Saturday, October 31, 2009

Yes, India Can

Obama can't, but India did it! She stood to China.
The United States' President does not even have the excuse to have 4000 km of border with China!
It is just a question of courage (and wisdom).
At the end of the day, India will earn more respect from Beijing than Obama's Administration. To stand to the bully is ultimately good for world peace.
Is it too late to withdraw the Nobel Peace Prize from Obama and give it to Manmohan?

OCTOBER 28, 2009
Dalai Lama Lesson
India shows the world how to stand firm with China.

As Barack Obama prepares for his trip to Beijing next month, he’d be wise to cast an eye toward New Delhi, where Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is showing the rest of the world how to deal with Beijing when it gets into a bullying mood.
At issue is the Dalai Lama’s proposed trip next month to visit Tibetan Buddhist believers in Arunachal Pradesh, a province governed by India but claimed by China since the border war in 1962. Chinese spokesperson Ma Zhaoxu said last week the trip "further exposed the anti-China and separatist nature of the Dalai clique."
But India stood firm. During a regional summit over the weekend Prime Minister Manmohan Singh says he "explained to Premier Wen [Jiabao] that the Dalai Lama is our honored guest; he is a religious leader." The prime minister went on to imply that the Dalai Lama was free to travel where he pleased, so long as he did not engage in political activities.
Mr. Singh’s stance stands in sharp contrast to Mr. Obama’s decision not to meet with the Dalai Lama earlier this month. His cave-in broke Presidential precedent and emboldened Beijing to step up anti-Dalai Lama rhetoric, particularly in—guess where—India, which has hosted the Tibetan government-in-exile for more than 50 years.
Mr. Singh will face further China tests soon, given the other conflicts with his northern neighbor. China and India still dispute their 2,200-mile long border, and according to the Indian ministry of defense, Chinese incursions into Indian territory are on the rise. The countries are also butting heads in Kashmir, where China supports construction projects in territory claimed by India, and in Nepal, where Chinese influence has increased since the change of government there last year.
Those irritants are more reason for Mr. Singh to stand firm on the principles for which India stands—the very same principles of democracy and freedom that America holds. Therein lies a lesson for Mr. Obama, too.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Like Gold that Fears No Fire

Poetess and bloger Woeser

She is the Voice of Tibet, the Voice of courage inside Tibet; she dares the mighty Chinese Empire with her blog.
Her writings as well as those of other writers and poets are now available in English on the site of International Campaign for Tibet.
Here is Woeser's voice:

Voice is an important word. And to issue a voice is a more important act. In Tibet’s monasteries, the sound of monks’ clapping hands can often be heard as they debate the scriptures. And the voices debating scriptures, among all the voices in Tibet, are but one kind of voice, a symbol of the Great Dharma which like pure gold fears no fire. And aside from this, what other voices are there in this land of Tibet?
One person, or one group of people, they have voices that comes from within, a voice that pours deep sentiments across this land; a voice that coalesces the people’s valuable spirit; and a voice that speaks to themselves living outside Tibet and that considers, reflects back upon and expresses historical memory – one that spreads far and wide as soon as it’s issued but that’s likely to be immediately subjected to various censures in today’s Tibet. And among these censures it seems the most righteous one heard is: “You eat what we give you, you use what we give you, and yet you attack us – you are devoid of gratitude.”
What does it tell us that Tibetans living in their own land suffer such censure? Why would an ancient people with a long history live debased lives to this day by always relying on the benevolence of others?

A story about Tawang

The Dalai Lama adolescent in Lhasa

Many years ago, during an interview with the Dalai Lama, I asked him about the Simla Convention, the McMahon Line and Tawang. He told me an amusing (and telling) story.
He recalled:
At that time [in 1947-1948], the Tibetan Government should have send a strong delegation to celebrate the Independence of India. Of course that was a big mistake.
About Mon [Tawang] in NEFA area, I remember that around 1948/49, (at that time I had no responsibility), I heard that a special session of Tibetan National Assembly was taking place and a 'British delegation' came to see the Kashag [Tibetan Cabinet] in the Potala. I remember some of the people of the British delegation who came (I think Richardson was one of them) [Richardson, a British was Head of the Indian Mission between 1947 and 1950]. Along with them, there were some people dressed in Sikkimese dress. From my window in Potala, I noticed them and I was told that Tibetan National Assembly was in session; [it had been called] because some troops of the Indian Army had entered through Tawang area. The Tibetan government wanted to protest. It was an indication that at that time because Tawang and these areas had [earlier been] in possession of the Tibetans, they wanted to hold on to these areas, although in 1914 at the Simla Convention the border was already demarcated and a [Convention] was signed. But perhaps most of the Tibetans did not know about Simla Convention (the Dalai Lama is laughing). On the spot when some Indian officials came [in Tawang], the [local] Tibetan officials told them: ‘This is our land’ (laughing)
They did not know that the Government had already decided in 1914 [about the McMahon Line]. Finally I do not know what they [the National Assembly] decided.
Such a wonderful Government [who did not know about the treaties they had signed]! (laughing).
In a previous posting, I mentioned that Zhou Enlai told Nehru in 1957 that he was not sure if the Tibetans stood by the McMahon Line. Though some Tibetan officials were perhaps unaware in 1947-48 (as the Dalai Lama's recounts), but by mid-fifties, everybody in Tibet knew that Monyul (Tawang) was part of India. But the Chinese still keep playing on the ignorance of a few Tibetans in the 1930's or 1940's to claim the area. At the same time, some Indian 'experts' say "why not to make the Chinese happy, let us give them Tawang, all problems will then be solved'. It was what Panikkar thought when Zhou Enali told him 'all problems ready for settlement have been sorted out'. He conveyed to his boss in Delhi 'all problems have been sorted out', forgetting a small part of the sentence. Predictably fresh 'problems' soon arose (and a war).

Save the Himalayas

 Good news!

Five chief ministers to sign declaration on environment
(Source: IANS) 29 Oct 2009
Shimla: Concerned over the impact of global warming, chief ministers of five Himalayan states will sign the Shimla Declaration Friday, the concluding day of a two-day meet on environment that began here Thursday.
A spokesperson for the state government said: "Chief Ministers of Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim would Friday issue a detailed action plan to save environment. The action plan Shimla Declaration would take up environmental issues that are affecting the hill states."
Union Minister of State for Environment and Forest Jairam Ramesh would preside over the conclave, he said.
Experts from the five states discussed the impact of climatic changes on the flora and fauna of the states on the opening day of the conclave.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Resolving border dispute with China

The only restriction we have put on the Dalai Lama is that he should not indulge in political activities or indulge in boundary-related questions," Krishna said.
Well, it is the prerogative of the Government of India to impose a ban on 'political' activities, but the remark on 'boundary-related questions' is entirely unnecessary, because without Dalai Lama and without Tibet, there would be no McMahon Line, no Arunachal Pradesh and no delineated (even if not demarcated) boundary.

Resolving border dispute with China will take time: India
India on Wednesday said the resolution of the boundary dispute with China will take time as it required 'a lot of patience'.
A day after his talks with Chinese counterpart Yang Jie Chi in Bengaluru, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna said both the neighbours are eager to maintain cordial and friendly ties.
He also refuted reports about China building a dam on Brahmaputra River, reports of which had raised concerns in India.
"China wants to have cordial relations with India and India would like to have very friendly relations with China. The effort is to take the relation to being one of partnership," Krishna told reporters, adding that he had found goodwill on both sides.
When referred to reports about incursions by Chinese troops, he said the border with China is not delineated and "as a result, there could possibly be incursions once in a while, but there is nothing to be alarmed about as the border is peaceful and relations are warm."
Krishna pointed out that special representatives of the two countries -- National Security Adviser M K Narayanan and Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Dai Binggou -- are engaged in discussions for resolution of the boundary question.
"It is a long boundary, it's a time consuming process. We will have to have a lot of patience before they (special representatives) complete their task," he said.
Responding to a question, Krishna said there was no time frame' for resolution of the boundary issue with China and that the Special Representatives know what they are doing.
"I would like to assert that the India-China border is one of the most peaceful and tranquil borders," he maintained.
Krishna said that even if incursions by Chinese troops occur, these are addressed at the ground level. On the Dalai Lama's proposed visit to Arunachal in November, he reiterated that the Tibetan spiritual leader is a 'guest' and free to go wherever he wants within the country.
The only restriction we have put on the Dalai Lama is that he should not indulge in political activities or indulge in boundary-related questions," Krishna said.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Nobel prize winners urge China

It is nice and courageous.  
They should have gone to deliver the letter to the Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jeichi.

Nobel prize winners urge China to end repression in Tibet
October 27, 2009
Eight Nobel peace prize winners, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu  of South Africa , on Tuesday asked China to end its 'repressive' policies in Tibet  and expressed their support to Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama's  efforts to achieve autonomy for his homeland.
The support by Nobel laureates -- Jody Williams, Shirin Ebadi, Mairead Corrigan Maguire, Desmond Tutu, Rogoberta Menchu Tum, Adolfo Perez Equivel, Betty Williams and Wangari Maatai -- was contained in a signed letter handed over to the Tibetan temporal head.
It was handed over by Mairead Magquire, Jody Williams and Shirin Ebadi at a ceremony, sources in the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamsala said.
They also asked the Chinese government to implement laws that are enshrined in their constitution for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy for all Tibetans, the sources added.
"For 50 years, the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people have waged a peaceful struggle to preserve their ancient culture, religion, language and identity.
"As the issue of Tibet remains tragically unresolved and Tibetans continue to endure repressive conditions in Tibet, we wish to express our concern and support Dalai Lama for his non-violent efforts to achieve autonomy for Tibetan people," they said in statement.
They urged the Chinese government to "take immediate and constructive steps to resolve the status of Tibet and end oppressive policies that continue to marginalise and impoverish Tibetans in their own land".

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Can India be a superpower?

“Is India a superpower?” is a question often raised in the Indian media. For less-optimist observers, it is phrased differently: “will India one day become a superpower?”
Before trying to answer these questions, it can be noted that India is always rated in comparison with China. It is an association difficult to avoid.
It is why it is worth looking at two serious papers recently published by US think tanks. The first one, about India, is titled Developing India’s Foreign Policy ‘Software’. Written by Daniel Markey, a former Senior Fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia from 2003 to 2007 at the Council on Foreign Relations, it appeared in July 2009 in Asia Policy.
The second on China’s quasi-superpower diplomacy: prospects and pitfalls was researched by China expert Willy Lam for the Jamestown Foundation (and released in September 2009).
Let us take the first study. A former Indian diplomat, TP Sreenivasan reacted to it in The Times of India: “Just as Keralites discovered Kathakali after it was staged at the Lincoln Centre, the state of the Indian Foreign Service began to be examined after an American analyst, Daniel Markey, came out with a critique.”
The fact that fresh thinking has to be triggered from the outside, is a statement in itself. The ex-IFS officer however believes that “Markey had nothing novel to say”.
Markey admits that his objective is to outline “significant shortcomings in India’s foreign policy institutions that undermine the country’s capacity for ambitious and effective international action, and proposes steps that both New Delhi and Washington should take, assuming they aim to promote India’s rise as a great power.”
He believes that India will not be able to achieve soon superpower status soon unless 4 shortcomings are rectified:
(1) The Indian Foreign Service is small, hobbled by its selection process and inadequate midcareer training, and tends not to make use of outside expertise;
(2) India’s think-tanks lack sufficient access to the information or resources required to conduct high-quality, policy-relevant scholarship;
(3) India’s public universities are poorly funded, highly regulated, and fail to provide world-class education in the social sciences and other fields related to foreign policy; and
(4) India’s media and private firms—leaders in debating the country’s foreign policy agenda—are not built to undertake sustained foreign policy research or training.
Markey (who often compares India’s ‘soft power’ to the United States’ super one) is probably right; the fact is that these 4 qualifications are a requisite to become a power to reckon with. It enables a State to take the necessary decisions to occupy this envied position. The case of the United States (and its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan) is however a blatant instance that this is not sufficient to become a respected superpower. India, no doubt, would like both, but this raises an interesting point: can a nation become a superpower and be respectable (and respected) at the same time?
In his paper on China’s quasi-superpower, Willy Lam affirms: “Seeing itself as a quasi-superpower, Beijing is no longer shying away from frontal contests with the United States, China’s strategic competitor.”
It is not only the improvement of the Foreign Service, universities or think tanks that the superpower-to-be needs (India in the present case), but a new mindset coupled with strong muscles. The candidate super-power should also be ready to show (if not flex these muscles), as Beijing did on October 1 on Tiananmen Square or over Arunachal.
Lam writes: “The year 2009 will go down in history as a watershed for the epochal expansion of China’s global influence.” Not only does China’s economy keep growing despite the world financial crisis, but the People’s Liberation Army has begun to build new nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers.
Interestingly, Beijing tries to impose its own currency the Yuan in a first stage in Asia; in Lam’s words: “the Communist Party is gunning for a novel international financial architecture, or one that is not dominated by the United States. …Beijing is waging quasi-superpower diplomacy to bolster the country’s pre-eminence in the new world order”.
Recently, China has greatly enhanced both its hard and soft power (this shows in the current aggressiveness vis-à-vis India).
Though he does not take into account the ‘hard’ power, Markey suggests different ‘improvements’ for the IFS to be able to stand as a bigger power:
• expand, reform, pay, and train the Indian Foreign Service to attract and retain high-caliber officers
• encourage the growth of world-class social science research and teaching schools in India through partnerships with private Indian and U.S. investors, universities, and foundations
• invest in Indian think-tanks and U.S.-India exchange programs that build capacity for foreign policy research
• bring non-career officers into the Indian Ministry of External Affairs and other parts of the foreign policy establishment as term-limited fellows to improve outside understanding of the policy process
• support the efforts of Indian researchers to maximize public access to material related to the history of India’s foreign policy by way of the 2005 Right to Information Act
Srinivasan admits in The Times of India: “South Block has its cupboards full of reform proposals by many ignited minds. But as long as the service does not get a soul, a sense of belonging, arising out of a sense of fairness, equality and justice, no reform, no expansion will transform the software of Indian diplomacy.”
But it is not a ‘soul’ or new plans for the future which are today needed. It is acting as a superpower which is required.
China has begun to act. It has earmarked some $6.62 billion for its ‘overseas propaganda’ (or publicity, as it has been renamed). The State media like CCTV or Xinhua News Agency will increase their coverage in several different languages, mainly in the West, in Asia, Middle East and Africa.
An English news channel modeled upon Al Jazeera which will feature issues such as politics, finance and culture will be beamed all over the world. This will help Beijing to project its point of view on world events and sell the ‘Chinese model’.
There is more. The Party will set up about 350 Confucius Institutes around the world to spread ‘Chinese culture’.
Beijing’s Great Leap Outward has allowed its powerful diplomacy to make dents in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and even in Eastern Europe where the heir-apparent Vice President Xi Jinping recently toured.
A superpower diplomacy has to be backed by ‘cultural’ propaganda (or publicity) and economic diplomacy. Has a reduced Indian Foreign Service the capacity to match Beijing’s? Not today certainly!
Is Delhi ready to open 350 Tagore Institutes? One can doubt it.
One finds the same picture for academic institutions. I was recently told that China already has 120 think tanks on South Asia and India with a large number of scholars involved in studying the policies of the region. India has only 3 or 4 such institutions devoted to Chinese studies, most of them with meager means or under government supervision (meaning incapable to think).
However a prospective superpower should be ready to pay a price as the recognition inevitably creates jealousy, envy and fresh rivalry.
In the case of China, Lam notes: “Friction between China on the one hand, and Southeast Asian nations including Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines on the other, has intensified owing to sovereignty disputes over a dozen-odd islets in the South China Sea. There are also indications that countries including Australia, India, Japan and South Korea may consider it advantageous to join hands with the United States to check China’s ascendancy.” And he concludes: “This is why despite the Middle Kingdom’s formidable economic and military heft, the CCP leadership has become more nervous than ever about the exacerbation of a Washington-led “anti-China containment policy.”
The rise of China (peaceful or not) has undoubtedly increased the ‘China threat’ theory.
In India, the point remains that the mindset of many diplomats, bureaucrats or media persons is still geared to a post-colonial way of thinking, full of an inferiority complex (or arrogance as a counterpart).
We have seen this recently with the proposed visit of the Dalai Lama to Arunachal Pradesh with many so-called ‘thinkers’ and ‘experts’ suggesting that the Dalai Lama should be told to back out of the visit in order to not irritate Beijing further.
But a superpower is not scared to irritate or anger others; a superpower stands on its own feet, defending its own interests. India has certainly to learn this from China.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Cyber Warfare and Computer Network Exploitation - a Report

One more interesting report on China's capability to conduct a cyber warfare. Click here for pdf Report.

US-China Economic and Security Review Commission Report on the Capability of the People’s Republic of China to Conduct Cyber Warfare and Computer Network Exploitation

Executive Summary
The government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is a decade into a sweeping military modernization program that has fundamentally transformed its ability to fight high tech wars. The Chinese military, using increasingly networked forces capable of communicating across service arms and among all echelons of
command, is pushing beyond its traditional missions focused on Taiwan and toward a more regional defense posture. This modernization effort, known as informationization, is guided by the doctrine of fighting “Local War UnderInformationized Conditions,” which refers to the PLA’s ongoing effort to develop a fully networked architecture capable of coordinating military operations on land, in air, at sea, in space and across the electromagnetic spectrum.
This doctrinal focus is providing the impetus for the development of an advanced IW capability, the stated goal of which is to establish control of an adversary’s information flow and maintain dominance in the battlespace. Increasingly, Chinese military strategists have come to view information dominance as the precursor for overall success in a conflict. The growing importance of IW to China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is also driving it to develop more comprehensive computer network exploitation (CNE) techniques to support strategic intelligence collection objectives and to lay the foundation for success in potential future conflicts.
One of the chief strategies driving the process of informatization in the PLA is the coordinated use of CNO, electronic warfare (EW), and kinetic strikes designed to strike an enemy’s networked information systems, creating “blind spots” that various PLA forces could exploit at predetermined times or as the tactical situation warranted.
Attacks on vital targets such as an adversary’s intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) systems will be largely the responsibility of EW and counterspace forces with an array of increasingly sophisticated jamming systems and anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons. Attacks on an adversary’s data and networks will
likely be the responsibility of dedicated computer network attack and exploitation units.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Glaciers and diversions

One reason for which China may not be able to divert the Yarlung-Tsangpo/Brahmaputra is that the Tibetan glaciers are fast disappearing.

Himalayan glaciers will disappear completely by 2035 according to Nature Reports
23 Oct Gangtok: 
A shocking report from Nature News reveals that the Himalayan Glacier could bring an alarming situation for South Asia. This may bring adverse affect to entire countries located in the region. According to a report in Nature News, glaciers in the Himalayas are retreating faster than in any other part of the world and they could disappear completely by 2035. Everyday the glacier is fast melting due to on going global warming across the world. It may happen in a coming years or so regions within a Himalayan range may face a drought and scarcity of water. Zemu , Rathong which are the primary glacier of Sikkim may soon dry out soon as projected by Nature News along with vital source glaciers of Himalayan rivers. Teesta, Rangit the two main rivers of Sikkim which flows from the Himalayan upstream may not be there in future if the glaciers continue to melt due to global warming. The glacier-fed rivers that flow south from the Himalayas are the arteries of south Asia. The glaciologist and government should take up the matter seriously and find a suitable solution to save glaciers. Compared to any other glaciers in the world Himalayan glaciers are melting at faster rates claims Nature News. Glaciers of Bhutan, the tiny kingdom which is located on border of Sikkim should too take a immediate response.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Chinese bully

India is not the only country to be bullied by China.
With 8.9% of growth, Beijing believes it can impose its rule the world over. 

Book Fair Fires Official for Approach to Chinese
October 22, 2009
PARIS — The Frankfurt Book Fair, which struggled to find a balance between free speech and honoring China as its featured country, dismissed its project manager after yet another embarrassing refusal to let Chinese dissidents speak.
The fair, the world’s largest and most important, ended on Sunday with a traditional ceremony co-hosted by the German Foreign Ministry. But two Chinese dissident writers — the journalist Dai Qing and the poet Bei Ling — were not allowed to address the closing ceremony, despite what they said were invitations to do so.
Fair organizers later fired Peter Ripken, 67, who was the project manager for the trade show’s international center, blaming him for “persistent coordination problems in connection with this year’s guest of honor, China.”
Mr. Ripken said that it was the German Foreign Ministry, which has refused to comment, that did not want the dissidents to speak, and told the German news service Deutsche Welle: “The Foreign Ministry has stated explicitly that this fair is not there just for China, and I acted in accordance with this wish.” He said that the Chinese writers were never formally invited to address the closing ceremony.
The fair organizers also blamed Mr. Ripken for a similar embarrassment in mid-September, when a symposium on China ended in walkouts, apologies and confusion. The same two Chinese writers were invited, and were removed from the symposium by Mr. Ripken after Beijing protested. But after an uproar among German journalists and diplomats, the invitation was reinstated, but not to speak from the podium along with the official Chinese delegation.
When the dissidents spoke from the floor, the Chinese walked out, and returned only after an apology made to them by the fair’s director, Jürgen Boos.
Mr. Bei told Deutsche Welle that Mr. Ripken had told him that the Foreign Ministry opposed the dissidents’ participation in the closing ceremony, apparently believing that Beijing’s nerves had been sufficiently jangled by the fair itself.
More than 290,000 people visited the fair, down 9,000 from 2008.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Huge gas hydrate deposit found

This is not good news for the Tibetans. More exploitation in view!

Huge gas hydrate deposit found in Qinghai-Tibet plateau  
September 27, 2009
Gas hydrates were discovered in the Qinghai-Tibet plateau, the Ministry of Land and Resources announced at a press conference Friday.
The hydrates, which are also known as combustible ice, can help provide the equivalent of 35 billion tons of oil in energy.
Gas hydrates were discovered in the Qinghai-Tibet plateau, the Ministry of Land and Resources announced at a press conference Friday.
According to a report by China Radio International's website,, the hydrates will be able to be harvested and used in about 10 years.
Zhang Hongtao, the ministry's chief engineer, said this is the first time China has found combustible ice on land. China is now the third country after Canada and the United States to discover the gas hydrates on land.
Combustible ice is made of crystallized solids formed when water, methane and other substances interact under low-temperature and high-pressure conditions, effectively freezing gas molecules inside water molecules.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Why the Chinese are so upset about Tawang

My article on Tawang is available on Click here.

Dam or no Dam

Utter confusion seems to prevail. 
How can the Prime Minister say that there will be no dam on the Yarlung-Tsanpo? 
In any case, dam or dams do not necessarily mean 'diversion'. 
The media seems to also confuse the resettlement of 3 lakhs of people in Hubei and Henan provinces of China (probably linked to the Central Diversion) with the diversion of the Brahmaputra.

Stop China dam, urges Arunachal CM
Headlines Today
New Delhi,  October 19, 2009  
Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday and raised concerns about the dam coming up on the Chinese side of the Brahmaputra.
Khandu told Singh that steps should be taken to get China to stop construction of the dam.
"The PM assured me that the matter would be taken up with China," Khandu said after the meeting.
Khandu's meeting with Singh came amid reports that China was planning to relocate over 3 lakh people who might be displaced by the dam. The report also raised concerns about diversion of water from the Brahmaputra.

No Chinese dam over Brahmaputra: PM assures Arunachal
Indo-Asian News Service
Guwahati, October 20, 2009
China has formally clarified to India that it is not building a dam over the Brahmaputra river on its side, Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu said on Tuesday.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met a group of legislators and MPs from the northeastern state led by Dorjee Khandu in New Delhi on Monday.
"The Prime Minister assured us that there was no dam being constructed over the Brahmaputra by China. In fact, Beijing had formally communicated this to the Indian government," Khandu told IANS on telephone from New Delhi.
The controversy follows media reports that Beijing was constructing a $167 million hydropower plant in Zangmu, 140 km southeast of Tibet's capital Lhasa, besides diverting water to its parched northwest and northeast territories, which includes the Gobi desert.
The 2,906-km long Brahmaputra is one of Asia's largest rivers that traverses its first stretch of 1,625 km in Tibet, the next 918 km in India and the remaining 363 km through Bangladesh before converging into the Bay of Bengal.
"We are happy with the prime minister's assurance," the chief minister said.
There were fears expressed by both the Assam and Arunachal Pradesh governments that diversion of water from the Brahmaputra would lead to a natural disaster in the region.
Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi is meeting Manmohan Singh Tuesday night to express fears about the reported dam construction.
Media reports of Chinese incursions into India and Beijing's opposition to the Indian prime minister's visit to Arunachal Pradesh -- a region Beijing claims -- also figured in Monday's meeting.

Chaoistan and the Italian Strategy

While the Indian media is busy with the intrusions and other Chinese aggressive postures on northern front and the utter mess in Pakistan in the west, interesting things are happening in Afghanistan.
It was first reported that General Stanley McChrystal, the new NATO top Commander had argued with the Obama’s Administration that without more troops the United States could lose the war against the Talibans. “Resources will not win this war, but under-resourcing could lose it," wrote McChrystal in a report addressed to his boss in the White House and reproduced by the Washington Post.
He explained: “The stakes in Afghanistan are high. …President Obama’s strategy to disrupt, dismantle and eventually defeat al Qaeda and prevent their return to Afghanistan have laid out a clear path of what we must do. Stability in Afghanistan is an imperative; if the Afghan government falls to the Taliban – or has insufficient capacity to counter transnational terrorists – Afghanistan could again become a base for terrorism, with obvious implications for regional stability.”
Unfortunately in the meantime, the tenant in the White House was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize putting him in a terrible dilemma. Considering that he got the coveted Prize on his declarations of intention, President Obama is now in two-minds about sending more US jawans to Afghanistan.
But there is more interesting.
Let us go back a year ago. While France moaned about the too few Gold Medals earned by the nation in the Beijing Olympics, 10 of her soldiers were killed on a reconnaissance mission in Afghanistan after a fierce battle with the Talibans. The French commandos were part of the contingent of 70,000 serving under a 40-nation NATO coalition called the International Security Assistance Forces. They were ambushed in a mountainous region of Surobi about 50 kilometers east of Kabul. It was the deadliest attack on international troops in Afghanistan since in June 2005 when 16 American soldiers were killed in their helicopter which was shot down by a rocket-propelled grenade.
Some the surviving soldiers complained that once they had fallen into the trap, they had to wait for four hours before NATO planes arrived. They then missed their target and hit the French troops. It was neither confirmed nor denied, though General Michel Stollsteiner, the NATO Commander of Kabul Region commented that the French troops had been ‘overconfident’. France went into a deep shock.
The public began to grumble louder: President Sarkozy's decision to increase the French contingent in Afghanistan by 700 troops (to 3,300) was widely criticized “just because the US had asked its NATO allies to share burden in Afghanistan”.
Le Figaro echoed the general feeling: "If the aims are just, are the tactics being used to achieve them correct?"
After seeing the ten coffins covered with the tricolor flag, the public opinion took a stronger view. The common question was: which price are we paying for what?
The French President decided however to send a 700 reinforcement force. In a typical Sarkozy style, he said: “It is here that the peace in the world is at stake and therefore it is here that war [is waged] against terrorism, poverty, and also for Human Rights and for the rights of the women.” Many were not convinced.
Fourteen months later, The Times in London broke a sensational piece of news: “Italians bribed the Taliban all over Afghanistan”. A Taliban commander and two senior Afghan officials would have confirmed to The Times reporter that “Italian forces paid protection money to prevent attacks on their troops”.

It was immediately denied by the Office of the flamboyant Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi: “The Berlusconi Government has never authorised nor has it allowed any form of payment toward members of the Taliban insurgency.” However from May 2006 to May 2008, it was Romano Prodi who was heading the government and the present government refutation is not a denial that the Italians have not done it.
Mohammed Ishmayel, a Taliban commander explained to The Times that “a deal was struck last year so that Italian forces in the Sarobi area, east of Kabul, were not attacked by local insurgents.”
The French forces who took over the area from Italian troops were apparently unaware of the ‘deal’ with the local commanders resulting in the death of the French soldiers.
Ishmayel said that it had been agreed that “neither side should attack one another. That is why we were informed at that time, that we should not attack the NATO troops.” When the French troops attacked the Talibans, the latter presumed that the deal had been broken.
The French newspaper Le Monde affirmed that sources close to the NATO see it differently: “it would simplistic to explain such an attack only by the lack of proper information [about the ‘protection money’?]. It would be more correct to point to the difference of strategy between the Italians and the French”.
Italian Defence Minister Ignazio La Russa acquiesced: “the behaviour of our military, which is very different compared to that of other contingents”; their orders is to support the local population and help for the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan; something France has only begun after the death of its soldiers.
A usually well informed French blog, run by a journalist of the newspaper Liberation said that though the bribing information could not be confirm or deny, “several times we heard from serious military sources, accusations against the behavour of the Italian troops in Surobi district. …The accusations were of two types: one, absence of patrols in certain areas like Uzbine [where the French troops were killed] and a wide tolerance for the culture of opium”. The blogger however admitted that he never heard earlier about downright payments to the Talibans.
In a speech recently delivered in London, General McChrystal would have said that people constantly suggest to him schemes ‘for fixing Afghanistan’s problems’. One of these ‘recommendations’ advocated a plan called 'Chaosistan.' The idea was to let Afghanistan become a “Somalia-like haven of chaos that we simply manage from outside”.
Some U.S. intelligence officials believed that the reference originates in a secretly published CIA analysis titled ‘Chaosistan’.
With or without the CIA covert schemes, it is clear that Afghanistan has become Chaosistan. The last presidential election is yet another proof of it. But western governments continue to put a brave face. During a recent visit to Kabul, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner declared: “the present period is crucial in the history of this nation… these elections will mark a new step in the consolidation of the rule of law, the reconstruction of nation and the foundation of stable institutions”. Serious observers don’t believe that this will happen soon, though Kouchner announced that Karzai and his opponent Abullah Abdullah have agreed to work together. Whoever is aware of the past history of Afghanistan knows the impermanence of this type of alliance.
Though the NATO forces are technologically far superior to the Talibans, they will always be in a state of inferiority in terms of ground knowledge and intelligence gathering.
In these conditions, there is no way to win a ‘war against terrorism’, especially under the aegis of puppet (or divided) government, while the terrorists continue to roam free in the neighbouring country.
In an editorial, Le Monde summed up what many people think: “The Afghan electoral imbroglio send us back to the contradictions of the international coalition and the ambiguity of objectives which mix counter-insurrection and tentative nation building.”
Moliere, the greatest French playwriter of all times once put in the mouth of one of his characters, a phrase that the persona keeps repeating: “What the hell are we doing on this boat?”
Many in France believe that this could apply to Afghanistan.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Chinese Bluff

The Federation of American Scientists  gives an interesting piece of information. The missiles displayed during the October 1 parade in Beijing were probably not DF-31A, but DF-31 missiles only. Have the Second Artillery Corps bluffed to impress the onlookers and miliatry experts?
Another interesting (or funny)  news is that the beautiful red girls who marched on Tienanmen Square were hired models.
Should the Indian MoD planned a similar display for the next Republic Day? Without miniskirts (with saris instead), of course!

Missile Mystery in Beijing
By Hans M. Kristensen
The mysterious DF-41 missile did not appear at the Chinese National Day parade on October 1st, but the Chinese Ministry of National Defense says the DF-31A did. But did it, or was it in fact the DF-31?
The military parade at China’s 60th National Day celebration last week was widely rumored to be displaying a new long-range ballistic missile described in the news media as the DF-41. The rumors turned out to be, well, rumors.
Instead the Chinese Ministry of National Defense identified two other missiles: the nuclear DF-31A and the conventional DF-21C, to my knowledge a first.
But was it the DF-31A that rolled across the square or the shorter-range DF-31 already displayed ten years ago at the 1999 parade?
Read on...

By Brian Schwarz

China has hired professional female models to march in a parade. This was seen as very important for the survival of the communist government. The October 2nd parade in China, to celebrate 60 years of communist rule, wants to make China, and its government, look good. To that end, the parade organizers are having contingents, from all the military organizations in China, march past the high def TV cameras. Being a communist police state, there are lots of uniformed groups. Many have female components. The parade organizers particularly wanted to insure that the women in uniform looked good. Not just military good, but good.
When they discovered that the female contingent from the People's Militia did not measure up, they proceeded to hire models, from as far away as Singapore, to pretty-up the women's contingent of the People's Militia.

Why the Chinese are upset about Tawang

Repeated Chinese intrusions on Indian territory, veiled threats to ‘split’ India and a constantly aggressive stance on Arunachal Pradesh have recently got a great deal of coverage in the Indian media.
The worse was perhaps the threatening tone of the Chinese press. The Global Times objected to Dr Manmohan Singh’s electoral tour in Arunachal: “Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made another provocative and dangerous move …India will make a fatal error if it mistakes China's approach for weakness. The Chinese government and public regard territorial integrity as a core national interest, one that must be defended with every means.”
Why has the Chinese leadership suddenly become so aggressive about Tawang and Arunachal Pradesh?
In a recent interview, Professor Wang Dehua, director, Centre for South Asia Studies at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences stated that India would ‘just’ have to surrender the Aksai Chin plateau in Ladakh and Tawang and the border issue could be solved.
Why this obsession with Tawang and the Land of Dawn-lit Mountains?
There are today several misconceptions and questions about the north-western district of Arunachal. Claude Arpi tries to address some.

The Guilty Conscience about Tibet
The core issue is the fact that Tibet was an independent when the misnamed People’s Liberation Army marched into Tibet in October 1950. This can be proved without ambiguity by digging in the British Archives in London (or the almirahs of the MEA). One example: Noel-Baker, the British Foreign Secretary addressed the House of Commons on December, 14 1949 to inform the MPs about the British official stand on Tibet. London stood by a memo given by Prime Minister Antony Eden to Dr TV Soong, Chinese Foreign Minister in 1943. It stated: “Since the Chinese Revolution of 1911, when Chinese forces [which had occupied Tibet for a short time] were withdrawn from Tibet, Tibet has enjoyed de facto independence. She has ever since regarded herself as in practice completely autonomous and has opposed Chinese attempts to reassert control.”Interestingly, when the British High Commissioner in India showed this to K.P.S. Menon, the first Indian Foreign Secretary said: “Such publicity is good”. India agreed and wanted the world to know about Tibet ‘de facto’ independence.

Unfortunately less than a year later, Chinese troops entered Tibet and began to occupy the entire plateau.
Over the last nearly 6 decades, Beijing has done its utmost to make the world forget that before 1950, Tibet was an independent State with not only a separate language, literature, religion or culture, but also its own Foreign Office, currency, coins, stamps and even a hand-made paper passport.
Beijing has practically succeeded to erase all these factors from the world’s collective memory, but for one thing: a thick red line.
This last symbol, the McMahon Line proving that Tibet could signed treaties on its own, delineated the Indo-Tibet border.
Beijing believes that if by a magic trick (or a bit of bullying), it can manage to annul the red line, nobody could ever challenge China’s colonization of Tibet anymore; the last proof that the powerless religious nation was invaded by its neighbour would disappear.
This is the crux of the matter and explains Beijing’s present anger and belligerence.

How did this line come about?
In 1903, Viceroy Lord Curzon cabled London that ‘the Chinese suzerainty over Tibet was a constitutional fiction’. He proved his point a year later by sending to Tibet a military expedition under Francis Younghusband. The young colonel discovered what Curzon knew, there was no Chinese presence in Lhasa. While the Chinese were unhappy that the truth had emerged, the British, as usual, wanted to remain fair.
The solution found by the British was to convey a Tripartite Conference in Simla in 1913 to get an agreement between China, Tibet and themselves on the ‘constitutional fiction’. The main bone of contention at that time was the border between Tibet and China.

While discussions were going on about the Tibet-China differences, Sir Henry McMahon and his Tibetan counterpart, Lochen Shatra sat separately to delineate the Indo-Tibetan border. On March 24, through an exchange of notes between the British and Tibetan Plenipotentiaries, the Indo-Tibet Frontier was fixed. McMahon wrote to Shatra: “The final settlement of this India-Tibet frontier will help to prevent causes of future dispute and thus cannot fail to be of great advantage to both Governments.”
The next day, the Tibetan plenipotentiary replied: “As it was feared that there might be friction in future unless the boundary between India and Tibet is clearly defined, I submitted the map, which you sent to me in February last, to the Tibetan Government at Lhasa for orders. I have now received orders from Lhasa, and I accordingly agree to the boundary as marked in red in the two copies of the maps signed by you.”
The British and the Tibetan delegates signed and sealed the map.
Thus the McMahon Line was born as a red line demarcating the Indo-Tibetan boundary in the Eastern sector.
Today, Beijing is not ready to accept the McMahon Line as it would be a de facto recognition that an Accord signed by an independent Tibetan government has legal validity.

Did the Chinese always claim Tawang?
The answer is ‘no’.
During the 1950’s, the Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai was ready to accept the McMahon Line as the border between ‘China’s Tibet’ and India. A letter from the then Indian Prime Minister to U Nu, his Burmese counterpart is revealing. On April 22, 1957, Nehru wrote: “I am writing to you immediately so as to inform you of one particular development which took place here when Chou En-lai [Zhou Enlai] came to India. In your letter you say that while Premier Chou En-lai was prepared to accept the McMahon Line in the north [of Burma], he objected to the use of the name ‘McMahon Line’, as this may produce ‘complications vis-à-vis India’, and therefore, he preferred to use the term ‘traditional line’.”
Nehru continued: “[Zhou] said that while he was not convinced of the justice of our claim to the present Indian frontier with China (in Tibet), he was prepared to accept it. That is, he made it clear that he accepted the McMahon Line between India and China, chiefly because of his desire to settle outstanding matters with a friendly country like India and also because of usage etc. I think, he added he did not like the name ‘McMahon Line’.”
Nehru had some doubts that he had heard properly what the Chinese Premier had said: “I wanted to remove all doubts about it. I asked him again therefore and he repeated it quite clearly. I expressed my satisfaction at what he said. I added that there were two or three minor frontier matters pending between India and China on the Tibet border and the sooner these were settled, the better. He agreed.”
Zhou told however his Indian counterpart that after the signature of the Panchsheel Agreement on Tibet in 1954, the Tibetans objected to the demarcation of the Line: “the Tibetans wanted us to reject this Line; but we told them that the question should be temporarily put aside. I believe immediately after India's independence, the Tibetan Government had also written to the Government of India about this matter. But now we think that we should try to persuade and convince Tibetans to accept it.”
The forthcoming visit of the Dalai Lama to Tawang is another occasion for the Tibetan leader to reiterate that he has always stood by the McMahon Line and Zhou’s argument (that the Tibetans objected) does not stand.

Tsangyang Gyatso: the Sixth Dalai Lama
Another misconception created by the Chinese is that because Tsangyang Gyatso, the Sixth Dalai Lama, great poet and lover was born near Tawang in 1683. For Beijing, it is the proof that Tawang belongs to Tibet (and therefore part of China). Elementary, Mr Hu!
This is another lame argument. Is France part of Kashmir because Dr. Karan Singh is born in Cannes on the French Riviera? What about Liaquat Ali Khan, born in Karnal, Haryana; Zia-ul-Haq born in Jallundar or Pervez Musharraf in Darya Ganj in Delhi? Does it make Haryana, Punjab or Delhi part of Pakistan?
The Sixth Dalai Lama, Tsangyang Gyaltso (the Precious Ocean of Pure Melody) who loved freedom above all, would have probably written a beautiful poem on Chinese pretentions.

Chinese names
The Chinese say that all the names south of the McMahon are Chinese. Unless Tibetan language (gompa, dzong, la, chu, etc.) has become Chinese, it is wrong. In fact both languages are etymologically and grammatically totally different. However, if the Chinese start claiming as theirs all the areas using ‘Bothia’ (Tibetan) language and scripts, Kinnaur, Lahaul, Spiti, Ladakh or Sikkim will soon be claimed by them. And why not the Buriat and Kalmyk republics of the Russian Federation? What about Darjeling (from Tibetan Dorjee Ling = the place of the Vajra)? Does it does make sense?

The current campaign is primarily caused by the forthcoming visit of the Dalai Lama in Arunachal Pradesh which in itself is a reiteration that the Tibetan leader stands by the McMahon Line as the Indo-Tibet border, a historical fact which can’t be erased retrospectively.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Xi ignores Hu

Xi Jinping with Angela Merkel

He has forgotten his boss' name, but reads Old Jiang's books.

Hu ignored in Vice-President’s German visit?

Tibetan Review
October 16, 2009
China’s Vice-President Xi Jinping departed from a long-standing Chinese diplomatic protocol during his meeting Oct 12 with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin by failing to begin by conveying to his hosts the greetings of President Hu Jintao, noted prominent China specialist Willy Lam, writing in Oct 13.  Xi, the apparent front runner to succeed President Hu, it may be recalled, failed to make it to the Chinese Communist Party's Central Military Commission at the Sep’09 plenary session of the party Central Committee.
Willy Lam felt that Xi thereby apparently blamed Hu for not inducting him into the policy-setting military commission, which has been headed by the president since 2004.
Xi, 56, was, in fact, reported to have departed from the protocol for a senior Chinese cadre on overseas tour throughout his ongoing trip to five European countries, even hardly mentioning Hu.
And during the meeting with Merkel, it was the 83-year-old former President Jiang Zemin who dominated the exchanges. It was reported that before their official discussion began, Xi handed to Merkel the English editions of two books -- on energy and on information technology — written by Jiang. Xi then, as per a Xinhua report, "passed along Comrade Jiang Zemin's greetings and good wishes" to the German leader. Merkel reciprocated by asking Xi to send her greetings to Jiang.
There was no reference to Hu throughout the two leaders' tete-a-tete. As the highest-ranked Fifth-Generation politician in the Politburo Standing Committee, Xi is slated to succeed Hu as party general secretary at the 18th CCP Congress in Oct 2012 – and as state president a few months later. Hu’s favoured candidate to succeed him is said to be Vice-Premier Li Keqiang, who, for now, is expected to take over the premiership from Wen Jiabao in early 2013.
Willy Lam sees Xi's apparent decision to openly side with Jiang -- and his failure to appear deferential to Hu — as a good indication that factional rivalry and jockeying for position has begun some three years before the 18th Party Congress when the fifth generation of Chinese leaders are set to assumed office.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Official Spokesperson about a Chinese dam on Brahmaputra river

It is good that the Government takes seriously the dams and other constructions on the Yarlung-Tsangpo in Tibet.
Ultimately, the only solution seems to have a river-water Treaty signed between India and China (and Bangladesh), like the one between India and Pakistan inked in the early sixties. Why can't a similar accord be arrived between the three nations for the use of the Brahmaputra/Yarlung Tsangpo waters, in order to assure a decent life for all in the region?

New Delhi
October 15, 2009
In response to a question about a report in a leading Indian newspaper about construction of a dam on Brahmaputra by China, the Official Spokesperson said:
The Brahmaputra flows for about 1625 kilometres inside the Tibet Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China and for a further 918 kilometres inside India.
Keeping in mind that the river is an economic resource for the development of the local communities in the two countries, India and China agreed in November 2006 to establish an Expert Level Mechanism to discuss trans-border river issues in an institutional way. Three meetings have been held so far.
During these meetings, the Indian side has taken up with the Chinese side, reports about the construction of a large scale dam or diversion project in the Brahmaputra. The Indian side has conveyed that such a project may have significant impact on the socio-economic condition of people living downstream. The Indian side has also expressed the hope that the Chinese side will not undertake such a large scale project or divert the waters of the Brahmaputra.
The Chinese side has categorically denied that there is a plan to build any such large scale diversion project on the Brahmaputra river.
We are looking into the said newspaper report to ascertain whether there are recent developments that suggest any change in the position conveyed to us by the Government of China.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

China begins building dam on Brahmaputra

Series of 5 dams planned on the Tsangpo (Brahmaputra)
A few weeks ago, I mentioned  the construction of dams by the Chinese authorities, north of the McMahon Line. The  work seems to progress very fast. The Spokesperson of the MEA objects to the construction of dams in POK, it is good, but he should also complain about these dams on the Brahmaputra which will directly affect the INDIAN State of Arunachal Pradesh.

The Indian Express
Pranab Dhal Samanta
Oct 15, 2009
New Delhi : So far, Beijing has denied any plans to build a dam on its side of the Brahmaputra river. But strong evidence has now emerged to suggest that China has begun constructing a dam on the river which it calls the Yarlungzangbo (better known as Yarlong Tsangpo to the Tibetans).
It’s learnt that the Zangmu hydroelectrical project was inaugurated on March 16 this year and the first concrete was poured on April 2.
The 1.138-billion Yuan (1 Yuan = $0.15) project has been awarded to a five-company consortium with China Gezhouba Group along with NIDR (China Water Northeastern investigation, design and research) involved in its construction.
Involved in its financing is the Huaneng Corporation, one of China’s biggest power companies.
From preliminary information available with India, the Chinese plan to have a series of five medium-sized dams along the river in the Nanshan region of Tibet at Zangmu, Jiacha or Gyatsa, Zhongda, Jiexu and Langzhen.
Of this, sources said, detailed information so far is available on the Zangmu dam.
This dam is expected to generate 540 MW; its height will be 116 m and length 389.5 m, it’s 19 m wide at the top and 76 m wide at the bottom.
According to information that is being circulated by companies involved in the project, the Zangmu dam is a gravity dam with water-blocking structures which could mean construction of a reservoir.
Some academic articles had set off fears of hydroelectric projects and water diversion plans on the Brahmaputra in Tibet about three years ago.
A worried India, as a lower riparian country, had taken up the matter with China. Beijing had then assured New Delhi that these were just articles in the press and “no concrete decision” had been taken.
The assumption here was that China was only looking at tributaries of the Brahmaputra but the Zangmu dam project is well after all tributaries have joined the river.
The two countries had then agreed to establish a joint mechanism for sharing technical data on rivers like the Brahmaputra and Sutlej.
This exchange, however, has been restricted to flood season data and Indian efforts to widen the scope of information-sharing have not moved forward.
China, sources said, never informed India about its plans or this specific project.
Significantly, according to information received here, the Nanshan Regional Administration issued orders as early as October 30, 2007 for evacuation of people from the area from November 1, 2007.
According to the order, the dam site will include all areas up to 3310 m above sea level and people inhabiting these heights were asked to vacate.
Earlier this month, the Gezhouba group is said to have gone public saying it had successfully completed setting up the concrete feed line.
Satellite images from February show construction activity in Zangmu and Jiacha with evidence of labour quarters.
The consequences to India from this project and the others about which little information is known — can only be ascertained if more information is shared and teams are allowed to access the site.
It’s learnt that the tendering process for this entire project is being overseen by the Three Gorges International Corporation.
Along with India, Bangladesh is another country that would be affected by dams and has often voiced concerns in this regard.

A republic sans people

My article on the October 1 Parade in Beijing has been published in The Pioneer. Click here.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Return of Jiang

As equal on the rostrum

China has the most opaque political system in the world. The only way to guess what is going on behind the walls of Zhongnanhai (residences-cum-offices of the top Chinese leadership) is to watch the public appearances of the Communist leaders.
One occasion, and an important one, was the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China (PRC) on October 1.
President Hu Jintao and his colleagues had to show to the Chinese people and the world that the People’s Republic (and the Party) were powerful, very powerful.
Commentators said that the parade was China’s largest-ever military display; perhaps even the world’s largest. China watchers also knew that for Hu, it was the culmination of his mandate after the successful organization of Olympic Games in summer 2008.
But the surprise sprang from another quarter: the return of former President Jiang Zemin on the political stage. Indeed, it was to center stage: Jiang stood next to President Hu, with the 8 other members of the Standing Committee of the Politburo (the bosses of 1.3 billions Chinese) on his right and on his left.
The Malaysian Insider called it the ‘talk of the town’: “As the China Central Television (CCTV) programme was meticulously scripted by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), with screen time of leaders carefully apportioned according to hierarchy, China watchers wondered if that meant Jiang still cast a long shadow over his successor, Hu Jintao. …The cameras panned to the 83-year-old former leader whenever there was a mention on the history of the party and the contributions of past leaders. …While observers ruled out a fresh round of vicious elite struggles within the party, they believed that Jiang's prominence raises questions of factional tussles in the three years leading up to 2012, when Hu, 66, is slated to retire.”
The power struggle has already started.
Willy Lam of the Jamestown Foundation commented: “Jiang, who no longer holds any official position, appeared on CCTV’s live broadcast of the show more than 20 times. …Jiang was just one step behind Hu—and way ahead of the eight other serving members of the Politburo Standing Committee. In a manner that rendered inevitable Jiang’s place as second in the pecking order, the People’s Daily put two equally big pictures of Hu and Jiang on the front page in its October 2 edition.”
This appearance of the ex-Chairman of the all-powerful Central Military Commission (CMC) comes a week after the news spread that Vice-President Xi Jinping had not made it to the CMC. The Associated Press spoke of: “the mystery surrounding the expected appointment of China's vice president to a powerful military commission deepened”. All this is an indication of important changes in the power balance in China.
Vice-President Xi Jinping had been widely expected to join Hu Jintao on board with the other 10 CMC members. This was supposed to be part of an elaborate procedure which would take Xi to the top of the Middle Kingdom by 2012, with three hats on his head: General-Secretary of the CCP, President of the Republic and Chairman of the CMC.
Christopher Bodeen wrote for AP: “The lack of word on an appointment underscores how opaque the inner workings of the 75 million-member ruling party remain, despite frequent calls for greater openness and intraparty democracy. Information on top leadership positions is tightly held and China's entirely state-controlled media almost never report on such matters prior to a formal announcement.”
One remembers that in April 1989, one month before the Tiananmen massacre, Gorbachev, the propagator of glasnost (transparency) had visited China; many believed at that time that the Russian ‘glasnost’ would permeate the Middle Kingdom and make China a modern nation. It was not to be.
Twenty years later, it seems that 'transparency' remain unknown to the leadership of the CCP. The return of Jiang Zemin and the non-promotion of Xi Jinping tend to prove once again that we know very little about the process of governance in China. But is there a system of governance?
Jinping is the son of Xi Zhongxun, one of the senior-most leaders of the First Generation of the CCP. The latter was associated with the CCP work in Tibet and wrote a report for the Party about the famous 70,000 character petition from the Panchen Lama to Premier Zhou Enlai, detailing the wrongs of China’s Tibet policy. He apparently agreed with some parts of the assessment of the No 2 Lama in the Tibetan hierarchy.
Like many other leaders, Xi Zhongxun soon fell out of favour; he was officially accused of disloyalty to Chairman Mao. Was he not tough enough with the Tibetan people? Who knows.
Old Xi was rehabilitated in the 1980's; he later participated to the setting up of one of the first Special Economic Zones in Southern China.
Is his father's past catching up with Young Xi?
To come back to Jiang Zemin, though he relinquished his post of chairman of the CMC in September 2004 (after 14 years at the head of the Commission), he appears to have kept in contact with the generals with whom he was associated.
Do not all these generals owe their present position to him? Further, Jiang, the leader of the Shanghai Faction (or clique) has still a large office in the CMC building in Beijing and occasionally visits his former colleagues. He has been apparently active after the riots in Tibet in March/April 2008 and the earthquake in Sichuan a few months later.
It is even rumoured that President Hu had to precipitately leave the G8/G20 meeting in Italy in July after Jiang began to mingle in the post-riots management in Xinjiang and he had disagreed with Hu’s handlings of the unrest.
Last year, the PLA’s Chief of the General Staff, Chen Bingde wrote about the PLA’s role in the aftermath of the earthquake in Sichuan which killed nearly one lakh of people. General Chen mentioned five times that the PLA asked for the guidance and instructions of Chairman Hu [Jintao] and a CMC leader: “We are determined to use all means — and to spare no efforts — to implement the instructions of Chairman Hu and the CMC leader”. Was Jiang Zemin the mysterious CMC leader quoted at par with the Chairman? Probably.
Willy Lam made a comment which may explain the non-promotion of Xi to the CMC. He noted that: “at the 16th Party Congress of 2002, Jiang set the precedent of retiring from the posts of party chief and state president — in favor of Hu — but hung on to the post of CMC chairmanship. Given that his long-standing political foe has refused to fade into the sunset, Hu now has even more of an urgency to tighten his grip on military power beyond the 18th Party Congress. After all, the head of the Chinese Youth League (CYL) Clique has to ensure that when he leaves the Politburo and its PSC in 2012, enough of his protégés and cronies can be appointed to the supreme council.”
If Hu wants to play a Jiang in 2016 or 2020, it would be better for him to hang on to the CMC for a few more years and appoint few friends who may later show some gratitude.
The presence of Jiang on the rostrum also demonstrates that the Elders culture which played a determinant role during the Tiananmen events is still very much alive twenty years later. One remembers that all the important decisions (including sending the tanks to smash the students) were taken by a group of 8 Elders with Deng Xiaoping as the paramount leader.
Finally, Jiang’s appearance illustrates that the relation between the Party and the PLA is as close as it was 60 years ago. In an article in the South China Morning Post, Chow Chungyan and Minnie Chan wrote: “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun, Mao Zedong once famously said. Sixty years after the founding of the People's Republic, many of Mao's other teachings have been forgotten and forsaken — but not this one. Every top communist leader since Mao has known what supreme power rests upon.”
Today the PLA remains loyal to the Party and at the same time, the CCP gives its due share in the affairs of the State to the PLA. China is probably the only country on the world where the Constitution states that the Army is "under the absolute leadership of the Chinese Communist Party". The PLA’s instructions and guidance do not come from the State Council or the Ministry of National Defence, but directly from the CMC. This shows the importance of Jiang’s return (if he had ever left) and partly explains the regaining of aggressiveness of the China leadership vis-à-vis India.