Saturday, August 31, 2013

Has China used nuclear devices on the Brahmaputra?

Zangmu dam
A Times of India's blog has reported a strange piece of news. Citing a classified Indian intelligence source, it says that China 'surreptitiously conducted three to four 'low yield atomic explosions' in Tibet in March 2005' to clear the mountainous terrain 'to divert the Yarlung Tsangpo river'.
Though the information is certainly incorrect as the purported diversion of the Brahmaputra is planned far upstream on the Brahmaputra/Tsangpo and not in the Great Bent, it is however important to stop a minute on the information.
In the early 2000s, I look into the issue and I wrote:
The project [to divert the Brahmaputra] was reported in the Scientific American in June 1996. This article giving credence to the Chinese plans. The journal wrote: “Recently some Chinese engineers proposed diverting water into this arid area [Gobi Desert] from the mighty Brahmaputra River, which skirts China’s southern border before dipping into India and Bangladesh. Such a feat would be ‘impossible’ with conventional methods, engineers stated at a meeting held last December at the Chinese Academy of Engineering Physics in Beijing. But they added that “we can certainly accomplish this project” with nuclear explosives.”
The US journal continued: “This statement is just one of the many lately in which Chinese technologists and officials have touted the potential of nuclear blasts for carrying out non-military goals.”
At that time, it was said that one of the reasons for China’s refusal to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) was because their desire to keep the possibility of experimenting with what is called PNE (Peaceful Nuclear Explosion). The Chinese argument was “why should promising and potentially useful technology be abandoned.” 
The diversion was first reported in the Indian Press in June 1997 when Outlook magazine wrote a piece entitled: “A river runs through it — China proposes to divert the Brahmaputra at source to green the arid Gobi desert.”
The Delhi magazine said: “The initial report — that the Chinese were planning to raise their food output in the decades ahead — was hardly stop-press material. But as details leaked out, policymakers in India and Bangladesh felt a shiver of apprehension: the Chinese proposed to divert the Brahmaputra river at source, in Tibet, even set off a peaceful nuclear explosion, to serve their purpose .”
Outlook also revealed that “the concern in Assam and Bangladesh is understandable. The Luit - as the river [Brahmaputra] is locally called - figures prominently in the folklore and culture of Assam and the Northeast; has been the theme of countless Bhupen Hazarika songs. The river is crucial to the economy of the entire region, where the concept of irrigation through groundwater sources has not really taken off.”
In the coming months, more publicity was given to the dam as well as the diversion proposals. In September 1997, Agence France Press in Beijing  reported: "Three experts propose construction of giant dam in Tibet". It stated: "After a long experience of exploration on the site, we believe that the project could begin to be included in the agenda of the concerned department”. Electricity produced was claimed to be: “available for export to Bangladesh, Burma and India and the diverted water could irrigate the northwestern deserts of the country".
The project was also mentioned in news briefs in the China Daily Business Weekly (21 September 1997) and the International Water Power & Dam Construction Monthly (November 1997).
The Metok Tunnel
In January 1998, , the German TV channel ZDF presented a feature on the Yarlung Tsangpo project, in a program entitled "Die Welt" [The World]. The Chief Planner, Professor Chen Chuanyu was interviewed. He described the plan to drill a 15 km (9.3 miles) tunnel through the Himalayas to divert the water before the U turn and direct it to the other end of the bend. This would shorten the distance of the approximately 3,000 meters altitude drop from 200 km to just 15 km. He explained that the hydropower potential of 40,000 megawatt could be used to pump water to Northwest China over 800 km away.
An interesting aspect that we have briefly mentioned is that this area known to the Tibetans as Pemakö (Metok) was considered to be a sacred area, rarely visited by outsiders. The difficulty of access to this unexplored region must have created one of the greatest obstacles for the engineers in Beijing. At the end of the 90’s, the Chinese government decided to permit foreigners to explore the Grand Canyon. The well-known National Geographic expedition, with ultra sophisticated materials and highly professional rafters made the first discoveries. Though it resulted in the death of an American kayaker, Doug Gordou in October 1998, it permitted a far greater knowledge in several previously unexplored parts of the gorges. Books and video footage of this expedition (as well as subsequent ones) certainly helped the Chinese planners to get a more accurate picture of the difficulty of the terrain (as well as the potentialities).
The opening of the area to adventure tourism was a first step to find an approach way for dam site.
In the recent years, the Chinese have been more discreet on the project, although a few reports have continued to come in.
The correspondent of The Telegraph in Beijing wrote in October 2000: “Chinese leaders are drawing up plans to use nuclear explosions, in breach of the international test-ban treaty, to blast a tunnel through the Himalayas for the world's biggest hydroelectric plant.”
The Telegraph warned: “China will have to overcome fierce opposition from neighbouring countries who fear that the scheme could endanger the lives and livelihoods of millions of their people. Critics say that those living downstream would be at the mercy of Chinese dam officials who would be able to flood them or withhold their water supply.”
According to the London paper, the cost of drilling the tunnel through Mt Namcha Barwa appears likely to surpass £10 billion. The article gives further details: “At the bottom of the tunnel, the water will flow into a new reservoir and then be diverted along more than 500 miles of the Tibetan plateau to the vast, arid areas of Xinjiang region and Gansu province. Beijing wants to use large quantities of the plentiful waters of the south-west to top up the Yellow River basin and assuage mounting discontent over water shortages in 600 cities in northern China.”
Later the project to have the 'diversion' from the Great Bent was abandoned and some other plans were made to start the diversion from the Yarlung Valley, south of Lhasa. Read my article The Madness of Guo Kai.
If the 'diversion' project is still kept on the computers of a few mad people in Beijing, a tunnel (for a road) has been opened between the Valley of the Tsangpo and the Metok country.
Was it a 'symbol' that it was inaugurated the day Premier Wen Jiabao arrived in Delhi in December 2010. I have often written on the Metok tunnel and more recently, Latest news on the Brahmaputra.
Xi Jinping (then vice-president) in Nyingtri
Has China used small nuclear devices to open the tunnel?
It is improbable, because the Chinese engineers have mastered the conventional tunnel technology.
They may have used it to prepare the ground for the first dam (Zangmu) on the Brahmaputra upstream the Great Bent; it is surprising, but nothing is impossible.
In the meantime, China is planning to transform the area into one of the main tourist attractions of the Middle Kingdom. Millions of visitors will drop by every year. Even President Xi Jinping visited the Nyingtri Prefecture in July 2011; he liked it very much.
Did he smell the 'explosions'?

‘China conducted nuclear explosions in Tibet to divert Yarlung Tsangpo’
(, Aug30, 2013) China surreptitiously conducted three to four “low yield atomic explosions” in occupied Tibet in Mar 2005 to aid in clearing mountainous terrain to divert the Yarlung Tsangpo river, known as the Brahmaputra in India, from north to south, reported blog.timesofindia. Aug 29, citing classified Indian intelligence documents. China’s plans to conduct such explosions were widely reported around that time, but were never officially confirmed.
The report said the blasts were held at Moutou (Tibetan: Metog/Pemakoe) County and also near the Great Bend of the Brahmaputra, both in Lingzhi (Nyingtri) Prefecture, Tibet Autonomous Region. They were conducted at significant depths to avoid detection.
Although India did not make the information public, it did actively take up the matter with the Chinese authorities, including through its embassy in Beijing. China, however, flatly denied it.
In 2008, India’s National Security Council (NSC) shared the information with the United States during the visit of the latter’s defence secretary Mr Robert Gates, a former CIA director. And the US authorities admitted the complete failure of their satellites to detect the blasts.
Two factors were reported to have confirmed the Mar 2005 atomic blasts. Firstly, there was unprecedented flooding of the Brahmaputra in Jun-Jul 2005, which resulted in the rise of the river’s level by 30 metres on the Indian side. The Chinese engineers were suspected to have diverted the river water to facilitate their work. Secondly, Indian intelligence noticed in Oct 2008 that Chinese engineers had begun work through Tibet’s Galung La mountain in Nyingchi prefecture near the Great Bend of the Brahmaputra, confirming yet again that nuclear blasts had taken place there earlier.
The report said India was skeptical about China’s steadfast claim that all the dams on the Yarlung Tsangpo were only run-of-the-river projects. In particular, India fears that its share of Brahmaputra’s waters would be reduced and that China could use it as a weapon to cause heavy damage to the Indian side by releasing water at any time it wished.

Friday, August 30, 2013

China must go beyond one-party system

My article China must go beyond one-party system is posted in NitiCentral.

Here is the link...

In the early 1970s, the CIA published for its agents, a manual entitled: “The Art of China Watching”. At that time, the CIA wrote, “by most standards, China is a peculiar country”. Forty years later, China has not changed much; it remains difficult to grasp the moves and motives of a self-proclaimed ‘more transparent’ leadership.
For the watchers, the latest episode was enthralling to follow; I speak of the ‘public’ trial of Bo Xilai, a former Politburo member and Chongqing’s Communist Party Secretary.
Bo’s trial has been the object of immense speculation on the part of the ‘watchers’. Will it demonstrate some progress by the new leadership led by President Xi Jinping in the Art of Transparency, or will it be an old style drama à la Mao Zedong, enacted by a State which has understood the importance of using the modern means of communication such as Internet and micro-blogging. Old wine in new cyber bottles!
John Garnaut, the author of The Rise and Fall of the House of Bo wrote: “It would be a suitably jaw-dropping postscript to one of the most remarkable political shows on earth if Bo Xilai turns out to be the man who saves the Chinese legal system.”
But Bo has not really saved a system which has not witnessed major reforms and taken a step forward towards constitutionalism, the normal rule of law?
Probably not!
Garnaut explains that “as celebrity drama it doesn't get much more riveting than a fallen neo-Maoist, …brawling with his former right hand man and his current wife over infidelity, insanity, defection, a $3.2 million mansion in France, the murder of an Englishman and a ‘princeling’ child marooned in the United States.”
There is no doubt that the Intermediate People's Court in Jinan in the eastern Shandong province witnessed a historical event. All the ingredients were there: the ‘fallen’ hero, brilliantly defending himself and denouncing his wife Gu Kailai, who had ‘gone mad and always lies’; ‘sex’, with Bo stating that Gu was angry with him over an affair that the Red Prince had with another woman (Gu herself apparently had an affair with the Police Chief); but more interestingly, the relative transparency of the Court which regularly published transcripts of the proceedings. There was, of course, no way to check the veracity of the released documents as live transmission was not permitted by the Court (read the Party).
There is no doubt that the leadership has scripted the ‘show’ in detail during the previous week and the ‘transparency’ was a carefully calculated risk; knowing that it would be watched by hundreds of millions of avid spectators in the Mainland and abroad.
The Party had perhaps not planned such a spirited defence from the side of the fallen leader, but it remained within manageable limits for the new leadership. It has not always been so.
In his youth, President Xi Jinping must have heard (he was too young to remember ut ) about the fate of his father Xi Zhongxun, a vice-Premier, who during the Lushan Conference in July 1959 sided with Marshall Peng Dehuai, Mao’s old companion (more or less his equal). Peng had the courage to present a report on what was happening in the countryside; he spoke on the (today) infamous Great Leap Forward. During his inspection tour, the Old Marshal had seen peasants dying by millions. He told Mao in no uncertain terms that China was on the brink of the greatest man-made disaster; Mao never forgave Peng for having spoken against the Great Leap Forward and his lieutenant Xi Zhongxun also paid the hard price for having taken Peng’s side.
In September 1962, Mao, who had remained in the background after the Lushan Conference, decided to come back on the front stage. During the annual Plenum, he reemphasized class struggle ‘to prevent the emergence of revisionism’; denounced 'the members of the bourgeoisie right in the party ranks' and reasserted that the Great Leap Forward was the right thing for China. Peng and Xi Sr. were sent to the ‘countryside’, an euphemism for a purge at that time, without TV cameras, newspapers, micro-bloggers to report about their fate. Such were the ways of the Party during those days.
Today China has changed, though the manner in which decisions are taken by the inner core of the Party remains shrouded in absolute secrecy.
Although many ‘watchers’ believe that Bo went beyond the prepared script, Xinhua reiterated the Party’s position: “During the trial, both prosecution and defense sides had opportunities to fully express their opinions. Also, the court released trial transcripts through microblog.”
It reminded us that on April 10, 2012, Bo was suspended from the CPC Central Committee Political Bureau and the CPC Central Committee, on suspicion of serious discipline violations and the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the CPC filed a case for investigation.
The Party mouthpiece gave what will probably be the final verdict: “Although the country's legal system has a principle of tempering justice with mercy, a heavy sentence in line with the law should be handed to Bo, as he committed very serious crimes and refused to plead guilty. …he is not subject to any terms of leniency by law." Thus the Party has decided.
But in China everything is linked and Bo’s trial should be seen in the largest context of the continuous power struggle at the top of the Party. Soon after the trial ended, the Politburo announced the dates of the Third Plenum of the Central Committee in November, during which the ‘deepening of the reforms’ will be discussed. Bo Xilai who represented the ‘leftist’ wing of the Party, is now out of the game.
Observers believe that the Third Plenum should give some clear indications about the leadership's new economic agenda and if deeper ‘political’ reforms can be envisaged in the near future; they are badly needed to tackle the difficult challenges facing the country, such as corruption, polluted environment, regional economic imbalance or the restive ethnic provinces.
But by most standards, China remains a peculiar country and India is still far ahead in the field of rule of law and transparent governance, even if rampant corruption and other problems cannot be denied.
To become ‘normal’, China needs to go beyond a one party system.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Cloak of secrecy, and dagger of propaganda

Chaglacham village
My article Cloak of secrecy, and dagger of propaganda appeared in the Edit Page of The Pioneer today.

Here is the link...

The Government’s obsession with suppressing important information in the name of national security has led to the proliferation of opacity and misinformation. The India-China border deliberation is an example of that...

In 2009, The Times of India reported that the Prime Minister’s Office had admitted it had 28,685 secret files; none was declassified that year. The policy of opacity continued during the following years and probably some of these files have been lost since then, as there is no reason to believe that files in the PMO are better kept than in the Coal Ministry (a babu explained that the coal files got ‘misplaced’ because they were kept vertically instead of horizontally!).
The Government has become so opaque that it is today impossible to know which files are ‘classified’, lost or misplaced, since the manual that details the declassification process is itself marked ‘secret’. This is what Chandrachur Ghose, an RTI activist, was told by the PMO in response to a request a few years ago: “Declassification of files is done as per the manual of departmental security instructions issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs. The Ministry has marked this manual as confidential and has declined to provide it.” The Indian Government’s arbitrariness and complete lack of transparency is shocking despite the Public Record Rules, 1997, which state that records that are 25 years or more must be preserved in the National Archives of India and that no records can be destroyed without being properly reviewed.
Of course, the Government has never read what Jawaharlal Nehru had written on the subject. In 1957, some historians asked to consult papers in the NAI to write a history of the Ghadar movement; the plea was refused as they were ‘secret papers’. When this was brought to Nehru’s attention, he said: “I am not at all satisfied with the noting on this file by Intelligence or by the Director of Archives. The papers required are very old, probably over thirty years old. No question of secrecy should apply to such papers, unless there is some very extraordinary reason in regard to a particular document… they should be considered, more or less, public papers. To say that they can only be seen by research scholars is not very helpful.”
The opacity is not restricted to ‘historical’ files; current issues such as the border dispute with China are victims of the secretive ways of the Government. Today, if the public lacks basic knowledge on the border issue, particularly the respective claims of both India and China, the blame can be squarely put on the Indian Government whose responsibility it is to inform the people about its dealings with China.
In this context, 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, 15 White Papers on the border issue, known as Notes, Memoranda and Letters Exchanged and Agreements signed between The Governments of India and China, were tabled in Parliament). Similarly in 1960-1961, after several rounds of talks between Indian and Chinese representatives, a detailed Report of the Officials on the Boundary Question was released.
If India has a case, and I believe that it has a strong one, it should be known and understood by the common man. The time has come for the Government to tell the people what has been going on during the several rounds of talks between the Special Representatives. Have the Chinese provided maps of their ‘perceived’ Line of Actual Control? If not, why? Has the LAC moved southwards since the 1960 talks? Are there two ‘perceived’ LACs? How many ‘perceived’ intrusions have occurred during the previous years and where?
For months, the media has mentioned intrusions across the LAC in Ladakh, whether it is near Daulat Beg Oldie, Siri Jap or Chumar, each time the Government has tried to keep a veil of secrecy as opaque as ‘coal(gate)’ on the issues: “This can’t be discussed publically; the common man can’t understand the intricacies of a situation inherited from history”, the babus will tell you.
It appears now that the Chinese have extended their ‘incursions’ to Arunachal Pradesh, particularly to the Anjaw district. Former (BJP) MP Tapir Gao claimed that early this month, the People’s Liberation Army intruded into Indian territory after over-running at least six of the nine Indian check posts. Mr Gao even affirmed that the face-off continued for some time near the McMahon Line.
Talking to The Assam Tribune, Mr Gao asserted that the incursion started around August 12. He explained that a group of BJP workers visited the area, located near Chaglagam in Anjaw district and confirmed the veracity of the information. The Indian public knows nothing about the situation in this remote part of Arunachal. Why is the Government keeping the issue under wrap?
Another case in the less-talked about Central Sector: Is India in possession of Barahoti (called Wuje by China), south of the Himalayan watershed? Is China trespassing in the area? Are the Chinese still intruding in the valley of Nilang, north of Gangotri? These are some of the questions which should be answered. Does the present Government understand that a well-informed Indian public would be a tremendous support to protect the borders of India against unwanted intrusions, incursions or transgressions?
The Fifth India-China Strategic Dialogue was held in New Delhi last week. While some progress is said to have been made in narrowing the ever-growing trade (im)balance in favour of China, Beijing remained stuck on its position on the border issue. The new Foreign Secretary, Ms Sujatha Singh, and her Chinese counterpart, Vice-Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin (who served many years as Director-General, Department of Treaty and Law in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) wanted to finalise a fresh Border Defence Cooperation Agreement. With China constantly creating trouble on the LAC, will a new agreement be more efficient than the previous ones of 1993, 1996, 2005 and 2012. Why a new BDCA? It seems just a pretext for the Prime Minister to visit Beijing.
On the subject of opacity; I want to make a prophesy: We shall never know what has happened to submarine INS Sidhurakshak. A few years ago, when Sandeep Unnithan of India Today magazine sought some information on the sinking of INS Khukri in December 1971, the Central Information Commission recommend that the Indian Navy (and the Indian Armed Forces) “build up their storehouse of information for disclosure at the appropriate time for the benefit of the students of India’s defence and to enhance the people’s trust in the armed forces’ undoubted capacity to ensure national security.” The requested files on INS Khurkri, however, remained ‘secret’ and South Block ignored the CIC’s recommendations. It is a great pity. A nation can and should learn from history.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

China develops tourism facilities in Labrang

Labrang (Xiahe) Airport
You may remember that when Yu Zhengsheng visited Amdo region (Qinghai Province) beginning of July, he called "for lasting prosperity and stability in China's Tibetan regions by improving local livelihoods and fighting the 14th Dalai Lama clique."
Yu visited the famous Labrang Monastery, 'one of the six great temples of the Geluk school of Tibetan Buddhism' according to Xinhua.
Yu was received there by the traditional head of the monastery, the Jamyang Shepa.
I then wrote: “It is clear that the Chinese are keen to use the traditional hierarchy to put across their message.”
But their main message, as we have seen during Yu’s visit to Lhasa and Nagchu in early August, is ‘development’ through ‘tourism’.
On August 19, Xinhua reported the arrival of a A319 passenger plane from Sichuan Airlines which “marked the opening of the Xiahe Airport of Gannan [Kan-lho] Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, the first civil aviation airport built in ethnic [Tibetan] areas of Gansu Province as well as the only plateau airport at an elevation of 3,198 meters in Gansu.”
Labrang monastery is located close by and the new airport will help develop tourism in the area.
But to receive hundreds of thousands visitors, the famous Buddhist center needs ‘renovations’, like the Bakhor area in Lhasa.
Three days after the opening of the airport, Xinhua announced that the facelift of the monastery is proceeding smoothly: “Renovations to a centuries-old Tibetan monastery in northwest China's Gansu Province will be finished by the end of August.”
Xinhua quoted Sonam Je, a deputy chief of the county's culture bureau saying: “Renovation of the Xiabudan [?] Buddha Hall of the Labrang Monastery in Gansu's Xiahe county is part of a first-phase facelift to the monastery, and the project will serve as preparation for bigger renovations in the future.”
Started year, the hall's renovation has already cost some 425,000 U.S. dollars. The first-phase of the project includes two other halls with an initial funding of 1.6 million U.S. dollars.
Later more than 10 other halls of Labrang Tashikyil monastery will eventually be renovated; they are on the ‘waiting list’ according to Xinhua, which further explains: “It is the religious center for more than 340,000 Tibetans in Gansu's Gannan [Kan-lho] Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, one of China's 10 Tibetan autonomous prefectures.”
The local authorities explain that the monastery's mud and wood structure is in urgent need of reinforcement; there are some cracks in the walls and roofs are leaking. This affects the life of the 1,000 lamas living in Labrang.
Again according to local Chinese cadres, the monastery has a number of “heritage pieces, including over 30,000 Buddha statues, 65,000 volumes of Buddhist scriptures and a rich collection of sutras and murals.”
At a cost of some 27 million US dollars, Beijing finances the entire operation “to reinforce the heritage buildings without making alterations to their original appearance”.
Yu Zhengsheng in Labrang
Sonam Je let the cat out of the bag when he says: “Religious activities and tourism have not been affected by the renovation work.”
It is an investment which will be recovered in no time with the revenue from tourism.
Once the renovation work is completed Labrang will apply for World Heritage status; it will take in 7 to 8 years as “hasty renovations could ruin the 303-year-old monastery".
The authorities are not keen to repeat a Bakhor episode where hundred thousands of concerned people signed (to no avail) a petition to the UNESCO.
It practically means that Disneyfication of Tibet is extending its tentacles to the ‘Tibetan-inhabited’ regions of Amdo, before it reaches Eastern Kham at a later stage.
Before this, the ‘stabilization’ work will have to be completed; in other words, the restive Khampas will have to be ‘pacified’ one way or another.
It may take a few decades, if it ever happens.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Glimpses on the History of Tibet

Here is a review of my illustrated book Glimpses on the History of Tibet published by the Tibet Museum in Dharamsala.

A Walk Through the History of the Roof of the World
by Thubten Samphel

I was there at the very beginning, the beginning of creation, so to speak. For the winter of 2009, I took my family to Auroville, a community which is guided by the way of life inspired by Sri Aurobindo, an Indian nationalist leader and mystic who based himself in the French enclave of Pondicherry in south India to escape harassment of the British Raj.
Our time spent in this truly international city coincided with His Holiness the Dalai Lama inaugurating the Pavilion of Tibetan Culture. As its name implies, the Pavilion of Tibetan Culture is a centre devoted to the study of Tibetan culture, the pet project of Claude Arpi, a lover of Tibetan culture and an expert on everything Tibet and the politics that engulf the country.
According to Claude Arpi, after speaking to young Tibetans about Tibet’s past, His Holiness the Dalai Lama requested him to capture the entire history of Tibet in a comprehensive slide presentation.
He wanted the French Tibet scholar to do 25 panels with succinct explanations about their background. His Holiness the Dalai Lama hoped that this would inspire young Tibetans and others to delve more deeply into Tibetan history for them to better understand and take pride in the past of the Tibetan people.
Claude Arpi said that perhaps to give him strength and to bless him on this arduous journey into Tibetan history, His Holiness the Dalai Lama presented him with two thangkas of Shantarakshita and Guru Padmasambhava, two Indian Buddhist masters most responsible for planting firm roots of Buddhism in Tibet and the three religious kings who made sure that this happened in their realm.
After a year or so, Claude Arpi said he had completed the project and forwarded the slide presentation, called Glimpses of Tibetan History, to the Department of Information and International Relations (DIIR).
The DIIR’s Tibet Museum converted the 25 slides into 3 by 6 foot panels which constitute an important part of the Museum’s exhibition on Tibet.
Now this exhibition has been transformed by the Tibet Museum of the DIIR into a stunning coffee table book.
Apart from the introduction, like the exhibition, the book is divided into 25 sections. The book edition of Glimpses of Tibetan History takes the reader right to the beginning of the formation of the Tibetan Plateau, more than 20 million years ago.
Or, according to Claude Arpi, 100 million years ago when India decided to migrate from Africa to Asia. India’s eventual departure from Africa and its coupling with Asia took about 71 million years. The resulting collision between India and Asia, in the words of Sven Hedin, the legendary Swedish explorer and scholar, threw up the most stupendous upheaval on the face of the earth. Today that upheaval is known as Tibet, or the Roof of the World, the source of life-giving waters to the rest of Asia.
Like the exhibition, Claude Arpi’s book, Glimpses of Tibetan History is an ode to the sanctity of Tibet. While reading the book, one can almost hear Claude Arpi singing hymns in praise of Tibet from ancient India’s Puranas:
As the dew is dried up by the morning sun,
So are the sins of men dried up by the sight of the Himalaya,
Where Shiva lives and where the Ganga falls
From the foot of Vishnu like
The slender thread of a lotus flower.
There are no mountains like the Himalaya,
For in them are Kailas and Manasarovar.           
Or, one can hear Claude Arpi declaiming from Kalidas:
In the northern quarter is divine Himalaya,
The lord of mountains,
Reaching from Eastern to Western Oceans,
Firm as rod to measure the earth.
Like ancient India, ancient Tibet had the same reverence for its sacred geography. The ancient Tibetans celebrated the arrival of their first king, Nyatri Tsenpo, the Neck-enthroned one, around 127 BC, with these words. These verses re-produced below are a Tibetan celebration of the enthronement of their first king and the sanctity of the realm he came to rule.
He came as lord of the six parts of Tibet,
And when he first came to this world,
He came as lord of all under heaven.
This centre of heaven,
This core of the earth,
This heart of the world,
Fenced round by the snow,
The headland of all the rivers,
Where the mountains are high and the land is pure.
One of the 25 panels
The author taking his readers on a bird’s-eye-view journey over the ups and downs of Tibetan history, starting from an examination of the scattered, archaeological remains of Tibet’s Paleolithic and Neolithic Ages, is a remarkable achievement.
With the author we look at the tentative beginnings of Yarlung dynasty that flourished in the Yarlung valley which scholars consider to be the cradle of Tibetan civilization. The kings of the Yarlung dynasty came to dominate stronger and well-established earlier kingdoms like Shangshung in western Tibet, the centre of Tibet’s Bon religion. The Yarlung kings soon over-ran the whole of the Tibetan plateau, laying the foundations of the empire and the civilization that bound the Tibetan people.
The ancient Tibetans’ empire-building enterprise was accompanied by absorbing the cultural influences they encountered when they broke out of the confines of the plateau. The biggest influence was that of Buddhism which Tibetans transmitted to Tibet over the course of five centuries. Along with incorporation of Buddhism, the ancient Tibetans invented a script, developed a medical system and devised a calendar, which made Tibetan civilization wholesome and complete.
The best minds of ancient and medieval Tibet engaged in this mighty cultural enterprise took talent and energy away from Tibet’s empire and nation-building effort. The empire the Tibetan kings constructed fragmented into pieces. With no central authority, Tibet became easy prey for outside predators. The biggest was the Mongols who in exchange for Tibetan allegiance left Tibet a self-governing administration within the rapidly expanding Mongol empire. With the Mongols, the Tibetans developed the priest-patron relationship, a unique form of diplomacy among the Tibetans, Mongols and the Manchus.
Claude Arpi then takes the readers through the rise of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism and the assumption of political authority by the great Fifth Dalai Lama. Later, there was increasing Qosot Mongol and Manchu interference in the politics of Tibet, which China today says are the grounds for its claims on Tibet. However, on this issue Claude Arpi cites Huc and Gabet, two French missionaries who visited Tibet at the time, as saying, “The Government of Tibet resembles that of the Pope and the position occupied by the Chinese ambassador was the same as that of the Austrian ambassador at Rome.”
The following sections deal with the Gorkha, Zorawar Singh’s and British India’s invasion of Tibet, taking the readers to the turn of the 20th century to 1904. The 13th Dalai Lama, in touch with the modern world through his two exile experiences in Mongolia, China and then in British India, made strenuous efforts to modernize Tibet. He established a police force in Lhasa, sent young Tibetans to be educated in England, started a modern standing army, laid a telegraphs line between Lhasa and India, built a modern mint, established a new English school in Gyantse and improved monastic discipline.
The great 13th Dalai Lama also made serious efforts for Tibet to be admitted to the League of Nations, the predecessor to today’s United Nations. But all these efforts proved too little, too late.
In 1950, a re-unified and resurgent communist simply overwhelmed Tibet through force and diplomacy.
This is the story Claude Arpi tells with great insight and erudition. Glimpses of the History of Tibet should be read by all Tibetan school children.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Why a new border agreement?

Chaglacham in winter
The Fifth India-China Strategic Dialogue was held in Delhi this week. While some progress is said to have been made in narrowing the ever-growing trade (im)balance in favour of China, Beijing remained stuck on its position on the border issue as well as on a possible collaboration on the Brahmaputra and other trans-border rivers.
After the meet, it was reported that “both sides put their faith in the most recent bilateral mechanism, the [2012] Working Mechanism on Border.”
Well, this has not stopped the Chinese intruding into India’s territory.
The new Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh and her Chinese counterpart, Vice-Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin (who served many years as Director-General, Department of Treaty and Law in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) wanted to finalize a fresh Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA).
At a time the Chinese regularly try to create trouble on the LAC, can a new agreement be more efficient than the previous ones; to name them:
•    In 1993: Maintenance of Peace and Tranquility along the Line of Actual Control in the China-India Border Areas
•    In 1996: Confidence-Building Measures in the Military Field Along the Line of Actual Control in the India-China Border Areas
•    In 2005: On the Political Parameters and Guiding Principles for the Settlement of the India-China Boundary Question
•    In 2012: Establishment of a working mechanism for consultation and co-ordination on India-China Border Affairs
Click to enlarge
One wonders why a new BDCA?
Is it just a pretext for the Prime Minister to visit Beijing?
Probably, but why can’t the PMO’s babus find a better excuse/reason?
For months, the media has mentioned incursions across the LAC in Ladakh, whether it is near Daulat Beg Oldi, Siri Jap, Chumar or Demchok.
Now, it appears that the Chinese have extended their intrusions to Arunachal Pradesh, particularly to the Anjaw district.
Former BJP MP, Tapir Gao claimed that early this month, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has intruded at least 30-40 km into Indian territory after over-running at least six of the nine Indian check posts. Gao even affirmed that the face-off continues near the McMahon Line.
Talking to The Assam Tribune, Gao asserted that the incursion started around August 12. He explained that a group of BJP workers visited the area, located near Chaglagam in Anjaw district and confirmed the veracity of the information.
According to the former MP, some 200 PLA personnel are occupying six unmanned check posts, which serve as temporary camps for Indian forces patrolling in the area. Chaglagam is the last administrative circle located some 108 km south of the McMahon Line.
Tapir Gao explained that ever since the incursion took place, some 1,500 or 1,600 local people live in constant fear. The local administration has apparently informed Itanagar about the incident.
Like in Ladakh, one of the problems is that the Army is not deployed in the area; only 70 to 80 Indo-Tibetan Border Police troops are left facing the Chinese PLA.
Another local source said: “There are no roads or regular supply chain from our side to the areas occupied by the Chinese, so the Indian Army has to move on foot. Situation is grim as our local people are worried that the Chinese PLA may not vacate the occupied areas. Why does the Government of India not understand the gravity of the situation?”
Tapir Gao demanded the immediate deployment of the Army in the area; he also asked the Defence Minister AK Antony to pay a visit in Chaglagam.
In these conditions, is there any point for a Prime Minister to visit China?
If the 1993, 1996, 2005 and 2012 agreements have been unable to check Chinese aggressiveness, how can a fifth one succeed?
The Chinese reasoning is that the new agreement could bring peace on the condition India accepts to freeze the development of the border areas.
A source told The Indian Express that India did not want to escalate the tension and efforts were on to resolve the differences: “Chinese troops had put up tents at the occupied position, but it was removed the next day. Efforts are on to end the standoff between the two sides. Currently, the 9 JAK Rifles are face to face with Chinese troops in Chaglagam sector.”
And the MEA parrots: “The Centre keeps a constant watch on all developments having a bearing on India’s security and takes all necessary measures to safeguard it.”
An important point to note is that the latest Chaglagam incursion by the PLA depends on the Chengdu Military Region and not the Lanzhou Military Region like the ones in Ladakh and the Central Sector (Barahoti). It demonstrates a coordinated effort from the Central Military Commission in Beijing to pester India, which is too slowly catching up in terms of infrastructure development.  Last year, a local newspaper in Arunachal spoke of Delhi’s “reluctance to upgrade its resources along the international border in Arunachal Pradesh”
It said: “One glaring example is the border demarcation along Indo-China border near Chaglagam outpost in Anjaw district. Due to lack of proper boundary demarcation, the Chinese Army often intrudes through two passes of Glai Takre and Hadira Takre which are about 100 km from last ITBP base camp situated at Chaglagam.”
At that time, Anjaw Zilla Parishad Chairperson B. Tega had said that the Chinese often intrude in the area and puts up unknown signs and symbols on stones and trees inside the Indian Territory. Tega explained that after the departure of the Chinese, the Indian patrols were quick to erase the Chinese military marks and signs.
The Zilla Parishad leader had then suggested: “the Indian government needs to establish military camp at Tanya, Pompom and Laitakru areas for security and easy monitoring of border areas”.
In 2012, a Chaglagam district official had told the local press: “due to non availability of proper motorable road from Chaglagam to Glai Takre and Hadira Takre, the Indian patrolling team takes 4 to 5 days to reach the border; this pose a danger during emergency time."
The official urged the government to widen the Chaglagam-Hayuliang road for transportation of military and other heavy vehicles and stated: “The Chinese government has connected its border area with highways. On the other hand, India is yet to make any roads leading to all border posts in Arunachal Pradesh even today.”
Incursions are not only happening in Arunachal. On July 25, The Hindustan Times (HT), quoting some top government source, reported that some 21 PLA troops crossed the LAC in Barahoti area of Uttarakhand.
It appears that the Chinese soldiers moved back after straying across LAC for more than an hour. The HT said: “This was the third straight intrusion this month apart from a face-off in Chumar on July 16-17, and another one on July 12-13 in Arunachal Pradesh.”
This particular one in the Central Sector occurred after maps have been exchanged between India and China. It is the only sector where it has been done.
The intrusion took place just before the Joint Secretary (East Asia) Gautam Bambawalla met a Chinese delegation headed by the Director General (Boundary Affairs) to discuss steps to make the LAC peaceful.
During the two-day official-level talks held under the 2012 agreement, the Indian and Chinese sides discussed ways to maintain peace along the LAC; the MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin candidly admitted: “The delegations reviewed recent developments in the India-China border areas.”
One could also ask: what is the point to have a new agreement if no tangible progress has occurred with the existing mechanism; it is not one more visit of the Indian Prime Minister to Beijing which will change this state of affairs.
Another sign that relations are not what they should be is that according to an official release, the two sides discussed “enhancing understanding on the utilization of trans-border river waters”. Here again, the Chinese are not ready to have set up a proper working mechanism to dispel Indian fears that the waters of the Brahmaputra will be diverted.
The time has come for the Indian Government to publish a White Paper and tell the Indian public what is going on. Why a new agreement is required when we already have four?
Nehru used to regularly issue White Papers (15 White Papers were published between 1959 and 1965), why should the present government not do the same? It would be wise before they lose the files!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Another Political Vase for Tibet?

Wang Zhengwei in Nyingtri
A few days ago, Wang Zhengwei, the head of the State Ethnic Affairs Commission (SEAC) and a Vice-chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) stated that “support [is] needed to develop Xinjiang and Tibet”.
At that time, the Chinese press said that the announcement was made “at a meeting on relevant work”; in Communist jargon, it means "it is not your business to know".
It now turns out that Wang was in Tibet where he declared: “Safeguarding ethnic unity and stability in Xinjiang and Tibet is important to China's national unity and border defense."
He also called on “relevant authorities to provide more help to the two regions and make them more capable of handling emergencies, cracking down on separatists and safeguarding ethnic stability.”
According to Wang, State Ethnic Affairs Commission which functions under the State Council [Cabibet] has raised some 486 million U.S. dollars in the past three years for Xinjiang and Tibet.
Wang clarified that the money was used “mainly to improve housing, the environment, water and electricity supplies, as well as the protection of ethnic relics in the regions.”
The main objectives of the commission were education, improving people's well-being and win local support: “local ethnic affairs authorities must go deep into the grassroots and listen to their needs in areas like education, medical care and employment”.
Wang did not mention the role of the Commission Tibet for ‘safeguarding’ China's national unity and ‘cracking down on separatists and safeguarding ethnic stability’.

But who is Wang?
Wang Zhengwei is born in 1957 in Tongxin County of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. He is a Hui by ‘nationality’ and joined the CCP in 1981 after graduating from Chinese Department of Ningxia University with a Bachelor Degree in 1982. He later earned a Doctorate degree from Central University for Nationalities in 2003.
He has been a member of the 16th, 17th and 18th CCP’s Central Committees. In 2008, he became Chairman of the People's Government of the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, a Muslim dominated area of northwestern China.
In April 2013, Wang was nominated Minister of the State Ethnic Affairs Commission.
The South China Morning Post (SCPC) consecrated an article to the new ‘minority’ boss, warning “China's new ethnic affairs commissioner has little power”, adding that experts believe that “the appointment of Hui Muslim as head of the State Council's ethnic affairs body will do little to ease the country's ethnic tensions,” though the appointment of a Hui Muslim as head of the State Council's ethnic affairs body may seem strategic.”
Wang Zhengwei replaced Yang Jing (a Mongol) who made it to the top, the Politburo.
Wang is the youngest vice-chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).
Ilhan Tohti, an ethnic Uygur and a Central University for Nationalities economics professor told the SCMP that the Commission "has had the lowest political impact among the 25 departments under the State Council since [the Commission] was set up in 1949, no matter what official rankings its heads have held".
Thoti explained: “As an ethnic Hui from Ningxia, Wang might be more familiar with Uygurs, but he can't influence China's ethnic policy because the role of CPPCC is just a 'political vase' [for display].”
Another scholar, Jiang Zhaoyong, a Beijing-based expert on ethnic issues, asserted: “It's a fact that Wang can't do anything to influence our country's ethnic affairs. In Xinjiang, all ethnic issues are decided by the party's Political and Legal Affairs Commission, while the United Front Work Department controls Tibetan policies."
Wang on Yu's side in Xinjiang
That was under the ancient regime. Things seem to be changing and Jiang may be wrong.
When Politburo’s Standing Committee member Yu Zhengsheng (and head of the Xinjiang Coordination Small Group) visited Xinjiang between May 23 and 28, he was accompanied by Wang.
The SCMP named Wang as the deputy chairman of the CPPCC and chief of staff of the coordination group, (in other words, ‘secretary of the Xinjiang Coordination Small Group). According to the Hong Kong newspaper: “This is the first time that a CPPCC chairman has headed the Xinjiang Coordination [Small] Group and a deputy [vice] CPPCC chairman has fill the chief of staff role.”
The previous Small Group had two heads of the group, Luo Gan and Zhou Yongkang, both leaders were part of the Party's Political and Legal Affairs Committee and members of the all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee.
The Xinjiang Coordination Small Group was set up in 2003 on the pattern of other Small Groups under the Central Committee of the CCP. It is supposed to facilitate policy coordination between the Central and Xinjiang governments, dealing amongst things over finance, development and education.

Wang's visit to Lhasa
His visit to the Tibetan Autonomous Region from August 11 to 16 tends to show that Wang Zhengwei has become a member of the Tibet Work Small Group.
However only the Chinese language papers reported his visit to Tibet.
Wang came from Chengdu, Sichuan where he met with Sichuan provincial officials in the Ethnic & Religious Affairs Department. He also visited the Southwest Nationalities University in Chengdu.
Like Yu Zhengsheng to weeks earlier, his presence in Tibet was announced only after he had left the Tibetan capital.
The most interesting part of his visit was the Nyingtri Prefecture, north of the McMahon Line (he may have flown from Chengdu to Nyingtri airport).
Wang spent four days visiting monasteries (in Bayi), some urban police posts, and several villages, including a Lhoba village in Miling County and a 'tourist' village in Lulang Township.
More interestingly, Wang convened a meeting of a new group working under the SEAC; this group is called “National Ethnic Affairs Commission Assistance Partnership for Tibet and Xinjiang Work Committee”.
A few senior Xinjiang leaders, Han and Uighur were even flown to Nyingtri to attend the meeting.
The purpose of this new group is not known.
Wang arrived in Lhasa on August 15 where he listened to the reports of Party Secretary Chen Quanguo, Deputy Party Secretaries Padma Choling and Deng Xiaogang, Gongbo Tashi (head of the TAR United Front Department), Chodak (Party Secretary of Lhasa), Ding Yexian (TAR Executive Vice Governor) and Wang Ruilian (TAR Standing Committee Secretary General).
In Lhasa, Wang visited the Jokhang Temple, the Lhasa Mosque and the Potala Palace. Wang told the monks” “You must draw a clear line between yourselves and the 14th Dalai Lama group.” Wang like Yu before him called on the two ‘senior’ leaders Phakpalha and Ragdi. Apparently Jampa Phuntsog was not around.
Wang was accompanied by Sithar of the United Front Department (he was also present during Yu Zhengsheng’s visit to Lhasa and Nagchu earlier this month) and Luo Li, a Deputy Director of the State Ethnic Affairs Commission.
What to make out Wang’s visit to Tibet?
It was apparently only reported in the local press. We will have to wait and see if it was a private initiative of Wang and his Ethnic Commission or if he is going to take the lead under Yu Zhengsheng to bring new blood to the Small Group on Tibet.
Qui vivra verra!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Nepal: Namaste China

Nepal has become a full-fledged colony of China, with the Nepali leaders repeating blindly what Beijing tell them to say, using even the Chinese Communist jargon.
According to China Tibet Online, Mahesh Kumar Maskey, the former kingdom's Ambassador to China asserted "Nepal firmly suppresses Dalai Clique's separatist activities."
Maskey, who was on an official visit to Tibet, added that his government (and people of Nepal) "firmly adhere to the one-China policy, and firmly suppress the Dalai Clique's any anti-China activities on Nepali territory".
Maskey had just met Deng Xiaoguo, one vice chairman of Tibet Autonomous Region.
The Ambassador declared that "under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, Tibet has overcome severe natural conditions and made outstanding achievements in economy and other social industries. We are impressed by the beautiful modernized Tibet and happy life of all ethnic groups in Tibet."
Is it Nepalese language or Communist jargon?
It sounds like the latter.
Mahesh Kumar Maskey also declared that he hopes to see more cooperation opportunities with China's Tibet and enhance the bilateral relationship between Nepal and China. He emphasized that his country "has persistently adhered to China's Tibet policy."
Is the Ambassador aware of the 1856 Treaty between Nepal and Tibet?
Inter alia, the Treaty says: "the Gurkha (Nepal) Government will in future give all the assistance that may be in its power to the Government of Tibet, if the troops of any other 'raja' invade that country."
When 'Raja' Mao invaded Tibet in 1950, this clause was conveniently forgotten.
The situation has today worsened.
Mahesh Kumar Maskey
On April 18, 2013, soon after becoming China's President, Xi Jinping met with Puspa Kamal Dahal (Prachanda), chairman of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and pledged to boost cooperation.
It was later reported that the Nepalese police has installed hi-tech, night-vision CCTV cameras in areas to curb the anti-China activities (read Tibetan) in Kathmandu which has become of the favorite spots for the Chinese tourists to spend their holidays.
Recently, The South China Morning Post reported: "Restaurants, hotels and even a hospital in the capital's Thamel district offer services to visitors from the north, in their own language."
One area in the Thamel (Kathmandu's tourist hub) has become "a cluster of Chinese commerce - restaurants, hotels, travel agencies, shops and even a hospital in this backpackers' haven are strictly targeting Nepal's northern neighbours."
The Hong Kong newspaper said: "With the country's tourism scene dominated by the influx of Chinese tourists lately, businesses targeting them are also mushrooming. The street that borders the tourist district with the traditional neighbourhood of Jyatha is a prime example. This stretch of street is crowded with signs in Chinese: Hotels offer their room rates and services, restaurants display their menus and travel agencies plaster their windows with itineraries strictly in the script that would attract their targeted customers."
According to the Immigration Office at Kathmandu's Tribhuvan International Airport, Chinese tourists increased by 25.7 per cent in June compared with the same month last year.
After a bilateral agreement signed between China and Nepal in 2001, Kathmandu has received an Approved Destination Status. Today, there are direct flights to Kathmandu from Kunming , Guangzhou, Chengdu and Hong Kong.
It is estimated that 85,000 Chinese visited Nepal last year; this figure should reach 100,000 by 2014.
Of course, these figures are not comparable with the inflow of Han tourists in Lhasa. During this year's Shoton (Yoghurt) Festival, Lhasa received a record 1.38 million tourists.
The week-long event, which has just ended brought 50 million U.S. dollars as a revenue for Lhasa Municipality, an increase of 15% compared to last year.
According to the Chinese media: "The festival started with the 'sunning of the Buddha' ceremony held in the 600-year-old Drepung Monastery, where pious Buddhists prayed to a 1,480-square-meter portrait of Buddha.Festival organizers also staged an exhibition dedicated to 'Thangkas', painted Tibetan scrolls with a history of more than 1,300 years. Tibetan opera performances were also staged at the Norbulingka Park during the festival, attracting more than 80,000 people each day."It further gives a historical background: "The festival was originally a religious occasion, when local people would offer yogurt to monks who had finished meditation retreats. It has been held since the 17th century."
I have mentioned some of these festivals in a previous posting: The Disneyland of Snows.
In the meantime, China Outbound Tourism Research Institute said that China will cross the 100 million overseas tourists a year earlier than expected. However, the growth of Chinese tourist spending could slow down as a result of the continuing crackdown on corruption.
The Germany-based Institute has forecast that from July 1 to June 30 next year, 106 million Chinese tourists will travel abroad and spend US$ 129 billion (that is a lot of money).
The United Nations World Tourism Organisation had predicted that the mark would be reached in 2015 'only'.
The increasing number of Chinese tourists explains that the National Tourism Administration in Beijing asked them to improve the image that they give of their country.
The tour guides and travel agencies have been ordered to take full responsibility for their Chinese tourists' uncivilized manners and behaviour.
The Chinese administration is also considering including a requirement regarding civil behavior in the contract.
The Guangming Daily says that the 'five annoying mannerisms' of Chinese tourists are: talking loudly in public, littering, spitting, not following orders, and damaging culture relics.
One can presume that this is also valid for many other countries.

The Chinese who matter in Tibetan Affairs

Xi Jinping in Lhasa (2011)
Here is a list of Chinese officials who will have a say in Tibet affairs in the years to come.
Either they have been, or they are associated with the Roof of the World.
One can only hope that wisdom will prevail and that they will realize that it is in their (and China's) interest to find a decent solution to the Tibetan issue with the present Dalai Lama.
Many of these senior Party officials have been mentioned on this blog in the past.
This list is not exhaustive and may change in March.

President Xi Jinping
Xi Jinping 习近平
Member, Standing Committee
Xi Jinping is a native of Fuping County, Shaanxi Province. He was born in 1953, entered the work force in 1969, joined the Youth League in 1971 and the Communist Party of China (CPC) in 1974.
In 2012, he became General Secretary of the 18th CPC Central Committee, a member of the Standing Committee of the Politburo of the 18th CPC Central Committee and Chairman of the CPC Central Military Commission.
His father Xi Zhongxun was associated with the Xth Panchen Lama.
Xi Jinping is the new boss of China.
Xi does not  seem in a hurry to go deeper into Tibetan affairs as his missed visit to Tibet in February 2013 shows.

Yu Zhengsheng
Yu Zhengsheng 俞正声
Member, Standing Committee
 Yu Zhengsheng (Han nationality) is a native of Shaoxing City, Zhejiang Province. He was born in 1945, entered the work force in 1963, joined the CPC in 1964, and graduated from the Harbin Military Engineering Institute in 1968.
From 2007-2012 Yu served as Secretary of the CPC Shanghai Municipal Committee.
In 2012, he was elected member of the Standing Committee of the Politburo of the 18th CPC Central Committee.
He may replace Jia Qingling as the Chairman of Central Working Coordination Small Group on Tibet when it is reconstituted.
Xinhua recently reported: "Senior official Yu Zhengsheng called on monks and nuns to be patriotic and observe the law and monastic rules during an inspection tour in southwest China's Sichuan Province from Jan. 6 to 8.
Yu, a Standing Committee member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, made the call at a seminar held with Tibetan Buddhist representatives in Sichuan's Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture."
The article continued:
Yu said he hopes Tibetan Buddhists will support the government's efforts to manage monasteries in accordance with the law and encourage monks and nuns to observe both the law and monastic rules. "The government should offer public services to monasteries while enhancing their management, as well as help Tibetan Buddhism to correspond with socialist society," Yu said.
A unified and strong motherland together with developing and stable Tibetan areas will help ethnic groups improve their lives and brighten the prospects for Tibetan Buddhism, Yu said.
"The fight against the Dalai Lama clique should continue in order to create a favorable social and political environment for economic development and the improvement of people's well-being," he said.
Yu said he hopes Tibetan Buddhists can cultivate higher religious attainments to enable them to run the monasteries and better guide people in religious practices.
During the inspection tour of Ganzi, the first ethnic minority autonomous prefecture after the People's Republic of China was founded in 1949 as well as one still haunted by poverty, Yu visited herdsmen, poverty-stricken villagers and a middle school.
He said, "The key for developing Tibetan areas lies in improving their infrastructure and public services as well as increasing the incomes of farmers and herdsmen."
Yu asked the local government to put a special focus on "problems for which the public demands prompt solutions," such as offering better medical services in the region and better vocational training for young people.
He ordered officials to improve their work style, serve the people wholeheartedly and solve people's practical problems.
On January 24, 2013, while meeting major 'national religious groups' in Beijing, Yu called religion a 'positive force'.
He particularly mentioned the usefulness of religion in promoting economic and social development. He said that "efforts are needed to make religion conducive to national development and the improve.
Yu Zhengsheng visited Lhasa and Nagchu from August 1 to 6, 2013.
Read my comments...

Liu Yandong
Liu Yandong 刘延东
Member, 18th CPC, Central Committee, Politburo; Vice-Premier, State Council

Born in November 1945 in Nantong, Jiangsu Province, Ms. Liu Yandong joined the Communist Party of China in July 1964.
She studied political theory at the School of Administration at Jilin University. She holds the degree of Doctor of Laws.
She is currently a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, State Councilor, and member of the Leading Party Members' Group.
Between 2002 and 2007, she served as the head of the United Front, an organization which oversees the relations with the ‘minorities’ and the non-Communist Chinese political parties.
She is said to be a close ally of former General Secretary Hu Jintao.
In March 2013, she was appointed second Vice-Premier in Li Keqianq's cabinet.
In January 2007, Ms. Liu paid an eight-day visit to India. She met Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee. The Indian Government then "reiterated its position recognizing that Tibet Autonomous Region is an inseparable part of China and that India will not permit any person to engage in anti-China political activities in India."
PTI reported that Liu Yandong met with Tourism and Culture Minister Ambika Soni: "As a part of bilateral effort, a high level delegation led by Liu Yandong, Vice Chairperson of National Committee of Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, also called on Tourism Minister Ambika Soni and stressed the need to strengthen relation between the two countries through tourism and cultural exchange".
Not a word of Tibet, though the 'negotiations' were under her responsibility.

Hu Chunhua
Hu Chunhua 胡春华
Member, Politburo of the 18th Central Committee
Hu Chunhua was born into a family of farming background in Wufeng County, Hubei in April 1963.
In 1979, he ranked first in the county for the Gaokao examination. At age 16, he was the youngest in his class.
He received his B.A. degree from Peking University in August 1983, majoring in Chinese language and literature. After graduation, he volunteered to go work in Tibet.
He began work in the region as a cadre in the Organization Department of the Communist Youth League. Hu subsequently held various government and Youth League positions in Tibet, ultimately serving as deputy secretary of the CPC Tibet Autonomous Regional Committee from November 2003 to November 2006 and vice chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Regional Government from November 2003 to November 2005.
In Tibet, Hu played an instrumental role in developing the Tibetan economy.
In November 2012, Hu was appointed to the 18th Politburo
With Sun Zhengcai, he is the youngest members of the politburo, raising speculation they are being groomed to become China's next leaders in 2022.
In December 2012, Hu was appointed the party chief of Guangdong.
He is said to fluently speak Tibetan.

Wang Huning
Wang Huning 王沪宁
Member, Politburo of the 18th Central Committee  
Wang Huning, born in October 1955 in Laizhou, Shandong Province. He joined the Communist Party of China in April 1984. He studied international politics at the Department of International Politics at Fudan University and was awarded the degree of Master of Laws. He is a professor.
He is currently a member of the Political Bureau and director of the Policy Research Office of the CPC Central Committee.
He recently acompanied General Secretary Xi Jinping during his visit to Gansu, near the Labrang monastery.
A few months back The South China Morning Post reported: "Wang Huning often goes unrecognised despite being a trusted adviser to two presidents, but his cool demeanour hides a sharp political brain."
He is a member of the Tibet delegation at the last National People's Congress.

Meng Jianzhu
Meng Jianzhu 孟建柱
Member, Politburo of the 18th Central Committee
Secretary of the CPC Central Committee Politics and Law Commission, in other words, the new Security boss of China.
In November 2011, Meng Jianzhu visited Kirti Monastery.
According to International Campaign for Tibet: "The report on the visit made no mention of the nine self-immolations to have taken place in and around the monastery, and instead focused on Meng Jianzhu’s expressions of support and sympathy to police officers for the physical difficulties associated with working at altitude in Tibet."
Presently Vice Chairman of the Central Working Coordination Small Group on Tibet (to be reconstituted).

Liu Qibao
Liu Qibao 刘奇葆
Member, Politburo of the 18th Central Committee 
Director, CPC, Central Committee, Propaganda Department
He was Party Secretary of Sichuan Province, responsible for large areas of Tibet (2008-2012).
He apparently took a hardline over the self-immolations in 2011/2012.
He is currently a member of the CCP's Politburo, the Secretariat of the CPC Central Committee and head of its Publicity Department.
Vice Chairman of the Central Working Coordination Small Group on Tibet (to be reconstituted).

Guo Jinlong
Guo Jinlong 郭金龙 
Member, Politburo of the 18th Central Committee 
 Served in Tibet Autonomous Region for over 10 years including as Party Secretary 2000-2004.
Guo Jinlong was born in Nanjing, Jiangsu. He graduated from Nanjing University Department of Physics in 1969 and joined the Communist Party of China in 1979, and was sent to work in Sichuan.
In 1993 Guo headed to Lhasa to serve as the Vice-Secretary of the CPC Tibet Autonomous Regional Committee, and was promoted to become the Secretary from 2000 to 2004. He was pivotal in the Qingzang Railway project.
He left Tibet to serve as the Secretary of the CPC Anhui Committee in 2004, and Chairman of the Standing Committee of Anhui People's Congress from 2005.
Guo was mayor of Beijing from 2008 to 2011; he also served as Executive President of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the 2008 Summer Olympics.
In 2012 he became secretary of the Beijing CPC municipal committee.
He is a member of the Politburo of the 18th CPC Central Committee.

Ling Jihua
Ling Jihua 令计划
Member, 18th Central Committee
From 2007 to 2012, Ling Jihua served as Director of the General Office of the CPC Central Committee.
He was a member of the 17th CPC Central Committee and a Member of the Secretariat of the 17th CPC Central Committee and Deputy Director of Organization Department of the CPC Central Committee.
In 2012, he became Head of the United Front Work Department.
Presently Vice Chairman of the Central Working Coordination Small Group on Tibet (to be reconstituted).

Yang Chuantang
Yang Chuantang 杨传堂
Member, 18th CPC, 

Central Committee
Minister of Transport
Yang Chuantang is a native of Yucheng, Shandong province. He joined the CPC in June 1976 and started working in June 1972.
In 1993, Yang was transferred to Tibet, where he held the position of administrative vice-chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Regional Government. He was elected vice-governor of Qinghai province in 2003. In 2004 he became secretary of the CPC Tibet autonomous regional committee.
Yang Chuantang was Vice-Chairman of the State Ethnic Affairs Commission from 2006 to 2011.
He is now China's Transport Minister.

Li Liguo
Li Liguo 李立国
Member, 18th CPC, 

Central Committee
Minister of Civil Affairs

Li Liguo is born in November 1953 in Yutian, Hebei Province.
He joined the Communist Party of China in November 1974.
He graduated from Northeastern University of Technology, majoring in engineering management.
From January 1993 to August 1995, Li was the secretary-general of the Party Committee of Tibet Autonomous Region; from August 1995 to January 1999, he became a member of the Standing Committee and continued to be the general-secretary of the Party Committee of Tibet Autonomous Region; from January 1999, Li was the TAR's vice-secretary; he continued till November 2003.
On June 25, 2010, Li was appointed as minister of Civil Affairs.
In June 2013, he visited Tibet, where he stated: "In successive years, the investment put into Tibet by central government has been increased according to the situation. Since 2008, there are altogether 4.1 billion yuan (about 6,7 billion US dollars) of special funds invested in Tibet, including disaster relief allowance, social assistance and social compensation. The per capita civil affair capital investment in Tibet ranks China's first.”

Wang Zhengwei
Wang Zhengwei 王正伟
Member, 18th Central Committee
Minister of the State Ethnic Affairs Commission 
Wang Zhengwei is born in 1957 in Tongxin County of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. He is a Hui by ‘nationality’ and joined the CCP in 1981 after graduating from Chinese Department of Ningxia University with a Bachelor Degree in 1982. He later earned a Doctorate degree from Central University for Nationalities in 2003.
He has been a member of the 16th, 17th and 18th CCP’s Central Committees.
In 2008, he became Chairman of the People's Government of the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, a Muslim dominated area of northwestern China.
In April 2013, Wang was nominated Minister of the State Ethnic Affairs Commission.
Wang visited Lhasa and Nyingtri from August 11 to 16.
See my post on the subject...

Zhang Yijiong
Zhang Yijiong 张裔炯
Member, 18th Central Committee

Zhang Yijiong (Han nationality) is a native of Shanghai.
He was born in 1955, employed by Qinghai 2nd Repair Factory in 1972 and joined the CPC in June 1976.
He earned a graduate degree from the Party School of the CPC Central Committee.
He was Deputy Secretary of CPC Tibet Autonomous Region Committee from 2006 to 2010 and later Deputy Secretary of CPC Jiangxi Provincial Committee and an alternate member of 17th CPC Central Committee.
Member of the 18th CCP Central Committee.
Presently, he is Deputy Head, United Front Work Department, responsible for the ‘talks’ with Dharamsala.
Zhang Yijiong  accompanied Yu Zhengsheng during a recent visit to Lhasa and Nagchi (August 1-6, 2013)

Du Qinglin
Du Qinglin 杜青林
Member, 18th Central Committee
Vice-Chairman, 11th CPPCC, National Committee.
From 2007 - 2012, he was Head of United Front Work Department of the CPC Central Committee.
He is now a member of the 18th CPC Central Committee and a Vice-Chairman of the 11th National Committee of the CPPCC.
Presently Vice Chairman of the Central Working Coordination Small Group on Tibet (to be reconstituted).
I mentioned on this blog that Du Qinglin is back on the Tibetan scene.
Du is a member of the powerful Secretariat of the Central Committee. In this position he can monitor the party and state’s United Front apparatus.

Du made 'an inspection tour' to the Tibetan autonomous prefectures of Ganzi and Diqing, in Sichuan and Yunnan provinces between March 29 and April 1, 2013.
In his speeches, he stressed "forging closer Party-people ties and hardening local residents' common understanding of safeguarding ethnic solidarity and national unity in Tibetan-inhabited regions."

Zhang Qingli
Zhang Qingli 张庆黎
Member, 18th CPC, Central Committee; Secretary-General, 12th CPPCC, National Committee

Zhang Qingli is a native of Dongping, Shandong province. Born in 1951, he joined the CPC in 1973. Zhang is a graduate of the Party School of the CPC Shandong Provincial Committee.
From 2006 to 2011, he served as Secretary of the CPC Tibet Autonomous Regional Committee. He became known for his hardline approach.
Zhang described the Dalai Lama as "a wolf in monk's clothes, a devil with a human face". He also said: "We are now fighting a bitter struggle of blood and fire against the Dalai clique, a struggle of life and death."
He believed that the Chinese Communist Party was a ‘living Buddha’ for the Tibetan people.
In March 2013, Zhang Qingli was elected vice chairperson of the 12th CPPCC National Committee as well as secretary-general of the 12th National Committee of the CPPCC.
He thus become one of the main advisors of Yu Zhengcheng, who will soon  become Chairman of the Central Working Coordination Small Group on Tibet.
Read my comment, The Return of Zhang Qingli.

Wang Jianping
Wang Jianping 王建平
Member, 18th Central Committee
Wang Jianping (Han nationality) is a native of Hebei province. He was born in 1953, joined the Army in 1969. In 1997, he was promoted to major general and to be lieutenant general in 2007.
He was an alternate member of 17th CPC Central Committee and served as deputy commander for one year before becoming Commander of the Chinese People's Armed Police Force in 2009.
Member of the 18th CCP Central Committee.
Presently member of the Central Working Coordination Small Group on Tibet (to be reconstituted).

Chen Quanguo
Chen Quanguo 陈全国
Member, 18th Central Committee
Chen was born in the central province of Henan in 1955, and joined the CPC in 1973.
Promoted to Deputy Party Secretary of Henan Province in 2003, before being transferred to the same position in neighbouring Hebei Province in November 2009.
Became Acting-Governor of Hebei Province in December 2009, just one month after arriving in the Province, was confirmed as Governor in 2010 (His predecessor was Hu Chunhua)
He was appointed Party Secretary of the Tibet Autonomous Region in August 2011.
In January 2012, he told the Tibet Daily: "The fight against the Dalai Lama clique is a long-term, complicated and sometimes even acute one".
Member of the Central Working Coordination Small Group on Tibet.

Yang Jinshan
Lieutenant General Yang Jinshan
Member, 18th Central Committee
Lt. Gen. Yang Jinshan (Han nationality) is born in August 1954.
Joined the Communist Party of China in May 1972.
In December 2005, he was promoted to the rank of Major General and in July 2011 lieutenant general.
He is currently Commander of the Tibet Military Area.
In November, he has become a member 18th CPC Central Committee.
In June 2013, General Yang was transferred to Chengdu as a Deputy Commander of the Chengdu Military Region.

Major General Xu Yong
Major General Xu Yong
In June 2013, Major General Xu Yong, a native from Shaanxi Province replaced General Yang as Commander of of the Tibet Military Area. General Xu was earlier Commander of the 13th Army Group in Chungqing.
General Xu is well-known in China for his participation to the rescue work at the time of 2008 Sichuan earthquake.
Soon after the earthquake, more than 100,000 soldiers were sent to the front lines of the disaster area to undertake the relief efforts.
General Xu was the first People's Liberation Army's high-ranking commander to arrive at the epicenter of the disaster.
He later recalled:
We arrived at Dujiangyan on the night of May 12, the day the earthquake hit Sichuan. At that point, we didn't know the exact situation in the epicenter. Though the air force had already sent batches of reconnaissance planes, they all failed due to thick fog caused by constant rain.
To give headquarters firsthand information to devise rescue plans, we had to send soldiers into the epicenter on foot. A group of soldiers went in with the plan of reaching the epicenter by road. After they had been gone for some time without effective communications, I decided to lead another group to take shortcuts and try to get to the epicenter soon."
Aftershocks frequently shook the region, worsening the already devastating situation. The soldiers were beset by heavy rain, landslides and falling rocks. Under the extreme conditions, Xu Yong and his well-trained soldiers took two hours to cover just five kilometers of terrain. They finally arrived at the epicenter at nightfall the following day.

Qin Yizhi with Olympic Flame in Tibet
Qin Yizhi 秦宜智
Alternate Member, 18th CPC, Central Committee
Born in 1965, Qin graduated from Tsinghua University in 1988. He worked in a steel plant in Sichuan Province before moving to the TAR in 2005.
Qin was Party Secretary of Lhasa 2006-2011, then a Vice Chairman of the TAR Government.
According to The South China Morning Post, the 47-year-old official “was nominated to head the Communist Youth League of China. Both the former party secretary Hu Jintao and the new premier Li Keqiang have served as heads of the league, which represents the party's tuanpai (Youth League) faction, spawning rumors that Qin could succeed Li in the future.”
The hand of former president Hu Jintao was seen behind the appointment.
Hu himself built his power base as head of the Youth League as well as Party Chief in Tibet in the 1980s.
Beijing-based Tibetan dissident writer Tsering Woeser consider Qin as "a hardline party official, who had consistently pushed for the government-sanctioned 'patriotic education' of monks during his time in Tibet." She wrote: "He was very tough on religious issues."

Hao Peng
Hao Peng 郝鹏
Alternate Member, 18th CPC, Central Committee

Hao Peng was born in Fengxiang County, Shaanxi Province in 1960. He joined the CCP in 1976 and graduated from Northwest Polytechnical University in 1982.
From 2003 to 2006, he was Vice-Chairman of Tibet Autonomous Regional Government. He then served as Deputy Secretary of CPC Tibet Autonomous Regional Committee from 2006 to 2013.
In February 2013, he was elected governor of Qinghai Province.
The Independent published his interview a few years ago.

Zhu Weiqun
Zhu  Weiqun 朱维群
Born in Jiangsu Province, Zhu graduated from the department of journalism of the graduate school of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, with a master's degree.
He joined the Communist Party of China in July 1970.
He was a member of the Commission for Discipline Inspection of the 16th CPC National People's Congress. Member of the 17th CPC Central Committee.
In February 1999, he was appointed Vice Director of the United Front Work Department. He became the executive Vice Director of the Department in January 2006.
He remained at this post till he was replaced by Zhang Yijiong early this year.
He is still Secretary-General of the China Association for Preservation and Development of Tibetan Culture.
He has recently been seen with Yu Zhengsheng during the latter's tour of Sichuan. Will he stage a come-back?

Young Hu Jintao with the 10th Panchen Lama
and of course....
soon Former President Hu Jintao who will continue to keep a few fingers in the Tibetan pie (if not tsampa).
Some of his proteges are listed above.

And two Tibetans...

Padma Choling
Padma Choling 白玛赤林
Member, 18th Central Committee
Padma Choling, Tibetan Nationality, is a native of Dingqing County (Chamdo Prefecture), Tibet Autonomous Region.
He was born in 1951, entered the work force in 1969, and joined the CPC in 1970.
From 2003 to 2010, he was Vice-Chairman of Regional People’s Government, Tibet Autonomous Region. Since 2010, was Chairman, Regional People’s Government, Tibet Autonomous Region.
Recently elected Chairman of the Standing Committee of the Regional People's Congress.
Member of the 18th CCP Central Committee.
Presently member of the Central Working Coordination Small Group on Tibet (to be reconstituted).

Lobsang Gyaltsen
Lobsang Gyaltsen 洛桑江村
Alternate Member, 18th Central Committee
Lobsang Gyaltsen, male, Tibetan nationality, is a native of Chagyab county of Chamdo Prefecture in the TAR. He was born in 1957, entered the work force in 1976 and joined the CPC in 1978.
Lobsang Gyaltsen studied at Literature Department of Tibet Nationality College from 1971 to 1976, and graduated from Party School of CPC Central Committee with a postgraduate degree in 2004.
From 1995 to 2003, Lobsang Gyaltsen served at posts of Deputy Secretary of CPC Lhasa City Committee, Vice Mayor, Acting Mayor and Mayor of Lhasa City of Tibet Autonomous Region.
Since 2003, he serves as Vice-Chairman of Autonomous Region People's Government, Tibet Autonomous Region.
Became alternate member of the 18th CCP Central Committee in November 2012. 
In January 2013, he has become Chairman, Regional People’s Government, Tibet Autonomous Region.