijing are presently, or have in the past, directly shouldered responsibilities in Tibet issues; he says that the numbers will only increase in the future insuring that the Centre will continue to pay close attention to this region.
The Hong Kong newspaper then mentions the connection of Xi’s father with Tibet (the reporter may have been informed by Wang Huning or Li Zhanshu [4] of the relations between Xi Sr. and Tibet).
The article quotes Xi Zhongxun who was said to be close to the 10th Panchen Lama and who interacted with the Dharamsala delegations in the 1980s when he was responsible for United Front Work.
Xi Zhongxun was quoted as saying to the Tibetans from Dharamsala, “It is not possible speak about Tibet as a ‘nation’.”
He would have also said “Calling for a high degree of autonomy cannot be entertained. You must change this attitude of yours. We definitely are not on the same wavelength.”
Xi Sr. would also told the delegations: “You people are still raising something called a Greater Tibet Autonomous Region. This fundamentally is not a reality and also is an impossible demand.”

Two days (March 11), the meeting was reported by Radio Lhasa: “Xi Jinping joins TAR delegation's group discussion”.
Here the ‘official’ comments on the meeting:
On March 11, TAR party committee Secretary and TAR delegation leader Chen Quanguo convened a meeting of TAR delegates to the 1st session of 12th NPC and read out and studied the spirit of the important speech given by General Secretary Xi Jinping during his participation in the group discussion of TAR delegates.
Chen Quanguo said, "We must treat studying, publicizing and implementing the spirit of the important speech of the General Secretary as a vital political task for the present and the near future and seriously study and intensively implement it collectively to gain ideological unity with the spirit of the important speech of the General Secretary.
Uniform arrangements must be made for the Central Committee's strategy on Tibet affairs, use the General Secretary's speech to ideological arm and guide implementation and boost work.
With clear priorities the nature of the spirit should be understood, the development path with Chinese characteristics and Tibetan characteristics must be followed to achieve speedy economic and social development people's life must be improved and protected and efforts made to en able the masses to lead a happier and beautiful new life.
National unity must be strengthened and developed resolutely, the masses of divergent nationalities should be encouraged to share same fortune and same ideology, and co-exist in harmony and resolve problems with united spirit.
Basic work for long term stability should be carried out successfully and continued stability, consistent stability and over all stability of TAR must be protected. Building cadres force should be strengthened and the fine tradition of talking less and working more, working with dedication and not leaving till results are achieved should be promoted and relations between the party and masses of divergent nationalities should be strengthened. The foundation of the Party's rule in Tibet should be strengthened so that the important goal of building moderately prosperous society by 2020 along with the entire nation can be achieved.
The saying, "Empty talk leads to downfall of the state and practical work leads to growth of the state and practical work leads to growth of the state, must be borne in mind and in accordance with the reality of Tibet responsibility should be increased, methods adopted, tasks divided and implemented to carry out precise development and stability. New steps should be adopted to promote scientific development and swift development, achieve new success in improving people's life, new progress should be achieved in boosting and strengthening national unity, new outlook given to protecting social harmony and stability and new look given to strengthening building of the party".
Chen Quanguo stressed that everyone in TAR, from top to bottom, should regard implementation of General Secretary Xi Jinping's important speech as the nerving force and seek truth from fact, be pragmatic, persevere and overcome limitations and through swift development and long term stability make the party central committee led by general secretary Xi Jinping satisfied and create happiness for the masses of divergent nationalities. The province level TAR leaders in Lhasa also held meeting and released and studied the important speech given by General Secretary Xi Jinping during his participation in the group discussion of TAR delegation.

[1] Wang Huning became member of the Politburo of the 18th CPC Central Committee in November 2012.
[2] Chang Xiaobing served as director of the telecommunications administration department of the Ministry of Information Industry until 2004; he was then appointed as chairman of China Unicom (China United Telecommunications Corporation Limited) in that same year.
[3] Ding Zhongli is presently the director of the Institute of Geology and Geophysics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. He also serves as vice-chairman of the Chinese Quaternary Science Committee. In 2008, he became vice-president of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2008.
[4] In 2012, Li Zhanshu became Director of the General Office of the CPC Central Committee; he is a member of the Politburo of the 18th CPC Central Committee.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Was the Chinese intrusion really a PLA strike against Xi Jinping?

My Article
Could some frustrated Chinese generals have decided to teach India a lesson to sink Xi Jinping's world dream, asks Claude Arpi.

What has China gained from its Daulat Beg Oldi excursion?
Many theories have been propounded: Some say the Chinese leadership wanted to show its displeasure on the new coziness between Delhi [ Images ] and Tokyo. But is it not putting the cart before the horse?
Indeed, such Himalayan happenings are bound to draw the US, Japan [ Images ] and India closer, not the other way around.
What about China's displeasure at the infrastructure that India has been building on its side of the Line of Actual Control? Was it worth this drama? Was it not possible to discuss this issue at the already scheduled ministerial meets?
'Experts' will argue that according to the Art of War, it is the Chinese way to get what they want. This is not certain, because the issue has serious negative collaterals for China.
They may have 'marked their territory' by 'camping' for three weeks in the 'Gateway to Hell,' but they have not earned goodwill from India.
This incident, even if it is 'successfully' solved by both diplomacies, will remain for years a scar in Sino-Indian relations which had just started looking up.
When Chinese scholars visit India, they like to say that both countries should sincerely work on the mutual trust deficit. It is clear the Chinese 'camping' has pushed back for years the earlier progress in closing the 'trust' gap.
Perhaps a more important issue which has escaped the analysts: What about the Chinese Dream?

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Weakness of the Oppressor and the Aggressor

The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) has got hold of a fascinating manual which exposes the psychological trauma faced by the People's Armed Police (PAP) in Tibet.
I wonder if a similar manual has been distributed to the jawans and officers posted for years opposite the Indian troops in Ladakh (in the Ali [Ngari] Military Sub-Command, under the Xinjiang Military Command of Lanzhou Military Region).
Though not confronted with violence like the PAP in Sichuan or Gansu, the young Han soldiers must have a traumatic psychological life, just because their political bosses in Beijing insist on grabbing a few sq. kilometers more of Indian land. 
It is easy to redo the world with 'ifs', but 'if' China was a normal country, 'if' China was a normal neighbour, its leaders would allow others to dream, like President Xi is now exhorting his countrymen to do.
Today in Tibet, Tibetans can't dream.
If China was a normal country, it would be good for the poor PAP's soldiers who do not understand what they are doing in Tibet. It would also be good for China's finances (let us not forget that Beijing's budget for 'internal security' is higher than the Chinese Defence budget). 
It would be good too for China's image and good for the Tibetans who only aspire to some 'normal' basic freedoms.
If China was a 'normal' neighbour, its leadership would not pick up fight with most of its neighbours, forcing the latter to increase their defences and put up infrastructure all over the Himalayas.
But it is only 'if'; today, China is not a 'normal' State.

‘Weakness of the Oppressor’: Leaked document exposes psychological traumas faced by Chinese armed police in Tibet
May 13, 2013

TCHRD has received a Chinese language copy of a manual published by the Sichuan Provincial Political Department of the People’s Armed Police Force (PAPF, also called PAP), titled “Guide on Psychiatric Wellbeing While Maintaining Stability” that was circulated among different contingents, detachments and squadrons located at the province, prefecture, and county levels of Sichuan. The manual contains issues raised during a videoconference meeting held by Sichuan Province People’s Armed Police Force regarding the psychological and moral issues arising from stability maintenance work in Tibetan areas. Although the manual was drafted before Xi Jinping’s appointment earlier this year, there is no sign that he will change any of his predecessor’s policies regarding Tibet.
Experts in psychiatric health departments of armed police hospitals and other relevant organs jointly drafted the 29 questions and answers on how to cope with the violent nature of the PAPF’s work in the Tibetan areas of Sichuan Province. The 29 questions and answers focus “on providing guidance to some PAP officers on effectively deal with the common psychological traumas” caused by the horrors of their job in Tibet, and to “further improve the quality of capability of stability-maintenance work in Tibetan areas, particularly the PAP officers and other armed forces who need thorough educational and ideological guidance on their work.”
Edited and approved by Fu Wan Xuan, the director of the Sichuan Political Department of PAP and his deputy, Chen li Xue, the manual was drafted by Wang Jun Xiang, Cheng Jian Wei, Xie Lei, Wang Bin , and Zhang Wen Chun, all mental health experts working in military and armed hospitals.
In a broader sense, the manual starkly exposes the falsity of the Chinese government’s claim that Chinese rule has ‘liberated’ and brought happiness to Tibet. Repression and violence not only take a toll on the lives of the repressed but also those who perpetrate it. The casualties of China’s “life and death struggle” in Tibet, as exposed by this manual, are the victims and perpetrators alike. Those assigned with stability maintenance work in Tibet struggle with psychological problems as their most fundamental beliefs in right and wrong are twisted, violated and made irrelevant. Scientific studies have pointed out that these psychological symptoms are not limited only to first time officers but also the veterans. In this manual, China speaks mainly of some officers who are psychologically traumatized by their experience of implementing repressive policies sanctioned and supported by the Chinese central government in Beijing.
The manual provides guidance on maintaining the psychological health of PAP forces in Tibetan areas while simultaneously providing instructions for the same PAP forces on how to effectively maintain stability, utilizing the tactics that cause the psychological problems, such as police violence against protestors. Some PAP officers, unable to cope with changed conditions in Tibet, leave or become afflicted with psychological illnesses. The 25-page manual offers advices on the difficulties and doubts harbored by armed police officers in Tibet.
Point 11 in the manual talks about the psychiatric issues faced by some PAP officers who find it impossible to block from their minds images of an armed crackdown. The manual mentioned the “3/16” incident in Ngaba when Phuntsok, a Tibetan monk, became the second Tibetan to self-immolate and the “3/18 incident of beating, smashing, burning and looting” in Serta (Ch: Seda) and Kardze (Ch: Ganzi) counties. In both these cases, PAP forces flagrantly abused their power and fired indiscriminately into huge crowds of peaceful protesters in Tibet. The level of repression in these areas has only increased since then as Tibetan areas in Sichuan Province remain under rigorous surveillance and blocked to outsiders. Not surprisingly, the manual states that PAP officers who had participated in the “3/16” and “3/18” incidents as well as the violent crackdowns may suffer from nightmares or insomnia as they are reminded of their involvement in such incidents. The small saving grace of the ongoing tragedy in Tibet in this contxt is that there are some armed Chinese officers whose conscience are pricked and morally outraged by the inhumane consequences of their actions.
On the psychological crises suffered by some armed officers when faced with defiant Tibetan protesters, point 16 says:
Some comrades when they see troublemakers challenging them with Tibetan swords and stones lose their composure and become confused and discouraged, while some, when they see [protesting] maroon-robed monks, become uncomfortable and confused. [Some comrades] even fear to react when faced with such situations. Such reactions diminish the strength of armed forces’ valour and resolve in punishing [the troublemakers]. This situation is taken very seriously by the armed forces and efforts are made to complete the work successfully.
In this context, it is useful to remember that since 2008, the Chinese government has unleashed the scourge of domestic Chinese nationalism to justify its violent rule in Tibet and thus widening the ethnic hostility between Tibetans and Chinese. Official Chinese media has labeled Tibetans as ungrateful, uncivilized and wild people. Point 16 is an example of the Chinese attempts to instill enmity in the PAP so they will not hesitate to attack Tibetan protestors. This is in stark contrast to the Chinese singing paeans to ethnic unity.
Rather than speaking of ethnic unity, the manual reinforces the myth of wild, fearful Tibetan barbarians in the eyes of the Chinese saying:
No matter how [physically] strong or intimidating the Tibetan separatists may look, we [the armed forces] fulfill the needs of the masses. Under the leadership and support of the Chinese Communist Party, Central Military Commission, and president Hu Jintao, as well as support from the masses, we can fight the battle of maintaining long-term stability in Tibet.
It should be noted that the increased security build-up and repressive measures in Tibet are implemented with active support from the central government authorities including the Chinese president.
The manual describes the conflicts faced by some PAP officers about the choice of their career after experiencing the “dangerous and complex” work of stability maintenance in Tibet. It says:
The duty of maintaining stability in Tibet is tough, ridden with dangers, full of conflicts, [daily struggle] between death and life in the hailstorm of swords and guns
In the section dealing with the issue of emotional breakdowns and other psychological symptoms suffered by some first-time Chinese officers in Tibet, the manual says:
Many armed officers and soldiers posted for the first time in Tibet to work in stability maintenance become indisposed with psychological problems, including difficulty managing tempers and becoming scared to the point of losing confidence. Particularly during tense standoffs and unexpected incidents, a handful of officers become frozen with fear and paranoia unable to respond in timely fashion.
It further adds:
By clearly recognizing the political strategy [and context] of the stability maintenance work in Tibetan areas, we must ensure the victory of Chinese government and the Chinese state by following the ‘three principles’, the ‘three principles of caution’, and the ‘six mindsets required during PAP actions’.
However, this rallying call cannot hide the consequences of China’s Tibetan policy, which has not only damaged Tibetans but also caused a moral crisis among the very people China relies on to execute their inhumane strategy.

Monday, May 13, 2013

China excels in making fakes, but religion is not its cup of tea

Buddha's finger?
My article China excels in making fakes, but religion is not its cup of tea is posted in

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A couple of years ago, a Chinese site mentioned Château Lafitte, one of the most famous vintage Bordeaux wine. The site gave this surprising information: “Château Lafitte Rothschild, a wine estate in France, produces 15,000 to 25,000 cases of wine annually, or about 200,000 bottles. China's annual quota of Lafitte wine imported from France is only 50,000 bottles. However, the annual sale of Lafitte in China exceeds 3 million bottles, meaning 80 to 90 % of Lafitte sold in China is fake.”
The Chinese are well-known for their prowess in retro-engineering; it is obvious that if Chinese engineers are able to duplicate a Russian fighter plane’s engine, there should be no problem to ‘produce’ a Côte de Bordeaux as only the label has to be copied. The fake bottle will serve its purpose: showing-off for the Chinese nouveaux riches.
Around the same time, PCWorld had reported that Chinese authorities had found a number of fake Apple Stores (22 just in the city of Kunming, Yunnan). The Rothschild family, owners of famous vintage since the 19th century, can find consolation in the fact that no Chateau Lafitte stores need to be opened in China for the fake red wine to continue to flow abundantly in the Middle Kingdom.
This story came back to mind while I was reading in The South China Morning Post, an article entitled, “Ancient Buddhist temple in China bogged down by fake monks and debt.”
The Honk Kong papers writes: “A provincial city’s ambitious plans for turning an ancient Buddhist temple near Xian into the world capital of Buddhism and listing it on a stock exchange have stagnated, leaving the temple surrounded by fake monks and sham Buddha statues.”
It quotes the outspoken Guangzhou-based Southern Weekly which says the project around the 1,700-year-old Famen Temple in Shaanxi province ‘went horribly wrong’.
The temple is famed for having the relic of the Buddha’s finger bone. The Southern Weekly’s story does not tell us if, like the Chateau Lafitte labels, the relic is fake; it is however surprising that the Great Son of India’s finger would have found its way to the Middle Kingdom (although in 1955, Zhou Enlai lent a ‘tooth’ of the Buddha to Rangoon, making the Burmese people greatly feel obliged by this noble gesture).
Communist China has always seen Buddhism as a good business opportunity. According to the Southern Weekly, at the Famen temple, “fake monks from Hubei province roam a nearby scenic park that opened in 2009 and that tourists and pilgrims mistake as part of the temple. The impostors get commission for collecting donations to the Shaanxi Famen Charitable Foundation.”
The foundation is apparently a front name for the industrial group which operates the park, Shaanxi Famen Temple Scenic Park Cultural Group.
But business is tough these days, even in China! The company does not collect enough ‘donations’ to make profits. Last year, the public-listed enterprise lost some 50 million US dollars, that’s a lot for a spiritual undertaking.
The South China Morning Post adds: “When the park opened in 2009, it quickly became apparent that the massive project was not the goldmine it had promised to be for the government, and investors disappeared. In search for new capital, its operators set up an organisation, which could collect donations from Buddhist believers and bankroll the company.”
The abbot and monks refused to be used by the company; eventually they sent their resignation, which was refused. The Weekly quotes Zeng Qin, the head of Xian’s Buddhist Association, who said that he had ‘involuntarily’ been selected as head of the foundation. With his colleagues, he had been forced to sign a contract with the enterprise, but the Buddhist monks have now put their foot down and refused to extend their contract. They consider that the project had brought ill-fame to the temple. The monks also refused to take over the project, knowing too well about the debts.
The latest information about the ‘Chinese Buddhist venture’ must be rather worrying for the Lumbini project which is in the process of being taken over by some wealthy and well-connected Chinese businessmen.
Two years back, The Economist mentioned “a bizarre project in Nepal, at Buddha’s birthplace: a Chinese development proposal causes disbelief”.
The weekly magazine pointed out that after stepping down as Prime Minister in 2009, Prachanda, the Nepali Maoist leader regularly met representatives of the ‘Asia Pacific Exchange and Co-operation Foundation’, particularly its head, one Xiao Wunan based in Hong Kong with a doubtful past and many links in the Party.
The Chinese media had reported earlier that the Hong-Kong-based foundation had signed an agreement with UNIDO, the UN’s industrial-development organisation, to invest $3 billion in Lumbini, the birthplace of the Buddha. It wanted to set up a ‘Mecca for Buddhists’ with train links, an international airport, hotels and a Buddhist university.
Many in Delhi were nervous, as Lumbini is located a few kilometers from the Indian border and India can certainly not remain silent if huge infrastructure development is planned by China at her doorstep.
What about the 'famous' Nalanda University of Amartya Sen? The only foreign donor seems to be the Chinese government which pledged 1 million US dollars for the project. Is it not disturbing? The Chinese may be keen to ‘invest’ in spiritual ventures, but does it make the projects, like the wine or the Buddha’s relics genuine?
Chinese are good at many things (infrastructure, along their expansible 'borders' for example), but running Buddhist institutions is not their forte; it is understandable for people who do not believe in religion.
Let us hope that Famen temple’s failure will, for some time, cool the Chinese investors’ fervour; the longer it does, the better for Nepal and India.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

China's Tibet?

Jokhang in Tibet's Lhasa
Is it not strange that Beijing' propaganda material always speaks of 'China's Tibet'.
Look at these two examples found today on the website 'Jokhang Temple in China's Tibet' and 'Former site of Guge in China's Tibet'.
Such examples could be multiplied.
In India, would anybody write, 'Tanjore in India's Tamil Nadu', 'Jaipur in India's Rajasthan' or Kolkata in India's West Bengal'? At the most, one could write in 'Didi's West Bengal'.
China may not be very sure of its 'ownership' of Tibet.
In the meantime, Agence France-Presse reported from Washington DC that Lobsang Sangay, the leader of Tibet's government-in-exile had declared that he accepted: "the Communist Party's rule in Tibet".
He assured Beijing that "[China] faced no threat to its sovereignty if it eased its grip".
According to AFP, on a visit to Washington, Sangay said that Dharamsala was "not challenging China's sovereignty or territorial integrity" through it wanted a greater autonomy: "What we seek is genuine autonomy as per the framework of the Chinese constitution. ...In short, if the Chinese government implements their own law, we would take that as genuine autonomy. That, we think, is a moderate, reasonable solution which is a win-win proposition both for the Chinese government and the Tibetan people."

What does it means that Dharamsala will "not challenge China's sovereignty or territorial integrity"?  
When the Chinese troops entered DBO in Ladakh, Beijing said it was China's territory. Does Mr Sangay is ready to accept China's definition of 'territorial integrity'? 
China's claim the entire Arunachal Pradesh as its own territory, does it mean that Dharamsala is ready to accept this position?
Lobsang Sangay's statement has extremely serious implications for India's territorial integrity. He should certainly clarify his position. 

Jokhang Temple in China's Tibet
May 10, 2013,
Jokhang Temple, located on Barkhor Square in Lhasa, is Tibet's first Buddhist temple and is part of the Potala Palace. The temple used to be called Tsulag Khang ("House of Wisdom"), but it is now known as Jokhang ("House of the Buddha"). It is the ultimate pilgrimage destination for Tibetan pilgrims. Built in Tang Dynasty-style architecture, Jokhang Temple is a four-story timber complex. A statue of Sakyamuni at age 10 is one of only three statues designed by Sakyamuni himself. []

Former site of Guge in China's Tibet
Arpil 29, 2013
Now in present-day Zanda County [Tsamda County] in western Tibet, Guge was an ancient kingdom founded by a branch of descendents of the last king of a unified Tibet in the 10th century. It flourished for more than 70
Now in present-day Zanda County in western Tibet, Guge was an ancient kingdom founded by a branch of descendents of the last king of a unified Tibet in the 10th century. It flourished for more than 700 years before encountering civil strife and foreign attacks and falling into disrepair. Now, visitors can see its ruins of temples and palaces, whose inscriptions, statues and murals still remain intact. The city wall with fortresses at each corner is also still standing. [Photo/bbs.fengniao]

Friday, May 10, 2013

Chinese incursion will affect the already dwindling border trade

My article Chinese incursion will affect the already dwindling border trade
appeared yesterday in DNA.
Although for centuries, the Himalayas were a natural barrier between the Tibetan plateau and the Indian subcontinent, it was also a space of exchange. It witnessed a constant flow of knowledge, traditions and goods transiting up and down from far-away places in Central Asia, China or Mongolia to the entire subcontinent.
In October 1950, China invaded Tibet and soon after the Liberation Army began occupying the high plateau; exchanges gradually stopped.

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