Monday, December 31, 2012

If you have money, you can buy independence for Tibet

Photo: Lobsang Wangyal
Yesterday former Kalon Tripa (president of the Council of Ministers of the Tibetan Government-in-exile) Sonam Topgyal passed away at his residence in Dharamshala after a prolonged illness. He was 77.
Sikyong Lobsang Sangay and his cabinet colleagues visited Sonam Tobgyal's home to pay their last respects. reported:
Topgyal, 77, breathed his last at 4.30 am at his residence near Norbulingka Institute in Dharamshala. He was suffering from stomach cancer, family sources said.
Sonam Topgyal held the post of Prime Minister of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) from April 1997 September 2001. The post was then called Kalon Tripa.
He had worked in different capacities in various departments of CTA. He was one of the members along with Tenzin Geyche and Tenzin Namgyal Tethong who started Sheja, a Tibetan publication, in 1968. The same became a part of the CTA publication from 1971.
He was one of the four convenors of the first Tibetan youth conference in Dharamshala, along with Tenzin Geyche, Lodi Gyari and Tenzin Tethong. This conference resulted in the formation of the Tibetan Youth Congress. The organisation advocates for an independent Tibet from China.
Sonam Topgyal was born in 1935 in Chamdo, Tibet.
In 1959, he left Tibet to come into exile in India.
In 1971, he joined the Central Tibetan Administration. Rising through the ranks and working mostly with the erstwhile Information Office, now the Department of Information and International Relations, Sonam Topgyal served twice in the exile Tibetan cabinet.
In the 10th Kashag from 1993−1996, Sonam Topgyal served as the minister of the departments of home and health and later as the Chairman of the Cabinet. In the 11th Kashag from June 1996 to August 2001, Sonam Topgyal served as the Kalon Tripa, the de facto Tibetan Prime Minister from April 1997-2001.
In July 1993, Sonam Topgyal, who was then the secretary of DIIR, visited China along with Kalon Gyalo Thondup to deliver a letter and memorandum on behalf of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The Tibetan delegation met Wang Caogo, Director of the CPC’s United Front Work Department.
Here is the rough transcript of my interview with Sonam Topgyal on March 17, 1997 (translator: Ngodup Dorjee).
The interview was conducted in the Kashag Office, Gangchen Kyishong, Dharamsala. Very kindly, the Kalon Tripa came out of a Kashag's meeting to answer my questions.

Interview with Kalon Tripa Sonam Tobgyal 
[About his visit to Beijing]
Claude: After the visits of Gyalo Thondup, Juchen Thupten Namgyal and Phuntsok Tashi Takla in 1984, the Tibetan Administration had no contact with the Chinese Government, am I correct? Yours was the first visit after 9 years?

Kalon Sonam Tobgyal: Officially, of course, the 1984 visit was the last contact [before our visit], but unofficially, Gyalo Thondup visited Beijing 13 times; sometimes just to give a message; sometimes to discuss [the Tibet issue] or for personal reasons.
Apart from the two earlier visits, in 1982 and 1984; there was also Mr Kundeling’s fact finding mission in 1985.

Claude: What was the purpose of your visit?

Kalon Sonam Tobgyal: The purpose of our visit was to negotiate [with China]. His Holiness always believes that the problem between China and Tibet can only be resolved through negotiations. That was the main focus of the visit. [The background was] that Deng Xiaoping had said that except independence, all other matters can be discussed and sorted out.
On the basis of these two points, we visited China.
In 1987, His Holiness the Dalai Lama presented his Five Point Peace Plan and then the Strasbourg proposal [in 1988] and he also made a speech at Yale University in the States [in 1991], all these proposals were made on the basis of the promise made by Deng Xiaoping in 1979.
Our team went with the purpose to check on the Chinese reaction to His Holiness’ proposals; from our side, we had given so much, we wanted to know the position of the Chinese Government. We wanted to ask Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zemin ‘what are your reactions?’
We also carried two letters from His Holiness, one to Deng Xiaoping and the other one to Jiang Zemin.
Secondly, we wanted to know why the Chinese are always calling His Holiness a ‘splitist’; whatever he had done, whatever proposals he had made, it always was on the basis of Deng Xiaoping’s guidelines, so we wanted to know from the Chinese themselves, “explain to us when His Holiness had splitist activities; in which place, on which date, why are you always saying that His Holiness is a splitist?”
That was the main purpose of our visit.

Claude: How long did you stay in China?

Kalon Sonam Tobgyal: One week. All together seven days, but for a few days we went out of Beijing.

Claude: Who did you meet, which senior official?

Kalon Sonam Tobgyal: An official of the United Front Department [Wang Caogo, Director of the CPC’s United Front Work Department]; we also met the Deputy Minister [of the United Front] and some other more junior officials. At that time, Raidi [Deputy Party Secretary of the Tibetan Autonomous Region] was also there.

Claude: Were Gyatsen Norbu or Dorjee Tsering [other Tibetan Party officials] there?

Kalon Sonam Tobgyal: Raidi was the only Tibetan present.

Claude: What was the Chinese position? Did they stick to their Five Point made in 1981 about His Holiness status and welfare and his return to Tibet?

Kalon Sonam Tobgyal: If one analyses what they were saying, there was no clear argument. They were only saying that their position vis-a-vis the Dalai Lama was very clear; they were very happy to keep in contact with the Dalai Lama’s representatives; they were keen that these contacts should go on; they were glad that the Tibetans spoke in very frank and clear manner.
The Chinese reiterated that they felt that the Dalai Lama was having splitist activities.
[On our side] we proposed that the three provinces of Tibet should be reunited: Central Tibet, Kham and Amdo. There should ‘One Tibet’.
To this the Chinese replied that this was not realist. Tibet was already divided; administrative arrangements have already been made [to divide Tibet]. This had been decided in the National People’s Congress. It was now part of the Chinese Constitution.
They kept using these types of arguments.
I feel that whatever we were saying, it was always the same thing [we got the same answer]. They were repeating that they were very happy that the team had come to China; they kept repeating the same thing.
But one thing that was clear, was that the officials with whom they were talking, had not the authority to decide anything on their own.
If something had to be decided; if some policy decisions had to be made, it was clear that these officials had no power.
I did not feel that very substantive discussions were taking place; I had more an empty feeling.

Claude: Did the Chinese promise to meet you again?

Kalon Sonam Tobgyal: They were saying, ‘please come again, you are always welcome’, especially His Holiness’ elder brother, Gyalo Thondup. They said that he had always been kind to them and ‘next time you come, bring your family and we will take you to all parts of China’.

[Regarding the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama]
They said that the process had started; we said that His Holiness should be involved; he should be able to consult lamas, geshes, oracles, [if they had] visions at the Lhamoi Lhatso [sacred lake where one can get visions] and [he should be in contact with] the authorities of the Tashilhunpo monastery.
The Chinese replied that it was the Tashilhunpo’s business and the Tashilhunpo Search Committee was responsible [to find the true reincarnation].
The Chinese officials said one day that Chatrel Rinpoche [head of the Tashilhunpo Search Committee] would come after two days and we could have a meeting with him, but Chatrel Rimpoche had actually come to Beijing eight days earlier.
This type of deceptive attitude from the Chinese side occurred all the times.

Claude: Did you eventually meet Chatrel Rimpoche?

Kalon Sonam Tobgyal: We met him and he left a letter for His Holiness where he mentioned that whatever they had done so far [to discover the Panchen Lama] and what he had found [during the search]. It actually wanted to give this letter to His Holiness.
When we met Chatrel Rimpoche, he said that at the time of death of the Panchen Lama, he was [?]
We met Hu Jintao and told him that for the search of the Panchen Lama His Holiness should be consulted. Hu Jintao was also in Beijing at that time.

Claude: Was he still the Party Secretary in Tibet or in the Politburo?

Kalon Sonam Tobgyal: No, no. He was not yet in the Politburo. He was in Beijing and we met him.

Claude: Was the overall visit positive?

Kalon Sonam Tobgyal: My feeling is that the visit was helpful in the sense that the contact was renewed after so many years. Otherwise we did not achieve anything.
After our meeting, the Chinese position even hardened.

Claude: Why has it become so hard? Last week, the Beijing Review mentioned that Tibet has never been independent, while earlier that they had been saying that Tibet is a part of China since the 13th Century, do you consider this as a hardening? It seems to me that the Chinese position has never been so hard since 1980.

Kalon Sonam Tobgyal: This is my personal view. The issue of Tibet has been internationalized and there is a great deal of sympathy for the Tibetan cause; for the Chinese, it is a big problem.
Secondly, the Tibetans inside Tibet dislike the Chinese.
There is a lot of hatred. There is great animosity from the Tibetans side towards the Chinese. Wherever the Chinese and the Tibetans live together, particularly in cities, there is a great animosity. The Chinese feel that it is a long term problem, so now their policy is: as long Tibet is under their control, they want to control it and suppress it.

Claude: Another reason is perhaps that there is a power struggle within the Chinese Communist Party?

Kalon Sonam Tobgyal: Most Chinese know that in the long run, there will be internal problems in China. At that time, the Tibet issue will be a big problem which can split China. For this reason, the Chinese want to suppress the Tibetans feelings.
The Chinese documents say that the US and other western powers are the enemies of China; they want to split China. Their point is that “the Dalai Lama’s clique is used by these forces”, the Dalai Lama is a tool of these imperialists against China.

Claude: Last question, who will be, according to you, the next leader of China?

Kalon Sonam Tobgyal: This is again my personal view, I do not know, but deeply inside, I think that there will be upheaval in China. It will come very soon.
It will come in a very short time.
If you look at the Chinese economic situation, the difference between the rich and the poor and the deception of the intellectuals who are very dissatisfied with the political system and then, the power struggle. All these together make me feel that there will be upheaval very soon.
I feel that the Chinese leader Jiang Zemin will not be able to lead China through this difficult and critical period. He will not be able. But some people think that Jiang Zemin can manage, but I think otherwise.
Just looking at the events taking place, one can predict something; otherwise it is quite difficult.

Claude: One problem that you have not listed is corruption, corruption by Party members?

Kalon Sonam Tobgyal: Yes, yes, corruption. There is a saying in Lhasa, that if you have money, you can buy independence for Tibet. It means that if you have money, you can buy anything.
Most of the officials are corrupt; the corruption is the worst amongst officials.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

French Revolution in China?

Wang Qishan
The official 'profile' of Wang Qishan, the new member of the Standing Committee of the CCP's Politburo says: "He can do it". 
This comment was posted on Xinhua website "after Wang Qishan took up a challenging new mission last month to lead China's top discipline watchdog [Central Commission for Discipline Inspection], amid rising calls for crackdown on corruption".
Xinhua added: "Simply more than a month into his new role, Wang has demonstrated the same style that previously won his fame as a troubleshooter in the economic field: tough, resolute and confident in front of difficulties."
Wang told a symposium at the end of November: "Ethics of the Party determines its survival or demise... In the fight against corruption, we can not attain our goal at one stroke. We must convince the public that we are making more and more concrete efforts and delivering more and more powerful blows."
One of these blows is to recommend the 19th-century classic on the French revolution (“The Old Regime and the Revolution”) written by Tocqueville.
As the article of Global Voices posted-below shows, this has attracted thousands of comments on the Chinese blogosphere. 
Does Mr. Wang mean that China could go through a French Revolution?
By recommending Tocqueville's book, Wang probably wants to highlight the dark sides of the French Revolution, which helped Europe to come out of the 'regime of privileges', Old Regime in Tocqueville's words.
This reminds me of one the last speeches of Danton, the great French revolutionary:
We broke the tyranny of the privileges by abolishing them and offer men the powers to which they are entitled.
We ended the monopoly of birth and wealth in all important offices of State, in our churches, in our armed forces, in all parts of this beautiful country, France.
We declared that the most humble man in this country is equal to the greatest.
The freedom that we have gained for ourselves, we have given it to all the slaves in the world.
To the world, we have entrusted the mission to build the future with the hope to which we have given light.
This is more than a victory in a battle, more than swords and guns and all the cavalry of Europe!
And this inspiration, this new breath for all men, everywhere, this appetite, and this thirst for freedom, nobody should ever be allow to stifle it.
By in the case of China, the tyranny of privileges are born with the Party.
To give the common men the powers to which they are entitled, was the first objective of the Chinese Revolution in 1949. Isn't it?
This has abysmally failed; it is good that the leaders are today becoming aware of this failure (it does not seem the case in India as yet).
Will Xi Jinping and his colleagues manage to return to the basics, and bring offer a 'true' revolution to China?
It is doubtful, because they themselves belong to the system which has failed.
In any case, the French Revolution itself failed as beautifully explained by the great Indian Rishi, Sri Aurobindo:
Freedom, equality, brotherhood are the three godheads of the soul; they cannot be achieved through the external machinery of society or by man as long as he lives only in the individual and communal ego. When it asserts equality, it arrives at strife, then at an attempt to ignore the variations of nature, and, as the sole way of doing that successfully, it constructs an artificial and machine-made society. A society that pursues liberty as its ideal is unable achieve equality; a society that aims at equality will be obliged to sacrifice liberty. For the ego to speak of fraternity is for it to speak of something contrary to its nature. All that it knows is association for the pursuit of common egoistic ends and the utmost it can arrive at is a closer organization of the equal distribution of labor, production, consumption and enjoyment.
But a small dose of 'equality' and 'freedom', if not of 'brotherhood' could certainly help China to become a Great Power.
The same remarks apply to India.
Tocqueville French Revolution Classic on China's Bestsellers List
Global Voices
December 28, 2012

Thanks to China's top officials, French historian Alexis de Tocqueville’s “The Old Regime and the Revolution”, a 19th-century classic about the French revolution, has become a best seller in China. According to a report on Business Week, after Chinese Communist Party Vice Premier Wang Qishan highly recommended this book, it sold out in many bookstores in Beijing.
Chong Ming, a history professor who studies Alexis de Tocqueville explained:
Many civil servants read it just to follow leaders’ interests. In China, officials have a big influence on the political culture.
Why did Chinese officials suggest this classic on the subject of revolution? Scholars started heated discussions on the Chinese social media and blogosphere.
A search of “The Old Regime and the Revolution” on Weibo yields 235,416 results, crackling with quotes from the book:
Democracy extends the sphere of individual freedom, socialism restricts it. Democracy attaches all possible value to each man, socialism makes each man a mere agent, a mere number. Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word: equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude.
Great revolutions that have happened historically, such as violent revolutions, did not occur during a time of poverty. They occurred when economic situations brought polarization to society. This is because at times like these, conflict between social classes is incited. It is easy for those in the bottom classes of the society to turn the flames of their anger into flames of war.
Some scholars think that the social background at the time of French Revolution is very similar to the conditions in today’s China.

Chong Ming said:
Like then in France, China has been through a lot of wars and revolutions in the past, now China is experiencing a transitional period with a centralized power and booming economy. Perhaps this is why the book has touched the nerves of Chinese leaders. I think they are not recommending this book to express their opinions against the reform, because if they thought the book is just about the danger of reform, they would censor it. It is more likely that they try to make people realize the necessity of reform: it is not to be delayed, otherwise, we will face great danger. To some extent, reform is the best way to avoid revolution.
One netizen echoed on Weibo:
银幕街一 号 : 想起《旧制度与大革命》一书,当中对大革命前法国的社会冲突及其发展过程的描写,有太多的地方,如果去掉“法国”两个字,活脱就是中国社会现实的高像素图 片。甚至于,由于物质条件的提升和财富数量的增加,无知、自大、贪欲和荒淫、无耻、堕落,比起昔日大革命前的法国社会来说, 简直有过之而无不及。
银幕街一号 : In the book “The Old Regime and the Revolution,”  the description of the social conflict in France before the revolution and its development is a lot similar to today's China. If they remove the word “France”, it's like a high resolution picture of Chinese society. Due to the improvement of material life and increase in wealth, the amount of ignorance, arrogance, greediness, dissolution, shamelessness and depravity compared to the old days before the revolution in France is simply greater.
Some scholars think that the book foreshadows contemporary China.
Prof. Chu Jianguo from Wu Han University said:
武汉大学教授储建国:其实托克维尔探讨的问题是为什么以自由为目的的革命让人们丧失了更多的自由?读这本书,我们要意识到 行政集权制度对于优良治理的危险性,同时更要意识到腐败的行政集权制度会导致治理溃败。

Tocqueville discusses: why do people lose more freedom after a revolution that is meant to gain more freedom? The book reminds us of the danger of centralized power, it also reminds us that  corruption will lead to failure.
Commentator Cao Yun wrote:
会不会是高层预感到近似玉石俱焚的法国大革命的大规模群体性事件随时都会爆发,借读书发出警示,让全社会早作防备,把托克 维尔的《旧制度与大革命》当做一面镜子,防患于未然呢?即使是这个用意也不算坏,这表明在我们这个社会上下都是清醒的,并没 有被所谓的“黄金十年”的幻象 所迷惑。

Is it because the top officials predict that a similar large-scale incident like the French Revolution will break out in China anytime? So they use the book as a warning to the whole society? Perhaps Tocqueville's “The Old Regime and the Revolution” serves as a mirror? Even so, this is not a bad intention, as it suggests that the leaders are clear-headed and that they are not fooled by the illusion of the so-called “ten golden years” in the past decade.
Commentator Chen Hu explained:
告诫提示一方面是针对各级官员的,如果缺乏危机感,“中国式大革命”同样会在不经意中存在爆发可能性,其针革命的对象会是 各级官员。因此,不让民众革官员的命,就必须统一思想,回到坚定推进市场化的经济改革和法治化。告诫提示另一方面是针对全社 会的,对于自由和民主的追求, 不能一蹴而就,法国大革命后雅各宾专政时期实行的“激进的人民民主”在中国的 “文化大革命”中已有过充分的表现。中国所要选择的民主,应是在中国共产党领导下逐步实行宪政民主。
On the one hand the warning is for officials at all levels: without a sense of crisis, “the Chinese Revolution” might take place. The only way to prevent this is to promote market-oriented economic reform and the rule of law. On the other hand, the warning is for the society as a whole: the pursuit of freedom and democracy can not be done overnight. After the French Revolution the Jacobin dictatorship of “radical people's democracy” can be found in China's “Cultural Revolution”. China's democracy should be realized step by step under the Chinese Communist Party.
Another commentator Nan Manzi concludes::
It's better to watch what they actually do than to listen to what they say and try to guess what it means.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Water can carry the boat, but also capsize the boat

Xun Zi
A long report about the Chinese society on the website Chinascope quotes Xun Zi (313 BC–238 BC), the famous philosopher from the Warring States period; he would have said: “The Emperor is the boat and the people are the water. Water can carry the boat, but also capsize the boat.” 
The report concludes: "If the Chinese people continue to distrust their government and actions against the government intensify, it may be inevitable for the CCP boat to capsize."
Will the boat capsize?
During his first speech as CCP General Secretary, Xi Jinping quoted an ancient Chinese proverb which stated "things must have gone rotten before insects can grow".
He asked his partymen to stay clean and self-disciplined, cautioning about the likelihood of party loosing its hold over China due to corruption.
A former Peking University professor, Zhang Weiying has an interesting theory on the subject. 
He recently told a public forum in China that corruption poses a serious threat to the Communist Party and not the nation.
Zhang admitted that corruption in the Chinese Communist Party has been worsening; he even said that few officials would be found free of corrupt behavior if they were all put under investigation. 

The question is therefore, will China or the Party alone collapse if corruption is not reined. 
It is difficult to answer, though drastic measures have already be taken.
Xinhua reported that the CCP disciplinary watchdogs (the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and the Ministry of Supervision) have called for efforts to halt extravagance during the upcoming holiday season.
The notification says:

The use of public funds to purchase cigarettes, liquor and gifts for government officials should be strictly prohibited.
Public spending on extravagant banquets, travel, entertainment or sporting activities will also be prohibited during the New Year holiday, as well as February's Spring Festival.
Officials are prohibited from receiving any gifts in the form of cash, negotiable securities or convertible coupons during official occasions; officials are banned from illegally collecting funds from enterprises or individuals in the form of sponsorships for such occasions. Authorities are also requiring strict regulation over the use of government cars for private purposes.
Government departments have been told to refrain from diverting public funds to pamper officials and workers. Officials are also banned from using their holidays to lobby or bribe people for promotions, as well as buy votes for official selection procedures.
And no malpractice or holiday gambling.
The PLA has been issued similar rules. 
Will it be enough? Will it dispel the mistrust?
The issue is not an easy one.
Bloomberg recently published an article "Heirs of Mao’s Comrades Rise as New Capitalist Nobility".
The Middle Kingdom is run by sons, daughters and relatives of the Party bosses.
Bloomberg quotes General Wang Zhen, one of the CCP Eight Elders, lying in a Beijing military hospital in 1990; the old general told a visitor he felt betrayed: "Decades after he risked his life fighting for an egalitarian utopia, the ideals he held as one of Communist China’s founding fathers were being undermined by the capitalist ways of his children - business leaders in finance, aviation and computers."
Wang Zhen called the new generation 'Turtle eggs', a slang term for bastards: “I don’t acknowledge them as my sons.”
According to Bloomberg, two of his sons "are planning to turn a valley in northwestern China where their father once saved Mao Zedong’s army from starvation into a $1.6 billion tourist attraction. The resort in Nanniwan would have a revolution-era theme and tourist-friendly versions of the cave homes in which cadres once sheltered from the cold."
The rise of the Red Comrades is Xi Jinping's biggest headache, considering his own personal Red background.
Will the Boat collapse or will the new Emperor manage to change the direction is main issue facing China today.
And what about India? 
Here the leaders do not even admit that there is a problem and a possibility of sinking. 

China Is Submerged in Distrust
September 10, 2012
...Despite the year over year economic growth in China, the Chinese people themselves have already begun to look beyond the government’s self proclaimed eulogies and its international façade of success. Many of them have lost trust in the government. In April 2011, Chinascope published a report titled, “The Credibility of China’s Government Is Dangerously Low.” One year later, that credibility has sunk even lower.
One prominent example is the death of Zhou Kehua, which was a hot topic on the Chinese Internet in August. Zhou was China’s most-wanted serial-killer. He was said to have killed ten people in ten crimes in three provinces (Jiangsu, Hunan, and Sichuan) over the past eight years. On August 14, 2012, the Chongqing police released a photo of him and claimed that they had killed Zhou.
However, many people questioned the account that the police gave: Did the police actually kill Zhou, did he kill himself, or was he even killed at all?
As the pressure grew, the Chongqing police had to publish a microblog to reassure people that Zhou Kehua was indeed dead.

...Because of the growing distrust in the government, people no longer rely on the government. Instead, they stand up to the government to demand their rights. In December 2011, “Wukan villagers staged anti-corruption protests that quickly developed a national and supportive online constituency. The Party responded with elections for new local leaders.”
Two recent events at Shifang, Sichuan Province and Qidong, Jiangsu Province provide further examples.
The people of Shifang learned that the government approved the Hongda smelting plant project, which would bring dangerous amounts of pollution to the city. On July 1, 2012, tens of thousands of citizens protested against the project. The government sent police, armed police, and anti-riot police to the site. The protesters and the police clashed; there were some injuries; but in the end, the Shifang government agreed to stop the smelting project.
On July 28, 2012, the citizens of Qidong protested against a project for the Nippon Paper Group’s plant to build a system to discharge waste water into the sea. People were concerned that this would result in substantial pollution. During the protest, thousands of people entered the municipal government building and searched the officials’ offices. They found luxury goods and exposed them publicly. A thousand police arrived but didn’t take action against the protesters. The government gave in to the people’s demand and announced that they would forever cancel this waste water discharge project.
During the event, the protesters held Qidong Party Secretary Sun Jianhua and Major Xu Feng captive and beat them. They focused mainly on Sun Jianhua because he signed for the government on the waste water discharge project. They took his T-shirt and one protester handed him a T-shirt with “Resist Nippon Paper” written on it. Sun chose to remain shirtless.
Asian Times observed that “a most interesting and important element of the Shifang and Qidong actions is the prominence of a confrontational vanguard of young people - high school students and twenty-somethings (collectively known as ‘after 80s’ and ‘after 90s’ for their birth years) who appear quite happy to mix it up violently with the cops and cadres.”
Again, people had reason to express anger toward the government. Qidong citizens found a lot of interesting things in the official’s offices: ginseng, Zhonghua cigarettes (the best national cigarette brand in China), Wuliangye white spirits (one of the two best wines in China), and top-brand red wines. People also found a “Price List for Business Trips to Taiwan.” The list showed that it would cost the government 13,000 yuan (US$2,000) to pay for a public servant’s trip to Taiwan; the official would stay at a five-star hotel, and would receive a per diem of 450 yuan (US$71).
The T-shirt that Sun Jianhua wore was a Lozio, an expensive Italian fashion brand. A Lozio T-shirt costs over 2,000 yuan (US$320) in China. As a reference, many Chinese earn less than 2,000 yuan per month and migrant workers earn only 800 to 1,000 yuan per month.
People also found a lot of condoms in the officials’ offices. An article explained why there were so many condoms.
... Regarding the Shifang and Qidong cases, even the state media Huanqiu couldn’t help commenting:
“Some people go to the street because they don’t trust the local government. They don’t trust that they can resolve their issues through normal channels. The quick shutdown of the two projects at Shifang and Qidong suggests that the people are right in their distrust.”
Tang Taizong, the second emperor of the Tang Dynasty, liked to quote Xun Zi (313 B.C. – 238 B.C.), a philosopher from the Warring States period, “The Emperor is the boat and the people are the water. Water can carry the boat, and also capsize the boat.” If the Chinese people continue to distrust their government and actions against the government intensify, it may be inevitable for the CCP boat to capsize.

Friday, December 28, 2012

French Direct Cash Transfer scheme

Finance Minister P. Chidambaram believes that direct cash transfer (DCT) to poorer sections "will be a simple and error-free arrangement".
The government will just use 'technology'.
Recently, the minister addressed government officials and the staff of various banks in Pondicherry.

Mr. Chidambaram said "with the availability of banking technology, the scheme is not a complex arrangement but an easy programme. ...Banking technology is a black box technology and there was absolutely no room for mistakes, corruption or human interference in the operation of the scheme".
Delhi plans to release some Rs 2,00,000 crores of subsidies under various schemes. The government would like the Direct Cash Transfer Scheme to be implemented by the end of 2013, in other words before the next general elections.
The Indian minister has probably never heard of the Louvois project.
An article in FRANCE 24, says it all: "FRANCE: When the French army does not pay his soldiers".
French Defence Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian recently told the media “What I see is unworthy of a country like France.”
Since October 2011, several thousand French soldiers no longer properly receive their salaries! 
Sometimes they receive nothing, sometimes they partially get their salary, and in some cases, they get a 'raise'. 
According to figures from the Ministry of Defence, 60% of cases involve soldiers posted in military operations abroad, Afghanistan for example. 
The culprit is the the Direct Cash Transfer software, known as Louvois which centralizes the payroll system of the French Army. 
Louvois (Logiciel unique à vocation interarmées de la solde or Unique Vocation Software Joint Service Pay) carry the name of François Michel Le Tellier, Marquis de Louvois who was French Secretary of State for War under Louis XIV in the 17th century. Louvois increased the French Army to 400,000 soldiers to fight four wars between 1667 and 1713. 
Louvois' last battle is today lost.
The French Army (130,000 men) have been the guinea pigs to test the new software.
On condition of anonymity, a soldier told
FRANCE 24: “For almost 10 or 11 months, some soldiers have only received only 500 of their 1,500 euros monthly dues.”
Even those who get too much, face serious problems ...with the Income Tax Department which assesses them on their 'new' salary, though the extra money paid has to be returned to the central  pool.
I wish Indian ministers could read this article of Radio France International before promising the Moon; they would be less certain that all the problems (particularly corruption) will be solved once the DCT scheme is implemented.
But they will probably argue that the Indian software engineers are better than the French. 
Let us see.  

French troops owed millions thanks to software glitches
October 30, 2012
Radio France International
The French government has unblocked 30 million euros to pay a backlog of wages owing to troops, some of them serving in Afghanistan. The arrears built up thanks to faults in new software introduced in 2011.
A furious Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian detailed 75 different kinds of errors made by the Louvois software brought in by the military in September 2011. He slammed the previous right-wing government for rushing to introduce it “without taking the time to try it out”.
Describing the glitches as “unacceptable”, he claimed that officials had told that all the problems had been sorted out in July but that when he visited troops in September he discovered “the extent of the damage”.
Problems included repayments for advances deducted three times and stoppages made three times on the same wage slip.
The soldiers, many of them serving overseas including in Afghanistan, seem to have suffered in silence due to military discipline but their families complained, some of them saying that they had to take out loans to pay the bills.
Le Drian has set aside 30 million euros and ordered 100 extra pay staff to be taken on to sort out the shambles “like a military operation”.
“By Christmas I don’t want to hear any more about this,” he told a press conference Monday.
The software was supposed to be introduced for the pay of the air force and gendarmerie, who are part of the military, in March and September 2013 respectively. The minister has ordered that the transition be postponed for at least two months.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Chinese Great Firewall 'upgraded': No Good

Search for this blog on
The Great Firewall of China is become higher and larger.
It has been 'upgraded' as the Global Times says.
As a blog on The New York Times put it: "China blocks online searches of politically sensitive terms, smothers embarrassing news events, blocks online messages from dissidents and simply deletes any microblog posts that it dislikes."
I am not sure in which category my blog falls, but for the past two years or so, I failed every tests on the

Yesterday, I mentioned that China is years in advance vis-a-vis India in terms of infrastructure development (particularly raiways), but as far as individual freedoms are concerned, India is eons ahead.
Small mercies!
Anyway, Merry Xmas to all, in China, in Tibet and elsewhere.

Adding More Bricks to the Great Firewall of China
December 23, 2012
HONG KONG - China appears to have reinforced its Internet firewall in recent days, blocking some of the leading services that allow people on the mainland to access forbidden sites like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

International business transactions also are being affected, Internet analysts said. The New York Times Web site remains 100 percent blocked on the mainland, along with the Chinese-language edition of The Times and Rendezvous.
At least three foreign companies - Astrill, WiTopia and StrongVPN - have apologized to customers whose virtual private networks, or VPNs, have been slowed or disabled. VPNs are used to circumvent the Communist government's firewall. The companies, meanwhile, were suggesting some work-arounds.
The daily newspaper Global Times, affiliated with the Communist Party, acknowledged the firewall had been "upgraded," but it also warned that foreign providers of VPN services were operating illegally.
China blocks online searches of politically sensitive terms, smothers embarrassing news events, blocks online messages from dissidents and simply deletes any microblog posts that it dislikes.
The firewall also blocks countless Web sites that are openly available to users elsewhere around the world - from pornography sites and commercial come-ons to news reporting, political activism and religious proselytizing. Users on the mainland thus have to use VPNs to reach the banned sites.
Liu Xiao Ming, the Chinese ambassador to Britain, told the BBC on Friday that there was "a misconception about the Internet and development in China."
"In fact, the Chinese are very much open in terms of the Internet," he said, quoted in an article in The South China Morning Post. "In fact, we have the most number of Internet users in China today."
An estimated 600 million Chinese have access to the Internet.
Foreign businesses also use VPNs not only to safeguard their transactions but also to keep government censors and rival companies from seeing their corporate communications.
Global Times quoted an anonymous executive at a foreign technology company operating in China who said the lack of a VPN would damage the firm's operations.
Josh Ong, China editor of the tech monitoring site The Next Web, said in an interview with the Voice of America that international companies were reporting disruptions in their corporate VPN services.
"A lot of companies have a general policy that they must use their own proxy network in order to transfer data, especially into and out of China," Mr. Ong said. "So you are looking at banks or e-commerce companies, anyone who is transferring very sensitive information, a lot of them use corporate VPNs."
Mr. Ong suggested that the tightening of the firewall could be tied to the recent leadership change in the Chinese Communist Party.
"It is certainly possible that some of it is just a general flexing of might, kind of coming in with a strong arm to really show who's in control," he said. "But there is definitely something intentional happening when these VPN services are being restricted."
As Bill Bishop wrote recently on DealBook, China's management of the Internet "has not been encouraging for those who want to believe the leadership will push reforms."
"I have lived in Beijing since 2005, and these have been the most draconian few days of Internet restrictions I have experienced," he said last month.
"Indiscriminate blocking of major parts of the global Internet is not going to help China in its quest to internationalize the renminbi and make it a reserve currency," Bill said. "Internet controls at the level of the last few days may also deter foreign firms from moving their regional headquarters to China."

Barbara Demick of The Los Angeles Times bureau in Beijing offered this cautionary tweet:
Note to Chinese censors: if you pull our vpns, main Asia news bureaus will have to move to Tokyo. Not good for China.
- Barbara Demick (@BarbaraDemick) 6 Nov 12
My colleagues Sharon LaFraniere and David Barboza wrote about similar concerns over China's Internet censorship last year, and they spoke to Duncan Clark, chairman of BDA China, an investment and strategy consultancy based in Beijing.
It has been double the guard, and double the guard, and you never hear proclamations about things being relaxed," said Mr. Clark, a 17-year resident of China. "We have never seen this level of control in the time I have been here, and I have been here since the beginning of the Internet."

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Trains Arrive

The Chinese media recently announced that China has successfully conducted a test run of the world's longest high-speed railway. The 2,298-km line will link Beijing to Guangzhou.
The new Chinese train will soon be running at an average speed of 300 km per hour; it will take just 2 ½ hours to cover the 693 km distance from Beijing to Zhengzhou, the southern economic hub.
It will ultimately connect Beijing with industrialized Guangdong province, at a speed of 350 km per hour, stopping in 35 major cities.
But this is not the most worrisome for India.
Another train will soon reach China’s border with India.
While the delegates of the CCP's 18th Congress were busy selecting their new leaders and the foreign media speculated on who will be the new Emperors of China, the infrastructure development on the Roof of the World continued at a quick pace; it now moves towards the Indian border.
According to The China Daily, Jampa Phuntsok (alias Qiangba Puncog in Chinese transliteration), the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the Tibet People's Congress and Padma Thinley, the Chairman of the Tibetan Autonomous Region boasted about a new railway line which will soon reach Shigatse, the second largest city in Tibet. The same line will be later extended to Nyingchi, north of the McMahon Line.
Jampa Phuntsok announced that the extension of the world's highest-altitude rail link, the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, which reached Lhasa in July 2006, has been progressing well ‘despite some geological difficulties’.
The State-run CNTV believes that the lives of Tibetans have changed with the fast upgrading of the transportation infrastructure on the Roof of the World.
The TV channel takes the example of Tea Houses in Lhasa: “Whether in the morning, after lunch, or dinner, Tibetans drink tea all day long. Traditionally, it’s a mixture of boiled tea, yak butter, and salt, with milk and sugar occasionally mixed.” Beijing says that the train helped the Tibetans to get their supplies faster. Is it truly a great benefit?
Another advantage of the train would be the tourism boom.
But has the local population, once upon the time the most isolated of the world, really benefited? When Tibet was invaded by Communist China in October 1950, many foresaw that the plateau’s isolation would not last forever.
André Guibaut, a French explorer who had visited Tibet in the 1940’s wrote: “Armed with small wooden pegs and sighting equipment, men [surveyors] have penetrated into Tibet’s territory... The Tibetans do not realize that these pegs are a warning sign that a very ancient civilization, is condemned to disappear. Will the new roads be an improvement? The time is obviously near when it will be possible to come into Tibet by car or even by plane. Then Lama Civilization will dissolve into tourism.”
New explorers, mostly from the mainland China have come; ten million of them in the first 11 months of 2012. Tibet is fast becoming a museum.
Another article on China Tibet Online also mentions the Lhasa-Shigatse line now under construction. Considered as a key project for ‘China’s Western Development’, the construction started in 2010. Though only 253 kilometers long, the project is designed to carry more than 8 million tons every year; it will be completed in 2014. And when Beijing announces a date, the project is usually finished a few months in advance.
In view of the technical difficulties, the altitude and the climate, it is remarkable that the train will run at a speed of over 120 km per hour.
Further, the Chinese media also stated that the 435-km-long Nyingchi-Lhasa Railway was to be part of a proposed Sichuan-Tibet line, linking Chengdu in neighboring Sichuan province to Lhasa. The journey between the Tibetan capital and Nyingchi will thus be shortened by two hours from the current ten hours' drive.
For India, the problem is that Nyingchi is located just north of Arunachal Pradesh which saw a border war 50 years ago.
According to The Tibet Daily, it will take six years to complete the 1,900 km long Sichuan-Tibet Railway and an investment of 21 billion dollars will be required.
The Communist mouthpiece admits: “Construction work will be difficult, having to overcome frozen earth, landslides, rock slides, cold weather and lack of oxygen due to high altitude in some places.”
This new infrastructure can of course be used in times of peace for tourism and bringing more Han migrants on the Roof of the World, but also in case of a conflict with the neighbouring State (i.e. India)
But it is not India’s borders alone which are targeted by Beijing’s planners.
According to The Economic Times, Xinjiang will soon be linked to Kazakhstan through a rail line (292 km are laid in Xinjiang, while the remaining 293 km section is in Kazakhstan). Both lines will meet at the Korgas Pass in the restive Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
The rail line will be able to handle 15.6 million tonnes of cargo a year and will cost nearly 1 billion dollars for the Chinese side alone.
Xinhua news agency said: “Industry observers expect the Korgas pass, which now connects China and Kazakhstan by a railway, a highway, and an oil pipeline, to handle 20 million tonnes by 2020 and 35 million tonnes by 2030.”
The total trade volume between China and Central Asia drastically increased during the last few years. According to official figures, the trade between Xinjiang and five Central Asian countries reached a historical high of 17 billion US dollars last year.
In the meantime, India remains busy with scams of all shades and magnitudes and ‘important’ cricket matches.
A CAG report, which has recently been tabled in the Parliament mentions the state of the railway line to Kashmir: “Already way behind schedule, the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla-Rail Link, aimed at connecting the Kashmir Valley with the rest of the country with an all-weather route, is likely to run into further complexities and higher cost overruns”.
The CAG went into the history of the project and discovered that, scheduled to be completed in 2007 at an estimated cost of Rs. 3,077 crore, the project was now expected to be completed only in 2017-18 at a cost of Rs. 19,565 crore. Can you believe it?
The CAG report explained that poor planning resulted in time delay and cost overruns. In July 2012, just 12-14 % of the project was completed.
The Parliament was informed that “deficient planning affected land acquisition and finalisation of design and drawing; major changes in the scope of work as field investigations were taken up during construction; geo-technical investigations of the proposed alignment were not conducted before the commencement of work, but were done simultaneously, resulting in uncertainty in progress and that impacted finalisation of land acquisition and the design and drawing of bridges and tunnels.”
Worse, construction contracts were mostly awarded before ground investigations were concluded.
It is development with Indian characteristics: first, contracts are awarded, then feasibility studies begin. In the Kashmir railway case, the CAG found that even survey of the line had not been completed.
The CAG particularly points out to the Katra-Qazigund section which had to be abandoned and contracts terminated as a result of which a Rs. 1514.40-crore loss was incurred, inflicting a direct burden on Indian tax-payers.
Further the critical section between Katra and Banihal is likely to encounter complexities during execution and this could increase the cost manifold.
Where are the anti-corruption activists?
In China, corruption is as bad as in India, but projects are completed on time. One can, of course, discuss the benefitd for the local populations, but it would certainly make a difference for India’s defense preparedness.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

HOPSCA and Han colonization

Do you know what HOPSCA stands for?
It is what Beijing is planning to construct in Lhasa, the Tibetan capital.
HOPSCA means Hotel, Office, Park, Shopping Mall, Convention, and Apartments.
According to this article of the China Tibet Online, an entire new district (HOPSCA) will be built in Lhasa to cater to Chinese tourists.
Small mercy for the Tibetan cultural, District D will be "full of Tibetan ethnic styles with a main part of shopping malls displaying typical Tibetan goods." 
I am being ironic; it is indeed extremelly sad: this new type of buisness project can only create more resentment amongst the few 'locals' still living in the Tibetan capital. reported that a senior Chinese academician has recently called for policy overhaul in China’s aid programmes in Tibet blaming them for causing 'disappointing effect' on the local economy.
Jin Wei, director of Ethnic Religious Studies at the CCP's Central Party School believes that the region has failed to create a foundation for sustainable growth.

During a seminar in Beijing, Jin said that 70 percent of the 987 central government aid projects to Tibet between 1984 and 2005 had little immediate effect on boosting economic growth in the region.
The report affirmed: "A number of scholars at the forum stated that aid policies to ethnic regions need to adapt to local conditions and include participation from local communities”.

It is exactly what the HOPSCA will not do. 
On the contrary, it will aleniate further the Tibetan population.
In September 2011, Beijing announced its plans to spend some 50 billion U.S. dollars on 226 key projects ranging from railway and dam building to mining and promoting tourism in Tibet within the next five years.

As put it: "Tibetans have long argued that China’s grand projects in Tibet are planned and implemented without consultation, consent, and knowledge of the local Tibetans."
For the Tibetan 'locals', the HOPSCA will probably be the worse ever project undertaken on the Roof of the World.
Chinese tourists will be able to buy 'highlander' barley wine

Lhasa's new district to build 15 major projects
Lucy Qin
China Tibet Online
Lhasa's Liu Wu District will commence 15 construction projects in 2013, according to the district's adminiatrative committee.
The 15 major projects cover business and people's livelihood, such as Liu Wu HOPSCA (hotel, office, park, shopping mall, convention, and apartment), Kangrin International, the Liu Wu District Hospital and the local markets.
Fifteen projects with 3.7- billion-yuan investment
As a typical modern city demonstrative area,the Liu Wu District gathered popularity during the past two years through a chain of launched projects, including the Lhasa Cultural and Sports Center, the landscape water system and international headquarters city mall. According to the staff of the Economic and Development Bureau of the Liu Wu District, 15 major projects will be built next year with a total of investment of 3.7 billion yuan (about US$592.74 million).
As soon as these projects, which are related to people's livelihood and business areas, are put into use, the infrastructure of the Liu Wu District will be further improved and the business circle in this district will also be formed.
In order to ensure that all the projects have a good beginning and can run smoothly, the district's administrative committee held a special session and assigned 15 people to be in charge of the respective project.
Four business districts to form in the Liu Wu HOPSCA
It is reported that the Liu Wu HOPSCA will cover an area of 560,000 square meters aimed to be the sole tourist complex in Lhasa, filling the gap in current Lhasa business.
Speaking of its superiority, the project is situated near the Lhasa railway station and the long-distance bus station. It is also the beginning of the Lhasa airport expressway, also known as "the city's golden port". In addition, the HOPSCA also includes part of the 1000-meter-long Lhasa River and the 3000-meter-long riverbank, where the Potala Palace is also within the view.
Since there has been no business project integrated with both the Tibetan cultural and natural features before, the HOPSCA will fill the tourism business consumption void.
The HOPSCA project is estimated to invest 1.7 billion yuan (about $272.34 million) with four separated business districts.
The District A is "golden twin towers", including the main part of the five-star Gesar Palace Hotel, a first grade office building and a high-end podium building. The major commercial venues are in five star hotels, business headquarters and brand stores. Upon completion, they will become landmark buildings in Lhasa.
The Districts B and C are the sky street on the snowland, including commercial walking streets and the affiliated first-grade office building area. The major commercial activities will be conducted in the small and medium-sized enterprises and commercial streets.
The District D is the full of Tibetan ethnic styles with a main part of shopping malls displaying typical Tibetan goods. The major commercial activities will be carried out in the local commodity market with stores of large furniture, furnishings and decorative lightings.

Writing is on the wall, but India doesn’t read

My article Writing is on the wall, but India doesn’t read apperared in the Edit Page of The Pioneer today.
Click here to read...

National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon could not even meet the new Chinese leadership during his recent visit to Beijing. On the other hand, the Maldives’ Defence Minister was given the red carpet treatment

Is India a ‘big’ country? One should ask this question to the mandarins in Beijing. If they genuinely answer, one might be surprised. In any case, certain facts speak for themselves.
Soon after the conclusion of the 18th Communist Party of China’s Congress in Beijing, Chinese official Li Junru headed towards Delhi as the leader of a goodwill delegation from the CPC. Mr Li also visited Pakistan and Sri Lanka. But who is Li Junru who was busy in Delhi meeting political leaders at the end of November? When you type his name on China Vitae, a website listing thousands of Chinese officials, you get, ‘no match’.
According to the Chinese embassy in Delhi, Li Junru is a former Vice President of CPC’s Central Party School, and till March he was a member of the Standing Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. One could ask: Why did Beijing not send a very senior Party official to India? A commentator in a ‘national’ newspaper rightly remarked that ‘much higher’ delegations were due to visit the West (and particularly the United States) to brief the Governments and local parties there about the outcome of the 18th Congress.
At 65, Mr Li is still an active official. He is apparently Vice-Director of the China Reform Forum and Vice-Director of the China Society for Human Rights Studies. What these organisations are, is a separate issue.
Mr Li’s unique selling proposition seems to be his fluency in English and the fact that he is able to eloquently convey the position of the Party in proper perspective; further he obviously enjoys the CPC’s trust. During the 18th Party Congress in Beijing, Mr Li was already spotted answering overseas TV channels’ reporters. His trip to South Asia was sponsored by the International Department under the Party’s Central Committee.
In the past, this Department used to liaise with other so-called fraternal Communist Parties (It probably explains the casual dress worn by Comrade Li when he met Comrade Yechury). Today, the Department has contacts with all political parties. The delegation’s job was to brief foreign party leaders and the media about the ‘peaceful’ transition witnessed during the 18th Party Congress.
According to the Chinese Embassy’s communiqué: “During the visit, the delegation met with Mr PJ Kurien, Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha, Mr Karan Singh, Chairman for Foreign Affairs of the Indian National Congress Party, Mr Ravi Shankar Prasad, Deputy Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha and chief spokesperson of the BJP, Comrade Sitaram Yechury, a senior member of the Politburo of the CPI(M) and Comrade Suravaram Sudhakar Reddy, the General Secretary of the CPI.”
The embassy added: “During the meetings, Mr Li thanked the Indian political parties for their congratulations to the 18th National Congress of the CPC and the newly elected leadership, briefed them about the CPC Congress, and had an in-depth discussion on party-to-party exchanges and cooperation, China-India relations as well as regional and international issues. The delegation also held seminars with the India China Economic and Cultural Council and the Observer Research Foundation on the 18th CPC National Congress, China’s future development road, regional and international issues.”
Mr Li also gave a joint Press conference for the Indian and Chinese media during which he acknowledged that the border issue has ‘hindered development’ of bilateral ties, though he asserted that both countries “should try to turn over to a new page as soon as possible so that the matter is resolved forever.”
He also affirmed: “Border issue is a headache and trouble left over to us by the British colonists. It happens because of historical reasons and we did have some unhappy and unfortunate incidents in this regard in the past.”
Most journalists were delighted to hear his sweet words: “I think we should try to turn over to a new page as soon as possible.” And of course, he brushed aside the problem of the visas issued on maps showing Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin as part of China. The question remains, why did not a senior Chinese official visit India?
One can always argue that National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon went to Beijing and was briefed by Dai Bingguo, Mr Menon’s outgoing counterpart ,in the border talks and still a State Council for a couple of months. Though the NSA said that India and China had made ‘considerable progress’ on the border dispute, many observers remained doubtful for the simple reason that he did not meet anybody of the new team.
In fact, though ‘official sources’ had announced that Mr Menon was expected to call on Vice Premier Li Keqiang, the number two in the seven-member new Standing Committee (and soon-to-be Chinese Premier), the meeting did not materialise. Instead, the NSA met Wu Bangguo, the outgoing head of the National People’s Congress, and State Councillor Dai Bingguo. In other words, Mr Menon did not meet tomorrow’s leaders of China.
It has not been the case with Mohamed Nazim, the Maldives’ Minister of Defence and National Security when he visited China. His visit occurred in the midst of the controversy which recently erupted between infrastrucutre firm GMR and the Male Government. The Indian company had been operating the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport at Male after investing some US$511 million, but after a dispute, GMR had to eventually hand over the airport to the Maldives government. Rumours that Beijing was behind the move started circulating.
In Beijing, the Maldives’ delegation met General Xu Qiliang, the newly appointed Vice-Chairman of the all-powerful Central Military Commission. General Xu, a former Air Chief, is also a member of the CCP’s Politburo (which is not the case of Dai Bingguo).
According to Xinhua, Mr Xu asserted that the Maldives and China have in recent years increased “mutual political trust, expanded trade and economic cooperation, diversified cultural exchanges and set an example for countries to treat each other as equals and cooperate with sincerity”.
The last sentence was probably meant to send a message (not delivered by Li Junru) to India. More importantly, the CMC Deputy Chairman told Mr Nazim that “the two armies should continue to enhance high-level contact, strengthen pragmatic cooperation, expand the scope of cooperation and upgrade military relations.”
Interestingly, Mr Xu also briefed the Maldives’ Minister on the 18th CPC’s Congress. He affirmed that “China will continue to hold high the banner of peace, development, cooperation and mutual benefit and commit itself to world peace and development”.
For Beijing, the Maldives is definitively more important than India, but it does not seem to bother anybody in New Delhi, where officials declare that the relations are on fast-track to normalisation.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Xi's Two Southern Tours

Xi Jinping has taken over the Chairmanship of the Central Military Commission.
China watchers have started looking at signs indicating in which direction the wind will blow. 
While the new CCP General Secretary's Southern Tour attracted a lot of attention in the Chinese and foreign media, his 'military tour' was more discreet.  
About the economic 'Southern Tour', analyst Willy Lam wrote in the China Brief of the Jamestown Foundation:
General Secretary Xi Jinping has lost no time in reassuring the world that his Chinese Communist Party (CCP) administration will not only persevere with reforms championed by late patriarch Deng Xiaoping but also 'initiate new paths'. Shenzhen, the special economic zone (SEZ) that is synonymous with the country’s 34-year-old era of reform and the open door, was the first city that Xi inspected after becoming party chief and Chairman of the Central Military Commission on November 15. While China’s intellectuals generally have responded positively to Xi’s early commitment to economic reform, many doubt whether anything substantial will be accomplished in the more controversial field of political liberalization.
Lam rightly pointed out that: "The Shenzhen SEZ is not only the brainchild of Deng but also that of Xi’s father Xi Zhongxun (1913–2002), the late Vice-Premier who was Guangdong governor and Party Secretary from 1978 to 1981. A close ally of reformist General Secretary Hu Yaobang’s (1915–1989)... At one stroke, Xi has laid claim to being the successor of the CCP’s reformist wing that was once headed by luminaries such as Deng Xiaoping, Hu Yaobang and Xi Zhongxun."
Let us remember that after his rehabilitation in 1978, Xi Zhongxun was responsible for proposing and implementing China's first Special Economic Zone in Shenzhen. This experiment then symbolized the new direction of Communist China. Xi Jr. probably wants to walk in his father's footsteps.
Xi Zhongxun once told Deng Xiaoping "We need to reform China and implement this economic zone even if it means that we have to pave a bloody road ahead and I am to be responsible for it."
His biographers say that Old Xi is “remembered for his friendship to his colleagues, his tolerance to diverse cultures and religions, his idealism of an open market socialist country and his integrity in his beliefs”.

It is perhaps because Xi Junior 'ate bitterness' during the difficult years, particularly when his father was out of power that he wanted to pay homage to Xi Zhongxun during his first official trip outside Beijing. 
The second leg of his visit was reported by Xinhua.

Xi’s 'military' Southern Visit
China is still in a period of transition (at least till the People’s National Congress in March). It is probably why Xi made a special gesture to visit the Guangzhou Military Region (MR) soon after he had taken over as CMC Chairman. 
Meeting and interacting with officers and jawans was a way to get the PLA on his side.
During his tour, he assertively asked the officers “to adopt real combat criteria in military training and intensify such awareness among soldiers.”
Xi reaffirmed the PLA's core task of improving “its abilities to wage regional wars in the Information Age.”
While visiting a PLA unit, he stated: "Bear in mind that it is the soul of the military to obey the command of the Party without compromise, it is the top priority for the military to be able to combat and win battles.”
Nothing revolutionary, Hu Jintao would have said the same thing.

There is no question of 'changes' or 'reforms' as during the 'economic' leg of his trip.
Aboard the Haikou, a PLA Navy destroyer, he had dinner with sailors and officers. He spoke about discipline: “The PLA should unconditionally implement the principles to govern the military lawfully and austerely, train the troops through strict discipline, always focus on grassroots units and further improve fighting capabilities.”
Xi urged the PLA to uphold “the great banner of socialism with Chinese characteristics, take Deng Xiaoping Theory, the ‘Three Represents’ and the Scientific Outlook on Development as a guide”.
It was a direct homage to his 3 predecessors, Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao.

Xi affirmed his firm belief that China is on the way to a 'great rejuvenation' and the role of the ‘heroic’ PLA is to carry forward China’s cause: “forge ahead into the future and effectively implement the historic mission”.
How will this translate for China’s neighbours is too early to say. 

Xi was accompanied by two of his CMC’s colleagues General Fan Changlong and General Wu Shengli, the PLAN Commander (Naval Chief).
At the same time,
The New York Times asserted: ‘China Steps Up Pressure on Japan in Island Dispute’. Its correspondent reported: “A modest-looking twin-propeller Chinese aircraft loaded with radar and other surveillance equipment swooped low over the waters close to disputed islands in the East China Sea on Thursday, the latest move by China to increase the pressure on Japan over who owns the uninhabited island chain.  By itself, the less than 30-minute flight by the nine-year-old plane into what Japan considers its airspace did not amount to much. Japanese F-15 jets were sent in response, but the Chinese plane had left by the time they got to the area.
But the Chinese sortie was part of a steady escalation in the air, on the sea and in public statements by China against Japan, a strategy that analysts say was fixed upon three months ago to take back the islands known as Diaoyu in China and the Senkaku in Japan. The strategy, they say, is being overseen by the new leader, Xi Jinping.”
An assertive CMC Chairman does not augur too well for the rest of Asia.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Tibet Genuine Autonomy and Article 370

Every December 10, the world celebrates the International Human Rights Day. 
The date was chosen by the United Nations' General Assembly to celebrate the proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on 10 December 1948.
The formal establishment of Human Rights Day was decided by the General Assembly on 4 December 1950; it invited all member states and any other interested organizations to celebrate the day as they saw fit.
This year, on that day, the BJP leader Yashwant Sinha spoke in the Lok Sabha to say that China has been carrying out the 'grossest' violations of human rights in Tibet over the last 60 years, as a result of which 81 [now 95] Tibetans self-immolated. 
Nobody (except the Communists, of course) can deny that human rights have been flouted in Tibet; already in 1959, the UN International Commission of Jurists reported widespread violations. 
During the Zero Hour, the former External Affairs Minister rightly said that Tibetans were disturbed by "excessive use of military force, religious restrictions, disappearances and detentions, removal of nomads and degradation of ecological system in the region under Chinese rule."
A CPI (M) member, Basudeb Acharia immediately rose to link the situation in Tibet to the one in Kashmir. He alleged 'blatant' human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir (J & K) by Indian security forces.
Without going into the intricacies of the situation of the State of J & K (and the Communist views on the subject), it is worth noticing that if the famous (or infamous) Article 370 of the Indian Constitution was applied to Tibet, the Tibetan issue would be solved according to the aspiration of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people.
Article 370 mentions that except for Defence, Foreign Affairs, Finance and Communications, (which are matters specified in the Instrument of Accession) the Indian Parliament needs the State Government's concurrence for applying all other laws. 
It practically means that J & K citizens lived under a separate set of laws, including those related to citizenship, ownership of property, and fundamental rights.
The 1974 Indira-Sheikh accord mentioned: "The State of Jammu and Kashmir which is a constituent unit of the Union of India, shall, in its relation with the Union, continue to be governed by Article 370 of the Constitution of India."
When the Dalai Lama asks for 'genuine' autonomy for Tibet, he does not ask for more than that.
Can you imagine Tibet with its own Constitution?
It is the case for J & K.
The State of J & K also has its own flag.
I have often written about the Tibetan flag which is today banned in the People's Republic of China.
Further in J & K, Indian citizens from other States cannot purchase land or property, can you imagine the consequences of a similar clause for Tibet?
If people from Han nationality were not allowed to acquire properties on the Roof of the World or start business ventures in Lhasa or other large cities (in Nyingtri prefecture, north of the McMahon Line in particular), most of the tensions and resentment would disappear.
People of J & K have their own 'citizenship'; they are known as 'State-subjects' with their own privileges, for example, a non-State-subject can't study in a university
in Kashmir.
Article 370 is so drastic that Kashmiri women marrying non-State-subjects loose their rights, particularly on properties. 
This is of course questionable, but those who make a parallel between Tibet and Kashmir should think twice before comparing the situations.
Further, the violence in Kashmir has always been triggered by a neighbouring State, while the unrest in Tibet is due to the resentment of the local population against outside migrants and a 'foreign' Administration. 
For the past 60 years, this resentment has manifested itself in a non-violent manner, which is not the case in Kashmir.
J & K has its own Parliament (Legislative Assembly).
Article 370 says: "The power of [Central] Parliament to make laws for the said State shall be limited to:
those matters in the Union List and the Concurrent List which in consultation with the Government of the State, are declared by the President to correspond to matters specified in the Instrument of Accession governing the accession of State to the Dominion of India...
Can you imagine, Tibet with its own Legislative Assembly or local Parliament? Federal laws from Beijing would have to be ratified by elected legislators in Lhasa!
In November 2008, the Dalai Lama's Envoys presented a Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy for the Tibetan People to the United Front Vice Chairman,  Du Qinglin. The Summary says:
The Constitution of the PRC contains fundamental principles on autonomy and self-government whose objectives are compatible with the needs and aspirations of the Tibetans. Regional national autonomy is aimed at opposing both the oppression and the separation of nationalities by rejecting both Han chauvinism and local nationalism. It is intended to ensure the protection of the culture and the identity of minority nationalities by empowering them to become masters of their own affairs.
To a very considerable extent Tibetan needs can be met within the constitutional principles on autonomy. On several points, the Constitution gives significant discretionary powers to state organs in decision-making and on the operation of the system of autonomy. These discretionary powers can be exercised to facilitate genuine autonomy for Tibetans in ways that would respond to the uniqueness of the Tibetan situation. Given good will on both sides, outstanding problems can be resolved within the constitutional principles on autonomy. In this way national unity and stability and harmonious relations between the Tibetan and other nationalities will be established
Here again, Article 370 goes so much further. 
It is however true that in India, Article 370 has been the biggest impediment to integration of J & K State into the Indian Union. 
Here again there is a basic difference between Tibet and Kashmir. 
Tibet has for centuries managed its own affairs, Tibet was an independent State before 1950 with Representatives of India, Nepal, Bhutan and China seating in Lhasa.
Kashmir has always been part of the Indian subcontinent and Kashmiriyat remains an important aspect of Indian civilization. 
It is not the case of Tibet, where the language, script, religion and culture had their own identity, entirely different from the Chinese.
The comrades should learn their history before making this type of parallel. But History tells us that the comrades have always been prisoner from own Marxist history.

Issue of rights violations in Tibet raised in LS
Press Trust of India
New Delhi
December 10, 2012
On the occasion of International Human Rights Day, BJP today raised in the Lok Sabha the issue of rights violations in Tibet, while CPI(M) alleged that similar problem exists in Jammu and Kashmir.
BJP leader Yashwant Sinha said the Chinese have been carrying out the "grossest" violations of human rights in Tibet over last 60 years because of which 81 Tibetans have committed suicide during this period.
66 Tibetans have committed self-immolation since January this year and "worse, the response of the Chinese is more repression", Sinha, former External Affairs Minister, said in Special Mentions during the Zero Hour.
He said Tibetans were troubled because of "excessive use of military force", religious restrictions, disappearances and detentions, removal of nomads and degradation of ecological system in the region under Chinese rule.
Sinha wanted the House to express "deepest heartfelt condolences" over Tibetans' plight and call upon the Chinese to "listen to the anguish" and "ensure people (in Tibet) get their rights".
"I call upon Parliament to speak up," he appealed.
Immediately after, CPI(M) leader Basudeb Acharia rose to allege "blatant" human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir by security forces.
He alleged that youth were being picked up by security forces and their families were not informed.
"They are put in jail, they remain in jail for five-six years as undertrials. After that they are acquitted," Acharia said.
He referred to the demand for withdrawal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from Jammu and Kashmir and said the central government had not taken any decision even after recommendation from the state government.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Change inside China

This article of The New York Times demonstrates that some Chinese have the courage to honestly look at the situation in Tibet.
In 2008, as a postscript to my book Dharamsala and Beijing: the negotiations that never were, I had mentioned the work undertaken by Xu Zhiyong's think-tank, the Open Constitution Initiative:
The only change in view is a change inside China. Interestingly, a report prepared by a Chinese think-tank, Open Constitution Initiative or Beijing Gongmeng Consulting on the 2008 riots in Tibet is an eye-opener. It entirely contradicts the Party’s official version. The authors, Li Kun, Huang Li, Li Xiang and Wang Hongzhe are lawyers “committed to building a modernized China and promoting human rights, democracy, and rule of law in China.”
Their research team spent one month in Tibet “interviewing Tibetan monks, nomads, farmers, scholars, migrants, artists, and business people”. Their objective was to come into personal contact with voices which can give “a clear and objective outline of ordinary people’s living conditions in Tibetan areas.”
The lawyers first point out “major errors in government policy” after the March–April 2008 protests. One was ‘over-propagandizing of violence’; another, encouragement of racist sentiment towards Tibetans: “The excessive response of the government all over Tibet was to regard every tree and blade of grass as a potential enemy soldier.”
According to them, this further strained the relations between the local Tibetans and the Han migrants. One of their conclusions is: “Understanding is a precondition for discussion, unity and development. If the promotion of healthy development in Tibetan areas is truly desired then there must be a change in thinking and an adjustment in thinking behind the current nationality theories and policies.”
‘Stability in ethnic areas’ has for a long time been essential to the Central Government policies. The leadership in Beijing (and probably even more the PLA) emphasized the importance of stability to ‘defend China’s borders’. Soon after the Tiananmen massacre, in October 1989, the “Summary of the Central Politburo Standing Committee’s Forum on Tibet Work” already pointed out two main issues ‘to firmly grasp the Tibet work’: stability of the political situation and economic development. Since then the dual mantra has been constantly repeated, though ‘stability’ has never been achieved. The Lawyers’ report has tried to find out why.
According to them, one of the issues which makes Tibet (and China) so unstable is the emergence of a new aristocracy. The Chinese Revolution is supposed to have wiped out the old aristocracy and emancipated the masses. This has not happened.
The Report found that in Tibet, the difficult terrain has created “locally fixed power networks, which inevitably lead to a high incidence of corruption and dereliction of duty.” For the Chinese lawyers, this new aristocracy, which is ‘legitimized by the Party’, is even more powerful than the old one.
The Report analyses in detail the rapport between the new aristocracy and the masses: “there is a lack of any effective supervision over the local officials. …‘Foreign forces’ and ‘Tibet independence’ are used by many local officials as fig leaves to conceal their mistakes in governance and to repress social discontent …elevating everything to the level of splittist forces in order to conceal their errors.”
The final conclusions are not far from the Tibetan Diaspora’s views: “Earnestly listen to the voices of ordinary Tibetans and on the basis of respecting and protecting each of the Tibetan people’s rights and interests”.
Regarding ‘stability’, the Lawyers’ conclusions are lucid: “Due to the special nature of the political environment in Tibetan areas, ‘stability’ in the state’s Tibet policies has special significance. The Center considers that, ‘If there is not a stable social environment, then all talk of development is empty’. Even though ‘development and stability’ are the two trains of thought for government work in ethnic areas, in the actual exercise of power, ‘stability’ takes on an overwhelming importance.” The problem, according to the Report, is that “there are many people who have learned how to use stability to protect themselves”.
A similar conclusion was arrived at in the 70,000 character petition sent by the previous Panchen Lama to Premier Zhou Enlai in 1962, for which the former spent 17 years in jail.
This report has not pleased everybody in Beijing.
Xu Zhiyong, one of the founders of the Open Constitution Initiative has been arrested early August and since then he has been released on ‘bail’, though it is not very clear what ‘bail’ means in China. Will he be able to continue to do his work on human rights and other ‘hot’ topics? Doubtful!
The fact the Xu can still speak is a positive sign, a sign that China is slowly changing.

Tibet Is Burning
The New York Times
December 12, 2012
Beijing: AROUND noon on Feb. 19, an 18-year-old named Nangdrol set himself on fire near the Zamthang Monastery in the northeast Tibetan town of Barma. In a note left behind, he wrote, “I am going to set myself on fire for the benefit of all Tibetans.” Referring to China’s ethnic Han majority as “devils,” he added, “It is impossible to live under their evil law, impossible to bear this torture that leaves no scars.”
Over the last three years, close to 100 Tibetan monks and laypeople have set themselves on fire; 30 people did so between Nov. 4 and Dec. 3. The Chinese government is seeking to halt this wave of self-immolations by detaining Tibetans it accuses of being instigators. Meanwhile, the scarless torture continues.
I first visited China’s far west 21 years ago with college friends. Back then it at least looked peaceful, but now, sad news arrives daily. When I returned in October, a young monk invited me to visit his monastery. Passing a checkpoint where a red banner read, “Stability Maintenance Calls for Fast Response to Emergencies,” he told me how he hated the sight of armed soldiers.
Because a road was closed for construction, I had to wait until evening to hitch a ride to Barma, where Nangdrol had lived, about 30 miles away. I was the third passenger in the car; the other two were young Tibetans.
“Are you Buddhist followers?” I asked them. One of them showed me a pendant portrait of the Dalai Lama that he pulled out from his chest. “He is our true Holiness,” he said.
“Have you heard about the self-immolations? Like, burning oneself?” I asked tentatively, finally broaching the topic. They knew about it.
“Pardon me, but do you hate the Hans?” I asked them because Nangdrol had used the term “Han devils” in his suicide note. They’d heard about Nangdrol. When I told them I was there to visit Nangdrol’s parents to express my sadness, they told me more.
They said they’d been to the site, as hundreds of Tibetans had. People had set up white tents at the intersection where he died. “He is our hero,” one said.
It was dark when we arrived in Barma. At a lamppost, one of my fellow passengers asked a man for directions but was waved off. At a crossroads, he asked two men on motorcycles and an argument broke out. A monk came to the window to examine me.
“Sorry,” my fellow passenger said, “they scolded me for taking you here.” A minivan approached. Two men jumped out of it and upbraided him indignantly. Fear and hostility shrouded the place like night.
“We are Tibetans,” he said all of a sudden as we left Barma in silence to spend the night in a nearby town. “We are Buddhists, but we can’t go to Lhasa without a permit.” Years ago, you could see many Tibetans on their pilgrimage to Lhasa, but not anymore.
The next day, I returned to Barma. I asked a young monk, on his way to fetch water, about Nangdrol. He took me to a hall where a middle-aged monk sat cross-legged in a corner. Since I didn’t have Nangdrol’s photo with me, he said he couldn’t help me.
A teenage monk asked several of his peers but got no answers. Passers-by shook their heads. At a construction site, no one had heard about him either. In the town’s elementary school I asked an armed soldier guarding the gate. I’d read that Nangdrol was a student. The soldier suggested that I check out the nearby compound where a Chinese flag flew, but people told me the town had no secondary school.
The road back from Barma was open only from noon to 1 p.m. I had to leave. Along a creek, a row of poplars basked in the golden sun, and a group of young monks in crimson robes were holding a class. Reluctantly, I climbed into a cab. I had been to many places over the years but never felt so lost.
I stopped the driver a mile or so down the road when we passed by a village on a slope. After my repeated pleadings, the roadside shop owner gave me directions to Nangdrol’s home. Up on the slope, an old couple pointed to the house.
It was a small mud-plastered house enclosed in mud-brick walls, and five tall sutra streamers flew on one side of the property. The iron gate was locked.
A middle-aged woman with a boy, passing by, said she had known Nangdrol. His parents now live on a faraway cattle farm, she said. The day of his death, she told me, he wore new clothes, and he was freshly bathed, with a fresh haircut. He asked people whether he was handsome.
I didn’t know how else to express my sorrow. I asked the woman to give 500 yuan (about $80) to Nangdrol’s parents, letting them know that a Han Chinese man had come to pay his respects.
I am sorry we Han Chinese have been silent as Nangdrol and his fellow Tibetans are dying for freedom. We are victims ourselves, living in estrangement, infighting, hatred and destruction. We share this land. It’s our shared home, our shared responsibility, our shared dream — and it will be our shared deliverance.
Xu Zhiyong, a lawyer and human rights advocate, is a founder of Gongmeng, the Open Constitution Initiative. This essay was translated from the Chinese by Yaxue Cao.