Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Greater Cohesion with Chinese Characteristics

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

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

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

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